In this article, I'm gonna' show you the three most common tests that are done to check for a blown head gasket.
Two of the three are extremely easy and don't involve using any tools at all and can be accomplished in less than 10 minutes.
To make it easier to navigate this article, here are its contents at a quick glance:
- Symptoms of a Blown Head Gasket.
- TEST 1: Oil the Color of Coffee with too Much Cream.
- TEST 2: Exhaust Gases Shooting Out of the Radiator.
- TEST 3: Cylinder Compression Test.
- TEST 4: Using a Chemical Block Tester (Combustion Leak Tester).
- Related Test Articles.
You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar los Empaques de las Cabezas (Chrysler 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L) (at: autotecnico-online.com).
The most common cause of a blown head gasket is that the engine overheated because: 1) Fan clutch is not working, 2) All of the coolant leaked out of the engine and you kept driving it this way. 3) Thermostat went BAD and is stuck closed and the coolant could not circulate. The most common symptoms a blown head gasket are:
- Your 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L Dodge van (pick up, SUV) is overheating. You know it's not the fan (or fan c-lutch) or Thermostat.
- White smoke is coming out of the tail-pipe and it smells like anti-freeze being cooked.
- Your 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L Dodge van (pick up, SUV) 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 (mixed with coolant).
There's a good chance you may not need to do all three tests described in this article, to find out if the head gaskets are blown on your Dodge 3.9L, 5.2L, or 5.9L equipped van, pick up or SUV.
If one test conclusively confirms a blown head gasket Condition... you don't have to continue on to the next test.
OK, I'll stop talking and we'll get this show on the road... this is what you need to do:
Pop the hood on your 3.9L, 5.2L or 5.9L van (pick up, SUV) and once open, pull out the engine's oil Dipstick.
Now, check what the color of the oil is and how thick it is. You'll see one of two things:
1.) Either the oil on the dipstick is a creamy, off-white color and is thick as syrup Or...
2.) The oil is its normal color and viscosity.
Now, let's find out what each of the two results mean:
CASE 1: The color of the oil is a light tan, like coffee with too much cream, this is BAD news and tells you without a shadow of a doubt that you do have a blown head gasket.
Why does the oil look like this? Mainly because your Dodge pick up (van, SUV) over-heated and :
1.) The cylinder head (or heads) warped. This warpage causes the head gasket (or gaskets) to burn.
2.) A blown head gasket loses its sealing power/ability... and if its not sealing the oil and coolant ports in both the engine Block and the cylinder head this will lead to...
3.) ...this will lead to the coolant entering the engine oil pan.. As both oil and coolant mix... the resulting combination gets thick and becomes an off-white color.
CASE 2: The color of the engine oil is normal, So far so good, the next step is to check to see if compression/exhaust gases are leaking into the cooling system. Go to HEAD GASKET TEST 2.
Here's why: Normally (about 90% of the time) when a head gasket gets blown on a 3.9L, 5.2L, or 5.9L Dodge van (pick up, SUV)... coolant will enter into the crankcase and mix with the engine oil. But not always so the next test is to see if the engine's compression/ combustion gases are escaping thru' the radiator.