The head gasket is located between the engine block and cylinder head. Every modern car has this gasket but they vary in their thickness and construction based on the manufacturer’s design of the engine. The head gasket is so important because it seals the combustion chamber allowing your car to build the proper compression and contain exhaust gases both of which aid in maintaining the efficiency of your engine. The head gasket also keeps coolant and oil out of the combustion chamber.
Why they Fail
The head gasket forms a seal between the engine block and the cylinder head. This means it has to seal both extremely hot, high-pressure combustion gases. It also seals engine coolant which can be anywhere from cold ambient temperatures to the normal operating temperature of your engine. Due to the wide range of temperatures and relatively large surface area, it is not unusual for head gaskets to develop leaks over time.
Since the head gasket seals the coolant passage both from the atmosphere and the combustion chamber you can’t see much of the gasket on a vehicle with the engine installed. Because much of the gasket can’t be seen without disassembling the engine, blown head gaskets symptoms can be very difficult to diagnose. Since a visual inspection usually will not prove a head gasket leak, it is important to know the other symptoms so you can accurately diagnose a head gasket problem.
Signs of an issue
There are some signs you might notice with a poor gasket. Coolant leaking externally from below the exhaust manifold can be an issue. You might also notice white smoke from the exhaust pipe. If there bubbles in the radiator or coolant overflow tank, or the engine is overheating constantly, those can be signs as well. Make sure to check the oil in your vehicle. If it is a milky white color, the spark plug could be to blame.