Troubleshooting A Blown Head Gasket (3.9L V6 Dodge Ram Pickup And Van)

There are 4 tests that are done to test for a blown head gasket. 2 of those 4 tests require no tools at all to peform.

In this tutorial I'll explain how to do all 4 so that you can find out if your 3.9L equipped full-size Dodge Ram pickup or van has a blown head gasket (or not).

En Español You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar Los Empaques De Cabeza (3.9L V6 Dodge Ram Pickup y Van) (at: autotecnico-online.com).

Symptoms Of A Blown Head Gasket

The most common cause of a blown head gasket is that the engine overheated because:

  1. Fan clutch failed.
  2. The engine ran without coolant (due to a coolant leak).
  3. Thermostat went bad and got stuck in its closed position and the coolant could not circulate.

The most common symptoms a blown head gasket are:

  1. Your 3.9L V6 Dodge van (pickup) is overheating. You know it's not the fan (or fan c-lutch) or thermostat.
  2. White smoke is coming out of the tail-pipe and it smells like anti-freeze being cooked.
  3. The engine does not start.
    1. Your tests have confirmed that the ignition system is not behind the no-start problem.
    2. Your tests have confirmed that the fuel pump is OK and not behind the no-start problem.
  4. The engine oil is thick and tan to off-white color (mixed with coolant).

TEST 1: Oil The Color Of Coffee With Too Much Creamer

Oil The Color Of Coffee With Too Much Creamer. Troubleshooting A Blown Head Gasket (3.9L V6 Dodge Ram Pickup And Van)

Generally, the most common end result of a blown head gasket is the engine oil mixed with coolant.

So for our first test, we'll check the condition and color of the oil sticking to the engine oil dipstick.

If the engine oil is the color of 'coffee with too much creamer', then you can conclude that one or both of the head gaskets, on your 3.9L V6 Dodge Ram pickup or van, are blown.

This is what you need to do:

  1. 1

    Open the hood on your 3.9L van (pickup).

  2. 2

    Pull out the engine's oil dipstick.

  3. 3

    Check what the color of the oil is and how thick it is.

  4. 4

    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.

    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 test result tells you that one or both of the head gaskets are 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.



Dodge Vehicles:

  • B150, B250, B350 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994
  • B1500, B2500, B3500 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998
  • D150, D250, D350 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994

Dodge Vehicles:

  • Dakota 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999
  • Durango 3.2L, 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
  • Ram 1500, 2500, 3500 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003

Dodge Vehicles:

  • RamCharger 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996
  • Ram Van 1500, 2500, 3500 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003

Jeep Vehicles:

  • Grand Cherokee 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1997, 1998