Can Low Oil Cause a Blown Head Gasket? (Answered!)


A blown head gasket can be a big headache. It is not the price of the head gasket itself, it is the labor cost that scares many car owners. In order to get to the head gasket, the mechanic has to remove a lot of components, including tearing up the engine itself. Many car owners ask themself what causes this? Can low oil cause a blown head gasket? Or is it something else?

In this blog post, I am going to talk about whether or not low oil can cause a blown head gasket.

Can Low Oil Cause a Blown Head Gasket?

Can Low Oil Cause a Blown Head Gasket

Can low oil cause a blown head gasket? Yes. Engine oil is vital in order to keep all moving parts in the engine cooled and lubricated. Low engine oil will make the engine too hot causing the cylinder head to swell up to a point it crushes the head gasket so it no longer seals like it is supposed to. When this occurs, it provides a leak path for coolant, oil, and combustion gases to mix together.

Engine oil is used to reduce friction between the moving parts of the engine and to dissipate heat. The oil pump circulates the engine oil through oil galleries around the engine. The oil lubricates and takes the heat from the constant moving parts of the engine and then gets cooled by an oil cooler. Oil is not the only thing that cools the engine, but it is the only component that lubricates the moving parts of the engine, thus reducing friction.

Fans and coolant are also used to cool down the engine. However, those two are not enough to keep the engine at optimal working temperature. If the engine oil is low, the friction of the moving parts is increased, therefore the temperature within the engine is higher than normal. In short, if there is no oil to take away the heat from moving parts of the engine, the engine will overheat. When the engine overheats, the cylinder heat swells up and blows the head gasket.

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Head gaskets are used to prevent oil and coolant from leaking into the combustion chamber and are located where the cylinder head and body join. Head gaskets can fail for a variety of reasons, but an overheated engine is the most common.

How Do You Temporarily Fix a Head Gasket?

Can Low Oil Cause a Blown Head Gasket

Changing a blown head gasket can cost thousands of dollars. If your vehicle is older and is worth less than a thousand dollars, there is no point in spending that much money on replacing a blown head gasket. In that case, you can go ahead and try to temporarily fix your blown head gasket by using a blown gasket seal repair kit. A blown head gasket doesn’t mean that you need a new engine. You can try and temporarily fix the blown head gasket.

I got this head gasket seal on amazon.com. Here is what you have to do after you order the head gasket repair kit:

1. Prepare your vehicle

Before you start this task, make sure that your vehicle has enough fuel to run for at least thirty minutes. Then, go ahead and park the vehicle on leveled ground. The head gasket repair liquid needs to be poured on a cold engine. So, if your engine is hot, make sure to wait for it to cool down.

2. Pour the liquid into the radiator

The head gasket repair liquid weighs 24 OZ. So, before you pour the liquid, you have to make sure that there is enough space in the radiator. You can use a turkey baster to remove some of the coolant from the radiator. Shake the bottle well before you pour. Then, go ahead and pour all of the liquid into the radiator or the reservoir/overflow tank.

3. Start your vehicle

Start your vehicle and turn the heater on hot and the fan on high speed. You need to run the vehicle for about fifteen to twenty minutes in order to reach the optimal working temperature. At this temperature, the thermostat will open and the coolant along with the head gasket repair liquid will start to flow and reach the blown head gasket.

4. Turn off your vehicle

Turn off your vehicle and let it cool down. This may take up to thirty minutes. When the engine has cooled down, top of the radiator and the reservoir/overflow tank with coolant. There will be a lack of coolant in the cooling system because you had to remove 24 OZ in order to add the repair liquid. Plus, that liquid is now sealed on the head gasket and is no longer circulating in the cooling system.

5. Drive for about fifteen minutes

With the coolant topped off, you can either drive your vehicle for about fifteen minutes or let it idle for about twenty minutes. At this point, your head gasket should be temporarily fixed. It might not work for your vehicle, but it is definitely worth trying.

Why Do Engines Lose Oil

Can Low Oil Cause a Blown Head Gasket

Oil is the lifeblood of any engine. If an engine runs without oil, it will be destroyed in seconds. That is why it is important to check your oil levels in between oil changes. Car owners that use synthetic oil with longer changing intervals have to especially pay attention because the vehicle can use all of the oil before the next change.

So, what causes an engine to use oil?

1. Engine leaking oil externally

The engine oil has additives that keep the seals and gaskets in the engine soft and pliable so they don’t shrink and get hard. However, if the oil is left in the engine longer than what it’s rated for, the seals and gaskets can shrink and become hard. At this point, you will be dealing with an external leak. You might see an oil leak on the valve cover, timing chain cover, oil pan cover, and sometimes on an oil drain plug.

The engine components that are exposed to high pressure at especially at risk. This includes oil pressure sensors, oil filters, crankshaft seals, and even head gaskets. So, if your engine is dripping oil or you find oil stains on the pavement underneath your vehicle, it is more than likely coming from one of the above-mentioned parts.

2. Engine is consuming oil internally

The engine can start consuming oil internally when the piston rings get worn out and allow oil to enter the combustion chamber and be burned. This is why it’s important to regularly clean or change your air filter. A dirty air filter will cause premature wear on the piston rings by allowing fine particles of dirt to enter the combustion chamber.

Another cause of internal engine oil consumption is worn valve stems and worn hardened valve stem seals. They also allow oil to enter the combustion chamber and be burned.

Consuming enough engine oil on the inside of the engine can cause the catalytic converter to wear out prematurely. This is due to a rise in temperature from the oil being vaporized by the catalytic converter. If you see blue-colored smoke coming out of the tailpipe when you first start your vehicle, there is a great chance that the oil is being consumed internally.

Once the engine oil goes beyond its rated service life(six to twelve months), it will be depleted of the additives put into the oil. The oil breakds down and can also cause oil loss.

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Hi there. I am a certified Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) mechanic since 2018 and a car detailer for 10 years.

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