Blown cylinder head gasket: What does this mean for you and your car?

Blown cylinder head gasket: What does this mean for you and your car? 

Autowerkstatt Reparatur

An in-depth look at the heart of many engine problems reveals the cylinder-head gasket. If it is defective, this can have serious consequences for your vehicle. Here you can find out everything you need to know about what a blown cylinder-head gasket means, how it occurs and what options you then have.

The inconspicuous heroine in the engine compartment: the cylinder-head gasket

The cylinder-head gasket may only be a household name for many drivers, but it is essential for the smooth operation of your engine. It ensures that oil, coolant and combustion gases stay in the right places and do not come into contact with each other. Put simply, it helps to keep everything "tight" and thus protect the engine from harmful mixtures and contamination.

What can damage the cylinder-head gasket?

  • Engine overheating: Heat is one of the main enemies of the cylinder-head gasket. A defective thermostat, a leaking water pump or a clogged radiator can be causes of overheating. If the engine gets too hot, the gasket can be damaged and lose its sealing function.
  • Natural wear and tear: As with many car parts, the cylinder-head gasket is also subject to natural wear and tear. Over time, it can become brittle and lose its sealing function.
  • Errors during installation: During a repair or engine conversion, the cylinder-head gasket may not be installed correctly. This can lead to increased pressure and consequently to damage.

Symptoms and effects of a defect

If the cylinder-head gasket is damaged, various symptoms may occur:

  • Loss of power: The engine reacts slowly because the compression in the cylinders is no longer optimal.
  • Discolored coolant: Oil can get into the cooling system and lead to a chocolate milk-like consistency.
  • Smoke from the exhaust: White clouds of smoke can indicate coolant in the combustion chamber.

The consequences of a defect are not only expensive repairs, but also possible further damage to the engine.

Options in the event of a defect

There are several options for dealing with a blown cylinder head:

  1. Repair: A repair is often expensive and may not always be economically viable, especially with older models.
  2. Selling the car: Instead of investing in a repair, selling the car may be an option. Companies such as offer to buy vehicles in any condition, which can be a stress-free alternative to repairs.
  3. Cannibalization: For hobbyists or car enthusiasts, cannibalizing the vehicle and selling the individual parts can also be an option.


A blown cylinder head gasket is a serious problem that can cause both expensive repairs and further engine damage. It is important to recognize the symptoms early and take appropriate action. Whether repair or sale, each option has its own advantages and disadvantages. It's up to you to make the best decision for your situation.

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