The head gasket is one of the most important components in your car. It is also one of the most sensitive parts that can fail without warning. It is the gasket that provides a vital seal between the cylinder head and the cylinder block of a standard combustible engine. It maintains internal pressure within the cylinders that allow your motor to produce power. It also keeps coolant from leaking into the combustion chamber.
You may be familiar with the term "blown head gasket" and that's not something you ever want to hear. That means the gasket has cracked or broken, which will nullify the engine seal and lead to major problems if left unrepaired. Quite simply, if you know you have a blown head gasket or even think you might, then you really don't want to drive your car. You'll want to get it repaired as soon as possible to prevent more engine damage.
Otherwise, there are some signs that can let you know that you might have a head gasket issue. If you notice any of these, it's worth getting your vehicle checked out by a professional mechanic before it's too late. Here are some of the common signs of head gasket failure according to San Francisco Automotive Solutions:
1. Coolant Leak Below the Exhaust Manifold
You may notice radiator coolant (antifreeze) leaking under your car. Where the leak is coming from can tell you a lot. If it is coming from directly below the exhaust manifold, this is a clear indicator that the head gasket is failing and needs to be replaced. If the leak is originating from somewhere else, then it's likely a cooling system issue such as a cracked radiator, weak water pump or leaking coolant line.
2. White Smoke
White smoke at The Vatican means a new Pope has been chosen. White smoke coming from your exhaust pipe likely means that your head gasket is damaged and coolant is leaking into the engine's combustion chamber.
3. Engine is Overheating
If the head gasket is failing, the engine will probably overheat. Again, this could be a cooling system issue, so it's worth getting the vehicle looked at to properly diagnose the problem.
4. Dashboard Warning Lights
The temperature gauge should definitely let you know when the engine is about to overheat. Also with a head gasket problem, the check engine light might come on. It can indicate any number of problems, so a skilled automotive technician will be able to determine the source.
5. Weak Engine
If your engine feels weak and it's running right, it could be because of the head gasket. Any signs of engine weakness need to be taken seriously, though, so don't wait until it develops into a much worse (and thus more expensive) problem.
6. Milky White Oil
If you look at the motor oil and see it has a milky white appearance, that is not good. It is often associated with a bad head gasket that is allowing coolant to seep into the engine's combustion chamber.
7. Loss of Coolant
If your coolant level is low despite no visible leaks under the vehicle, then it might be a problem with the head gasket that you'll want to have inspected and repaired.
8. White/Crusty Spark Plugs
Coolant that leaks into the combustion chamber will cause the white smoke and milky oil as noted above. It can also produce white deposits that will foul the spark plugs and cause additional engine power failures.
These are some of the warning signs you can look out for when it comes to the head gasket. However, any time you notice something strange happening with your car, you will want to take notice. What may seem like a minor annoyance now can develop into a major automotive problem. It's always best to get your vehicle inspected and to take care of minor repairs before really bad things happen.
For all your head gasket, cooling system and other automotive repair needs in San Francisco, count on the auto experts at San Francisco Automotive Solutions. Call or text us today at (415) 957-1170 or schedule your service appointment online.