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Q: How do you test to see if the head gasket is blown? on 2003 Kia Sorento

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Also how do you test what other parts of the engine have been affected by the head gasket, if it is blown. Is this something you can give a really accurate estimate on? I am trying to avoid a situation where I have to pay hundreds of dollars to fix the car, and when the mechanic gets further into the job, it becomes, "Oh,that will be XX hundreds of dollars more, if you want it to run."
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The most accurate way to test for a blown head gasket on a gasoline engine is to test for the presence of carbon monoxide in the cooling system. Snap-On, Matco (part # CO 2000), and Napa sell a tool to check to carry out this test. Another link to a supplier of this tool is http://www.etoolcart.com/combustion-leak-detector-lis75500.aspx. Carbon Monoxide is only present if there is a blown head gasket or cracked cylinder head. http://www.arrowheadradiator.com/head_gasket_or_combustion_leak_test.htm I think the Napa part number 700-1006. http://www.blockchek.com/instructions.htm . Signs of a blown head gasket are coolant loss (frequently have to top up the coolant level of the engine without seeing an obvious leak), experiencing over heating or rough engine running or the presence of white sweet smelling steam from the exhaust. A badly blown head gasket may allow engine coolant and oil to mix.
A gas analyzer used to check tailpipe emissions can also be used to see if CO is present in the cooling system. Like surgery a doctor won't know the extent of the damage until this are disassembled and inspected. If an engine has really been over heated badly on dis assembly cylinder wall damage may even occur there is just often no way of saying this repair will only take a head gasket.
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