In this tutorial, I'm going to explain how to check for a blown head gasket on the 2.4L equipped Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth vehicles.
Testing for a blown head gasket involves four tests and they can be done at home without having to take the vehicle down to the shop.
I have explained each one in detail so that you can find out if you've got a blown head gasket on your hands or not.
Contents of this tutorial at a glance:
APPLIES TO: Quite a few Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth vehicles are equipped with the 2.4L 4 cylinder engine. This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:
- 2.4L Chrysler Cirrus: 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
- 2.4L Chrysler PT Cruiser: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
- 2.4L Chrysler Sebring: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
- 2.4L Dodge Caravan: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007
- 2.4L Dodge Grand Caravan: 1996, 1997
- 2.4L Dodge Stratus: 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
- 2.4L Plymouth Breeze: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
- 2.4L Plymouth Grand Voyager: 1996, 1997
- 2.4L Plymouth Voyager: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001
Symptoms Of A Blown Head Gasket
Depending on how the head gasket has failed on your 2.4L equipped Chrysler (Dodge or Plymouth) vehicle, you're going to see one of two types of failures.
Either the engine is going to crank but not start or the engine is going to start and run but it will overheat.
Here is a basic list of symptoms you're going to see when the head gasket has blown on your 2.4L equipped Chrysler (Dodge or Plymouth) vehicle:
- The exhaust smells like antifreeze being burned.
- White smoke comes out of the tailpipe as soon as the engine starts and runs.
- A rough idle condition usually accompanied by a P0300 misfire trouble code.
- Specific misfire cylinder codes like: P0301, P0302, P0303, P0304.
- A lack of power when you accelerate the vehicle.
Before I continue on to the first test, it's important to note that the head gasket that is used on the 2.4L engine is a multi-layered steel (MLS) gasket.
This type of gasket is known to fail on its own. To be a bit more specific, it used to be that a head gasket would only failed if the engine suffered and extreme overheating condition. The MLS type head gasket will fail on its own and cause your vehicle to overheat.
It doesn't matter how much you baby your engine. It doesn't matter how much maintenance you give the engine, this head gasket will eventually fail on its own. It's not a matter of 'if', it's a matter of 'when'.
When the MLS type head gasket starts to fail, it will start to leak engine oil. This is usually the first sign that it's time to have it replaced.
TEST 1: Engine Oil The Color Of Coffee With Too Much Creamer
The very first thing that we're going to do is to check the color of the engine oil that's sticking to the engine oil dipstick.
We need to make sure that the color of the oil doesn't look like coffee with too much creamer. Why?
Because one of the most common symptoms of a blown head gasket is coolant mixing with the engine oil.
This is a very simple test that will take only a minute or two to accomplish.
These are the test steps:
Open the hood on your vehicle.
Remove the engine oil dipstick.
What color is the engine oil?
1.) Is it a creamy tan/off-white color that looks like coffee with too much creamer.
2.) The engine oil will be its usual normal color.
Let's examine your test results:
CASE 1: The engine oil sticking to the dipstick has a normal color. This is the correct and expect a test result.
The next test is to remove the radiator cap and then crank the engine to see if the engine coolant will be shot out. For this test go to: TEST 2: Coolant Shooting Out From Opened Radiator.
CASE 2: The oil sticking to the dipstick looks like coffee with way too much creamer. This test result confirms that the head gasket on your 2.4L Chrysler (Dodge or Plymouth) vehicle is blown.