Head Gaskets and Valve Covers
Saturn (car)
Grand Am SE

How can you tell if the head gasket is blown on a 1998 Saturn and could that be the reason it keeps overheating?


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2015-07-15 20:46:49
2015-07-15 20:46:49

Hello All !

I have two Chevy S10 Pickup Trucks and they both have died from overheating / Blown Head Gaskets .

There are several ways to determine if a Head Gasket is " Blown" . Basically what this means is that it is the Head Gasket that that seals the surfaces between the Engine Cylinder block and the Head has a leak .

If the Head Gasket is "Blown" or leaking you will most definetly experience overheating . In both of my cases a component of the engine cooling system failed and caused the "Blown" Head Gasket . In Truck #1 , the radiator fan clutch broke and caused the engine to overheat and then subsequently caused the "Blown Head Gasket . In Truck #2 , the Water Pump Gasket leaked and the engine overheated and caused the "Blown " head gasket . Truck #1 was driven past the point of no return and we had to replace the whole engine .Truck #2 was caught in time to forestall any massive engine damage and the Head Gasket replacement did the trick . The big problem I have with all of this is that in both trucks , the Idiot gause didn't actuallly show an overheat condition . We determined from the smell of the engine that something was amiss. By the time we twigged to the Overheat condition , the damage was already done . Chevy lets us down with their poor overheat warning system . I am considering checking if this might be covered by the Magnason & Moss Act ( the Lemon Law). So far this fammily has lost seven GM cars to overheat problems . We have had 1 Corsica , 3 Grand Ams, 1 Buick Alero (a Glorified Grand Am ) and now 2 1998 S10's .

The 2000 Alero we own now is experiencing the same problems as all of the other owners on the internet . Dashboard cracking problems , Ignition switch problems , fuel pump failure problems and so forth .

I wonder if there is a Class Action in this somewhere ?

Here are the methods I use to determine if a Head Gasket is "Blown" .

The most telling is of course overheating . You can pull the oil dipstick and look for a grey or milky colored oil and that indicates that there is a leak between the water cooling jacket and the oil system . Another method is to pull offthe Radiator Cap and look for explosive bubbling of the water ( kind of like Old Faithful ). This indicates a leak betweeb the Exhaust system and the water cooling jacket . The last method I use is to do a cylinder compression check and you can see if there is a leak from the engine cylinders .

Some of these same symptoms can also indicate a cracked block . Cracked blocks can occur during a winter freeze or if you are silly enough to add cool water to a overheated engine . You can generally add water to an overheated engine ONLY if the engine is running . If the engine will not start and is still very hot , you can cause the Engine Block to crack with the introduction of cool water to the Radiator . It is best to wait at least an hour after an overheated engine condition to try to add cool water .

If all else fails , see a mechanic . They should not charge more than $200. labor for a head Gasket Job and the subsequent head machining (to check for warped head from overheat ) should be less than $100. and the Gasket set should be less than $100. DIY cost may be around $ 200. and the cost at your favorite Mechanics Shop should be less than $500. or you are buying his KId's Braces ths year .


The Moral of this story shoud be "DO NOT DRIVE AN OVERHEATING CAR" . The longer you wait the more damage you cause .


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Temp sensor not working, cooling fan not working, blown head gasket.

If the vehicle isn't overheating then it's probably not a blown head gasket. There could be a problem with the oxygen censor.

The only repair for a blown head gasket is to replace the gasket.

you have a blown head gasket. the compression from the engine is building up in the cooling system. this can only be caused by a blown head gasket. that is the reason for the overheating as well.

No, a normal tune up cannot cause a blown head gasket. A blown head gasket normally is caused by an engine overheating or by a defect in the gasket or head. If it happened right after a tune-up that is just a coincidence.

Blocked radiator or Blown head gasket

Yes but only for a little while. You will definatly notice a blown head gasket by looking for steam in the exhaust and water in your oil.

In a vehicle- a blown gasket caused by overheating, block warpage

Overheating can cause this. Air bubbles escaping from the radiator is caused by a blown head gasket.

The main cause of a blown head gasket is engine overheating. Of course it can be a manufacturing defect but that is not common.

if the engine is smoking and overheating the head gasket is blown or you popped a freeze plug

The easiest way to see if a head gasket is blown is to check the oil, if it is light brown and milky looking then the head gasket is blown. My 1998 Saturn would always overheat. I had replaced the radiator twice and all of the hoses but it continued to happen. The people at Saturn did not know the problem. I brought it to a raditor place and the replaced the gauge that reads the temperature and fixed the problem. The gauge was reading at a much lower temperature than the car really was so the fan would not turn on to cool down the car causing it to overheat. This might be your problem. There is a chemical that can be added to the coolant that will expose exhaust fumes. The head gasket may be fine, but overheating will endanger it. overheating could also be caused by a bad engine coolant temperature sensor, or a bad thermostat, possibly even a bad PCM. ** Only the top answer to this question actually ANSWERS the question.

it could be a number of things including..timing,thermostat,fan clutch,blockage in radiator,or blown valve cover gasket seals or worse blown head gasket

one of the reasons why an automobile shutts off after overheating is that the head gasket may blown, hence letting the coolant in the chambers.

If your gasket has blown and overheating occured then skimming will almost certainly be needed. Send it for testing and skimming better to be safe than sorry.

most likely a blown head gasket, cracked head, or bad intake gasket. with the s series. i would venture to say blown head gasket.

maybe a siezed water pump, or worse yet, blown head gasket.

usually white smoke emptied radiator overheating etc

Failure of the cooling system is the primary cause of overheating and leads to gasket failure, and as a result causes severe overheating, which will then warp the cylinder head and possibly the engine block

you probably have air in cooling system, which is probably caused by blown head gasket(s). Head gasket and intake gasket on these engines are notorious for failing.

I don't think a blown intake gasket would cause it to overheat, Most causes of overheating are: thermostat stuck in closed position; faulty water pump; broken fan blades; loose belt; clogged radiator; radiator cap not holding pressure; blown head gasket; low or no coolant; leaking hoses.

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