How to check for a blown head gasket or cracked head

How to check for a cuvw-560000lgracked head, or blown head gasket

This article will discuss a simple procedure on how to check your vehicle for a blown head gasket or cracked head.  In order to understand what a cracked head or blown head gasket are, we will discuss into further details now. 

First your head is located on the top of your engines cylinders.  Your head has cooling passages in it.  These are usually what crack on your head.  This is bad due to the fact that it will allow coolant to mix with your oil.  If oil and the coolant mix, this can lead to more problems down the road.  Oil and water do not mix, so therefore you can cause some serious engine damage when your lubrication system is using water or coolant to lubricate.  This can cause main bearing failure or worse an engine failure.  There are a couple of signs that you have a cracked head.  The first sign is that your vehicle will lack power.  Another sign is that you will have white smoke coming from your exhaust.  A cracked head can occur when your vehicle gets hot, and then rapidly cools.  Next we will talk about a cracked head gasket.

A blown head gasket is located between your head and your cylinders.  This helps prevent coolant from entering the cylinders, and it also prevents compression gases from leaving the cylinders.  The first sign of a blown head gasket is a loss in power, and again the white smoke from your exhaust.  Both of these items can be located relatively easily.

The Procedure

  1. You are going to make sure that your engine is cool.  If the engine is hot, then you may get burned when you remove the radiator cap.
  2. Then you are going to want to start your vehicle.
  3. Next remove your radiator cap.
  4. You will want to look for bubbles.  If the level changes that is ok, but if there are a bunch of bubbles then this is a sign that you may have a blown head gasket or cracked head.

This is the one simple test that you can conduct to help you determine if you have a cracked head or blown head gasket.  If you want to do further testing you can do some advanced testing using specialty tools like a leak down tester or this handy UVW560000 Combustion Leak Tester.  This will help you further determine exactly if you have a blown head gasket or cracked head, or if you have another problem.


Written by: Cody Mammenga an NDSCS Student

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