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Old 06-11-2009, 10:42 AM   #1
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How can you tell if your head or head gasket is cracked/blown?

Hi all, I am a newbie here with not a lot of auto experience.
I have a 97 jeep wrangler that I purchased new and gave to my 17 year old son for his first vehicle last year.
The radiator started to go and instead of reacting quickly to it (funds were low at the time) he tried to monitor it and add coolant when necessary. I brought it to a mechanic who said he does not work on engines but said the head was probably cracked or the head gasket is blown.

My question is this? How can you tell? The engine seems to run fine. The oil pressure gets up to 40 and stays there. There is no water or coolant trace on the oil dip stick. My son said it stalled out. I had it towed from where it stalled to the mechanic. But I drove it home and have started it up since. My son says he never ran it when the temp gauge was in the red, if it got hot he shut it down and waited and added coolant or water.

is there a simple way to tell if it is the head gasket or cracked head? Would I see something funny happening or would the oil pressure be wacked etc.?

Thanks in advance.

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Old 06-11-2009, 10:53 AM   #2
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water in the oil or oil in the coolant are obvious tell tale signs. white smoke out of exhaust. otherwise, compression check.

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Old 06-11-2009, 11:14 AM   #3
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Thanks W.B.
Can this be done with a bad radiator. I would hate to pay for a new radiator and then find out my head is cracked.
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Old 06-11-2009, 11:26 AM   #4
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unless it got pretty damn hot, i wouldnt worry too much about the head being cracked IMO. Head gasket would go first and like i mentioned, you'd more than likely be seeing lots of white smoke.

you could pull the plugs and take a look also. if they're getting water, they'll usually have a lot of crud on them.
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Old 06-11-2009, 12:42 PM   #5
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If the head gasket was blown you'd see billowing white smoke and it would smell slightly sweet. If that happens you want to shut it down immediately to prevent a possible warped head. The difference in machining and replacing the head could be thousands. Find a radiator shop and they will pressure test the radiator. If you rely on continually filling the radiator you could get into more expensive problems. The constant heat build up can warp the head enough to blow the gasket. $200 for the radiator vs. $2000 or more for the head gasket.
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Old 10-19-2012, 11:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daggo66 View Post
If the head gasket was blown you'd see billowing white smoke and it would smell slightly sweet. If that happens you want to shut it down immediately to prevent a possible warped head. The difference in machining and replacing the head could be thousands. Find a radiator shop and they will pressure test the radiator. If you rely on continually filling the radiator you could get into more expensive problems. The constant heat build up can warp the head enough to blow the gasket. $200 for the radiator vs. $2000 or more for the head gasket.
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