How to Determine if a Gasket Blew

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The easiest way to determine if a car's gasket has blown is with a visual inspection of the radiator, in which the inspector should look for signs of bubbling over or overheating. Discover how to check the crank key pressure system of a car with help from a certified master mechanic in this free video on car maintenance and auto repair.

Part of the Video Series: Car Fluids & Tires
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Video Transcript

Hello my name is Mark Blocker and in this segment we are going to cover how to determine if a gasket blows. Some of the quickest and easiest ways to determine if you have a head gasket problem or a gasket problem is visual inspections. You want to inspect the radiator and look for signs of bubbling over, overheating, stuff of that nature, presence of good clean radiator fluid in the radiator. One of the next things you can check is the crank key pressure system. By removing where you add your engine oil look for a large deposit of white built up film, kind of a soapy substance and that can be an indication where you are getting water in the oil. Another thing you want to check is your actual engine oil. By pulling the dipstick you want to look at your engine oil and make sure that it is clean and at its proper level. If it is cross contaminated with water it will get a thick dark chocolaty color similar to milk shake. Now if you see no evidence of cross contamination in the crank key breather or the engine oil and the vehicle is still running you can fill your radiator up until it is full to the top with fluid, let it warm up and then let it idle and then look for the presence of bubbles in the radiator system. If the radiator is continuously constantly bubbling that is an indication that you are putting combustion pressure into your cooling system, i.e., a blown head gasket or cracked heads where the combustion pressure is slipping into a cooling system and it has to come out somewhere so it is going to drain out the radiator. By keeping the radiator full of fluid you can observe the bubbles coming up and make a determination through the presence of hydrocarbons in your cooling system and if all the visual systems check out o'kay and you are still having problems and you believe you might have a head gasket problem the next step is to do a cylinder compression test on each one of your cylinders and that will determine whether a compression is good and/or you may need to perform a leak down test which will perform a pressurized test where a defective cylinder is and give you a determination of where the compression loss is at. Those are some of the ways you can determine if you have a bad gasket.


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