What Happens When I Blow a Head Gasket?

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What Happens When I Blow a Head Gasket?
By: Luke Shaff ~ 4/21/2016

One of the most common major automotive repairs is head gasket replacement.  It's often one of the first suggestions people throw out when a car starts to act strangely.  It's such a common amateur guess that there's a good chance the average driver might not know what the procedure actually is, and what's actually going on with your car when it happens.  Here's an easy guide to figuring that out!

How Many Different Ways Can the Head Gasket Fail?

The reason why the head gasket is such a common suggestion is that symptoms of a blown head gasket can manifest in several distinct ways depending on how the gasket fails.  There's several classic symptom/failure pairings that point the finger right at the head gasket:

  1. If the gasket ruptures on the outside, oil or coolant will leak down the sides of your engine, leaving telltale streaks.
  2. If it ruptures between cylinders and compression leaks from one cylinder to another, misfiring and a bad idle will occur. This can lead to major engine damage over time.
  3. Another compression leak, this time to the crankcase, can cause bad smoking and blow-by, which are also major causes of wear and damage above and beyond what you need regular automotive maintenance for.
  4. Finally, a compression leak to the coolant will cause overheating, intermittent at first but then with increasing frequency as the combustion gases damage the cooling system.
  5. A rupture to a coolant port is even worse, leading to oil in the coolant or coolant in the oil (or both).  Coolant in the oil is particularly bad, since it completely disrupts your oil's ability to lubricate and changes its viscosity.

The only thing all these symptoms have in common is their severity– out of all the ways a head gasket can fail, none of them can be ignored.  The key to getting head gasket work done is finding an ethical, reputable shop like Luke's Automotive in Redmond.  They'll determine if the Head Gasket is the culprit, and then give you a fair price for parts and labor; a straightforward approach that's surprisingly hard to find.

Schedule an appointment, or call 425-885-4333.