As you're probably already aware the 3.9L V6 engine, on the 1993-2003 Dodge Dakota and the 1998-1999 Dodge Durango, comes equipped with two head gaskets and this tutorial will help you to find out if they are blown or not.
There are four simple tests that are done to check for blown head gasket and two of them don't require any tools. All four tests are explained in a step-by-step manner.
Contents of this tutorial at a glance:
You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar Los Empaques De Cabeza (1993-2003 3.9L V6 Dodge Dakota) (at: autotecnico-online.com).
This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:
- 3.9L V6 Dodge Dakota: 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003.
- 3.9L V6 Dodge Durango: 1998, 1999.
Symptoms Of A Blown Head Gasket
It's been my experience that head gasket problems usually cause one of two types of problems. Either the head gasket problem will cause the engine to crank but not start
Or the engine will start but it will overheat. Usually, the engine starts to overheat within minutes.
Here's a list of the basic symptoms you're going to see when one or both of the head gaskets are blown on your 3.9L Dodge Dakota (Durango).
- Your 3.9L V6 Dodge Dakota (Durango) is overheating for no apparent reason. All engine cooling system components (like fan motor, water pump, etc.) are working fine.
- White smoke is coming out of the tail-pipe and it smells like anti-freeze being cooked.
- Your Dodge Dakota (Durango) won't start.
- The engine oil is thick and a tan to an off-white color.
TEST 1: Engine Oil The Color Of 'Coffee With Too Much Creamer'
The most common end result that I've seen of a blown head gasket is engine coolant mixing with the engine oil in the crankcase.
When this happens the engine oil turns a milky white color. It kind of looks like coffee with too much creamer.
If the engine oil looks normal then the next step is to go to TEST 2
Let's get started:
Open your Dodge's hood.
Pull out the engine oil dipstick.
Check the color of the oil sticking to the engine oil dipstick.
You'll see one of two results:
1.) The engine oil looks like coffee with too much creamer.
2.) The engine oil is its usual normal color.
Alright, let's analyze your test result:
CASE 1: The engine oil has the color of coffee with too much creamer. This test result confirms that one or both head gaskets are blown on your 3.9L V6 Dodge Dakota.
CASE 2: The color of the engine oil is normal. This is the correct and expected test result.
The next test is to see if the engine's compression pressures are escaping into the engine's cooling system (radiator). For this test go to: TEST 2: Coolant Shooting Out From Open Radiator.