Head Gasket? need help please


Aug 12, 2003
Hi guys....I'm having delema. I think I have a bad head gasket....Why you ask. I'm getting a good amount of steam from my exhaust. How much is normal. I also noticed moisture in the down pipe when I pulled off my test pipe to reinstall my cat. After I installed the cat I went out to check my oil and fluid levels and thought I would start her up and let her run a little. The ambient temperature is 55 degrees. When I started her up I got steam and a bunch of it. I don't drive this car much, maybe 300 miles this year so far. I rev the engine more steam. After about 15 minutes the steam subsided, but I still get a little steam at an idle at 58 degrees ambient and engine at running temperature. This car is factory stock with 62k miles. About 100 miles ago I gave her a compression check and I had 148 psi across all cylinders. I pulled the plugs yesterday and they were very clean with no antifreeze deposits. Oil is clean and I don't have oil in my coolant. I will give her another compression check this week when I get some time. Is that much steam normal or am I just paranoid. How do I check for a blown head gasket, besides a compression check and fluid inspection? The car seems to run good, slightly rough idle, but nothing a good tps, iac adjustment couldn't take care of. I didn't notice steam Saturday when she ran, just a puddle of water at each pipe while I let her idle for twenty minutes while I check the charge on my ac. During the summer I would get very little water in the exhaust. Some pointers please. I may just be paranoid and the moisture in the exhaust would clear if I drove it more.
I have the same situation on my daily driver. Most cars will steam on startup on very cold days but if the weather is the least bit cool mine steams. It will spit water out of the tail pipes as well. As far as I can rember it has always did this and I've owned the car since 1988. I never loose water from the radiator and the steam does not have the "sweet" smell of burning anti-freeze. I always blamed it on the intercooler condensing the moisture in the air and the combustion temps not being enough to vaporize it completly. Or at least that's how I always explained it to people that would ask knowing that most of them knew absolutly nothing about a turbo or an intercooler. :D I've also had more than one person claim that I was running nitrous and that is what made it steam. I was, but of course I denied it at the time ;) . My car seems to do it worse when I run with the cat in place so more than likely it is just a by-product of the emissions process (HYDROcarbons combining with oxygen, maybe from a lean idle?) or of condensation in the exhaust left over from the car cooling down from the last time. If you have no cross contamination of your oil or coolant, don't have bubbles in your radiator, and aren't losing coolant and the car runs fine according to the scan tool then you're probably okay and if anybody notices you can tell them it's because you've converted your car over to run on propane and you're grilling steaks in the trunk. :rolleyes:
Thanks Corsair,

I may be too paranoid the car was in a warm garage and the temp last night dropped to around 55 degrees, dew point 50. I have no water in my oil and I don't have bubbles in my overflow tank. Any oil that was in the system should show up in my tank, since the oil will float on water and you could see where coolant returned to the overflow tank and no oil was present. As soon as the cat gets hot in notice the steam. I think my car runs a little lean, because my plugs are soooo clean. another reason it is hard to believe it would be a head gasket. The car sits most of the time and weather has just started to cool off. I will do a compression check again this week. Kind of a funny note, I hadn't added any fluid to the system since I purchased the car around a year ago. I added 12 oz of fluid on Saturday because it showed just above the add mark in the over flow tank. This lead me to start thinking about a head gasket. I thought I would look at photos of when I purchased the car a year ago to see where the fluid level was at that time.....It was at the same level as it was before I added fluid. I guess I'm just crazy. How long does your car steam and does it leave a little puddle if you let it idle for too long in one place?
acoen said:
Thanks Corsair,
How long does your car steam and does it leave a little puddle if you let it idle for too long in one place?
It will steam until I've driven several miles and the car has been at operating temperature for a while. Yes, sometimes it will drip enough to leave a little puddle but usually it will just spit enough to see it and maybe mess your pants up if you walk too close to the exhaust. If you rev it when it is dripping it will spit several feet out. Made my wife real mad one day when she was wearing light colored jeans :biggrin: As far as the bubbles in you coolant, they may not always make it to the overflow tank. Take you radiator cap off when it's cool and watch as it starts to warm up. A few small bubbles may be caused by the turbulent flow but larger bubbles may be a sign of trouble.

I found my problem....ME! There was no problem, I drove it last night, little condensation and not steam. The cool weather through me for a loop. The car ran good. Thanks for the help. BTW I love your signature...The Corsair is one of my favorite WWII aircraft along with the forked tail devil (P-38) Lightning.