Chevrolet Cavalier: Head Gasket Issues

mandi77mandi77 Member Posts: 3
Hi, I was just searching the web for help with my cavalier, and came across this website, how awesome is this. I never knew this stuff was available. Anyways, I was reading some of the posts and it appears as though 95's have a history with crappy headgaskets. Am I making a fair assumption? I recently (January 2005)bought a 95 cavalier 2.2l Coupe, and within 1 month I had to have the head gasket done. Now it is June 21, and guess what, I am having the head gasket done AGAIN! Is this normal? Am I going to keep having this problem every 6 months? Any ideas of what could be causing this? I was told back in January that they replaced the thermostat when they did the head gasket, but I think they were full of it! It's gotten to the point when I am waiting at a traffic light, I have to turn off my car so it won't overheat! Makes for a unejoyable experience. BUT....I STILL LOVE MY CAR!!


  • mdaffronmdaffron Member Posts: 4,421

    My wife and I traded our otherwise perfectly good 1995 Cavalier for a Mazda Protege5 in 2002 because, at 52,000 miles, we were in need of our FOURTH head gasket in the car! Chevy knew there was a problem and warranted the original head gasket for 100,000 miles -- but once you had the original replaced, you were on your own to the tune of about $600 each time. Oh, we went back and forth with the dealership and GM, to no avail. The first head gasket went at about 32,000 miles, and each subsequent one went anywhere from 6,000 to 8,000 miles before busting open and covering the engine with smelly green antifreeze. We got really tired of cleaning pools of antifreeze off our driveway and choking up $600 annually for a car that was so young. By comparison, by the way, the 2002 Protege5 has just crossed 50,000 miles and has yet to visit the shop for a problem of any kind.

    It was one thing for GM to have a bad engine, but something even worse to not come clean and issue a recall for the real defect. They put band-aids on the problem instead of fixing the problem itself -- -- a poorly designed HEAD -- and then left their customers hanging. For that reason we now refer to my wife's former car as the "Crapalier" and have vowed never to patronize General Motors again.

    If you love the Cavalier so much, trade it -- quick -- for a 1997 or newer model with the Ecotec engine. It'll be the same look and the same interior, but with a much more reliable engine under the hood.

  • candiecandie Member Posts: 28
    Hi Mandy: I have the same car, '95 Chevy Cavalier purchased 6 months ago. I too am now having the head gasket replaced. So far I've had the crank shaft replaced, the compressor, the idler tensioner (3x) the serpentine belt (3x), new battery, new muffler, new tires, new spark plugs, later new spark plug wires, the list goes on and on. I feel in love with the "looks" of the car, which outwardly is in excellent shape, but I am wondering if this car isn't just a piece of "junk". I've been told on auto chats that they call the Cavalier a Cadaver or "a disposable vehicle." I so didn't want to believe it, but some $2,400 later, I'd be an idiot not to see that the quality of this car is way below others. Mine has only 28,800 miles on it, so I never expected all of this. I'll let you know how long the "head gasket" lasts once its installed, if more than once, we will KNOW for certain its a problem with our particular model. To answer your question: I don't think its normal, not for any car to keep needing parts replaced so quickly.
  • joe3891joe3891 Member Posts: 759
    I hate to say this but you have to be a DIY with a big tool box to own a Cavalier. I have had a 85, 92, 94 and a 2000, I now own a 04 Malibu. :)
  • mdaffronmdaffron Member Posts: 4,421
    Just curious why you bought another Chevrolet product after a comment like that?

  • patpat Member Posts: 10,421
    This is the wrong place to get into why he bought a Malibu. We're talking about the Cavalier, as you know. Thanks.
  • candiecandie Member Posts: 28
    I too am wondering if I am such a DYI why you continued to buy Cavaliers after 1992? BTW, what is a DYI?

    For the record, I purchased the '95 Cavalier because it was all I could afford. The car looked well taken care of, had exceptionally low mileage; I ran a carfax on it, and believe I did everything possible to assure myself that this was a "good little vehicle for me." I had no idea that the car had gasket and all of the other problems because I had my mechaniccheck it out (who until then I trusted) tell me it was a "great" little car, buy it! Some of us can't just purchase a vehicle and "run" either. Nice thought but I'm not one who can.
  • joe3891joe3891 Member Posts: 759
    The Cavalier is a to be kind a cheap car, the 04 Malibu is not a cheap car. As far as a Cavalier goes I did not put a lot of money into any of them but the 2000 was the worst of the bunch. Before 40 K heater blower resistor and valve cover gasket, had to put neither on my 94 that went to 120 K before trading. The 2000 got totaled, nobody injured so I was actually glad. If not for the accident I would probably still have it. I still have my large tool box for the Malibu when its gets off warranty. You can operate any car cheap if you do most all your own work. :)
  • joe3891joe3891 Member Posts: 759
    OK I will set the record straight. I bought [ 4 ] Cavaliers because they are a simple car, easy to work on, parts are cheap. I am thrifty , so that’s why I bought 4. Here’s an example the 94 had a head gasket leak at 80 K, I replace the head gasket for a total cost of $15, plus an oil an filter change. When I traded it 40K later it was still not leaking, but you got be a DIY, actually I am also an ex Tech. I wanted the Malibu because it was cheap and loaded, hard to sell a first year model, sorry Host.
  • murphy15murphy15 Member Posts: 1
    I'm purchasing a used Cavalier (4 cylinder) for my daughter to use while attending Grad School this fall. It seems to be in excellent shape with one flaw noone, so far, can diagnose. Once the engine is at operating temp., the coolant seeps back into the overflow/recovery bottle, rises slowly and dribbles out past the cap. It eventually drips down the inside fender well and onto the ground.

    One shop sez its the head gasket. Another sez its not the head gasket but he's uncertain what is wrong. Anyone else run into this problem? Thanks.
  • joe3891joe3891 Member Posts: 759
    My guess would be cracked head, you overheat that engine only once bad and it will crack the head every time. The only head gasket leak that I ever seen on that engine is external, at both ends, will show coolant stain. :(
  • oscorposcorp Member Posts: 1

    I have a 96 chevy cavalier with 173K miles on it.
    Since past 1 week, I am facing a problem of overheating. When I start the car, it says, COOLANT is low and after running for @ 1 to 1.5 miles, the car temp increases to Maximum.

    I got my car checked for this problem. They are also clueless about the problem.

    Can anyone suggest me the cost effective way of removing the problem??

  • jpfjpf Member Posts: 496
    Sounds like a blown head gasket. A typical problem with the 2.2 or 2.4 liter engines. Hopefully the cylinder head is not warped or cracked. Good luck.
  • sarahannesarahanne Member Posts: 3
    Hi all. Just wanted some opinions. I have a 2005 Cavalier, bought brand new last March. I live out of the city and put about 150km (Canada) on it per day, so my warranty just ran out. I'm currently at 68000km. I have drive train warranty up to 100,000km. I'm hoping what's happening is covered. Last week my check engine light came on and I took it in and was told that there was a large leak in the EVAP systerm. They replaced the EVAP vent solenoid, which corrected the problem. I asked them for a full inspection, which they did, and checked and approved everything, telling me that there were no problems. Today, on the highway, the engine coolant light came on, and so I pulled over. I think the car overheated because after I shut it off it was making this bubbling sound for about 5 minutes before it finally shut up. A nice man pulled over, told me he was a mechanic, and asked me to pop the hood. He told me that there was absolutely no coolant in the car, and put some water in it. When I started it again, the water just leaked out all over the place. He told me that he thinks that a head gasket blew. I have no idea what that is, but the guy said it should be covered under the drive train warranty. I'm hoping that some of the experts on this board can verify what he's saying, or suggest something else. I'm just flipping out over this because I have just had it over a year. Is it normal for this to happen? Is it going to happen over and over again? Does this sound like a head gasket? Anyone ever try to get something like this fixed under warranty? Thanks! Sarah
  • professadittyprofessaditty Member Posts: 1
    :confuse: I really need some help. I have an 02 Chevy Cavalier, single cam, 2.2-4 Engine, Manual Trans. Ever since I bought this piece of S&*^ I have had problems. A month after I got it, check engine light comes on. Take it to dealer and they say that the Thermostat needs to be changed. I changed the Thermostat, then my water pump goes out, I change the water pump. Runs good for about a week then car starts overheating. I fill her back up with water and no leaks, then runs fine. Then overheats again. No leaks but all my water in my reservoir is gone. I soon realize that my fan is not kicking on. I change the Cooling Temp sensor, and runs great at normal temperature for about 30 miles, then breaks down. And wont drive anywhere without heating up. So I pull apart the head and I have water in my #3 cylinder, I change all the gaskets, have the head pressure checked and re-surfaced. Once got it all back together it ran great, at normal temp, and fan kicks on. Then I take it for a drive for about 20 mins, then starts to heat up again, I turn her off and steam is blowing out the back of the head and now water in my oil. Does anyone know what the hell it could be? I am so fed up with this car. :mad: Im thinking a cracked head but shouldnt they have been able to tell if they prssure test it? Please anyone give me any advice on what I can do or what it could be. Thanks in advance.
  • halscahalsca Member Posts: 15
    Those things had head gasket problems. If you had the head gone through and resurfaced, they either did a poor job or the block might be warped too. Seen it happen before.

    You have to be careful, there's a lot of bunk repair places out there. A friend of mine had the heads gone though on his Dodge motor home. They failed to replace a couple of stretched valves, one broke and ended up destoying the motor. He got what he paid for.
  • halscahalsca Member Posts: 15
    Well you might have a case against the people who did the prior servace, IF you can prove they let you leave without a full cooling system.

    This motor can't handle too much heat, problem with aluminum in general also the way it's built, light and cheap... too much heat they warp and crack, the mating surface between the head and block must be perfect. Let this motor overheat they WILL blow head gaskets. This is a fact.

    If you see steam or liquid leaking from between the head and block you can bet it's a head gasket. If you see steam in the exhaust, head gasket or cracked head. Oil in the water or water in the oil, same thing.
  • valvexvalvex Member Posts: 3
    Gonogo or anyone, I could use those tips on head removal on a 97 cavalier 2.2!!!!
    I just replaced the timing chain and it starts but misses.
    Bought compr. tester...
    0 on #1,
    155 on #2,
    140 on #3,
    150 on #4
    Must be at least 1 bent valve.
    I'm not sure if I'm brave enough but I might do it.(I did the chain and they didn't make that too easy did they?)

    Any advise would be muchly appreciated
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    I did a 94 but the engine should be the same as the 97, 98 had a different set up. I from experience only remove what needs to be done to accomplish the job. I used one new head gasket, oil and filter change, and reused and topped off the old coolant.
    I did not remove the intake or exhaust manifold, left them on. I disconnected the throttle and cruise at the throttle body. I removed the power steering pump bracket bolts attached to the head, left the lines on just pushed it off to the side. Exhaust pipe at manifold,electrical connectors as needed, there should be on the drivers side a EGR tube to disconnect on the back of the engine. I may have missed something but if it will not lift off with ease after breaking the gasket loose look around.
    With everything still on I laid the head up side down on a old blanket. I used a razor blade scraper to remove the old gasket material, don’t use an abrasive cleaner like Scotch pads. When you scrape the block be careful not to drop anything down in the engine, a small shop vacuum work good for this.
    If you need to strip the head for valve work it‘s easier to do on the bench.
    I would rather do a head gasket then a chain. Good Luck.
  • valvexvalvex Member Posts: 3
    Thanks Gonogo, Those are some great tips if I can save those steps. Are you sure about those years though since the chiltons manual covers 1995-2000?

    What if I had to replace the head? I'm sure I have valve problems in one cyl. One Shop will sell me a rebuilt head for $200 with exchange. What do you think about that price and would you remove parts differently if you are replacing the head (exhaust, fuel, etc.)?
    Thanks alot!!
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    Not sure on pricing, if it is a good shop that has been in business a long time go for it.
    I would do just like I said, easier to strip the head on the bench and build it back up on the bench. The 98 on had a new style air induction and valve cover and other changes, it is still the same engine just some upgrades. The 97 should have the valve cover with length wise ridges, the 98 on the valve cover is smooth. My truck with the 99 2.2 has the smooth cover.
  • valvexvalvex Member Posts: 3
    Thanks for the advice. I may do it this weekend.
  • smashing12smashing12 Member Posts: 1
    I recently had the Head replaced on my 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier. After replacement the engine while in gear ran rough and made some funny noises. So I took it back to the shop that day. They had found that an injector was bad and replaced it at no charge. The engine now runs great while not in gear as well as on the highway, however at slow accelerations (low speeds) there is some minor to medium vibration. Once I increase my acceleration rate the vibration goes away. I am looking at DIM but do not know where to begin. Before the head was replaced this vibration did not occur.

    On a side note I had the Head Gasket replaced (under warranty) in 1998 @70,000 miles. The car now has 136,000 and I had the whole head replaced.

  • hoodlatchhoodlatch Mid-westMember Posts: 255
    I would like to talk about 2.2L Corsica but no format exist on this web site. Do you have any solution?
    Thanx :)
  • hoodlatchhoodlatch Mid-westMember Posts: 255
    We've had the same problems with the same engine in a 95 Corsica. The head gasket has been replaced more time than I can remember. Currently its working on engine number three, that I know of. When its running like it should, it runs great.
  • joe471joe471 Member Posts: 2
    I have a 98 cavalier w/86,000 miles. It blew a head gasket and leaks at the water pump.Repair shop quoted me 1200$.Is it worth fixing and/or is this a fair repair price?
  • joe471joe471 Member Posts: 2
    Does the 2.2 or 2.4 98 chevy cavalier have the oil dipstick on the front of the engine w/the dip stick on it?
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    2.2 has the oil fill and combined dip stick in the front. 2.4 oil fill is at the back left side, oil dip stick back of engine right of center.
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    Fair price for a 2.4, high for a 2.2.
  • patton1patton1 Member Posts: 2
  • patton1patton1 Member Posts: 2
    I am a neophyte with 6 thumbs and have absolutely zip on the mechanical aptitude scale. However, my budget is tighter than a duck's behind so I need to start doing some of the less technical skilled repairs on my own. Would attempting to change the gasket on the head cover be pushing it or shoule I take it to Mr. Goodyear and hand over my wallet?
  • jpfjpf Member Posts: 496
    You probably want a good mechanic to do this job. Important things to consider when replacing a head gasket: make sure surfaces are clean on block and cylinder head; replace head bolts as well as they tend to warp; use a torque wrench and torque to specs. I am not a mechanic but I had a 95 Corsica with the 2.2 engine and all of these things were not done when the head gasket was replaced the first time. If the job is not done right you will have the same problem within 20K to 30K. Good luck.
  • cav_rider666cav_rider666 Member Posts: 8
    First of all do you have the 2.2L OHV engine or the 2.4L OHC engine? Because if you have the 2.2L OHV engine you can definetly do the job yourself!

    Lets begin (assuming it is the 2.2 OHV); before starting make sure you have the fallowing; new gasket, sealant, torque wrench ( can be rented if needed), assorted metric and SAE sockets and wrenchs,plyers and .

    Wait for the ENGINE to be COMPLETLY COOL OR MANY THINGS COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG INCLUDING NASTY BURNS!!!! First begin by removing the resonator ( black plastic thing over the throttle body). To do so you'll need nice a 10mm socket and ratchet. Unbolt the resonator mounting bolt using the 10mm socket. Once this is done you can remove the resonator by GENTLY lifting it from the throtle body.

    Once the resonator is removed, you will need to remove a "metal sheild" that protects the fuel rail. To remove this you will need a 13mm wrench (size maybe abit off, if it is simply trial and error until you find the proper side). There are two (2) bolts ontop of "the sheild" and three (3) located on the rear. Once thats out of the way your ready to begin unbolting the valve cover.

    To unbolt the valve cover you'll need to use the 10mm ratchet and socket used earlier for the resonator. There a total of six (6) bolts to unbolt. If the bolts are rusted or seized up, use penetrating fluid (WD-40, Engine Oil) to loosen the rust. Once the bolts have been removed, your ready to lift of the valve cover. Place the cover and cover bolts in a safe location and be carful not to lose any bolts. If the valve cover is stuck, use a block of and a mallet to tap off the cover.

    Once the cover is off, remove the old gasket from the cover and remove all traces of old gasket and sealent from the mating surface. To remove the old sealant use a shop rag soaked in Kerosen. MAKE SURE YOU STORE THE USED RAGS SAFLEY!!!! Once that is done, install apply some RTV sealant to valve cover and install the gasket on the cover. When this is done, put the cover back on. MAKE ABSOLUTELY SURE THAT ALL TRACES OF THE OLD GASKET HAVE BEEN REMOVED OR AN OIL LEAK CAN/WILL OCCUR!!!!

    Using the torque wrench install the valve cover bolts to Chevrolet's torque specifications. Install the fuel rail protective sheild and the resonator and you are done! I also strongly suggest that you pick up a Haynes repair manual (15-20 CDN$). They contain tons of pictures and tips to make the job easier. Have fun and keep that hard earned money! If you have any questions Pep Boys, NAPA, Partsource (if your in Canada) will be glad to provide any advice! :)
  • bakemeacakebakemeacake Member Posts: 1
    I own a 1994 automatic cavalier with about 136,000 miles on it. I just had the head gasket replaced last week after it overheated. I got my car back yesterday (Saturday) and today after driving it on the highway for about 6 miles the check engine light came on. It seemed to be running fine though. I turned around and came home because i don't want to do anymore possible damage to it. And of course the repair shop isn't open today. I will bring it in tomorrow morning but was wondering if you guys had any idea what the problem could be.

    I've recently had the following replaced: water pump (after car overheated a month ago), alternator, battery, starter (about 7 mo. ago), new spark plugs, new brakes, all new tires and a serpentine belt. I get oil changes every 3,000-3,500 miles. I drive mostly on the highway to commute 20 miles to and from work every day and some in town driving. I am so frustrated as I have put so much money into this vehicle. I am looking to buy a new (used) car soon but need this car to last me at least another month or two.

    Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

    p.s. - My power steering also seems screwed up since I got it back from the shop. I've had this happen before for brief times but it would always go back to normal.
  • goldenrodrgoldenrodr Member Posts: 1
    I have steam seeping out of the valve cover gasket. At first it was intermittent, but now it seems to be constant. It leaks from the front side over the exhaust manifold. There is no water in the oil. The car is a '94 with 114K miles and I am trying to decide if it's a DIY job.

    The last head gasket I replaced was in '82 on a Ford Fiesta. When that went it broke a valve (the replacement was incorrectly listed at the dealer and it took 3 days to get the right valve - after I took a good one and showed them that their replacement was incorrect!)

    Any thoughts on whether it's a gasket, head or worse?
  • dbcgenodbcgeno Member Posts: 1
    1996 Cavalier Z24 two door coupe.
    140,000 miles.

    My mechanic identified that the head gasket was leaking hydrocarbons at something like 35 parts per million. Said it should be zero. He didn't want to take the engine apart to fix it and so applied SteelSeal. The hydrocarbons are now down to 15 parts per million.

    I am looking to sell this car. Figure that the buyer will have a head gasket repair job sometime in a year or so (and of course I'll be up front about it), but am concerned that because it was not fully repaired I might be mistaken and the buyer will be stuck with a repair job very soon.

    Mechanic said that the hydrocarbon leak would not cause it to fail a smog check.

  • gbmegbme Member Posts: 2
    My son came home last night and told me the car had overheated.It is a 2000 Chevy Cavalier with a 2.2. It died about a half of a block away. Now is won't start, just turns over and makes a sound like the starter is going out or some thing. I don't know if it is a blown head gasket or the timing belt. I removed the valve cover and then turned over the motor and the rocker arms are all working. So I'm thinking it isn't the timing unless it jumped time. Can someone give my a little help here. Thanks
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    Check cylinder compression. If it died from overheating it almost surely cracked the aluminum cylinder head.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    You can also pull the spark plugs and look for presence of coolant. Overheating is deadly for these cars so head gasket is suspect.
  • jh12jh12 Member Posts: 1
    Does anyone know if this problem is as common in newer models? I'm very close to purchasing a used 2004 with about 51,000 miles on it. Most of these seem to involve older models, but the fact that it happened to someone with a 2005 with low miles is not very comforting.

    I had a 1997 Dodge Neon that I bought because I liked the look and the way it ran and handled. It was a 2.0 DOHC Sport model. Little did I know when I bought it 5 years ago that they were notorious for head gasket problems. 2 or 3 years later, I had a blown head and dropped $800 to repair it. I really don't want to go through that again.

    I know my dad said they had 2.2 engines in their Dodge trucks when he worked for the Department of Transportation, and that they were junk. These were older 2.2's, and not the Ecotec.

    I'm also considering a 2004 Kia Optima. The reason I'm leaning to the Cavalier is I thought it could save me more money all the way around... on gas, on insurance, on parts and maintenance. I'm not dirt poor, mostly because I live alone, but I'm definitely not rich either. I'm a one vehicle owner, so I need something dependable.
  • gonogogonogo Member Posts: 879
    If you want dependable get a Corolla.
  • hot1toknowhot1toknow Member Posts: 2
    Hi, everyone. My 95' cavalier coupe is the prettiest little car, but.... it seems to have every problem i've read in these forums. Bought it in 2000' from original owner who had timely oil changes, maintenance, ect.. 1 month later cracked head!! Never even overheated on me? So almost $1000 later with a rebeaded head,( I know I got jipped ) I had overheating, then waterpump went out, then air conditioning, then brakes, ignition recall, timing belt, side door panel falls off, electrical problems, throttle stuck and excelerated in drive, muffler fell off, numerous sensors replaced and finally tires. HHHH!!! Now for the last two years it started to spit and sputter and die when its cold or raining ! This is after regular tune-ups and oil changes. It has coolant around the second spark plug from the right constantly and fouls out. Help!!!!! I know its a money pit. Any ideas???? Please. :cry:
  • blu_cavalierblu_cavalier Member Posts: 1
    My girlfriend owns a 94 cavalier with 114000 on it. About 3 months ago it started to spit and lose power. After about 10 mins this would go away. Then a few days later it happened again. Then 2 months ago she just died and wouldn't start at all. Then 3 days ago I tried to start it and it just fired right off. Ran fine til this morning when it just wouldnt start. This afternoon it started right up. Can someone please help?
  • spcharles14spcharles14 Member Posts: 4
    I am having Coolant Problems on my 2005 Chevrolet Cavalier. I keep filling it with water and it leaks right out. I have to refil the tank everytime I drive or my engine will overheat. If anyone on here may know what the problem is...please help!! Thank You in advance.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    You mean it spurts out through the overflow tank, or it just "disappears" and you can't see where, or it leaks and you can see it leaking, or ?????
  • jpfjpf Member Posts: 496
    The 2004 cavaliers came with the 2.2 Ecotec engine. This engine should not be confused with the old-tech 2.2 overhead valve engine that was the base engine in Cavaliers until 2002(?). The old-tech 2.2 had a cast iron block and aluminum cylinder head that was prone to blowing head gaskets. I do not believe the newer 2.2 has this problem. Good luck.
  • bella14bella14 Member Posts: 3
    I am the original owner of a 98 cavalier. It was problem free for many years, but in the last 2 years it has had issues. The latest is overheating. I hadn't gone 3 miles from home when a light came on the dash showing low coolant, then within 3-4 minutes the needle on the temp gauge went over to H when it normally is right in the middle between C and H. So, I pulled over and turned the car off. After it cooled off I looked in the water resevoir and it was empty, so I added some water and was able to drive it to a mechanic without the light coming on again or the needle going to H. After a day with the car, the guy tells me nothing is wrong with it. Charged me $85 for that information. I drove it home and the next day all that water I added and I guess antifreeze was now on the ground in my garage. I added more antifreeze/water and took it out and the dash light came back on.

    Long story short, I had another mechanic look it over and he pressure tested the system and told me the water pump was leaking, a sensor that makes the fan come on was bad and the sensor wasn't switching the fan on, and I might have a blown head gasket. He replaced the water pump, he replaced the thermostat, replaced the sensor, he flushed the system and added some sealer - I think he called it Red Devil -- and said it was a temporary fix for a head gasket problem. He drove it around and said he thought it was ok for awhile.

    I am a nervous wreck now to drive it. I figure I'll have to get that gasket replaced eventually, but how long do you think I have? I'll need to save money in order to get it done, otherwise I would have had him do it today. Is it possible that the water pump could have been the big problem or is it definitely a head gasket problem when the coolant leaks and the car temp gauge goes to H?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I'm not sure why a mechanic would THINK you "might" have blown a head gasket. There are sure-fire ways to test for this.

    In any event, perhaps the repairs done will fix the problem. If the head gasket is in fact leaking, you won't get far with the car.

    In the future, the proper tests for a head gasket leak are:

    1. pressurize the system, remove spark plugs and inspect

    2. inspect the oil for water intrusion

    3. test the radiator coolant for combustion gases with the proper tester

    4. compression test that shows two low adjacent cylinders

    5. white smoke out of exhaust pipe

    6. rapid overheating
  • bella14bella14 Member Posts: 3
    Thank you for your reply. I have been driving it almost a week now and it isn't leaking fluid on my garage floor anymore -- but once I've been driving it around town a bit the needle on the temp gauge is starting to go over toward the H when all these years it always sat right in the middle between C and H. It doesn't get into the red H zone, but it is definitely no longer in the middle between C and H. Should this worry me? What does the fact that the temp is running hotter mean?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Head gasket failure wouldn't be a gradual overheat.

    The general rule, to which there are exceptions, is that if you have a low speed overheat, that is, when the car is barely moving, you have an AIR circulation problem, (non-working fan for instance) and if you have a high speed overheat, that is when the car is moving fairly rapidly, you have a coolant circulation problem. (clogged radiator, stuck thermostat).
  • bella14bella14 Member Posts: 3
    Thanks for the info. I know nothing about engines, but I am learning something here.

    I brought it to the mechanic last night for him to look at the fan -- (to show me where it was actually) He is a friend's brother in law, so I do believe that he is honest. After the engine cooled down I checked and the coolant is staying in the resevoir -- no more big leakage in my garage yet the temp gauge climbs past halfway while driving in stop and go traffic under 50 miles an hour. I was very nervous seeing it climb past the halfway point since it never used to do that.

    He checked it and showed me the fan was going while the A/C was on. Then he turned the A/C off and we waited and waited to see when or if the fan would kick back on by itself. It did eventually. So it seems not to be a fan problem. He said the temp outside has something to do with how hot an engine gets, and living in Florida it gets hot here. It is usually in the 90's everyday, most of the day and sunny. Driving it at night the temp gauge still goes past the mid point, but not by much. During the day it goes over 3/4 of the way and it seems dangerously close to the white line marking the space before the dreaded red zone of H.

    Why is it running so much hotter? He said it was safe to drive it at 3/4 of the way over, but it scares me. He said to pull over and shut it off if it gets into the red H zone, of course. I spend all the time behind the wheel now staring at the gauge and praying for it not to move more. Why has it changed? (He replaced the water pump, the thermostat, some sensor, and put in that Red Devil sealant in case the gasket was going.) He didn't really have an answer that was definitive for me as to why it is running hotter. I thought maybe someone here with more experience would know. Is it safe to drive at 3/4 of the way over toward HOT? How can I get it back to the safer middle area?

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