What Causes A Head Gasket To Fail?

The car engine has a complex structure. Unless someone has gotten their hands dirty in the hood for a long time, it isn’t easy to figure out why the car suddenly stops working. Engine failure is a common event.

Causes A Head Gasket To Fail, What Causes A Head Gasket To Fail?, Mad Digi

So what exactly causes a head gasket to fail? It can happen due to many factors:

  • Malfunctioning parts or damaged engine’s internal components
  • Using the wrong fuel or using in a lower amount than recommended for that particular model
  • Water was leaking through gas chambers when driving in flooded areas
  • Other than these factors, the most notorious component that causes your car to break down is the head gasket failure

What is a Head Gasket?

A head gasket is a part of the engine that keeps the coolant from leaking out. It’s usually made of rubber or plastic and fills in the gap between the cylinder head and engine block. Occasionally, these parts are made with inferior materials which can cause them to fail prematurely.

It’s a common misconception that all head gasket failures are caused by faulty design. In fact, there are many other factors such as corrosion and overheating which can lead to this failure. This blog post will cover these reasons in detail and also offer some preventative measures you can take to protect your engine from future damage.

Why Does A Head Gasket Fail?

The head gasket is a vital part of the engine. It keeps the coolant from leaking out and protects between the cylinder head and engine block. But if head gaskets fail, it can cause permanent damage to your engine and lead to expensive repairs. A head gasket is a ring made of either plastic or rubber that fills the gap between the cylinder head and engine block.

It’s a common misconception that all head gasket failures are caused by faulty design, but there are many other factors such as corrosion and overheating that can cause this failure. If your car leaked oil from under the hood, it could merely be an oil line that came loose. But if you’ve noticed a strange burning smell and white smoke coming out of your car, head gasket failure could be to blame.

This is because the coolant gets mixed with oil and water outside the engine block, where it can flow onto the exhaust manifold without being burnt off. When this happens, it causes bubbles and a steaming sound as it burns.

This is because the coolant gets mixed with oil and water outside the engine block, where it can flow onto the exhaust manifold without being burnt off. If you notice any of these symptoms, your head gasket might be malfunctioning. As such, take your car in for an inspection as soon as possible.

Don’t Ignore These Warning Signs

Keep in mind that a car with a faulty head gasket can still run, but you should never ignore these warning signs. It pays to have your vehicle inspected by a technician as soon as possible if there’s no other explanation for the symptoms you’re experiencing.

If corrosion has built up on your radiator or engine parts over time, it can damage your car and lead to a head gasket failure. This is especially true if you live in an area with harsh winters or humid summers.

What Happens If the Gasket Is Damaged?

Catastrophe. The engine fails before it even starts. Without the head gasket, there would be excessive oil and cool leakage that will ultimately kill the engine. There’s a reason why the engine is designed as such, and every component is separated. A damaged or a blown head gasket can be replaced early on to prevent further destruction.

Causes A Head Gasket To Fail, What Causes A Head Gasket To Fail?, Mad Digi

How To Know If There Is A Head Gasket Failure?

6 Telltale Signs Of A Head Gasket Failure:

  1. Funny odor– It happens due to external leakage of coolant on either side of the engine. But mostly, it happens on the exhaust side. It is not that difficult to figure out a blown head gasket in this case. A sweet odor comes out of the hood because of the coolant. As it is one of the early signs, it can get is fixed quickly before it damages other parts.
  2. White smoke formationThis happens when coolant leaks inside the cylinder block’s combustion chambers. The piston pushes the coolant to the exhaust valves. When it reaches the exhaust through the valves, it gets converted into white smoke. So if you see white smoke coming out of the tailpipe, you can guess a head gasket failure.
  3. Coolant disappears despite no leakage – If you notice that you have to refill the coolant tank frequently despite no leakage, it’s time to check the head gasket. This happens because some minor damage in the gasket allows the coolant to sip into the combustion chambers in small quantities. Also, it is the reason why you won’t see white smoke despite the leakage.
  4. Overheating – There are many reasons why your car engine may be overheating, but the most obvious reason would be faulty cooling. Hot gas pumped from the combustion chambers may leak into the coolant section on the cylinder.
    1. While the engine is already under immense pressure, it expands to many folds. The radiator hose, which is a cooling component, overheats due to this pressure. Overheating can also happen when the oil dries up from the piston skirt. Its movement gets rigid. In this case, only replacing the gasket will not be the issue.
  5. Air bubble formation in the radiator hose – Open the radiator cap and pour water till it fills the beam. Start the engine. If you notice any air bubble formation, it’s a straightforward indication of a gas leak from the head gasket.
    1. Hoses are responsible for pumping coolant throughout the engine in a sealed system to maintain the desired temperature. But when air enters this closed system due to a blown gasket, it creates a blockage. That’s how the hose starts to bubble. Eventually, it causes overheating as the coolant is not circulating.

Common Head Gasket Failure Causes

Wrong Ignition Timing

Pre-ignition of the engine can cause the metal valve or the surface of the cylinder head to overheat. This may cause a spark before the actual ignition. This sudden ignition in the combustion chamber creates enormous pressure before the piston cycle completes.

A gasket has thermal properties that expand when the temperature is high and contract when it comes down. So it can tolerate the pressure change in a short duration. But over some time, this constant shift in temperature and sudden peak in pressure causes the gasket to crack.


It is an explosive phenomenon that occurs due to engine failure. Denotation can happen due to insufficient fuel octane, low air to fuel ratio, overheating, and wrong ignition timing.
How to prevent this?

  • Avoid turning the engine on and off frequently.
  • Do not start driving as soon as the engine starts. Wait for the temperature to stabilize.
  • Regularly change your oil.

Keeping a check on these factors will sustain your gasket life.

Causes A Head Gasket To Fail, What Causes A Head Gasket To Fail?, Mad Digi

Solutions to Head Gasket Failure

In most cases, just a gasket replacement won’t suffice. If the car engine is facing problems, there is more than one part to fix.

Flattening Head Surface

The head surface should be devoid of any scratches or unevenness. This will ensure perfect sealing by the gasket. The rough surface can loosen up the sealing over time. Or it may crack the gasket due to constant wear and tear.

So flattening or resurfacing the cylinder head may avoid gasket failure to some extent. Increase the compression ratio with a milling machine. Aluminum surface heads can be cleaned with PCD tools.

Tightening The Head Bolts

To make a reliable gasket seal, check the bolts attaching the gasket to the head. Due to hostile temperature, there may be corrosion causing deformation or cuts on the bolts. Tighten them carefully or replace them if necessary.

Use A Soft Gasket

When replacing engine components, go for a non-metallic soft gasket head rather than a metal one. The seal won’t loosen up easily for a rubber gasket due to the rough cylinder head surface. They are corrosion-resistant and have high compression strength.

These solutions will require professional assistance as it requires opening the engine entirely and spreading out the parts to check for defects. It can turn out to be expensive. Get them done while fixing any damage to the other components.

Causes A Head Gasket To Fail, What Causes A Head Gasket To Fail?, Mad Digi

Main Takeaways – What Causes A Head Gasket To Fail?

Let’s first go over what causes a head gasket to fail. The seal between the cylinder and the engine block is important for cooling, which in turn prevents overheating. If this seal begins to leak or fails entirely, then your car will begin to experience issues with power and fuel efficiency as well as emissions control.

This means that it could be time to replace your old head gasket before you’re dealing with costly repairs down the line!

A head gasket is a type of sealant that goes between the engine block and cylinder head. When this sealant fails, it can cause coolant to leak into the oil or vice versa- as well as other issues with your car’s performance.

Head gaskets problems are a relatively common occurrence that can lead to costly repairs when they fail. The cause of head gasket failure is often difficult to pinpoint with certainty which makes diagnosing the problem tricky. However, there are some factors that may contribute or accelerate this process including heat and age.”

As always, the first step in diagnosing any kind of vehicle issue is to observe what is happening with your car and take note of anything that seems unusual. If you notice a bubbling sound coming from the engine or antifreeze dripping from the exhaust pipe, then it’s likely time for a closer look under the hood.

Thanks for reading and stay dirty