A blown head gasket is usually the result of the engine severely overheating.
Testing for a blown head gasket is not hard. There are four tests involved. Two of those four tests don't require any tools to perform. In this tutorial I'll explain all four in a step-by-step way.
Contents of this tutorial:
You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar El Empaque De Cabeza (1991-1995 2.5L Caravan y Voyager) (at: autotecnico-online.com).
APPLIES TO: This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:
- 2.5L Dodge Caravan: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995.
- 2.5L Plymouth Voyager: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995.
Symptoms Of A Blown Head Gasket
It's been my experience, that a blown head gasket will either cause a 'cranks but does not start' problem.
Or it will cause the engine to overheat for no apparent reason. In these cases, the engine starts and runs but overheats.
Here's a basic list of the most common symptoms a blown head gasket:
- The engine overheats.
- White smoke is coming out of the tail-pipe and it smells like anti-freeze being cooked.
- The engine does not start.
- The engine oil is thick and a tan to off-white color (mixed with coolant).
TEST 1: Oil The Color Of Coffee With Too Much Creamer
For the first test, we'll check the condition and color of the oil adhering to the engine oil dipstick.
If the engine oil looks like 'coffee with too much creamer', then you have confirmed that the head gasket is blown on your 2.5L Dodge Caravan (Plymouth Voyager).
If the engine oil is OK, then the next test is to see if compression pressure is escaping into the engine's cooling system in TEST 2.
This is what you need to do:
Open the hood on your 2.5L Dodge Caravan (Plymouth Voyager).
Pull out the engine's oil dipstick.
Check the color of the oil and how thick it is.
You'll see one of two things:
1.) The oil on the dipstick is a creamy, off-white color and is thick as syrup.
2.) The oil is its normal color and viscosity.
Let's examine your test result:
CASE 1: The engine oil looks like 'coffee with too much creamer'. This confirms that the head gasket is blown.
CASE 2: The color of the engine oil is normal. This is the correct and expected test result.
The next step is to check to see if compression/exhaust gases are leaking into the cooling system. Go to: TEST 2: Exhaust Gases Shooting Out Of The Radiator.