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how do i tell if a car has bad headgaskets? im going to look at a car for a friend tomorrow that is overheating (ea82). it sounds like it might be a heater core hose or another coolant hose but i would like to know the symptoms or how to identify bad headgaskets. thanks!

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What I do is use the method I have always used for heavy trucks.

On a cold engine remove the rad cap and make sure the rad is full to the top. Attatch a piece of hose to the overflow spigot (beside the rad cap) run that hose into a big glass jar 1/2 full of coolant making sure the hose remains below the water level. Fire it up and look for bubbles during/after the engine warms up, if you see a steady stream of bubbles when warm then it is best to assume you have "troubles".

 

If the heater core was leaking you should:

1) be able to smell it inside the car

2) should see it on the windshield on "defrost"

3) see a stain in the carpet

 

If the headgaskets are leaking bad I would expect to see tank leakage if the car has an alumnium rad (left side top). These cars are mostly old enough now that the copper rads (original) are beat.

Check the hole you can see in the water pump (top covering the shaft, behind the belt pully) you so not want to see water here.

 

If you pull the spark plugs you will see which cylinders are getting water.

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Head gasket symptoms:

Burning coolant (could also be intake mani gaskets though)

Mix of coolant and oil in either the oil pan or radiator

Bubbling coming out of the reserve.

Poor/rough idle.

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well im looking at this car for a friend. the person who is selling it said that he was on the freeway and smoke came ouit of the engine bay and by the time he got home it was starting to vaporlock which i have no idea what that is. now he says when he starts the car it will overheat very quickly. im going to look tomorrow and i am suspecting heatercore hoses. he said exhaust is white when he starts the car but its been very cold here lately and hard to tell if its a problem or just cold out

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even if it wasn't a headgasket, all that overheating on a 20 year old headgasket won't do it any favors. i wouldn't pay much for it.

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