Is your car starting to sputter? Is the engine chuffing along a bit more slowly or even awkwardly? Have you noticed some oil pooling under your car? Chances are you’re experiencing a cracked cylinder head. The combustion engine inside of your car is filled with these metal cylinders and on top of them are the heads. Sadly, while the rest of your vehicle is likely made out of stronger metals, cylinders are designed to be much more lightweight which can make them more susceptible to damages from cracking and warping. If you think you’re struggling with a bad cylinder head, there are some simple ways to diagnose the problem yourself.
Leaking Out Oil
If you’re spotting any consistent leakage from your vehicle, you may be dealing with some damaged cylinder heads. Frequently, this is enough to trigger your car’s oil light. If you’re lucky, deducing whether or not this is your problem will be as simple as popping your hood, getting a flashlight, and checking your cylinder heads.
If you notice oil collecting around any of them, it’s quite possible that you’re dealing with a cracked, leaky cylinder head. Keep your oil levels within the desired range for your vehicle and consider your options for repairs.
This is a similar issue to an oil leak. However, if the cylinder head is damaged enough to leak coolant, it’s probably severely cracked and will likely need a repair as soon as possible. When coolant is leaking from your car, it causes your engine to overheat. This can lead to difficulty starting your car, performance issues, and even the car dying while you drive.
Thankfully, your dashboard’s temperature sensor can tell you if the vehicle is overheating and it’s simple enough to check for coolant leaks. Keep your fluid levels as high as you can and seek out assistance getting the faulty cylinder head replaced.
Poor Engine Performance
A damaged cylinder head will be releasing air from the combustion engine which can very quickly translate into a slower, rougher engine. Spotting the cracks on cylinder heads can be easy or difficult depending on the severity of the damage. Even a miniscule crack may be enough to release air and it might not be readily apparent to the naked eye.
Larger cracks are, of course, easier to spot but these also can’t be left unchecked for too long as they could start to further affect your car’s performance. If you’re having any doubts about whether or not it’s a crack in the cylinder head, this is when you’ll want to book a thorough inspection with a trusted mechanic.
Keep It Running Smoothly
Other issues, like engine failure and smoke being released under the hood, are much less common but you should still be cautious of them when driving. While self-diagnosing any issues with your cylinder heads can save you on inspection fees at a shop, it is most likely in your best interest to see a mechanic for confirmation. Keep in mind that even the lighter, more affordable aluminum cylinder heads on modern cars still carry a heavy price tag.
It may be better for you to see if you can find the parts yourself for a cheaper price than what the mechanic quotes you. Once you begin to figure in labor hours, this can be a costly repair but it’s one that shouldn’t be ignored. Cracked cylinder heads can lead to further damages throughout your vehicle and this only raises the cost of a mechanic down the road. As always, preventative care is best for your car. Don’t miss oil changes, drive cautiously, and try to address potential damages as you spot them. This will save you a lot of trouble down the road and your wallet will surely thank you.