Your car or truck’s internal combustion engine is full of cylinders. The top of them is called the cylinder head, which is what can commonly fail on them. In actuality, cylinder heads are composed of many components, including valves, lifters, springs, and the main combustion chamber itself.
Cylinder heads allow for the closing of the combustion chamber and also work alongside the head gasket to seal the cylinders. They can also keep the engine components cool by transporting the coolant into the engine block.
These are five common signs of cylinder head problems.
1. An Overheating Engine
This is the most common symptom of a cylinder head problem. The heat puts the cylinder under pressure, causing the internal combustion engine components to overheat. This is caused by the coolant not being able to pass through and can actually cause the parts’ shapes to become distorted. This can be easily prevented by making sure your radiator is full and the coolant is good, not brown or murky.
2. Leaking Oil
Oil leaks are also common when you have cylinder head problems, specifically a cracked cylinder head. The oil light on the dashboard could come on and you may see some oil on the ground after you’ve had the car parked for a while. If you can see oil around the cylinder head, this is a sure sign it’s cracked.
3. Leaking Coolant
In addition to leaking oil, you may notice a drop in your vehicle’s coolant level. This can also be seen on the cylinder head if it’s cracked. This could cause engine overheating and lead to even more serious problems if left unaddressed.
4. General Poor Engine Performance
A cracked or damaged cylinder head means the engine can’t burn fuel properly or efficiently. This can lead to a jerking sensation as you accelerate or even having to restart your car or truck. Poor engine performance is a strong indicator of cylinder head issues.
5. Smoke From the Exhaust
If you see smoke stemming from the exhaust, this is another clear indicator that you may be dealing with a cracked cylinder head. The presence of smoke, however, means the damage is severe. Ignoring this symptom could lead to massive engine damage, so getting your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible is imperative.
Bring Your Vehicle into a Mechanic Immediately if You Suspect Cylinder Head Problems
Cylinder heads can be replaced and the engine reassembled. It’s not the most inexpensive of repairs, but it’s far better than winding up saddled with an engine that has been severely damaged and compromised.