Let’s start this article by asking – What is a head gasket?
A head gasket is a thin piece of rubber or other material that fits between the cylinder head and the cylinders or cylinder block in an internal combustion engine.
This tiny piece of material seems so inconsequential. However, your vehicle cannot or should not operate if you have a damaged or blown gasket. Any potential problems should be corrected quickly, as they could cause severe issues and added expenses if ignored. The leading cause for a blown or damaged gasket is when the engine reaches extreme temperatures (stay out of the red zone!). A coolant leak often causes these high temperatures, or you have not refilled the coolant in a while.
So how bad is the damage if you see leaking?
Once a head gasket is blown or damaged, your engine turns into an explosive time bomb. If you leave it too long, you could experience complete engine failure, and your maintenance bill just turned into buying a new car…Ouch!
How can you tell when you have a leak or a blown gasket? Most people who have no experience with car engines do not have any idea on how to tell– so do not worry about it! That is what we are for! Here are the top five warning signs of a blown head gasket:
1) White smoke coming from the tailpipe
2) Water leaking from the tailpipe
3) Bubbling in the radiator and coolant reservoir
4) Milky white coloration in the oil
5) Engine overheating
Since the cylinder head gasket also seals in the coolant and oil, you may see streaks of oil and coolant streaming down from the seal.
You may also notice a loss of engine power due to lower cylinder compression.
If you experience any of these symptoms, shut the engine down and do not attempt to release the pressure. Have your vehicle looked at by your mechanic and always use replacement gaskets that meet or exceed the original manufacturer’s specifications.
We recommend that you stop and park your vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so, and have it towed to the shop closest to you or to Advanced Auto Care -Vista. This will be the safest option for you and any passengers you may have with you at the time.