In this article, I'm gonna' show you three of the most common tests that are used to check for a blown head gasket on your 1.8 or 2.4 (SOHC) Mitsubishi (Chrysler or Dodge) vehicle.
Two of these tests are done with absolutely no tools at all and usually take about 10 minutes or so to do. the other one is done using a engine compression tester and checks to see if the head gasket has burned between two cylinders.
All three tests are explained in detail and in step-by-step fashion.
Contents of this tutorial:
You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar El Empaque De Cabeza (2.4L Mitsubishi) (at: autotecnico-online.com).
Important Tips And Suggestions
TIP 1:One of the tests for checking for a blown head gasket involves removing the radiator cap from the radiator and cranking the engine. If your vehicle starts and runs, you need do perform this test with a completely cold engine.
A radiator cap should never be opened with a hot engine, or you run the risk of getting severely scalded by the hot coolant. Be careful, take all necessary safety precautions and use common sense.
Symptoms Of A Blown Head Gasket
The number one cause of a blown head gasket is engine overheating. As you may be already be aware, the engine will overheat due to:
- A bad radiator fan.
- No coolant in the engine (because it leaked out somewhere in the coolant system).
- A bad thermostat.
The most common symptoms a blown head gasket are:
Your car is overheating.
You know it's not the fan or thermostat.
White Smoke is coming out of the tail-pipe.
This white smoke is antifreeze being cooked in the cylinder and in the exhaust pipe.
The car or mini-van won't start.
1.) You have already verified it's not an ignition system problem because you have spark coming out at all of the spark plug wires.
2.) You know it's not a lack of fuel, because you have verified that the fuel pump is delivering fuel to the fuel injectors.
The engine oil is thick and tan to off-white color.
Let's get testing.
TEST 1: Oil The Color Of Coffee With Too Much Creamer
One of the most common symptoms of a blown head gasket, is coolant mixing with the oil. So, for our first test, we'll check this out and see if this condition is present in your vehicle.
OK, to get this show on the road, this is what you need to do:
Pull the engine oil dipstick out of the engine.
Now, check out the color of the oil sticking to it. You're looking for one of two things:
1.) Either that the color of the oil is the color of 'coffee with too much creamer' or a milky white/tan color.
2.) That the color of the oil is its normal color.
Let's find out what the color of the oil means:
CASE 1: The color of the oil is a light tan, like coffee with too much creamer. This is really bad news and confirms that the head gasket is blown on your vehicle.
No further testing is required, since this confirms beyond a shadow of a doubt that the cylinder head gasket is blown.
If you're wondering why does the oil look like this? There are 3 main reasons:
- The engine overheated and caused the cylinder head to warp and the head gasket to burn.
- This in turn causes the head gasket to stop sealing the oil and coolant ports in both the engine block and the cylinder head.
- This leads to the coolant entering the engine oil pan and mixing with the oil. As both of these mix the resulting oil gets thick and turns to an off-white color.
CASE 2: The color of the oil is its normal color. So far so good, but you're not out of the woods yet. The next step is to check that exhaust gas and/or combustion pressure is not escaping thru' the radiator, go to: TEST 2: Engine Compression Shooting Out Of Radiator.