A head gasket failure can easily lead to severe engine damage or even complete engine failure if left unchecked. If caught early on, however, you'll end up spending hundreds of dollars on a head gasket replacement instead of spending thousands on a new engine.
Recognizing the different types of head gasket failure can be instrumental in preventing further damage to your engine. The following features five common ways for a typical head gasket to fail.
A common type of head gasket failure occurs when the gasket blows outward, allowing oil or coolant to leak outwards onto the engine. As a result, you may notice your car's coolant or oil levels go down over time or spot a fluid leak underneath the vehicle. On a relatively clean engine, you may even spot traces of oil or coolant leaking from the problem area.
Blown Between Cylinders
Head gaskets can also fail between cylinders, usually at the narrowest point on the gasket. When this happens, compression can cause combustion gases to leak from one cylinder into another. Loss of compression from one cylinder can cause the engine to idle roughly or suffer intermittent misfires, especially when the engine is placed under significant load.
Blown to the Coolant Passage
An internal head gasket failure between the coolant and oil passages can result in engine coolant leaking into the engine oil or vice versa. Depending on the amount of coolant that leaks into the oil, you could end up with a crankcase full of brownish, milky oil. In some cases, oil can also mix with coolant, resulting in a significant buildup of gunk inside the radiator and the rest of the cooling system.
Blown Between Cylinder and Crankcase
A head gasket failure between the cylinder and the crankcase passage allows combustion gases from the affected cylinder to enter the crankcase, leading to a loss of compression and engine power. This type of head gasket failure can also allow gasoline from the air/fuel mixture inside the combustion chamber to mingle with the engine oil, resulting in the oil taking on a faint to moderate odor of gasoline.
Blown Between Cylinder and Coolant Passage
A blown head gasket can also allow coolant to leak into the combustion chamber, leading to a loss of engine power and overheating due to low coolant levels. This specific head gasket failure can also cause engine coolant to bubble inside or overflow the radiator due to combustion gases being forced through the coolant passage.
Contact an auto repair shop for more help.