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View Full Version : How To Tell If A Headgasket Is Going To Blow?


Action1
12-08-2004, 05:47 PM
Are there any "tell-tale" indicators that a head gasket is leaking or going to blow on a '97 540iA?

dave_in_VA
12-12-2004, 08:42 PM
Milky oil or a oily shean in the coolent is a sign of a blown head gasket.

glankford
12-16-2004, 01:13 PM
um, no. That is like knowing when a headlight is about to burn out.

But you can tell if one HAS failed. A miss at idle, One spark plug being super clean, and the others dirty. Smelling antifreeze at the tailpipe, sludgy antifreeze, chocolate cottage cheese oil. A car that consumes antifreeze, but doesn't leak it.

oil mixing with coolant is a dead giveaway....


-Garrick

hg71
12-29-2004, 06:28 AM
I was told by my bimmer mechanic that it is not often for the head gaskets to blow on our cars... He stated he did 1 head gasket job about 10 years ago and that was it. I would start the car and look for "more than average steam coming out of the exhuast to check. If it is damaged you will notice the steam from the exhaust will get thicker over time.

Steve D
12-29-2004, 08:49 AM
Any garage can check by using a gauge that clamps on the radiator filler and checks for CO traces in the coolant which if any is measured means a head gasket leak. This is a 5 minute check.

Steve D

Lscman
12-29-2004, 09:18 PM
um, no. That is like knowing when a headlight is about to burn out.

But you can tell if one HAS failed. A miss at idle, One spark plug being super clean, and the others dirty. Smelling antifreeze at the tailpipe, sludgy antifreeze, chocolate cottage cheese oil. A car that consumes antifreeze, but doesn't leak it.

oil mixing with coolant is a dead giveaway....


-Garrick

Right on. A crystal ball is needed to predict a future head gasket failure....

Seriously, the head gaskets can fail on E39 V8 when folks run them low on fluid and experience water pump cavitation or gas pockets. Some owners assume they can ignore the low coolant chimes and rely upon the temp gauge. This is a bad assumption because the coolant temp sensor will NOT read the temperature of air or steam....it must be immersed in fluid. A couple miles of driving after a radiator or reservoir failure can blow a gasket or ruin a motor, even though the temp needle sits at 12 o'clock. The aluminum block or one or both heads can warp from running with lack of coolant or improper coolant refill & air/gas purging procedures. The BMW engine does not work well in air cool mode.