Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How to avoid blowing a gasket

SHOOT: Ha ha, you probably thought this was a rant, right? Actually I suffered a blown gasket and it cost me R10 600/$1500 to repair. Essentially the gasket needs to sit snuggly over the engine. If not, air, coolants and other contaminants begin to leak into the engine causing overheating and very inefficient combustion. You can also TOTAL the entire engine if you don't sort it out soon.

You avoid blowing a gasket by recognising the signs that it's going. Go to the link below for the full list. And good luck.

SOWETAN: White smoke from a fully warmed-up engine can be an indication of coolant leaking into a combustion chamber. If antifreeze is used in the coolant, you may have sweet-smelling steam coming from the exhaust pipe.

One spark plug that’s cleaner than the others may indicate a coolant leak into that cylinder. The symptom of a coolant leak will be a loss of coolant without any external leaks, drips or stains being evident. It will often be accompanied by hard starting, and rough running.
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LAST week I advised a reader with an Opel Astra that has 300000km on the clock to watch out for early warning signs of head gasket failure.
The next day I received a call from a friend asking me what exactly are the early warning signs of head gasket failure.
The head gasket is a thin, pre- cut template of steel or composite material which fits between the cylinder head and engine block. Its purpose is twofold: Firstly, it provides a watertight seal around the openings of the mating passages by which a coolant circulates through the head and block, and in the same way it provides an oil-tight seal around the openings of the passages carrying the engine oil. Thus it prevents cross-contamination of oil and coolant. Secondly, it seals off each of the combustion chambers to prevent any leakage of combustion gases under compression. A head gasket fails, or “blows”, when it starts to leak due to cracking, burning or warping.
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