cylinder head gasket

5 Signs it’s Time for a Cylinder Head Gasket Repair

Today’s vehicles are more powerful and reliable than ever before. However, critical components exist, like the cylinder head gasket, that can cause serious problems.

If you don’t perform a cylinder head gasket replacement when it begins to fail, you could ruin the entire engine.

The cylinder head gasket is a synthetic gasket that seals the different parts of your engine. When it fails, the oil will leak out. If you lose too much oil, your engine could seize, and you’ll need to replace your entire engine.

Buying a quality pre-owned car can help you avoid this, but there’s no guarantee. So how do you know when your head gasket is about to fail? Here are five signs to look for that will help you spot the situation before it becomes critical.

1. Creamy or Frothy Oil

A cylinder head gasket leak can allow oil to leak out or coolant to leak in. When coolant leaks in, the resulting mixture will look opaque and frothy. This thick, creamy-looking oil resembles a chocolate milkshake rather than the black-gold smoothness of regular engine oil.

It would be best if you looked for this when you check your engine oil. You might also see signs under the oil cap.

2. Smoke Coming From Your Exhaust Pipe

If you see smoke coming from your exhaust pipe leaving a trail behind you, you could have a problem with your head gasket. If coolant or oil leaks into the piston’s combustion chamber, they get burned up with the gasoline. 

Engine oil and antifreeze engine coolant produce dark smoke when they burn. This burning can lead to overheating and can cause significant damage to your engine.

3. Engine Doesn’t Idle Smoothly

If your engine struggles to maintain a smooth rhythm when idling, you might have a problem with your cylinder head gasket. This is a symptom of a compression leak between cylinders or the crankcase. Your engine might stall or have significant power loss.

If you encounter this, you should have your engine inspected immediately to avoid further damage. 

4. Coolant Level Keeps Dropping

If your engine coolant is chronically low, you have a problem somewhere. It could be a leak in your coolant line, or it could be that you have a cylinder head gasket leak. The coolant will continue to get burned up in the engine, and you’ll have to replace it constantly.

Check the coolant lines first. If you don’t see a noticeable leak, you should have a mechanic inspect your engine.

5. Chronic Overheating

If you maintain your car correctly with regular oil changes and know your cooling system is working properly, your engine shouldn’t overheat. If the engine overheats anyway, you probably have a bad head gasket.

Even if your overheating issue is caused by something else, this chronic overheating could cause damage to your cylinder head gasket, eventually causing it to fail. Whenever your engine runs hot, you should have your car checked out immediately to avoid compounding the problem.

Is Cylinder Head Gasket Replacement Worth It?

Cylinder head gasket replacement is expensive. Depending on the year, make, and model, maybe replacing the head gasket will cost more than the car is worth. If that’s the case, you should visit Prieto Automotive, where you can save money buying a quality used vehicle.

At Prieto Automotive, we have an expansive inventory of pre-owned cars, trucks, and SUVs that have been inspected for quality and reliability. We invite you to browse our inventory online or visit our showroom. 

One of our friendly, professional staff will happily show you vehicles that fit your budget and meet your needs. You can even take your favorite for a test drive. 

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