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  1. #1
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    Default Has my head gasket blown?

    Hi there, I have a 2000 ford focus and the other day while driving down the road the yellow exclamation mark light on the dashboard came on, shortly followed by the yellow engine light and a feeling of a drop in the power of the car.

    I drove it the extra half mile back to my house. After a couple of hours I topped up the engine oil and the coolant (the coolant reservoir looked completely empty - I haven't had the car serviced for quite a while and didn't even know what coolant was until I googled what might have been wrong with my car. Mind you, the same garage got my car ready for mot 3 months ago - would they have topped up coolant then?)

    Doing all that made the exclamation mark light turn off but not the engine light. I phoned the local mechanic and he told me to drive it down the road to him - literally the end of the street 1/4 mile or so)

    He's since told me that the water was low because the thermostat housing was leaking, that the head gasket needs replaced and the timing belt kit (or just the belt) needs replaced.

    He's told me it's goina cost me 500 to get the lot fixed. 500s a lot of money for me at the moment. I don't know this mechanic well, only been to him a couple of times before. Before that I used to take the car to the ford dealership but they always seem to 'get the arm in'.

    What I want to know is how likely is it that the head gasket is blown? I read somewhere that you might need to drive with that engine light on for quite a bit before the gasket blows. I may have been out of coolant for a while but surely a light would come on, or the engine would overheat and a light would come on?

    thanks for any advice

  2. #2
    TEAM Member blaine142's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has my head gasket blown?

    its not really "common" to blow a head gasket if you have ur coolants fully filled and no leaks in the lines. In your case(and in many others) driving around without any coolant will definitely result in a blown head gasket(which is why yours is blown).
    My friend who just blew a head gasket on his suv, drove around with a coolant leak and forgot that all the coolant leaked out, his car's temperature gauge immediately went into the "red zone" and he had to be towed to a near by dealer.

    now as for prices, i dont know the conversion for Euros(pounds?) to American dollars but if u were to take the car to a dealer here it would cost you approx. 600 for timing belt and probably another 2000 (if it stops at that) for the head gasket.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Has my head gasket blown?

    What is the mileage on the odometer? Mileage and age determine when a timing belt needs replacement. Chances are, you should have it done since its a 2000.

    When the engine light comes on, there will be codes stored in the cars computer. A scan tool can get the codes and those can be helpful in diagnosing what is wrong. Try to get the codes that are stored.

    The head gasket could be blown. If you ran the car too long on low coolant then there could be big problems. Did you notice if the temp gauge read anything out of the ordinary?
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Has my head gasket blown?

    I didn't notice any temp gauge, but I wouldn't normally notice something like that unless a wee light came on. Surely if it was overheating a warning light would go on or something?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Has my head gasket blown?

    Could be a thermostat housing leak attributing to the loss of coolant. Check that out. That happened to my 2001 Focus when I had it.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Has my head gasket blown?

    are you sure he doesn't mean the cam cover gasket? because those leak and trash out thermostat housings causing the coolant to fall out... fixing both should be significantly less than 500 lbs.

    Timing belt should be done at 120k miles
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Has my head gasket blown?

    He definately means the head gasket not the cover gasket. I'll have to look into getting those codes then. I don't suppose there's an easy way of doing that?

    The thermostat housing was broken. He's replaced the thermostat and the housing already.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Has my head gasket blown?

    Just in case anyone's interested. I got the car back from the fella without getting the head gasket fixed. He told me that it would probably be fine to drive the car and it would last a good while as long as I was only doing shortish journeys. I told him I only drive to and from work about 10 miles and he said the car would be fine for that.

    Does that sound like the head gasket is really broken?

  9. #9
    RECORD PROFITS ZX3autoxtasy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Has my head gasket blown?

    The situation is this:

    1) Your coolant leaked out and you drove. The car overheated. Often times when this happens, it will warp the head gasket/head. When this happens, you need a new head gasket AND the head needs to be repaired (usually milled to spec or whatever). If this was indeed the case, it would cost way more than 500 pounds. The coolant could have leaked out of the bad thermostat housing causing it to be low and overheat.

    2) The 2nd is the coolant leaked out but you did not warp the head. IIRC this happens, and the head gasket needs to be replaced. 500 pounds for a timing belt, head gasket, thermostat housing, etc... is a tad high but definitely probable.




    *An easy way to check to see if your head gasket is messed up is to check the OIL. If your car is full of coolant and oil and running, and your head gasket is bad, the oil (when you check the dipstick and/or drain the oil) will be like CHOCOLATE MILK. When the coolant and water mixes with the oil it makes the brown liquid. Thats the easiest way to spot a toasted head gasket.
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Has my head gasket blown?

    Quote Originally Posted by ZX3autoxtasy View Post
    The situation is this:





    *An easy way to check to see if your head gasket is messed up is to check the OIL. If your car is full of coolant and oil and running, and your head gasket is bad, the oil (when you check the dipstick and/or drain the oil) will be like CHOCOLATE MILK. When the coolant and water mixes with the oil it makes the brown liquid. Thats the easiest way to spot a toasted head gasket.
    Thats how I found out I had a blown head gasket on my Monte. But it's not a guaranteed test. As the head gasket can blow out in other ways. If your still losing coolant and its not leaking on the ground. Its probably in the oil. Just check for chocolate milk on the dipstick.
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