As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Can You Drive a Car With a Blown Head Gasket?


Your car’s engine needs a sufficient amount of pressure to work properly. That’s why manufacturers put a head gasket to make a partition between the engine and other vital components of the car. You enjoy a smooth drive when that very part is intact. But can you drive your car with a blown head gasket?

The answer is yes. You can drive your car with a broken head gasket. However, it’s highly recommended to take quick notice once you get to know about the failed head gasket of your car. It might cause irreparable damage to the engine, worsening your ride.

Therefore, we’ll see how to know if a head gasket is in trouble and what the consequences are if you keep driving your car with a blown head gasket.

Head Gasket in Your Car

As you already know, there are a number of processes running inside a car’s engine. For example,

  • Combustion
  • Lubrication
  • Cooling
  • Exhaust

Each process is of significant value. However, these processes work interdependently, while some of them are totally independent of the other process.


Also, your car might put you in trouble if you overlook anything odd going on with these processes.

Now, it’s important to separate each process while keeping them in the engine simultaneously. They get power from the same source, i.e., the engine’s movement. That’s why the mechanical advancement in the pioneer automobile industries invented a separator, known as a head gasket.

It looks like a metallic plate having 3/4/5 compartments for different purposes.

Besides, you will find a multi-layer metallic head gasket twisted by elastomer in modern vehicles. That combination of materials strengthens it and enhances its durability.

So, what’s the purpose of using a head gasket in a car’s engine?

What Does a Head Gasket Do?

A head gasket seals the combustion process. It’s located between the engine’s compartment and cylinder, and it creates a partition between the combustion and other processes.

Combustion Chamber

Inside the combustion chamber, there are pistons that require a high amount of pressure to keep moving as you rev the engine.

But where does the pressure come from?

It’s the pressure that was produced by the spark plug that invoked the fuel vapors when you gave ignition. Since combustion produces energy, it heats up its surroundings, especially the pistons. So everything near the combustion chamber must be separated by a layer. Thus, the head gasket creates that separation and lets the combustion process inside a closed environment.

Coolant and Lubrication

As a part of a vehicle’s maintenance, your car needs a proper cooling system and lubrication. Besides, you can use Zerex Original Green Antifreeze/Coolant for your car.

Now, the cooling and lubrication processes are totally different from the combustion process.

In combustion, the chamber produces energy and heats up the pistons.

On the other hand, you use a coolant and lubrication fuel to keep the engine’s performance frictionless.

If you don’t separate both processes, the combustion chamber and cooling with lubrication might get mixed. That will create two problems:

  • Coolant will no more reduce the engine’s temperature, causing your car to give you an alert.
  • Pistons will never receive enough energy, and eventually, the whole engine will suffer.

That’s why a head gasket makes sure nothing gets mixed. The coolant and lubrication will pass through a dedicated chamber and will flow in the engine. On the other hand, the combustion chamber will remain sealed, thanks to a head gasket.

Have a look at the FEL-PRO Head Gasket here.

Exhaust System

You must be wondering where the by-product gasses from the combustion go. Do they stay inside the combustion chamber? That will fill the chamber with dirt and grime. Or do they seep out from some pores?

We all know the combustion process produces harmful gasses. These gasses can affect the engine’s performance if not dealt with quickly.

That’s why the automobile designers and manufacturers developed an exhaust system inside the car.

That system is responsible for sending out the unnecessary harmful gasses from the combustion chamber.

Moreover, the mufflers you see at the rear bottom of the cars carry out the task initiated by the exhaust system inside the combustion chamber.

So now, the coolant and lubrication that you put in the car will not mix with other fuel or gas. As a result, the engine will perform effortlessly and might not show any issue anytime soon.

Now, let’s learn what makes a head gasket blow.

Reasons for Head Gasket to Blow

There are two common reasons why a head gasket blows.

  1. Engine’s Intense Hot Temperature
  2. Head Gasket’s Material

Engine’s Intense Hot Temperature

When the temperature of your car’s engine increases, it creates trouble for other metallic parts as well. One of the components that get affected is the head gasket.

For example, you haven’t put coolant in the radiator for a long time. Or maybe the coolant’s compartment is leaking. Also, you might not see any quick results. But in the long run, the engine’s temperature will gradually rise, making it constantly hot whenever you drive your car.

This continuous hotness of the engine will cause other temperature-sensitive parts to suffer. Thus, the head gasket might blow.

Head Gasket’s Material

If you research the head gasket used in old cars, you will find they were made of asbestos and graphite. No doubt, these materials were good in terms of heat sensitivity, but they lack durability.

Also, there were health risks associated with the industrial processing of asbestos.

Now, modern vehicles have an elastomer coated metallic material head gasket.

If the material of a head gasket is durable, it will stay strong, and the engine’s performance will also remain conducive.

Besides, some heat-sensitive metals like aluminum react quickly to heat. As a result, they will expand faster and create distortion or expansion.

When such changes occur in the shape or size of a cylinder, it causes a misfit. Thus, the head gasket no longer properly seals a chamber.

So it’s recommended to always check the material of an auto part you are buying for your car. Spending more on quality can save you from a big loss in the future.

Now, what if your car’s head gasket is misbehaving, but you are not sure of its symptoms?

Bad Head Gasket’s Signs

It’s important to know what signs a bad head gasket shows so that you can take quick action before a major breakdown happens.

replacement of the cylinder block and head gasket

Visible Smoke from Silencer

You already know that the head gasket seals the combustion chamber and prevents the coolant from mixing with other fuel. When a head gasket is faulty, there might be leakage.

That leakage will allow the coolant and the gasoline to mix together and create a random combination.

When that combination burns, it will give a different smoke. Eventually, you will see that gray or white smoke coming out of the silencer, confirming that the head gasket is bad.

Milk-type Oil

Another sign of a bad head gasket is you will find discolored oil on the oil cap.

Generally, the oil cap remains dry. That’s when the head gasket is working fine.

But if you find a milk-looking oily combination near the oil’s compartment, you have to check the head gasket.

Besides, that oil of different colors proves that the head gasket is leaking or not sealing a particular chamber. Thus, the coolant and the engine oil have been mixed due to leakage.

Therefore, you have to take quick action to prevent the engine from further suffering.

Overheating of Engine

The temperature gauge at the dashboard shoots due to extreme hotness when the head gasket is at fault. But you have to make sure whether it’s the head gasket that has not sealed the combustion chamber properly or it’s the engine that is not getting enough coolant.

In either of the cases, you have to take quick action as overheating the engine is dangerous.

Power Loss

Your car will need more power but might show low fuel efficiency. Moreover, you will experience rough idle and poor running because the head gasket ensures enough pressure inside the combustion chamber.

The pistons will keep firing at the required rate when that pressure is maintained. But when the head gasket is no longer sealing that chamber, your car will stop running normally.

Therefore, take your car to a professional automobile service. They will examine the head gasket and might recommend you replace it.

The head gasket replacement cost varies between $1,500 – $2,000, depending on the quality and labor cost.


As you have read the consequences of a blown head gasket, it’s important to take immediate action to prevent any major damage. No doubt, you can drive your car with a blown head gasket. But not for long.

If your car is showing the symptoms of a bad head gasket, call a mechanic or take your car to a workshop. They will see if it’s repairable or not.

After that, you can get a new head gasket and let the engine work at its top performance.

Scroll to Top