A blown head gasket is one of the most dreaded engine failures you can imagine. When replacing a $30 or less part, you’ll need to do a complete engine rebuild. However, the cost of labor is approximately $1200 and may be greater if there is damage. The question “What causes a blown head gasket?” is frequently asked. Even while a head gasket should endure for at least ten years, this isn’t always the case. Wear and tear and a broken head gasket are only two of the many reasons why it could fail. An engine that has overheated. Combustion that is not typical. Problems with the design
Defective set up
However, it is possible that you have been dealing with this problem since you first noticed a leak in your head gasket. Although it is a strong component, the head gasket has been taking the pressure for some time. Consequently, if your head gasket is causing you problems, it’s important to investigate the root reason.
Head Gasket: The Important Seal In The Car
First, you need to understand what head gaskets are and why they create so much anxiety for drivers. The engine block and cylinder head are the two main components of any vehicle’s engine. The pistons and cylinders can be found in the former, while the valves, camshaft, and spark plugs may be found in the latter. The head gasket sits in the gap between the two, acting as a seal to keep coolant and oil out of the combustion chamber.
The head gasket is one of the most important seals in your vehicle, protecting the cylinders from other fluids. Metals such as steel or copper are preferred over anything else. The planes twist, stretch, contract, and rub on it, but it withstands the strain. The head gasket is a critical component of the engine for a variety of reasons. It guarantees that the pressure built up in the combustion chamber during the ignition process is contained inside it. Because the pistons within require a lot of pressure to function properly. The coolant and oil do travel through the head gasket despite its role as a seal. It also keeps them apart so that the two liquids do not come into contact with each other. It’s critical that things don’t get mixed up because they serve various purposes. The head gasket is crucial to the operation of an engine, as can be seen from the above diagram. It is considered blown if it develops a leak and ceases to perform as intended. If the leak is modest and detected early enough, a sealant may be able to stop it; otherwise, it will need to be replaced. Even if it’s not difficult to replace the part, you’ll have to disassemble the engine in order to get to the head gasket.
The good news about gaskets is that if you identify a problem early enough, you should be able to repair it. As a result, prioritise learning about the problems at hand and avoiding them whenever possible.
Why Is Your Head Gasket Failing? Find The Symptoms Of Your Blow Head Gasket!
Since the engine’s head gasket is so critical, it’s critical that you know what can go wrong if it fails. Every automobile owner should be aware of the reasons and symptoms, especially if their vehicle is older.
1. Engine Overheating
One of the most prevalent causes of a blown head gasket is an overheated engine. Head gaskets fail when they are subjected to temperatures that they were not meant to withstand
When an engine is running, it generates a lot of heat. It is possible for the metal in the head gasket to expand, resulting in a leak when the temperature rises. A leak or a mixture of fluids and gases is now possible since the gasket can no longer seal as effectively as it once did. For metals with variable expansion rates, the head gasket in between the cylinders is at risk of failure. High thermal stress can slow down wear even if it doesn’t occur immediately. Listed here are a few possible causes of engine overheating. Leakage from the refrigeration system
A faulty fan in the radiator.
The radiator is clogged.
Heater not turning off
a faulty pump for water
2. Abnormal Combustion
A faulty radiator cap. Antifreeze and water that have been mixed incorrectly
Combustion that does not follow standard procedures
Overheating isn’t the only cause of a burst head gasket; combustion problems are also a factor. The engine may be experiencing detonation or preignition issues. Over time, this might cause the gasket to deteriorate due to the high pressure. Air-fuel mixtures in normal combustion environments burn uniformly, but this isn’t the case here. Low-octane fuels or a thin mixture can disrupt the process, resulting in an anomaly.
In some cases, the ignition process in the cylinder may be slowed down. A second ignition occurs at the conclusion of the mixture as a result of this. The sound of the ignitions colliding is heard. Internal engine vibration, caused by the shockwave from the detonation, affects both the engine and the head gasket. Detonation can occur for a variety of reasons, and here are a few of them. A fuel/air mixture that is far too thin. Intensely quick start-ups
Fuel atomization issue in the cylinder
EGR valve has failed to close properly.
While detonation occurs when a spark plug ignites, preignition occurs when combustion begins before the spark plug has even been lit. When two ignitions meet, the sound they make is a pinging, which is similar to a soft banging sound. The engine makes a tapping noise, which is what you’re hearing. The detonation pinging, however, can evolve into one that is detrimental to the engine. Preignition occurs for a variety of reasons. As the chamber fills with carbon dioxide. The metal edge of the exhaust valve was overheated. Spark plug with a bright light
The cooling system has a problem. The engine was not properly lubricated.
3. Hot Spots
Hotspots can be caused by engine design and incorrect gaskets. Due to hotspots, not just replacement gaskets have blown, but the original ones as well. There are some engines that have exhaust ports that are too close together. These places can become hot zones. However, if the gaskets do not have support in certain places, heat can build up and eventually cause failure. The regions on which gaskets rest must be flawless in order for them to function properly. Some gaskets are designed to fill in the gaps that are left by the removal of old gaskets. These are capable of withstanding the heat created by an aberrant ignition, overheating, or other causes of high temperatures. You’ll need to get a new gasket if you resurface your engine block or cylinder head.
4. Incorrect Head Bolt Torque
The torque applied to the head bolts and the other fasteners should be the same. The head can be subjected to an inconsistent clamping load if the torque is uneven. Loads that aren’t evenly distributed can put stress on the head gasket. High temperatures and pressures can cause these places to burst open, resulting in a leak. Preventing head gasket failure can be as simple as using new head nuts. When installing the head bolts, be sure to use a torque wrench. Calibration and installation must follow the manual’s instructions to the letter, and no shortcuts should be taken.
5. Bad Head Gasket And Incorrect Installation
A poor-quality head gasket is prone to manufacturing flaws or failing to satisfy engine specifications. A decent head gasket can also fail if it is not placed correctly. There are other precautions you need to take in addition to changing the head gasket. Do not repurpose old bolts or damaged head bolts. Placement of head bolts in the wrong order during tightening When cleaning the head/block-mating surface, avoid using abrasive pads. Make sure you’re using the right sealant. When installing a new gasket, make sure to clean out the old one first.
When it comes to securing a gasket, the head bolts that hold it in place are just as critical. Eventually, the gasket will fail if the thread is damaged. In addition, a well functioning bolt is required to keep the seal in place. The efficiency of the bolt might be affected by corrosion, filth, rust, or nicks.
6. Engine Surface Finish
Before replacing the head gasket, your mechanic will most likely resurface the cylinder head and the engine block to ensure that the surface is flat and smooth. The gasket will wear out faster if the surface is rough. This applies to engines made of cast iron and metal alloys. In the absence of resurfacing, I’d suggest rubber gaskets. They are more heat resistant and more durable than metal counterparts, and they can also survive harsh exteriors.
7. Lack Of Coolant
The cooling system in most modern autos is woefully inadequate. Even while it has enough coolant to keep the engine cool on a daily basis, it may not be able to handle an overheated engine. A dirty cooling system or a broken cooling fan have the same effect. You may also wish to examine your system’s antifreeze to coolant ratio. The heat cannot be dissipated or transferred if there is too much of the former. Keep an eye on your vehicle’s coolant levels if you fear your engine is overheating. The cooling system can also be flushed regularly to ensure good operation. A well-functioning cooling system ensures that the head gasket is satisfied and that everything goes according to plan.
8. Choice Of Head Gasket Material
Graphite, copper, rubber, composite, and multi-layered steel are just a few of the materials available for the head gasket (MLS). There should be a gasket that is compatible with the engine block and cylinder head if they are both constructed of metals that are different. Rubber is a well-known and preferred material because of its elasticity. It’s also heat-resistant, simple to set up, and affordable. Composite gaskets, while being discontinued, are preferred by modders. With the addition of graphite and asbestos, its resistance to alcohol and gasoline coolant is increased significantly. Asbestos poisoning is, unfortunately, a fact of life. The copper gasket is the most expensive because of its material expenses, yet it reduces warping and evenly distributes heat. Multi-layered Steel: This is the most well-known of the steels, as it is used in all modern cars because it is resistant to distortion. They are constructed of many layers of steel that conform to the surface on which they are lying.
How Would I Know If My Head Gasket Is Blown?
It’s not possible to see a blown head gasket with the naked eye, but there are signs to keep a look out for. A blown head gasket is frequently accompanied by the following signs and symptoms:
overheating of the engine
External leakage of coolant
The exhaust pipe is emitted white smoke.
Low levels of coolant
Radiator with a small bubble
Can A Bad Thermostat Cause A Blown Head Gasket?
The engine can overheat if a malfunctioning thermostat remains in the closed position and prevents coolant from reaching the cooling system. A blown head gasket can be caused by an engine that is overheated.
Can A Car Still Run With A Blown Head Gasket?
While it is possible to drive a car with a blown head gasket, doing so is not recommended. Even at full throttle, there is a noticeable decrease of power. Fuel mixes with the coolant, which isn’t optimal for a working engine. This is a bad situation for the engine since the cylinders are at risk of warping.
A automobile with a burst head gasket faces a major problem because the fluids might mix and enter parts they shouldn’t. In addition, it can cost a great deal of money to fix. As a result, familiarity with head gaskets and how they work is a must. Overheating and combustion difficulties are two of the most typical causes of head gasket failure. A blown head gasket can be the result of a variety of factors, including a faulty gasket, poor installation, loose bolts, and even the finish of your engine.