How to Tell If There's Problem with Your Cylinder Heads

Posted on: 19 November 2015


You may be able to manage with damages in some parts of your car but your cylinder head is not one of them. Along with the head gasket, the cylinder head seals the top of the cylinders in the combustion engine to create a combustion chamber. In this chamber, valves, spark plugs and fuel injectors are able to feed air and fuel into the combustion chamber safely and efficiently.

Given its function, damage to the cylinder head could have dangerous results such as the engine overheating due to loss of coolant, causing it to blow up while you drive. It is certainly not a problem you can ignore, so how can you detect it?

These are the four main ways of detecting a problem with your cylinder heads: smoke, smells, leaks and jerking.


If you notice excess amounts of white smoke, you should head to your auto repair shop immediately. This usually means that the coolant is leaking internally and entering the combustion chamber, suggesting a cracked or warped cylinder head. If more coolant leaks, the engine will overheat, causing even more damage to the cylinder head and the entire engine.


When coolant leaks into the cylinders, it will give off a sweet rubber-like scent as it gets heated. This is usually accompanied by the white smoke mentioned above, so if you smell this but don't see the smoke, you should still have your cylinder head checked out.


It is always important to check under your car for any leaks before starting your engine. If you find a puddle of liquid under your engine, turn on the car and check the coolant light. If it is on, then you may have a damaged cylinder head, causing coolant to leak into the combustion chamber, which needs to be repaired immediately.

Misfiring engine

If you feel a severe shaking, jerking or vibrating from the engine, it may be misfiring. This is usually caused by a damaged cylinder head, damaged cylinders or a damaged head gasket, so you need to have an auto mechanic check that out for you immediately.

More often than not, the first three problems occur simultaneously, indicating problems with the cylinder head. However, any of these four issues are a valid indicator of a cylinder head problem and should be taken seriously.

Cylinder head repairs are common in most auto repair shops, so you should be have your repairs done quickly and efficiently at any reputable repair shop. So there is no reason to wait until it's too late.