When it comes to a vehicle’s engine, several critical components power the car and maintain it. Our vehicles often give us subtle signs when something is wrong, so it’s essential to always keep an eye on the engine to ensure it’s still running smoothly.
As a motorist, you must be aware of what’s going on in your engine. Let’s look at a few ways you can tell if the gaskets in your engine are bad.
What Is the Purpose of Gaskets?
The head gasket plays a significant role in engine functionality. Essentially, a gasket’s primary duty is to seal the gases within the cylinders to prevent fluid and oil leakage.
Gaskets help the vehicle produce power while preventing the harmful gases from escaping out of the combustion chambers and into the vehicle.
While the engine works through coolant and oil, the head gasket must keep them separate, as fluid mixing may mean trouble for the vehicle and driver.
Signs of a Blown Gasket
There are several signs to look out for when your gasket has blown. Generally, many might assume they’d be able to hear a failed gasket.
However, a blown gasket doesn’t produce noise, which means a motorist may drive with a blown gasket for a while without awareness of the issue.
Be sure to keep an eye out for these critical signs of a failed gasket to protect yourself, others drivers, and your vehicle. Let’s examine some of the most important symptoms of a damaged gasket.
White/Grey/Blue Smoke From Tailpipe
If you see white smoke emitting from your exhaust system, that might be a significant sign that your gasket has blown. This can happen when the coolant seeps out of the combustion chamber and begins to burn along with your gasoline.
It’s important to remember that you might see white smoke coming from your tailpipe on a cool day, which is normal. But if the smoke is visible and consistent, you may need to see a mechanic right away.
Unexplained Coolant Loss
Coolant loss may be a sign of a few different issues with the engine, such as:
- Damaged radiator cap
- Cracked engine block
- External leaks
An easy way to check for coolant loss is by looking underneath your vehicle to check for puddles that might’ve formed while the car is parked.
You may also notice a “Check Engine” light appear on your dashboard, which might also indicate coolant loss. While this can also result from various concerns, be sure to rule out gasket damage before checking other areas of the engine.
Milky/Foamy Sludge in Oil
Healthy motor oil should be an amber or golden color. Oftentimes, the color of your engine oil can be a great way to help you determine what’s wrong with the vehicle.
If you notice the motor oil is a milky white color, that may be one of the biggest signs you’ve blown a head gasket. This occurs when coolant seeps out of the combustion chamber and blends with the oil.
However, keep in mind that you might still see milky oil if you drive short distances, but it shouldn’t be a sign of a blown gasket. When we rarely drive long distances, our vehicle doesn’t have the chance to warm up thoroughly, which can cause condensation to build up in the engine.
To check your oil, park your vehicle and allow the engine to cool for about 10-15 minutes, grab some gloves and a rag, pull the dipstick out, and wipe it clean with the cloth. A mechanic can help you determine the leading cause of this substance in your oil.
Low Engine Power
When a gasket is damaged, it can no longer act as a seal to maintain the pressure created during a drive, resulting in reduced power.
For a vehicle to produce power, it needs to take in air, compress it, and ignite it in the combustion chamber to exhale the exhaust gases out of the tailpipe quickly. When the combustion chamber is disrupted, your car won’t produce as much power as usual.
The “Check Engine” light may appear, but you’ll be able to notice that you can’t accelerate fully when driving uphill or on the highway. This can be extremely dangerous to you and other motorists, so it’s essential to pull over and check your gasket right away.
Several issues can cause an overheated engine, but one of the primary sources may be a blown gasket.
Since a gasket’s primary duty is to control coolant and gas flow, a damaged gasket can cause an engine leak, leading to overheating.
Rough idling is when a vehicle struggles to maintain a steady rate and instead shakes the car or “rumbles.”
The engine requires high-pressure levels for each cylinder to produce power. When a gasket is damaged, it may affect the pressure between the two combustion chambers, which can cause rough idling.
While a rough idle might be the result of a separate issue, be sure to ask your mechanic to identify your gasket to determine its state.
Causes of a Blown Gasket
Now that you understand the various signs that indicate a broken gasket, let’s examine the different causes of a blown gasket, such as:
- Overheating: An engine can overheat for many reasons. For example, it can overheat when the external temperature is too high, or a cylinder is cracked.
- Abrupt temperature changes: When it’s cold outside, many people forget to properly warm up their cars, leading to a blown gasket over time. Before starting your drive, be sure to allow the engine to reach operating temperatures for approximately 30 seconds and accelerate gently.
- Age of vehicle: If your vehicle has many miles and is older, it can cause a series of issues and material rundown. In fact, once a car reaches a specific mileage point, manufacturers recommend replacing your head gasket to maintain efficient operation.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to take your vehicle to a mechanic who can accurately pinpoint the problem and fix it immediately. For a commercial truck, a professional might use 3406b cat engine parts to address the issue, which can be helpful to keep in your cab at all times in case of engine failure.
Our engines provide us a lot of information when it comes to diagnosing different issues, so it’s essential to know how to tell if the gaskets in your engine are bad. Maintain your engine correctly by visiting a mechanic regularly.