Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Car overheating

asked by on

The car is overheating and it will not stop overhoverheating and the water in the gasket and it shoots out a lot of it it won't keep anything in does that mean the head gasket was destroyed or we need a thermostat

My car has 203000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: There are many gaskets on your car; there i...

There are many gaskets on your car; there is no way for me to tell which gasket the coolant is shooting out of without directly inspecting your car.

I can say that it is not common for a head gasket to leak externally. It does happen, but when we say it "blew a head gasket", coolant is leaking into the combustion chamber and being turned into steam that exits the tail pipe in a white cloud of steam. So, if you don’t see steam coming out of the tail pipe, it likely isn’t a head gasket. It still may have blown a head gasket as a result of overheating, but that would be a result of the low coolant level from a coolant leak.

Anytime a car overheats, the thermostat should be replaced. Thermostats are damaged when they get too hot. It may not be necessary to replace the thermostat every time, but it is such a cheap component that has such an important function for the car, it will save you money to replace it.

The first thing that must happen is the leak must be fixed. Many times we can’t tell if the head gasket has been damaged without a working cooling system. Head gaskets, contrary to popular belief, do have degrees of failure. Some only become problematic under loads such as climbing a long grade. Some don’t show until you have been driving in hot weather for an hour or so. And some are so bad that the car is unable to run.

An experienced technician is usually able to make a fairly quick determination about a head gasket, but often it isn’t possible without fixing the cooling system leak and test driving the car under a load condition. I have personally spent hours chasing a head gasket that a customer’s description suggests is occurring, but it’s a big and expensive job, so we are reluctant to say it is a head gasket without a firm confirmation it is indeed the head gasket with the problem.

I recommend having your car inspected for a coolant leak, and see if it overheats after that.

Good luck!

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Coolant leaked out of car

I have seen this issue on your car before. The cooling system is air locked (air is trapped) and needs to be bled out. Infiniti's have a specific procedure for purging the air out. This procedure is dangerous, both to...

Q: Brown stuff shooting out of radiator

You could either have air trapped in your cooling system, or you might have a bad head gasket. Based upon your description, I am leaning towards a bad head gasket. Testing the head gasket can be performed with a block...

Q: Cooling system leaking

Hi, depending on the size of the leak and where it is coming from the BlueDevil head gasket sealer may be enough to stop the leak. However, if the leak is fairly large and is from the head gasket, I...

Related articles

How Do Power Car Windows Increase Passenger Safety?
Power windows are responsible for approximately 2,000 emergency room visits every year. When a power window closes, it exerts enough force to bruise or break bones, crush fingers, or restrict an airway. Though...
How Long Does a Distributor O Ring Last?
The distributor is part of the ignition system in your vehicle and its purpose is to route high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plug. The spark plug then...
How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...