Your Vehicle Head Gasket

Hello Calgary drivers, let’s talk about your head gasket.

First, you have your engine block, a big hunk of metal that has the pistons and stuff in it. Then there is the cylinder head, which holds the cams and valves. The head gasket goes between the block and the head. There are three things that are shared between the block and the head:

  1. Engine oil – which comes up from the block to lubricate parts in the head
  2. Coolant – which circulates through the block and the head to cool the engine
  3. Air, fuel and exhaust – which belong in the combustion chamber; the bottom of which is in the block and the top of which is in the head.

These three things should NEVER mix with each other. The vital job of the head gasket is to make sure that doesn’t happen. When the head gasket leaks (fails), one or more of these three things could mix.

Here are some examples of what can happen:

  • Low combustion pressure – ratty performance
  • Exhaust gets into the coolant – leads to overheating
  • Coolant gets into the oil – poor lubrication and possible engine damage
  • Coolant gets into the exhaust – can cause catalytic converter damage
  • Coolant gets into the combustion chamber – ratty engine performance; extreme leaks could fill a cylinder with coolant which will cause catastrophic engine damage
  • Oil gets in the combustion chamber – ratty performance and possible damage from oil loss

Signs of head gasket troubles include: white exhaust smoke, engine overheating, higher than normal oil level, milky oil color and coolant loss without visible leaks.

Engine overheating is the main cause of head gasket damage. This could be due to a coolant leak, stuck thermostat, or a failed fan. Ignition timing troubles in the engine can cause head gasket failure. Also a coolant pH level that is either too high or too low can cause extreme damage not only to the head gasket, but to the radiator and other components as well.

If your engine is overheating, you observe coolant on the driveway, or if you have any of the symptoms described above, bring your car in to Precision Alignment & Brake Ltd for an inspection. We’ll test the coolant for both the proper protection setting (coolant/water mix) and the proper pH level. Our skilled service advisors can diagnose the cause of your trouble and make the necessary repairs.

SHARE IT: