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:
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).
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.
“I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’
She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.”