How Long Can I Drive With A Blown Head Gasket?

A blown head gasket is not a matter to be taken lightly, because it can cause severe damage to the engine. How long can I drive with a blown head gasket, you ask? Read on to find out!

If you have a blown head gasket, some of the vehicles can stop working in a single day, and some may last for a few weeks before the engine stops working. The period for which you will be able to drive a vehicle with a blown head gasket will depend on where and how severe the damage is.

If you find that your head gasket is blown, then it is better not to drive your car until you get it repaired. One thing is sure, though, you will have to get the head gasket replaced sooner or later.

Read on below to find the possible causes, symptoms, and solutions for a blown head gasket.

How Long Can I Drive With A Blown Head Gasket

Possible Causes For A Head Gasket To Blow 

A head gasket can blow due to several reasons.


One of the main reasons for a head gasket to blow is overheating. Overheating can damage the armor of the gasket. The engine of your car can overheat due to antifreeze or low oil. It can also be due to a faulty thermostat or other issues.

Timing Faults 

If your car’s engine has incorrect timing, it will cause fuel combustion at the wrong time. It will eventually put high pressure on the cylinders. This high pressure can cause the head gasket to blow.

Bad Design

In some of the older vehicles, the head gasket was designed poorly. The materials used in the manufacturing of the head gasket cannot handle a lot of pressure and will eventually burst. Newer vehicles have head gaskets made of reinforced steel, a strong and durable material.

Old age

On average, a head gasket’s lifespan is 150,000 to 200,000 miles. If your car is old, then it is possible that a head gasket can blow.

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How To Tell If A Head gasket Is Blown ?

If your head gasket is blown, some symptoms are to look out for.


If the gas basket is blown on a vehicle, then the car will lose coolants, resulting in overheating of the engine and vehicle.

Coolant Mixed In Oil

The coolant or antifreeze in your car will mix with the oil if it has a blown head gasket.

You will see dark brown oil floating on top of the coolant. Also, the oil may turn milky white.

Reduced Mileage

A blown head gasket results in losing air and fuel mixture., so a reduced fuel mileage also is a possible symptom of a blown head gasket.

White Smoke

Another common symptom of a blown head gasket is white smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe. Coolant gets into the combustion chamber and then burns, which releases white smoke.

What To Do In Case Of A Blown Head Gasket ?

If the head gasket is blown, you would need to get your vehicle repaired. There are two ways you can go about this- a temporary fix or a permanent fix.

Temporary Repairs

Changing a head gasket is costly, and if you don’t have that kind of money at the moment, you can do temporary fixes that will allow you some time to arrange for the cost. You can find many head gasket sealers at your local hardware shop, and they are straightforward to use. All you need to do is pour the content of the sealer into the car’s radiator and then warm your car for the time specified on the sealer. K-seal and Bars leaks are some of the most common manufacturers of gasket sealers.

As clear from the name, this is a temporary solution, and you would need to get a permanent solution sooner or later.

Permanent Repairs

There are two different ways to permanently repair a blown head gasket. You can either choose to replace the head gasket with a new one, or you can replace the whole engine. 

It will depend on the age and condition of your vehicle. If your car is new and all the other parts are in good shape, replacing the head gasket with a new one is the way. 

But if your vehicle is old, then replacing the whole engine might be a good solution as there is a high chance that other parts of your engine might also be worn out or damaged. 

The cost of replacing a head gasket or replacing the engine is high.

If the budget is a big concern, you might also want to look into the option of reusing a head gasket.

Preventive Measure To Avoid Head Gasket Failure

Since replacing a head gasket is an expensive affair, it is best to avoid getting into such scenarios. There are a few preventive measures you can take to increase the life of a head gasket or avoid its failure altogether.

  • Before taking your car for a drive in winter, warm the car up first.
  • Maintain the right level of oil and coolant in your car.
  • Keep an eye on the temperature gauge. If it is below the three-quarter mark, till then, it is good. However, if you see it rise above that level, you should immediately pull over and allow your car to cool down.
  • Never let the temperature gauge rise to the red level.
  • Get your car checked and serviced regularly.
  • When replacing the head gasket, ask the mechanic to torque it according to specifications.
  • When replacing the new head gasket, use reinforced ones with new gasket bolts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Drive With A Blown Head Gasket? 

Yes, you can drive with a blown head gasket. However, you should not. If you have a damaged head gasket, it is possible for the engine of your car to stop working in just a day, or it can go on for weeks. If you used some temporary fix on a blown head gasket, your car could last a few months.

How do I know if my Headgasket is blown?

A blown head gasket unseals coolant passages that allow coolant to get into cylinders. There are few symptoms if a head gasket is blown.

  • Overheating of the engine.
  • You can see bubbling in the coolant reservoir and radiator.
  • White smoke will come out of the tailpipe.
  • Coolant loss without any leaks.
  • Oil will turn milky white.

Should I fix a blown head gasket or get a new one?

Yes, it’s worth your trouble to fix a blown head gasket, if your vehicle is in otherwise excellent condition. The cost of replacing a blown head gasket is high, but if you are not looking to replace your car anytime soon, it is worth investing in a replacement head gasket.

How much will it cost to get a new head gasket?

Replacing a head gasket is very expensive. It can cost you anywhere from around $1000 to $2000. The high price is not for the replacement part but for the labor charge. Since a mechanic has to spend a lot of time, he will charge a lot. Replacing a head gasket requires removing the engine head.

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Wrap Up

It is not safe to drive if your head gasket is blown. Some cars will stop working altogether in a day, while some can last a week or two. Applying some temporary fix to your blown head gasket could keep your vehicle running for a few months. 

Ideally speaking, you should not drive in this condition as it will worsen the situation even more than it already is. 

If your vehicle is in excellent condition other than the blown head gasket, you can consider getting it replaced, but if your car is old, investing $1000-$2000 is not worth it.

Thank you for reading the article, we hope we answered everything that you wanted to ask about blown gaskets. If you have further questions, please write to us in the comments box.

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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