What Are The Symptoms Of A Blown Head Gasket - Capitol Toyota Service

If you know anything about what it takes to keep a car on the road, you know that the words "blown head gasket" are some of the most dreaded you can hear -- but they may not have to be. That's because at Capitol Toyota in Salem, we have expert, factory-trained technicians who can take care of this repair for you using OEM parts. Unlike the repairs you might get at a corner mechanic, ours are carried out with the highest quality parts direct from Toyota. That way, you can be confident that your car will continue serving you faithfully for miles and miles to come once we're through.

To keep your head gasket in good shape, be sure to get regular oil changes and maintain your car according to the manufacturer's recommended schedule. If you suspect your head gasket might be blown, look for these four symptoms:

Head gaskets like these form a perfect seal between the engine block and the cylinder head, and they're more important than they might look

4. Milky Build-Up Under Oil Cap

If you suspect that your engine's head gasket has blown, there's an easy way to help confirm or deny your suspicions: check under the oil filler cap. If the gasket is intact, the inside of the oil cap should be relatively dry, with perhaps a little bit of engine oil on the inside. However, if you find a milky brownish-yellow substance that's roughly the color and consistency of a chocolate milkshake, you may have a head gasket leak. This milky substance is oil that has mixed with coolant that is seeping past the head gasket and contaminating the engine oil. Contaminated engine oil cannot properly protect your engine from friction or heat, and this could mean you'll need a head gasket replacement right away.

However, if you only drive the vehicle for short distances, you could see contaminated oil under the filler cap even when the head gasket is still good. This is because condensation that can collect while your vehicle sits overnight may not be totally burned up on short drives as the engine never fully warms up. On longer drives, this moisture would evaporate. If you have a vehicle that only sees infrequent use on short drives, this test may not help you.

White exhaust coming from your car is usually caused by burning coolant in the engine due to a failed head gasket or other seal

3. Visible Tailpipe Smoke

The head gasket helps to ensure proper coolant flow through the coolant channels of the engine, which run right next to the engine's combustion chambers. If this head gasket leaks, coolant could seep into the combustion chambers where it'll be burned up along with the gasoline. When coolant is burned in the engine, it creates a white or grey-colored smoke that comes from the tailpipe. While many cars will make visible tailpipe smoke while warming up on a cold day, a vehicle that's constantly emitting visible smoke likely has a head gasket issue.

2. Rough Idle

Not only can the head gasket fail between the coolant channels and the combustion chambers, it may fail between two combustion chambers. Your engine is designed to maintain a high pressure level inside each cylinder for maximum power and efficiency. If the head gasket fails in this way, the engine won't hold pressure properly, and the engine will run poorly and idle roughly. A rough idle isn't always due to a bad head gasket, but it's an important symptom you shouldn't overlook.

A modern engine can withstand a whole lot of heat, but too much heat can cause severe damage in a short amount of time

1. Engine Overheating

The head gasket creates a sort of "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" problem when it comes to engine overheating. See, head gasket leaks can be caused by an engine that's overheating. When metal engine parts get too hot, they can warp and swell, which can cause them to pull away from their gaskets and seals, leading to leaks. But since the head gasket keeps coolant flowing properly through the engine, a head gasket leak will often make the engine overheat, too.

No matter what the cause, as soon as you notice an engine temperature warning light in your car, we recommend that you cease driving as soon as possible. Operating an overheating engine can quickly lead to total engine failure! That would leave you with a very costly engine rebuild or engine swap to keep your car on the road. Instead, head to the Capitol Toyota service center for a diagnostic. If necessary, we can replace the head gasket with a lasting OEM part that should give you thousands of miles of trouble-free performance.


Capitol Toyota

783 Auto Group Avenue Ne
Directions Salem, OR 97301

  • Sales: 503-399-1011
  • Service: 503-399-1011
  • Parts: 503-399-1011