Well before we get into the replacement and repair information about your head gaskets, let’s first dive into what a head gasket even is in your vehicle.
What is a head gasket?
The head gasket maintains a seal between the engine block and cylinder head. It prevents oil, coolant and combustion gases from escaping the engine.
How does the head gasket work?
Most engines have two major components: the engine block and the cylinder head. These two halves must seal to one another and act as one piece, or the engine will fail.
The head gasket is a sealing layer of durable material that is sandwiched between the cylinder head and engine block. When tightened down, the cylinder head crushes the head gasket into the cylinder block, causing any imperfections to be sealed by force.
What are the symptoms related to a bad head gasket?
When the head gasket begins to fail, the engine may have no symptoms at all. They only begin to occur when the leak has reached an engine oil passage, engine coolant passage, or the engine cylinder.
When that happens, the engine may be very difficult to start and run roughly when idling. There may be oil or coolant leaking, and the engine may begin to overheat, or at least run hot. At this point, there may be coolant in the engine oil pan — this will look creamy and lighter in color than the oil. Also, the radiator or engine coolant reservoir may have a gurgling sound, the presence of engine oil, or the smell of combustion. And the check engine light will come on.
The coolant being burned in the engine will produce white exhaust that smells sweet, like engine coolant. When the head gasket fails completely, the engine will overheat within minutes of starting, will stall, and then won’t restart.
Can I drive with a head gasket problem?
Driving with a bad head gasket is hazardous to the engine, and may even be impossible. A failing head gasket typically will lead to your engine overheating and will eventually ruin the engine block, cylinder head, or both.
A car with a blown or leaking head gasket should both be towed to a repair facility.
How often do head gaskets need to be replaced?
Head gaskets can fail at any time, but they typically last at least 100,000 miles, especially if the oil and coolant are properly maintained.
To keep the gasket in good condition, dirty or contaminated fluids should be replaced on schedule, and the engine must run at the proper temperature. This is the best way to help prevent head gasket failure, along with avoiding aggressive driving.
If you have more questions about the head gaskets in your vehicle or if you are seeing symptoms of a bad or faulty head gasket as you’re driving around Orange, give us a call today – (714) 633-1800 at Chapman Auto Repair of Orange!