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Why Does Heat Crack the Head Gasket?

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The head gasket is built to withstand a ton of heat. It seals off the combustion chamber, and excessive amounts of heat are produced inside of the chamber. As such, it takes a lot of heat to crack the head gasket, but this can happen if you drive your engine when it is overheating. When the head gasket cracks, the engine will overheat even more. Let’s talk about this below.

Instant Coolant Loss

The head gasket not only seals the combustion heat inside the combustion chamber but it also prevents the engine coolant from leaking into the chamber. When the head gasket cracks, the coolant is free to flow into the chamber and the cylinders. Unfortunately, this is one reason why your engine will overheat even more. There is not enough coolant circulating through the engine because the coolant is leaking.

Constant Overheating

In addition, the heat inside of the combustion chamber is released into the engine through the crack in the head gasket. When this happens, the engine must deal with heat to which it would normally not be exposed. Consequently, the temperature gauge needle is going to rise into the critical mass red zone because your engine is getting way too hot. Pull over and stop driving your automobile.

Boiling Coolant

When the engine’s temperature is this hot, it can actually cause the coolant to boil. You will hear the boiling in the engine. Unfortunately, this opens you up to the dangerous situation of a blown radiator cap. Once the cap blows, you will have scorching coolant spraying all over the engine. Again, pull over and turn off the engine. Then, call for a tow truck to bring your vehicle to our shop.

White Exhaust Smoke

We mentioned briefly that the coolant makes its way into the cylinders through the crack in the head gasket. When this happens, the spark plugs set it on fire with the air and fuel. This causes white exhaust smoke to flow out of the tailpipe. If the exhaust smoke looks a bit blue, you’ve got motor oil burning in the cylinders, as well.

Diluted/Milky Oil

Speaking of motor oil, the head gasket prevents the motor oil and coolant from mixing in the combustion chamber. When the head gasket cracks, the motor oil will be diluted by the coolant and turn a milky color. It cannot protect your engine when it is in this condition.

If you suspect that you have a cracked head gasket, call our shop to schedule a service appointment and have your vehicle towed to our location.

Photo by skhoward from Getty Images Signature via Canva Pro

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