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

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 .