Symptoms of a Blown Head Gasket and Related Repair Costs

A head gasket is a critical component for internal combustion engines. The gasket is a strong seal that prevents the leakage of combustion gases from the cylinder. It also blocks the coolant from flowing into the combustion chamber of the car engine. Head gasket problems are less common when the engine is new. As the vehicle ages, the gasket weakens. A blown head gasket causes a myriad of issues that affect engine performances. Repairing a blown head gasket costs a significant amount of cash. Identifying early signs of gasket failure is a vital skill that drivers should acquire. It is one way to ensure faulty head gaskets are replaced before they cause serious problems. Look out for these signs that point out to a blown head gasket.

White exhaust smoke

A blown head gasket cannot keep off the coolant from entering the combustion chamber. When the coolant flows into the high-pressure region, it burns alongside the air/fuel mixture. When the coolant combusts, it is exhausted as white smoke. If you notice white smoke, it is a sign that the head gasket is probably damaged.

Abnormal coolant losses

Drivers need to refill the coolant after a considerable amount of time. Coolant losses are predominant if there are visible leakages in the cooling system. However, if the driver notices that the coolant levels are dropping abnormally, they need to check the head gasket for any signs of failure. 

Bubbles in the cooling system

The presence of bubbles in the cooling system (radiator) indicates that combustion gases are leaking and are redirected away from the exhaust system. The driver needs to conduct further tests to ascertain the cause of the bubbles in the surge tank. 

Milky coolant

A blown head gasket causes the coolant and engine oil to mix. The seal that was created by the head gasket is lost. When the coolant and oil mix, they appear milky. The coolant becomes grayish or brownish. 

Visible oil leakages

A blown head gasket is a suspect when there are visible traces of leaking oil at the interface between the cylinder head and the engine block. The leakage may extend to the tailpipe of the car.

Engine overheats

The main sign of a damaged head gasket is the frequent overheating of the engine. There is an abnormal loss of engine coolant and the remaining amount is insufficient to cool the engine. 

Poor engine performance

A blown head gasket causes pressure losses in the engine cylinder. When the losses occur, the engine delivers lower power than expected. The performance of the vehicle becomes dismal. 

Is it okay to drive around with a blown head gasket?

The head gasket is a critical component that affects engine performance. When it is damaged, it causes the engine to overheat frequently. It is inadvisable to continue driving around with a blown head gasket.

Cost of repairing a blown head gasket

Replacing a blown head gasket is costly. Drivers spend an average of $1200 to $2000 to fix the problem. 


A blown head gasket is a cause of concern to drivers. Drivers can prevent premature head gasket failure by paying close attention to the cooling system. Repair any signs of cooling system issues to avoid blowing the head gasket, which is costly to replace.