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A blown head gasket in your engine is when the gasket that seals the cylinder head of the engine to the engine block breaks. For the DIY mechanic, this is a difficult repair, even if you know the root cause. Let’s look at why this happens below so we can get a handle on how to prevent it.

1. Overheating

The biggest cause of a blown head gasket is overheating due to poor maintenance of the cooling system. Over time coolant can also become acidic and can erode the head gasket, causing a weak area where a leak can form. When this happens, the seal is lost and your engine will allow coolant to be able to enter the combustion chamber or that the explosion pressure of the power stroke in that cylinder can find its way into the cooling system.  That’s why coolant flushes are recommended every 2 to 5 years so the coolant will not deteriorate the gasket or other components in the cooling system.

Before replacing the gasket, find the cause of the overheating which could be due to coolant leaks in the engine, hoses, radiator,  water pump or a stuck thermostat.

2. Installation Error

If you’re adventurous enough to replace the head gasket yourself, be sure to locate the source of the problem and fixed that too.  To prevent the gasket from blowing again, be sure you have not made any installation errors. 

A common mistake is to tighten the head bolts in the wrong order using the wrong amount of torque. Many newer engines require that you use new bolts every time you remove the cylinder head.  These bolts are designed to stretch under a specific torquing sequence.  Reusing them will not secure the seal that the gasket needs.  Another thing is that the cylinder head requires to be remachined so that its entire surface is flat and does not have any warpage caused by the overheating in the first place.  An auto machine shop in your vicinity can do that for you.  Be sure to clean the engine block and the thread holes thoroughly, so the threads are free of debris and the cylinder head surfaces and engine block are absolutely clean and flat. 

3. Bad Head Gasket

In very rare cases the factory simply produces a lemon head gasket, and this poor design or flawed part blows. Do some research online to see if your model of the vehicle was recalled or had consumer complaints about the poor design. The good news with this issue is when you install a good or updated head gasket, that should fix the problem.

Any questions about your head gasket or to book an appointment, contact us today.

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