How to Recognize Signs That You Have a Blown Head Gasketby Carlos SotoUpdated August 06, 2023
Look at the temperature gauge on your dashboard. Chronic engine overheating is a common symptom of a blown gasket.
Turn the car off and let the engine cool down completely. Open the hood and remove the coolant overflow tank cap. If you hear a pop, this means the cooling system has remained pressurized even while the engine is cold, which can be an early sign of a blown gasket.
Remove the radiator cap and start the car. Let the car warm up and rev the engine. If your gasket is blown, air bubbles will travel up from the radiator.
Watch for white smoke or water drops coming out of the exhaust pipe. Sweet smelling white smoke coming from a warmed-up engine indicates a coolant leak, a symptom of a blown gasket.
Check the engine coolant. A sudden drop in coolant level with no apparent leaks also indicates a serious coolant leak, which can be a sign of a blown gasket.
Check the engine oil. If the oil on the dipstick looks milky or frothy, or if there is a milky ring around the oil cap, this indicates that coolant is leaking into the oil pan, another sign of a blown gasket.
Pay attention to how your car feels while driving. An engine that misfires, runs sluggishly or idles roughly may have a blown gasket.
- If you suspect that your head gasket is blown, do not drive the car until you can get it repaired. If coolant leaks into the engine oil, the diluted oil will not lubricate the engine parts, causing rapid wear and ruin to your engine.
Based in New Mexico, Carlos Soto has written video gaming and technology articles since 2005. His writing has appeared on popular websites such as GameFAQs and Destructoid. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dramatic writing from New York University.