To understand how a head gasket starts leaking, it is important to know the exact function of a head gasket in an engine.
Purpose of a Head Gasket in an Engine
The head gasket is a crucial part located between the cylinder head and engine block. Its primary purpose is to seal the combustion cylinders to allow maximal gas compression. Furthermore, it also acts as a barrier to prevent the mixing or leaking of engine fluids such as oil, coolant, or water.
What causes a Head Gasket Leak?
Since the head gasket is situated in an area of temperature extremes and functions under extreme stress, heat, and compression, it develops cracks and eventually causes leaks. Leaking of oil or coolant into the combustion cylinder is hazardous and results in an overheated engine, fire, explosions, and extensive damage to other vehicle systems. In the case of excess overheating, the head gasket can also blow.
Signs of a Leaking Head Gasket
Most signs of a failed head gasket result from the leaking of fluids into the cylinders.
- Burning of coolant in the combustion cylinders will result in white exhaust fumes from the tailpipe.
- An overheating engine can be a cause as well as a symptom of a damaged head gasket.
- If the head gasket damage leaks oil into the cylinder, it can cause blue exhaust smoke.
- Another good indicator of a leaking head gasket is milky or white discoloration of oil evident under the oil cap.
- Bubbles or foam can form in the coolant system due to the fluids mixing.
- Reduction in the coolant levels without any external fluid leaks.
- Diminished engine power due to low gas compression in the combustion cylinders.
How to Prevent Head Gasket Damage?
As the main culprit of a head gasket failure is high heat, the best way to preclude it is to ensure that the coolant system works properly. Keeping the coolant levels under check and replenishing when needed will keep the engine from overheating. You should kill the engine immediately if it starts to overheat and consult a certified auto technician if the head gasket damage worsens.
If you are seeking head gasket repair, head to our auto repair shop today to receive expert assistance.