Symptoms of a Blown Diesel Head Gasket

by Shea Laverty

To those who are car illiterate, the words "blown head gasket" might not sound so bad. Of course, they also might sound disastrous. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. A blown head gasket in a diesel engine causes coolant leaks, which can cause no small amount of problems to begin with, but left unchecked can ultimately lead to engine failure. The best way to prevent catastrophic damage is to catch a blown head gasket early. Therefore, it's best to get some diagnostic testing done if you find your vehicle has the following symptoms.

Engine Overheat

If there is a coolant leak, a common symptom is the engine overheating. In some cases, the overheat may be so quick the engine simply won't run long.

Poor Performance

A coolant leak from the head gasket can cause the engine to run roughly. It can also cause a loss of engine power and fuel economy.

Unusual Exhaust

Another typical symptom is the presence of white smoke or sweet-smelling steam coming from the exhaust pipe.

Frothy Oil

The appearance of frothy, milky white coating on the oil cap or the dipstick may indicate a coolant leak into the oil pan. This may also be a symptom of a cracked engine block.

Loss of Coolant

If your engine experiences a loss of coolant, but there is no visible leak, it could mean a leaking head gasket.

Clean Spark Plugs

If one spark plug is visibly cleaner than the others, coolant could be leaking into that cylinder.

Heating System

The cabin heating vents may emit a strange odor, similar to to synthetic rubber and antifreeze, in the event of a coolant leak.

Coolant in Strange Places

A leak could also cause engine coolant to be forced into the recovery tank or the radiator.

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