A blown head gasket ranks high on the list of dreaded car problems. Not only does replacing a blown head gasket tend to be quite expensive, but if you don't take care of it quickly enough, you may also be in store for even worse problems.
Unfortunately, many people struggle when it comes to recognizing the symptoms of head gasket problems. Being able to identify and troubleshoot common issues like this will keep your car running longer and better, while saving money in the process. If you would like to learn more about how to recognize potential head gasket problems, read on. This article will outline three tell-tale symptoms to be aware of.
1. Contaminated Fluids
A head gasket acts to separate your car's engine block and its cylinder head. In the process, the head gasket seals off the combustion chamber, thus allowing for the ideal amount of compression pressure. Finally, the head gasket also ensures that oil and coolant remain strictly separated as they flow into and through your engine.
Needless to say, a blown head gasket loses its ability to perform all of these functions. This results in serious problems, especially when head gasket damage allows your engine's fluids to mix together. For example, oil in your coolant supply will significantly reduce its ability to regulate temperatures inside of your engine.
Likewise, coolant in your oil supply will negatively impact its ability to lubricate your engine. Both of these situations mean that temperature and friction will gradually increase, leading to overheating and potentially damaging your engine beyond repair. A wise car owner knows how to recognize the signs of contamination.
Oil in your coolant supply will initially exhibit as a separate oily layer sitting on top of the coolant. As the two are cycled through your engine together, the coolant will begin to take on a dark, discolored appearance. Ultimately it will end up as a thick brown liquid — one that looks more like oil than coolant.
Coolant will also change the appearance of your oil, causing its color to noticeable lighten. If you notice that the oil on your dipstick has taken on the look of melted milk chocolate, a good chance exists that it has been contaminated with coolant. Consult a mechanic as soon as possible for a more thorough diagnosis.
2. Water Leaking From the Tailpipe
As coolant escapes from its chambers, other problems will soon ensue. As the coolant finds its way into your exhaust system, it will give rise to an unusual phenomenon: water dripping from your tailpipe. This water comes from the coolant itself.
While passing through your engine, the coolant evaporates. Passing through the exhaust system, however, the water in your coolant often recondenses into its liquid form. This problem often goes hand in hand with exhaust that has taken on a strong whitish hue, as other parts of the coolant combust and contaminated your exhaust fumes.
3. Spark Plug Fouling
Spark plugs often suffer as the result of a blown head gasket. The problem usually stems from coolant escaping onto the plugs. This coolant will form deposits commonly referred to as fouling on the head of the spark plug. The spark plug may take on a dirty, blackened, or corroded appearance as a result.
This will cause the spark plug to display less than ideal performance. As the fouling grows worse, your engine will misfire with greater and greater frequency. If you have noticed fouling on any of your spark plugs, be sure to contact a maintenance person as soon as possible.
For more information on diagnosing a blown head gasket, please don't hesitate to call the experts at Walnut Creek Import Service. We can help diagnose your problem and make any needed repairs.