You're sitting in traffic, minding your own business, when suddenly you see it: a cloud of white smoke drifting out from underneath your car hood.
Does this mean that you've got a blown head gasket on your hands?
Or how about this scenario: you open up the car hood to take a look at your engine, and you notice that the head gasket appears to be slightly warped. Does this mean that you have a blown head gasket? Or should it be considered normal wear-and-tear on a car, especially if it's an older model?
You do not need a mechanic to properly diagnose this problem; in fact, if you spot any of these symptoms while you're driving, then there is a high possibility that you've got a blown engine:
In order to prevent major motor problems – and saving yourself a surprise bill from your mechanic! – then watch out for some key preliminary symptoms, which arise when the head gasket is about to fail. Your car will often overheat, white smoke will appear from the exhaust and there will be a slight rumbling sensation when your car's idling.
If you have not heard these preliminary symptoms, then watch out for the big-time signs: your car overheats, your air conditioning blows out hot air or your heater blows out cold air, there are clouds of smoke coming from underneath your hood, your car will roughly shake while idling, or it will not start at all. In either case, take a look underneath your hood at your engine. A warped or slightly bent surface can easily be fixed by a mechanic for a nominal fee; however, a crack in the block surface will indicate that the head gasket needs to be replaced altogether.
Another major symptom of a blown motor is oil running into your coolant. If your vehicle has been running it is very important to allow your car to cool before you remove the cap of your radiator. This may take 20-30 minutes. Then use a rag to remove the cap. If your fluid looks like chocolate milk, then you definitely have a blown head gasket.
If you engine repair, be sure to take your vehicle to an experienced mechanic with a stellar reputation and customer service.