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4 Signs Your Car's Head Gasket May Need to Be Replaced

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The head gasket is put under immense levels of pressure during even everyday driving. It is responsible for forming a seal between the engine block and cylinder head, meaning that it must seal both the coolant passages and the combustion chamber, essentially resisting both the cold of the coolant and the heat and pressure of combustion.

The head gasket can therefore begin to leak over time, and it may eventually fail altogether. To make sure that doesn't happen, you need to watch for the following four signs and take your car to a mechanic as soon as you notice them arise.

1. Misfiring

Misfiring can be caused by a number of problems, but a leaking head gasket is one of the most common culprits. When the head gasket isn't working properly, there will be a leakage of compression between two or more cylinders, which will cause a misfire. This is most likely to occur during ignition.

2. Contaminated Oil

If you're worried that your car's head gasket may have started to leak, one of the easiest ways to check is by inspecting your oil. If the head gasket is failing, coolant will have leaked into the oil reservoir, and this is generally easy to discern by looking for a milk-coloured ring around the oil cap; if it is there, your oil has been contaminated. This is a major problem in and of itself since the oil will no longer be properly lubricating your engine.       

3. Excessive Exhaust Fumes

Another symptom of a failing head gasket is large cloud of exhaust fume whenever you start up your car or leave it idling. These clouds will become larger as the problem gets more serious, and this will generally happen quite swiftly. Of course, there are several reasons why your car may be producing more fumes than normal, but all of them demand the attention of a mechanic. If you want to check whether a faulty head gasket is to blame, take note of how the exhaust fumes smell – if they are slightly sweet, the head gasket is probably to blame.

4. Rapid Overheating

Finally, a faulty head gasket will often cause the car to overheat very quickly; after all, coolant will have been lost and possibly contaminated with oil, so it won't be able to perform effectively. Unfortunately, this is a sign that many people tend to ignore because it should occur intermittently depending on how far and fast you drive.