How To Test For A Blown Head Gasket (1.6L Nissan)

A blown head gasket is usually the result of severe engine overheating, but not always. If you suspect that your 1.6L Nissan's head gasket is blown, this tutorial will show you how to find out for sure.

The 4 tests, in this tutorial, are the standard blown head gaskets tests that the majority of auto repair technicians perform and you can do these yourself.

Here are the main points of this article:

  1. Symptoms Of A Blown Head Gasket.
  2. TEST 1: Engine Oil Mixed With Coolant.
  3. TEST 2: Coolant Shooting Out of Radiator.
  4. TEST 3: Engine Compression Test.
  5. TEST 4: Using A Chemical Block Tester (Combustion Leak Tester).
  6. Frequently Asked Questions.
  7. More 1.6L Nissan Tutorial.

En Español Puedes encontrar este tutorial en Español aquí: Cómo Verificar un Empaque de Cabeza Quemado (1.6L Nissan Sentra) (en: autotecnico-online.com).

Symptoms Of A Blown Head Gasket

From experience, I can tell you that head gasket problems fall into one of two categories: either the engine runs but overheats (for no apparent reason) or the engine doesn't start.

There are several symptoms, that you'll see when the head gasket gets blown on your 1.6L Nissan. These are:

  1. Overheating.
  2. Oil Mixed with Coolant.
  3. White smoke coming out of the tail-pipe.
  4. Engine cranks, but does not start.
  5. No compression on two adjacent cylinders.
  6. Coolant being pushed forcibly into the coolant reservoir bottle whenever the engine idles or the engine is turned off.

TEST 1: Engine Oil Mixed With Coolant

How To Test For A Blown Head Gasket (1.6L Nissan)

As you're already aware, coolant and motor oil pass from the block into the cylinder head thru' passages in them. One of the head gasket's job is to keep both of these from entering the cylinder and from mixing with each other.

When your vehicle overheats to the point that the aluminum cylinder head warps and/or the head gasket burns... these 2 fluids will mix.

Since this is one of the most common end results of a blown head gasket, it's the one that we're gonna' check first:

  1. 1

    Open the hood of the car and pull out the engine oil dipstick.

  2. 2

    Check the color of the oil sticking to the dipstick.

    You'll see one of two things: The color of the oil will be a milky white color (like coffee with too much cream) -OR- the color of the oil will be its normal color.

Let's take a look at what your test results mean:


CASE 1: The engine oil was a milky white color. This tells you that the coolant is mixing with the Oil and that you do have a blown head gasket on your hands.

CASE 2: The engine oil was its normal color. This doesn't confirm anything just yet. You'll need to go to the next test to make sure. Go to TEST 2.