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Head Gasket Check

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Published on Sep 26, 2009

Think you've got an overheating situation because of a blown head gasket? Fill the cooling system with water (never open it hot!!!!) and remove all the spark plugs. Reinstall the #1 spark plug and spin the engine over - if the water level rises with each compression stroke, the gasket is blown. You may see the water level go down due to water pump activity, but that only means you're filling air pockets. Rising water followed by bubbles tells the real tale. If the number 1 cylinder doesn't show anything, move that same spark plug to cylinder number two and retest. If the head gasket is blown and is heating up the water with leaking combustion gasses, you'll see the water rising with each compression stroke. We tested cylinders 1, 2, and 3 on this engine before we got results. Be aware that head gaskets can blow in several different ways and this is just one of them. Other symptoms might be caused by a misfire that happens for a few seconds on cold start only - if if does that, shut the engine off while it's misfiring and remove all the spark plugs - if any of the plugs is covered with coolant, the head gasket is leaking coolant into the cylinder, which is fairly common on some engines. If one spark plug is very sooty and the rest of them are clean, the injector may be leaking on that cylinder. Head gaskets can also blow between two cylinders, which will cause low compression on those to adjacent ones.

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