Did you know that a head gasket replacement costs over $2000? What’s worse is that this can get into 5-figure sums if the rest of the engine suffers!
That’s the last thing anyone needs in their car. In fact, for many cars, failing to look after your head gasket makes the car a write-off.
So what is there to know about blown head gaskets and repairing them? Let’s take a look and find out what you need to know about head gasket repair before you blow your own gasket!
What Is a Head Gasket?
A head gasket is an internal component in most modern combustion engines. It creates a seal around the combustion chamber.
The gasket acts as a barrier between oil and air inside the cylinder block. This prevents both from escaping through gaps where they would otherwise mix together.
As a result, it stops damage caused by overheating and pressure build-up within the cylinders. The head gasket also helps prevent water from entering the crankcase via this same area.
The head gasket sealer comprises metal or rubber. Rubber ones are more common than those with metal heads. That’s because they’re cheaper and easier to replace.
They’re also able to withstand higher temperatures without melting down. Metal ones tend to melt at lower temperatures. That said, they will still seal well enough to keep things under control.
What Happens When a Head Gasket Blows?
When a head gasket fails it allows hot gases to escape into the surrounding environment. As these gases expand when heated, they cause significant amounts of force.
These forces act upon the piston rings, causing them to deform and break away. If left unchecked, this could lead to catastrophic failure of the entire engine.
What Causes a Blown Head Gasket?
A blown head gasket can have many triggers which are often hard to detect until it’s too late. So here are several reasons why a head gasket may fail:
A high temperature causes the head gasket to soften and become brittle. Once damaged, it won’t hold its shape anymore so any cracks or holes allow gas to leak past.
Excessive Pressure Build Up
High pressures in the cylinder cause the head gasket to push too hard against chamber walls. Soon, it’ll crack and start leaking.
Cracked Piston Rings
These are other major reasons why a head gasket might fail. With no way to contain the heat, the ring becomes deformed and starts to warp. Any gaps created then let the gas pass.
Poor Quality Parts
Cheap parts aren’t always reliable. Sometimes manufacturers use inferior materials or don’t put effort into quality assurance testing.
Some people don’t use correct procedures when repairing their own vehicles. For example, using incorrect tools or not tightening bolts enough.
Not checking your vehicle often means that problems go unnoticed until it’s far too late. Make sure your vehicle is booked in for regular services.
Cars with old engines often suffer from other issues such as worn pistons or faulty valves. All these factors combine to make the engine run hot and overheat.
What Are Some Blown Head Gasket Symptoms?
One symptom of a blown gasket is loud bangs. So if you hear loud bangs coming from underneath your vehicle, check your head gasket first. A failed one may not make noise itself, but it’ll let off steam.
Of course, don’t drive near a busy road until you’ve checked everything else. And try to avoid parking somewhere too close to anything flammable either.
How Do I Check My Head Gasket?
If you suspect that yours has gone bad, then you’ll want to start by checking whether it’s leaking oil. Look beneath your hood and see if any fluid is seeping out. If so, then chances are you have a problem.
If no leaks appear, then you might have a faulty sensor. These sensors send signals to the ECU telling it how much fuel should be present to run the engine.
If the signal isn’t getting through, then the ECU won’t know how much gas to inject into each cylinder. In turn, this means that the mixture becomes leaner and less efficient.
You can test for this yourself using a multimeter. Connect two leads to the terminals on the back of the sensor.
When doing so, measure the resistance across the circuit. If the reading is high, then the sensor needs replacing.
How Much Does Head Gasket Repair Cost?
As mentioned before, a replacement can cost anywhere upwards of $2,000. But for a repair, depending on the severity, expect a cost of $500-$600. The price will also vary based on what type of part you need replacing and the labor required.
For example, if you’re looking at an OEM part, then you’ll pay more than if you go with aftermarket ones.
How To Prevent A Future Blowout
The best thing you can do to prevent a blowout in the future is to keep up regular maintenance checks. Make sure that all fluids have a top-up and that there are no signs of leakage.
Also, ensure that the spark plugs are clean and well connected. Finally, be careful when changing them as they could get damaged during removal.
And remember, these repairs are expensive. But they’re still cheaper than having to replace the whole engine!
Don’t Leave Your Head Gasket Repair Too Late
A blown head gasket is one of the most costly repairs on any vehicle. It’s important to catch problems early because once it starts, it can become very difficult to stop.
But, our guide above gives you some great tips on how to spot a blown head gasket and what’s involved in a head gasket repair. You’ll save money and time down the line!
Keep reading for more money-saving tips that will save a small fortune!