How to Start a Car With Blown Head Gasket

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So, you've found yourself in a bit of a pickle. Your car's got a blown head gasket, and you're wondering if there's any way to start it up and get moving again. Well, fear not! In this article, we'll explore a few methods that may just help you get back on the road. From using a head gasket sealer to engine oil additives, we'll give you all the technical know-how to get your car running, and achieve that sweet sense of liberation once more.

Key Takeaways

  • Signs of a blown head gasket include white smoke from the exhaust pipe, engine overheating, milky appearance in the engine oil, loss of engine power, and coolant reservoir bubbling.
  • Repair options for a blown head gasket include professional head gasket replacement and temporary fixes with a head gasket sealer, taking into consideration the severity of the issue and the budget for repairs.
  • Precautions before starting the car with a blown head gasket include checking coolant levels, inspecting oil level and condition, ensuring a fully charged battery, listening for unusual sounds or vibrations, and turning off the car if the engine runs rough or emits white smoke.
  • Methods for starting a car with a blown head gasket include using a head gasket sealer by allowing the engine to cool down, draining the coolant, adding the recommended amount of sealer, filling the radiator with coolant mixture, and running the engine for a specified time to circulate the sealer. Another method is using a cold compression test for accurate diagnosis by using a compression gauge and spark plug wrench, performing the test multiple times, comparing compression readings between cylinders, and referencing values and alternative diagnostic tools.

Signs of a Blown Head Gasket

You'll notice several signs of a blown head gasket. When diagnosing a blown head gasket, there are a few key indicators to look out for. One common sign is white smoke coming from the exhaust pipe. This is caused by coolant leaking into the combustion chambers and being burned along with the fuel. Another sign is overheating of the engine. A blown head gasket can cause coolant to leak into the cylinders, leading to a loss of coolant and subsequent overheating. Additionally, you may notice a milky appearance in the engine oil. This occurs when coolant mixes with the oil due to a blown head gasket. Finally, a loss of engine power and poor acceleration can also be a result of a blown head gasket.

Once you have confirmed a blown head gasket, it is important to consider your repair options. One option is to have the head gasket replaced by a professional mechanic. This can be a costly repair, but it is the most effective way to fix the issue. Another option is to use a head gasket sealer. These products are designed to temporarily seal the leak and prevent further damage. However, they are not a permanent solution and may only provide temporary relief. It is important to note that using a head gasket sealer should only be considered as a temporary fix and not a long-term solution. Ultimately, the best course of action will depend on the severity of the issue and your budget.

Precautions Before Starting the Car

Before starting the car, make sure to take a few precautions to prevent further damage. Proper car maintenance is crucial when dealing with a blown head gasket. Firstly, check the coolant level in the radiator and the overflow reservoir. Ensure that both are filled to the recommended levels. Low coolant levels can cause overheating and worsen the head gasket issue. It is also important to inspect the oil level and condition. A milky appearance or a strong smell of coolant in the oil may indicate a head gasket leak. In such cases, it is best to have the oil changed and the head gasket repaired before attempting to start the car. Additionally, make sure the battery is fully charged. A weak battery can cause the engine to turn over slowly or not start at all. Lastly, take caution when starting the car for the first time. Listen for any unusual sounds or vibrations. If the engine runs rough or emits white smoke, it is advisable to turn off the car immediately and seek professional assistance. Following these precautions will help minimize further damage and ensure your safety.

Method 1: Using a Head Gasket Sealer

To begin using a head gasket sealer, gather the necessary materials and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Here are the steps to properly use a head gasket sealer for head gasket repair in your car:

  1. Prepare the engine: Start by allowing the engine to cool down completely. Open the hood and locate the radiator cap. Twist it counterclockwise to release any remaining pressure. Place a drain pan under the radiator and carefully remove the drain plug or lower radiator hose to drain the coolant.
  2. Add the sealer: Shake the head gasket sealer bottle well to ensure proper mixing. Pour the recommended amount of sealer into the radiator. Take care not to exceed the specified dosage.
  3. Fill the radiator: Reattach the drain plug or lower radiator hose and fill the radiator with the appropriate coolant mixture. Replace the radiator cap securely.
  4. Run the engine: Start the car's engine and let it idle for the specified time mentioned in the manufacturer's instructions. This allows the sealer to circulate and seal any leaks in the head gasket.

Using a head gasket sealer can be an effective DIY car maintenance solution for minor head gasket issues. However, it is important to note that this is a temporary fix and professional assistance may be required for more severe cases. Always follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer for the best results.

Method 2: Using a Cold Compression Test

To ensure the accuracy and reliability of your diagnosis, using a cold compression test is crucial when starting a car with a blown head gasket. This method allows you to measure the compression levels in each cylinder, indicating any potential leakage. To perform the test, you will need specific equipment and tools such as a compression gauge and a spark plug wrench.

Test Accuracy and Reliability

You can determine the accuracy and reliability of the test by using a cold compression test. This testing procedure involves measuring the compression of each cylinder when the engine is cold. Here are four important factors to consider when evaluating the accuracy and reliability of the test:

  1. Consistency: Perform the cold compression test multiple times to ensure consistent results. If the readings vary significantly, it may indicate an issue with the test or the engine itself.
  2. Comparison: Compare the compression readings of each cylinder to identify any significant variations. A significant difference between cylinders could indicate a problem with the head gasket or other engine components.
  3. Reference values: Consult the manufacturer's specifications or a reliable resource to determine the acceptable compression values for your specific engine. This will help you assess whether the compression readings are within the expected range.
  4. Alternative solutions: Keep in mind that while the cold compression test is a reliable method, it is not the only diagnostic tool available. Consider using other testing procedures, such as a leak-down test
    or a chemical block test, to gather additional information and confirm your findings.

Necessary Equipment and Tools

With the cold compression test, you'll need a few necessary equipment and tools to accurately diagnose a blown head gasket. In order to perform this test, you will require a compression tester, a spark plug wrench, and a socket set. The compression tester is crucial for measuring the compression levels in each cylinder. It consists of a gauge and a hose that connects to the spark plug hole. The spark plug wrench and socket set are necessary to remove the spark plugs, allowing you to access the cylinders. By following the troubleshooting steps and using these tools properly, you can determine if a blown head gasket is the cause of your car's issues. Remember to always consult a professional mechanic if you are unsure or inexperienced in performing these tests.

Method 3: Using Engine Oil Additives

To effectively start a car with a blown head gasket, it is important to consider the use of engine oil additives. These additives are designed to temporarily seal the gaps in the gasket and allow the engine to run smoother. However, it is crucial to be aware of the potential safety concerns associated with using additives, such as clogging the engine or causing damage to other components.

Effectiveness of Additives

Using engine oil additives can significantly improve the effectiveness of starting a car with a blown head gasket. Here are four reasons why:

  1. Sealant properties: Engine oil additives contain sealants that can help temporarily repair the blown head gasket. These sealants work by filling in the gaps and cracks, allowing for better compression and combustion in the engine.
  2. Cooling effects: Some additives have cooling properties that can help regulate the temperature of the engine. This is crucial because a blown head gasket can lead to overheating. By reducing the heat, the engine can function more efficiently and increase the chance of starting.
  3. Lubrication enhancement: Additives can improve the lubrication properties of the engine oil, reducing friction and wear on the internal components. This can help prevent further damage to the engine and prolong its lifespan.
  4. Long-term effects: While additives may provide a temporary fix, it is important to consider the long-term effects. Continued use of additives may mask underlying issues and should not be relied upon as a permanent solution. It is recommended to seek professional assistance for a thorough repair of the blown head gasket.

Safety Concerns With Additives

You can, however, be cautious of potential safety concerns when using engine oil additives. While additives can be effective in temporarily sealing a blown head gasket and allowing you to start your car, it is important to understand the risks involved. One concern is the possibility of clogging the engine's oil passages or filters, which can lead to poor lubrication and engine damage. Additionally, some additives may contain harsh chemicals that can be harmful if not handled properly. If you are concerned about the safety of using additives, there are alternative methods to consider. For example, you could try using a coolant sealant or opting for a more permanent solution like replacing the head gasket. These alternatives may require more time and effort, but they can help avoid the potential risks associated with additives.

Final Thoughts and Safety Tips

Before attempting to start the car with a blown head gasket, make sure you prioritize your safety and follow these final thoughts and safety tips.

  1. Regular Maintenance: It cannot be stressed enough how important regular maintenance is for your vehicle. By adhering to the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule, you can prevent many issues, including a blown head gasket. Regularly checking coolant levels, changing engine oil, and inspecting the cooling system can go a long way in preventing costly repairs.
  2. Monitor Engine Temperature: Keep an eye on the engine temperature gauge while driving. If it starts to rise unexpectedly, it could indicate a problem with the cooling system or a potential head gasket failure. If you notice any signs of overheating, pull over immediately and let the engine cool down before proceeding.
  3. Avoid Overheating: Excessive heat is the main culprit behind a blown head gasket. To prevent overheating, make sure your radiator is functioning properly, the coolant levels are adequate, and the cooling fans are working efficiently. Avoid driving in extreme conditions and always monitor the temperature gauge.
  4. Address Issues Promptly: If you suspect a blown head gasket or any other engine problem, don't delay in addressing it. Ignoring the issue can lead to further damage and costly repairs. Consult a professional mechanic who can accurately diagnose the problem and provide the necessary repairs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Drive My Car With a Blown Head Gasket?

To drive your car with a blown head gasket, it's not recommended due to potential engine damage. Ensure you take driving precautions and consider alternative transportation methods to avoid further issues.

How Long Can I Drive With a Blown Head Gasket Before It Causes More Damage?

To prevent further damage from a blown head gasket, it's crucial to address the issue promptly. Driving with a blown head gasket can lead to overheating, engine failure, and costly repairs. Don't delay, get it fixed!

Are There Any Temporary Fixes for a Blown Head Gasket That I Can Use Until I Can Afford Repairs?

If you're looking for temporary fixes for a blown head gasket until you can afford repairs, it's important to note that starting the car may not be the best solution. Long-term fixes will provide better results.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Blown Head Gasket?

Replacing a blown head gasket can be quite pricey, depending on your car's make and model. Signs of a blown head gasket include overheating, white smoke from the exhaust, and coolant leaks.

What Are the Common Causes of a Blown Head Gasket and How Can I Prevent It From Happening Again in the Future?

To prevent a blown head gasket, be mindful of common causes like overheating and engine misfires. Regular maintenance, such as checking coolant levels and addressing any issues promptly, can help you avoid future problems.


In conclusion, starting a car with a blown head gasket can be a temporary solution, but it is important to address the underlying issue as soon as possible. Ignoring a blown head gasket can lead to further damage and costly repairs. Did you know that approximately 10% of all engine failures are caused by a blown head gasket? Taking prompt action and using proper methods can help extend the life of your vehicle and avoid major breakdowns. Stay informed and take care of your car to ensure smooth and safe driving.

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