Ford Explorer Blown Head Gasket: Symptoms, Causes, Repairs | Powertrain resource (2023)

One of the most common (and) critical major engine problems is afaulty cylinder head gasket. Like yoursFord ExplorerWhen the head gasket is blown, it may run poorly or not at all. Below are the Ford Explorer head gasket symptoms, causes and cost.

Recognizing the signs of a blown head gasket on your Ford Explorer is essential so that you can take appropriate action.

If the gasket fails, it can cause a variety of problems such as: B. poor engine performance, overheating and coolant leaks.

You might notice it tooWhite smoke comes out of the exhaustor amilk discolorationin oil. By being aware of these symptoms, you can quickly diagnose and fix the problem, reducing the impact on your vehicle's performance and longevity.

A variety of factors can contribute to Ford Explorer head gasket failure, such as regular wear and tear, engine overheating, or improper installation. Addressing these problems early will help avoid the inconvenience and potential financial loss of a blown head gasket.

Causes of a blown head gasket


Overheating is one of the most common causes of a blown head gasket on a Ford Explorer.

When your engine overheats, the metal expands, potentially pinching the head gasket and reducing its ability to seal properly. It is important to monitor the coolant level and correct any overheating problems immediately to prevent head gasket failure.

Common causes of overheating

  • Low coolant level– If there is not enough coolant to properly cool the engine, it will overheat and the head gasket will blow. A low engine coolant level can be both a cause and a symptom of a blown head gasket.
  • Bad thermostat– The task of the thermostat is to regulate the flow of coolant in and out of your Explorer's engine. If it doesn't open, the engine can get hot enough to crack the cylinder head or blow the head gasket.
  • Poor coolant flow– If not enough coolant flows through the engine, it will overheat. This could be due to a faulty radiator, faulty radiator hoses or a faulty water pump.

seal wear

Your head gasket is designed to withstand significant stress and heat. However, with age and wear and tear, it may no longer seal properly.

Regular maintenance to ensure the head gasket is in good condition and addressing signs of wear early can help prevent head gasket cracking. It is important to keep an eye on the engine oil and coolant levels and discuss any concerns with a trusted mechanic.

engine detonation

Engine detonation or pre-ignition problems are other factors that can contribute to a blown head gasket in a Ford Explorer.

When pre-ignition occurs in an engine, abnormally high cylinder pressure can develop, which can lead to head gasket failure.

To protect your head gasket, make sure you always use the right fuel for your vehicle with the right octane rating, and fix engine problems like knocking or whistling as soon as they occur.

Symptoms of a blown head gasket

loss of coolant

One of the first symptoms you may notice when your Ford Explorer's head gasket blows is a loss of coolant.

If the engine coolant level is dropping, but there are no visible leaks, this could be a sign that the head gasket has blown. Keep an eye on the coolant level and check for signs of leaks or system damage.

Loss of coolant due to head gasket failure should be accompanied by white smoke.

Poor engine performance

A blown head gasket can also cause your Explorer's engine to run poorly. You may notice a rough idle or engine misfire due to a blown head gasket between the two combustion chambers.

The engine is designed to maintain a high level of pressure in the cylinders. So if a head gasket fails, it can upset that balance and affect performance.

White smoke

Another symptom of a blown head gasket is the constant presence of white or gray smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe.

If the head gasket is blown, the coolant can mix with the gasoline, causing it to burn and produce white smoke. Watching for unusual smoke in your Explorer's exhaust is a good way to spot a possible head gasket problem.

Diagnose a blown head gasket

Visual overview

Start with a visual inspection of your Ford Explorer's engine. Look for signs of oil and coolant leaks around the head gasket. There can also be internal leaks such as coolant in the oil or vice versa. Look for a white or milky residue in the oil, which means coolant has mixed with it.

Compression test

Compression testing is key to diagnosing a blown head gasket. You will need a compression gauge to perform this test.

  • First disconnect the fuel pump and ignition coils to prevent the engine from starting.
  • Then remove all spark plugs and connect a compression gauge to each cylinder in turn.
  • Start the engine and record the compression reading for each cylinder. A significant difference in compression readings between cylinders may indicate a blown head gasket.

Cooling system pressure test

The last diagnostic tool is the cooling system pressure test. This test checks for leaks in the cooling system that could be caused by a blown head gasket.

While the engine is cold, place the pressure gauge on the radiator and pump until the system reaches the recommended pressure.

Observe the pressure gauge for at least 10 minutes. If the pressure drops during this time, it may indicate a leak. Also check for coolant leaking from the engine or getting into the oil or exhaust.

Remember to be thorough in your diagnosis and seek professional help if necessary to determine if your Ford Explorer's head gasket is blown.

repair and replacement

Head gasket replacement

Keep in mind that your location and model year can affect the cost of a head gasket replacement.

To make the process go smoothly and avoid mistakes, here are the steps you need to keep in mind:

  • First, make sure you have all the necessary tools and spare parts
  • Drain the coolant and remove the intake manifold, exhaust manifold and cylinder head
  • Clean the engine block and cylinder head surfaces
  • Replace the head gasket with a new one, following the manufacturer's instructions

Replace the cylinder head

Sometimes a blown head gasket can result in cylinder head damage that may require resurfacing. Cylinder head resurfacing restores a flat and smooth surface, critical to preventing leaks and maintaining proper compression.

Here are some important things to consider when resurfacing:

  • Before proceeding, check the cylinder head for cracks or damage
  • Clean all dirt, debris and sealing material from the head
  • Use a precision ruler and feeler gauge to check for flatness
  • If the head is not within the flatness tolerance specified by the manufacturer, continue with the rebuild process
  • Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for resurfacing, including using a router or belt sander

By following these steps you can ensure a successful Ford Explorer blown head gasket repair and replacement.

Frequently asked questions

Can I drive my Explorer with a blown head gasket?

It is not recommended to drive your Explorer with a blown head gasket. This can lead to loss of power and performance, as well as mixing of coolant with engine oil.

This can cause serious engine damage and possibly stall the engine leaving you stranded. If you suspect your Explorer's head gasket is blown, it's best to get the problem fixed as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

Is Ford Explorer head gasket repair expensive?

The cost of a Ford Explorer head gasket repair can vary depending on factors such as labor costs and parts prices in your area.

head gaskets themselvesAttractive prices. That's itWorkI'm busy replacing them to help you succeed.

On overhead cam engines this can be an incredibly tedious task. It is somewhat easier with conventional engines, where the camshaft is in the block.

With parts and labor included, the average price for a head gasket is over $1,200. Depending on the model year and the engine, there may be significantly more.

If you plan to tackle this task yourself, start early on the weekend and be sure to use itmoment keywhen you put it all together.


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