Can You Drive With A Blown Head Gasket?

In short, no, you shouldn’t drive with a blown head gasket. The head gasket separates the cylinder head from the engine block. When this seal breaks, it allows coolant into the engine block. This can lead to a warped cylinder head, warped engine block, internal malfunction, and a overheated engine.

So can you drive with a blown head gasket? I guess you COULD but your vehicle won’t make it too far. Let’s take a peak why you SHOULDN’T EVER drive with a blown head gasket. Depending on the condition of the head gasket though, you might be able to get it to a local repair shop before it’s too late.

Long story short, check for these signs and symptoms!


Your engine needs to stay within a certain operating temperature. When the vehicles engine overheats it can actually get to the point where it warps the metal internally.

Your engine is broken down into 2 large parts. The cylinder head and the engine block. The head gasket sits right in between these 2 core components that make up your engine.

When the head gasket goes bad it typically causes the engine to overheat. Upon overheating, the cylinder head/block can actually get so hot it warps the metal.

This puts a bend in it to the point where when you try to seal it back up, it wont. You will be left with a new head gasket that properly cannot seal since the surface is no longer flat.

Additionally, this will open up space for unwanted air to get into the engine causing it to run so much worse. Typically overheating sets in pretty quickly but you will usually lose a ton of engine coolant by then.

Additionally when your engine is starting to overheat, you will smell it. The smell of hot coolant and burning engine is pretty specific. If you have ever smelt a hot engine, you will understand. It has a distance smell that you instantly know what it is after you smell it.

Keeping  your engine at operating temps is important so it isn’t wise to drive it when a head gasket goes bad. Can you drive with a blown head gasket, absolutely, will it live long? Probably not!

The Need For A New Engine!

Once overheating has taken it’s full on swing, it’s at this point you will probably want to start looking for a new engine. When these blocks/cylinder heads warp, there isn’t any fixing it. A machine shop can only do so much after machining a block and head again.

Basically, once the warp in the engine has occurred, there is not fixing it. That warp will forever be there and the engine will never be able to stabilize.

Think of your engine essentially as a giant air pump. It sucks all the air in, spits fuel, adds spark and then ignites it. This is what gives your engine it’s power. You cannot have fire without oxygen which is why air is important.

As the vehicle begins to suck in too much air, this leads to a miss fire and even worse a stalled possibly not even running engine!

Internals Will Fail.

The internal parts of your cylinder head and the core parts of your engine block will most likely fail if the engine doesn’t overheat. When a head gasket goes bad, typically there is a leak big enough to where coolant can mix with your oil.

Can You Drive With A Blown Head Gasket

What A Typical Cylinder Head Looks Like

This can be verified by either A draining the oil, or B you can just remove the oil fill cap and look at it. Notice a milky looking substance instead of oil? That’s probably because they mixed.

When these 2 things mix together, the engine no longer receives the correct lubricant to keep everything moving correctly. Now while the failure wont happen instantly, it will happen eventually. If the engine block/cylinder head doesn’t give out on you first, the internals certainly will.

This causes everything to lockup eventually and “seizes” the motor in place. This means that none of the engines internals can correctly move. They are stuck in place, are seized up, and won’t be moving anytime soon.

If you manage to someway somehow prevent the engine seizing, then your internals may just erode away instead. Everything inside of your engine is pretty much metal. There will be plastic timing guides and such in there that could fail as well.

Your engine’s internals are important and need to always stay in operating temperatures. This will vary from engine to engine of what is acceptable.

Don’t Drive People…

Plain as day this is the best advice we can give. Head gaskets are roughly $40-$80 on the average and typically are not too bad to replace. This however will very from vehicle to vehicle. My Cobalt needs to have the timing set done at the same time. This indicates it could be a more costly job.

Despite how much it costs though, paying $500 for labor and a head gasket is much cheaper than a $7000 engine install. So can you drive with a blown head gasket?  We’re just going to go out a limb and so no… probably not a great idea.

Get the job done right and get it fixed. Be sure to check out our other related post on how long will a car last with a blown head gasket. This should roughly give you the average time you have to get the vehicle fixed!