About 4 years ago, I was driving down the road when I nearly hit a major pothole. It was the kind of pothole you don’t come back from, where your entire car is swallowed up and never seen on this great earth again.
Fortunately, I was able to swerve to avoid it in time, as you can see by the fact that I’m writing this article today.
But, as I swerved to avoid it, I ended up hearing the trademark POP of a tire blowing. I had inadvertently run over some very sharp glass and my front passenger tire grabbed the worst of it.
Even worse, as I pulled over I noticed there was a billowing smoke shooting from my exhaust as I turned the car off.
The good news? I was about 5 minutes from my apartment. The bad news? I didn’t just have a blown tire. I had a blown head gasket, and my life was about to get expensive.
Plus I was hungry, so it was a bad state of affairs all around. Even worse, I would later find out my car has JUST gone out of warranty. Of course.
What Causes Blown Head Gaskets – And How You Can Avoid Being Stupid (Like I Was)
Your head gasket is the single most important seal in your car’s engine and is responsible for the job of sealing combustion gases during ignition. It also has to deal with the fluctuating temperatures of cool air and hot gas, while also sealing out the coolant circulating around the cylinder walls in your engine.
Because your head gasket is essentially just a large seal. When the mechanic tells you that you’ve got a blown head gasket, he’s talking about your head gasket having a leak. In other words, it’s no longer adequately sealing everything up, and something that shouldn’t be leaking is leaking in your car.
When you have a minor head gasket leak, it can be hard to notice at first. Here are some telltale signs to look for:
1: Overheating Engine
Considering your head gasket is a seal, constantly being subjected to changes in temperature can cause your head gasket to crack. Now, other problems in your engine from things like coolant leaks, bad fans, or a bad radiator can cause your engine to overheat. A cracked head gasket can also cause your engine to overheat on its own, so pay attention if the temperature gauge on your dash starts creeping up.
2: Contaminated Oil
One of the “home run” signs that you have a head gasket leak you’ll have a milky white sludge on the non-exposed side of the oil cap and the dipstick. This is caused by oil and coolant contaminating each other. If you see this, quickly take your car to the mechanic. If you can catch it early, you’ll be able to minimize the damage to some new oil, a new oil filter, and your head gasket, instead of ruining your engine’s bearings.
3: White Smoke
The billowing clouds of sweet-smelling white smoke coming from your exhaust is the result of coolant leaking into the cylinders and being turned to steam while your engine is at work. You can also have a blue-hued smoke if a leak from an oil passage contaminates the cylinders, although this is fairly uncommon.
If you notice white smoke, take your car to a mechanic ASAP.
4: Car Drives Strangely
Considering your head gasket is meant to seal in the pressure used for combustion in your engine if the seal is cracked your engine power will be reduced fairly significantly. If you notice your car is lacking power – you may have a head gasket leak.
5: Visible Leaks
If you notice there’s a mess on the outside of your engine with coolant or oil everywhere, you may have the least serious (but still serious) of the head gasket leaks. Generally, if it’s a visible leak, it may not cause problems initially – besides messing up your engine, of course- but if your coolant or oil level get too low, you could be in trouble.
The best way to keep your head gasket alive is to keep your coolant system running normally. When you take your car to regular maintenance, have your mechanic inspect the coolant lines, check the color of your fluid, and make sure the coolant is topped up.
If you notice your engine beginning to overheat – stop driving! Driving with an overheated engine can eventually stress your head gasket to its breaking point. So don’t do it. Take your car to a mechanic and fix your cooling system, and save yourself thousands in the process.
Does Your Extended Warranty Cover A Blown Head Gasket?
There are two types of warranty – your manufacturer’s warranty, and what’s commonly referred to as a 3rd party extended warranty.
Your manufacturer’s factory warranty generally covers your car for 3 years / 30,000 miles, although there are exceptions like Hyundai which cover you for 5 years / 60,000 miles. These are commonly referred to as the bumper to bumper warranty.
If you have a blown head gasket and your car is still under the manufacturer’s warranty, you’re going to be good to go, your repair will be covered. Just take your car to the dealer and let them handle it.
The other type of manufacturer warranty is your manufacturer’s extended warranty, which you will have to have bought after the initial warranty expired.
Now – some of these have provisions that exclude the head gasket. Subaru, for instance, has a provision that excludes head gasket repairs if the leak is external. Only internal leaks are covered.
It’s worth it to take a read through your policy in order to see what is covered.
Generally, though the manufacturer will repair your head gasket because, for the most part, it’s a relatively uncommon repair.
3rd party vehicle service contracts are a bit of a different story. Since these aren’t “warranties” in the traditional sense, your head gasket may not be covered. A vehicle service contract is a promise to pay for specified mechanical and electronic components in your car. As a general rule, these types of plans do not cover seals and gaskets.
Considering your head gasket is a seal – it falls under the exclusion bucket in many cases for the lower-cost plans.
We wanted to know if there were any other vehicle service contract providers that handle the head gasket so we went ahead and took a look on your behalf.
Protect My Car:
Direct Contract Provider: Yes
Plans That Cover Head Gasket: Ambassador Elite, Ambassador Pro, Ambassador Premium, Ambassador Plus, Ambassador Base
Note: Protect My Car’s unique Ambassador policy which can save you up to 75% of your total repair cost does cover the head gasket, so we’re unique in this regard. Our range of Ambassador plans allows you to pay less per month while choosing from us covering between 50-75% of your total car repair bill which is perfect for older cars with more mileage where per repair costs are lower and which are most at risk of a head gasket leak.
Direct Contract Provider: Yes
Plans That Cover Head Gasket: None
Notes: Endurance does not have any plans that specify coverage for the head gasket.
Direct Contract Provider: No (uses American Auto Shield)
Plans That Cover Head Gasket: American Auto Shield Diamond New Car
Notes: Only Carshield’s highest cost, lowest mile policy covers the head gasket. However, Carshield sells the policies of American Auto Shield. We recommend you take some time to look into American Auto Shield before choosing a policy with Carshield so you’ll be prepared to call them.
Direct Contract Provider: No (uses American Auto Shield, Royal Administration Services, and Allegiance)
Plans That Cover Head Gasket: CARCHEX Care By AAS Titanium Plus, CARCHEX Care By AAS Titanium, American Auto Shield Diamond, CARCHEX Care By Royal, Royal Administration Services Ultimate, Americau Auto Shield Platinum, CARCHEX Care By Royal Platinum, Royal Administration Services Premium (with upcharge add on), American Auto Shield Deluxe, CARCHEX Care By Royal Gold, Royal Administration Services Preferred (with upcharge add on)
Notes: Carchex is not a direct contract provider, and instead sells the policies of the companies listed above. We recommend you research each company prior to choosing a policy with Carchex.
What Is A Direct Warranty Provider?
So you’re probably wondering what the direct warranty provider bit is above. It’s an important distinction that is worth talking about.
A direct warranty provider is a warranty company that administrates and services its own claims, legally speaking. What that means, is when a direct warranty provider sells you an extended warranty, they are responsible for paying your claims, as well as handling any customer service issues that arise.
Direct providers can offer lower prices for their plans and better customer service because everything is handled in house.
Currently, only Protect My Car and Endurance are direct warranty providers.
Other extended warranty companies aren’t selling their own plans. When you buy a policy with them, they then transfer the responsibility for your future claims to a 3rd party finance company. They get paid, and then that finance company that you didn’t choose becomes the legal entity responsible for paying your claims.
This can be a huge hassle. Claims take longer to get paid, and we’ve seen prices that are more expensive.
That’s not to mention that the 3rd party finance company has no connection to you as a human being and has every financial incentive to pay as little as possible on your claim.
With over 13 years in this business, everyone will tell you that choosing a direct warranty provider is the best way to go. You’ll avoid getting a run around from claims agents, and instead will get help from a real person who wants to see you off smiling.
Want To Get The Best Value On An Extended Warranty For Your Head Gasket? Protect My Car Can Help
As it stands right now, your coverage options for your head gasket are limited to higher cost premium plans that will cover almost all of your car, but for a potentially expensive fee each month. Protect My Car, on the other hand, has a range of lower-cost plans to help cover the cost of repair.
Best of all, we’re able to do this at up to a 60% lower price than our competitors because we’re a direct warranty provider, and you’ll never be dealing with another company but us.
As a proud direct warranty provider, you’ll also never be mistreated when you join us. There’s a reason our average review score (TrustPilot, Consumer Affairs, BBB) is a 4.3/5.0, and I want you to find out why.
We know there are a number of other great extended warranty companies out there, we know we’re the best-extended warranty and we want to prove it to you.
That’s why, for a limited time, we’re giving away $50 dollars in rewards just for getting a quote with us. From there, you’ll be able to shop all of our different plans, online, with no phone call needed. You can even buy the driveline in less than 5 minutes and have your head gasket covered and ready to go.
Because we’re a direct warranty provider, you may find that our plans are significantly cheaper than what you’re paying right now.
So don’t wait, get your free quote today and claim your $50 dollars in free rewards. You’ll be one step closer to not having to shell out thousands for an expensive head gasket repair.