Hi Austin, my old Toyota Corolla might have a major internal coolant leak as per my mechanic who seems to think I need to get a new car.
Can you tell me what are the common blown head gasket symptoms I should be concerned with? He wants to charge me $1,100 to replace the headgasket.
Hello there Jennifer,
Yes, I can see where you would be a little leery of putting that kind of money in an older vehicle. There are a few common blown head gasket symptoms I would be looking for and they are.
1. White smoke from the exhaust pipe – When coolant is leaked inside the cylinder the spark plug tries to burn it like it would gasoline and it can not. So what you see out the tailpipe is white smoke/steam
2. Constant loss of coolant – if you are continually adding coolant to the radiator and see NO obvious external coolant leak anywhere.
3. Running rough – engine miss firing. When the coolant/water enters the cylinder it will basically put out the spark from the spark plug and that cylinder will not be able to fire and do it’s job. So what happens is that cylinder is “dead” and you will feel a missfire because of it. The engine will run rough, try to die and will get poor fuel mileage due to the miss.
4. Lack of engine compression – since there is a tear or hole in the headgasket on one or more of the cylinders the cylinder can not hold pressure. If you were to do a compression test on all cylinders you would notice a drastic drop in compression on those cylinders with the headgasket leak.
5. Coolant inside the engine oil – not all the time, but sometimes the engine oil will get mixed with coolant from the headgasket leak and cause the engine oil to look like a chocolate milkshake instead of clear to dark brown or black looking oil.
What should you do first?
Get a cooling system pressure test to help you determine if you have an internal (headgasket) or external coolant leak (hose, water pump, radiator etc.)
Once you think you are sure you have an internal leak, I would then do a compression test to make sure only 1-2 cylinders are affected and not a total loss of compression across all cylinders.
Now, before you just run out and spend $1,100 on a headgasket replacement try this first.
I have used this headgasket sealer for many many years with a great success rate. Do it like this NOT as described on the can.
1. Get a can of K&W Engine Block Sealer – or the new Nanotech Block Sealer by K&W from your local auto part store.
2. Mix that can in a bucket with plain tap water and mix together
3. Drain out all the coolant from the engine and radiator as best as you can.
4. Pour in the contents of the bucket and top off and mix using a water hose.
5. Now, drive the car for a total of 500 miles to help get the sealer into the hole in the headgasket and plug it up.
6. After the 500 miles drain out the radiator and sealer from the engine.
If the sealer worked, it should be a permanent seal. You need to make sure you repair the initial cause of the overheating though as the headgasket failure is just the symptom of the overheating problem.
You will NOT have freeze or boil over protection during this 500 mile period so keep your radiator and engine from freezing.
This really works well, and I hope it works for you too.
Feel free to comment, share on Facebook etc. and help your friends save a ton of money.
I made this video for those of you who do not want to read :)