How to Fix A Head Gasket On An ATV

Everyone has heard about the dreaded blown head gasket. There’s even an idiom for it. Thankfully, if you catch head gasket problems early, you might be able to repair the head gasket before it fully blows so you can save yourself the daunting costs of head gasket replacement. A blown head gasket will cripple your quad, so you’ll have no choice but to fork up the money or do something. Read on to learn how to fix a head gasket on ATV and UTVs.

blown atv head gasket .jpg
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ATV Head Gasket

The head gasket has a crucial and difficult job. It fits between the cylinder head and the engine block to keep the oil, coolant, and compression sealed at all times. This is a more complicated task than any other gasket on your ATV has to perform.

It has to endure pressure from both directions as the cylinder head and engine block expand, contract, warp, and rub together while maintaining many perfect seals. This makes head gasket failure a common repair.

ATV Head Gasket Repair Cost

If you take it to a mechanic, they’re going to replace the head gasket. The head gasket itself usually costs around $780.That’s a significant amount to spend, but it’s not frightening enough to warrant an idiom. Until labor comes into the picture. Blown head gaskets have to be carefully scraped from the engine block and a new one must be just as carefully installed for it to form the correct seal. Otherwise, you’ll be right back in the shop getting another new one.

Because of this, the average total cost of head gasket replacement is $1,600-$1,900 dollars.

Causes of an ATV Blown Head Gasket

The most common cause of head gasket failure is overheating. The engine gets too hot and expands, and the expansion crushes the head gasket and ruins its seal. Thankfully, you can reduce the chances of head gasket failure by protecting your quad from overheating.

Also, the various friction, detonations, and vibrations that go on between the cylinder head and the engine block can simply wear out a head gasket in time.

Some head gaskets are more prone to failure than others. They are simply not high enough quality to withstand the demands of their job. You could research your quad model to be sure yours didn’t come which such a head gasket. If so, you should be particularly vigilant about overheating and watchful for signs of head gasket leaks.

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How to Tell If an ATV Head Gasket is Bad

You want to notice head gasket problems as soon as possible so they can be addressed before you have to replace the head gasket.

ATV head gasket leak symptoms include:

  • The sweet coolant smell
  • Low coolant level
  • Bubbles in the coolant
  • Engine overheating
  • White exhaust
  • Blue exhaust
  • Reduction in power
  • Difficulty with starting, idling,or acceleration
  • Misfiring
  • Milky oil
  • Visible leaks

Some of these symptoms are shared with other problems, so don’t automatically assume you have head gasket issues.

You can run a combustion test to prove the head gasket failed in a location that impacts combustion. That won’t prove there is nothing wrong with your head gasket, just whether it has failed in a specific way.

If you have visible leaks or damage, then you can be sure your head gasket is failing. If it fails the test we just mentioned, then you know it is failing. Otherwise, you’ll have to rule out other potential causes for your symptoms or take the ATV to a mechanic. They’re the experts in how to fix a blown head gasket on ATVs.

How to Fix a Blown Head Gasket Yourself

You can purchase an ATV head gasket sealer that will seal the compromised areas of your head gasket for you. The seal they create can be very strong, sometimes even stronger than the head gasket was originally.

They are placed in the coolant system, and you’ll need to read the directions carefully because they may or may not be able to used with antifreeze in the coolant system and you have to be able to idle your quad for a specific amount of time without it overheating.

There is a caveat here. Sealers are imperfect solutions. Your head gasket was damaged, which means it will eventually get more damaged in the future. First, you should determine if you have an overheating problem and address that. Sealers can also clog small spaces in the cooling system, which will cause or exacerbate an overheating problem.

This repair is a life saver for off-roaders with older or less expensive ATVs they don’t want to invest a lot of money in. It’s not the best choice for those with machines with a lot of potential. Eventually, you will probably have to replace that head gasket anyway, and it would have been better for your machine if you’d done it before the head gasket got in worse shape and potentially damaged over parts of your quad. You’ve got to decide if you can replace the head gasket yourself or if the cost of paying someone else to do is worth it for this machine.

If you do choose to use sealer, you might add a temperature gauge and maybe other cooling system upgrades to protect your ATV against the pitfalls of the potential coolant blockage.

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