Testing for a blown head gasket on your mini-van isn't difficult. In this tutorial, I'll walk you thru the 4 tests you can perform to find out. With your test results, you'll know if your mini-van's head gasket has failed or not.
By the way, two of those four tests do not require any tools whatsoever.
Contents of this tutorial:
You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar El Empaque De Cabeza (1996-2007 2.4L Caravan, Grand Caravan, Voyager, Grand Voyager) (at: autotecnico-online.com).
APPLIES TO: This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:
- 2.4L Chrysler Voyager: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003.
- 2.4L Dodge Caravan: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007.
- 2.4L Dodge Grand Caravan: 1996, 1997.
- 2.4L Plymouth Voyager: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000.
- 2.4L Plymouth Grand Voyager: 1996, 1997.
Symptoms Of A Blown Head Gasket
With the head gasket fails, you'll usually have one of two headaches:
- The engine cranks but doesn't start.
- The engine starts but then overheats in no time for no good reason.
If the engine in your vehicle starts and runs and the head gasket is blown, you'll see one or more of the following symptoms:
- The Engine Overheats: The engine starts to overheat within minutes of starting it.
- White Smoke: You may see white smoke coming out of the tailpipe and it smells like anti-freeze being cooked.
- Engine Oil The Color Of Coffee With Too Much Creamer: 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
To start your blown head gasket diagnostic, we'll check the color of the engine oil sticking to the engine oil dipstick.
What you need to look for, is if the engine oil has a milky white color, like coffee with too much creamer. If it does look milky white, then you can conclude that you've got a blown head gasket on your hands.
If the color of the oil is normal (as in not milky white), then you can move on to TEST 2.
Let's get started:
Open the hood.
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 see what your test result means:
CASE 1: The engine oil looks like 'coffee with too much creamer'. This confirms that your mini-van's 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.