Why do head gaskets blow?


Quick Answer

The most common reason head gaskets blow is overheating. When a car experiences extreme overheating, thermal expansion may lead to the gasket being crushed by a cylinder head, thus developing cracks and beginning to leak. Head gaskets may also blow due to poor installation. In this situation, the head gasket typically blows soon after installation.

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Full Answer

If a car's temperature gauge indicates the engine is reaching a dangerous temperature, the best thing to do is to turn the car off immediately and have it towed to an auto repair shop. If the car's temperature is above normal but not dangerous, turn on the heat inside the car to help cool the engine.

Even if the car does not reach dangerous temperatures, design flaws, improper maintenance and normal wear and tear can cause an uneven distribution of heat in areas surrounding the head gasket. This causes hot spots to develop, undermining the structural integrity of the head gasket.

A blown head gasket is a serious problem. Cracks in the head gasket allow coolant or other fluids to leak into other parts of the engine, which may cause engine failure. These cracks also allow gases to escape the combustion chambers, which leads to engine misfires, loss of power and poor fuel efficiency.

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