Overheating – Blown Head Gasket?


I have a Subaru, for the last month it has been overheating in a matter or minutes. My antifreeze was leaking so we fixed that, but it keep s doing it. Basically I will be driving for 15 minutes with the needle right in the middle and in a matter of seconds it would be all the way on the top.

My mechanic says I need to replace the head gasket, but I can afford the $2000 he’s charging me for that. Do you think it could be anything else?



Hello there Caroline,

First thing you need to do is find another mechanic, second thing is to get a “cooling system pressure test” to insure you do not have any more leaks in the system. A pressure test should also tell you if you have a head gasket leak or not too. If a mechanic does not perform a simple pressure test…they are not really a mechanic.

  1. I would check the electric cooling fan to make sure they are working properly, (causes overheating while car is sitting still or in slow moving traffic)
  2. I would check the antifreeze circulation to make sure there is not a restriction in the system like from a rusty clogged up radiator.
  3. I would check the thermostat and make sure it is opening and closing properly
  4. I would make sure this is not an inside gauge problem, and no real over heating is taking place

Here is more on the subject

What causes my car to over heat?


Austin Davis

About the Author:

Austin Davis, consumer car repair advocate. "Hi there! I love to help people solve their car repair problems and I hope my site was helpful to you today. Thank you for stopping by."
  • austin

    Sorry for my delay :( So your thermostat was leaking coolant….and you over heated the engine to the point the engine is dead?? I would do a cooling system pressure test to determine if there is an internal coolant leak, like from a headgasket, and if that is ok I would do a compression test on the cylinders to see if the engine is worn out or has other internal wear problems. Thats a lot of miles, you got your monies worth that is for sure. Would I personally rebuild this engine…..no probably not, would I buy a junk yard used engine and install it…if I really liked the car and wanted to keep it…YES, I would take a chance on a used engine. Just my thoughts.

  • ljg

    My 1997 Subaru legacy L Wagon has 301,000 miles on it. Lately the coolant level in the reserve tank has been getting a bit low (not in the radiator though). I see no leak evidence. The oil is brown and not milky and once the car warms up (2-3 miles) there is no visible exhaust. Today I had the temp. gauge suddenly jump up on me so I pulled over and had the car towed to my trusty mechanic. Thermostat, leak I am missing/ bad gauge itself or head gasket, which means new car? Thoughts?