How To Test For A Blown Head Gasket (1.6L Suzuki Sidekick, Geo Tracker)

TEST 2: Coolant Shooting Out Of Radiator

Checking To See If The Oil Is Mixed With Coolant (1.6L Suzuki Sidekick -1.6L Geo Tracker))

Cylinder compression pressures leaking into the cooling system are another common end-result of a blown head gasket.

You and I can check for this condition by simply cranking the engine with the radiator cap removed from the radiator and seeing if the coolant is shot out of it.

The correct result, of this test, is for the coolant to stay unaffected when the engine is cranked. So, if the coolant get shot out while cranking the engine, you've confirmed a blown head gasket.

These are the test steps:

  1. 1

    Remove the radiator cap from the radiator. If the coolant level is low, top it off before proceeding.

    IMPORTANT: The engine should be completely cold before you open the radiator cap. Opening the radiator cap on a hot engine can spray hot coolant all over you and severely burn you.

  2. 2

    Stand at a safe distance from the engine but within view of the radiator.

  3. 3

    When ready, have your helper crank the engine.

    You'll see one of two results: The coolant shoots out violently when the engine was cranked -OR- the coolant was not disturbed at all.

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

CASE 1: The coolant shot out of the radiator. This confirms beyond a shadow of a doubt that you do have a blown head gasket on your hands.

CASE 2: The coolant DID NOT shoot out of the radiator. So far so good. In TEST 1, you confirmed that coolant isn't mixing with the engine oil. In this test you have confirmed that no exhaust gases are escaping thru' the radiator.

If your Suzuki's engine overheated and it does not start, then go to: TEST 3: Engine Compression Test.

If your Suzuki's engine starts, runs, but overheats (for no apparent reason), go to: TEST 4: Using A Chemical Block Tester (Combustion Leak Tester).

TEST 3: Engine Compression Test

Compression Test to Check For a Blown Head Gasket (1.6L Suzuki Sidekick -1.6L Geo Tracker)

NOTE: This test section only applies to your vehicle if the engine cranks but DOES NOT start.

A blown head gasket doesn't always cause the engine oil to mix with coolant or for the coolant to get shot out of an open radiator. There are times the head gasket burns right between two cylinders and just causes a 0 PSI compression problem to both.

This can be checked with a simple compression test. These are the steps:

  1. 1

    Disable the fuel system and the ignition system.

  2. 2

    Remove the spark plugs and install the compression tester (hand tight only) on the first cylinder you're gonna' test.

  3. 3

    Have a helper crank the engine while you observe the compression tester. When the needle stops moving, have your helper stop cranking the engine.

  4. 4

    Write down the compression readings. Repeat on the next 3 cylinders.

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

CASE 1: You got 2 side by side (adjacent) cylinders with 0 PSI. This confirms beyond a shadow of a doubt that you do have a blown head gasket on your hands.

CASE 2: All cylinders had sufficient compression. After having done 3 tests, you have confirmed that you do not have a blown head gasket.

Chevrolet Vehicles:

  • Tracker 1.6L
    • 1998, 1999, 2000

Geo Vehicles:

  • Tracker 1.6L
    • 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997

Suzuki Vehicles:

  • Sidekick 1.6L
    • 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998