How to Diagnose a Leaking Head Gasket
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How to Diagnose a Leaking Head Gasket

A blown head gasket can be automotive disaster. It can mean replacing your car's engine, which is a very expensive, very labor-intensive problem. Fortunately, there are some signs of a head gasket leak that you may be able to spot before a leaking head gasket becomes a blown head gasket. If you can spot the signs, you may be able to make an engine repair rather than replacing the engine. Use these steps to help you diagnose a leaking head gasket.

  1. There are a couple of ways that the head gasket can fail; it can fail to the inside, or fail to the outside, or both. To look for a sign of the head gasket failing to the inside of the engine, look for white smoke coming from the exhaust pipe. If you are driving and see white smoke coming from the exhaust pipe, stop the car as quickly as possible and turn the engine off in order to minimize damage to your engine. Then check your oil. If you are leaking coolant, the oil will have a light brown, sludgy appearance, and it might be foamy. Call for a tow truck, and do not drive your car any longer.
  2. If your car overheats and there isn't any logical explanation for it, it is often a sign of a failing head gasket. Watch your coolant level. If the coolant level drops and there is no steam or spraying liquid, you might have a leaking head gasket. A small leak might only allow small amounts of liquid through, and there won't be other, more obvious signs.
  3. Another sign that you should watch for is for your car's engine to run rough and lose power. When a gasket fails, it loses compression and causes your engine to lose power. The spark plugs can become contaminated by coolant, and the cylinder won't fire properly. All of these things can happen before you see more serious signs of a problem.
  4. Fluid leaks are another sign to watch for. If coolant is leaking from the side or back of the engine, then your head gasket is failing. If the gasket fails only to the outside, there can be a substantial loss of fluid without there being any coolant in the oil.
  5. You can also look for signs of a failing head gasket by removing your spark plugs. Check for signs of antifreeze on the spark plugs and on the cylinder. You can check the spark plugs by taking out just one at a time, turning the engine over, and watching for coolant to leak from the opening where the spark plug was located. If you do see coolant leaking from the spark plug, then the head gasket needs to be replaced.
  6. You can also have a pressure check performed on the cylinder and cooling system. A failure in these systems is often a sign of a bad head gasket.

Whether you need a new head gasket or any other type of gasket, Blaylock Gasket & Packing has the parts that you need. We keep a huge inventory of gaskets and other sealing products on hand, so that you can get the part that you need quickly. If we don't have what you need in our warehouse, we can cut a gasket or sealing product to meet your specifications. Thanks to many years of experience, we have the knowledge and expertise to make sure that you get the gasket that you need.

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