The internal combustion engine inside of a vehicle has cylinders in it. The top of these cylinders contains what are called cylinder heads. There are pistons which close these cylinder heads so that air and fuel can be compressed inside of the combustion chamber. This makes cylinder heads vital for the internal combustion process to work effectively. Unfortunately, cylinder heads are not constructed to be as durable as the rest of the car. They are often designed to be lightweight which makes them easily susceptible to wear and damage over time. Usually, cylinder heads will begin to crack after 5 years. If the heads are made of aluminum, then they will certainly crack within this time frame. But if you have cylinder heads made of iron, they might be able to last a little longer.
Top 5 Symptoms
Unless you have your internal combustion engine regularly inspected, you are not going to notice the cylinder heads are cracked. However, there are symptoms that will present themselves when they are cracked which you can easily notice. Below are the top 5 symptoms to watch out for in the event that this happens.
- Oil Leakage – A cylinder head contains oil in it. If you have a cracked head, then you can expect oil to leak out of it. You should notice the oil light on your dashboard turning on when this happens. If you see this light on, open your hood and see if there’s oil near the cylinder head.
- Coolant Leakage – If the cylinder head is severely cracked, then you’ll have coolant leaking out of it in addition to oil. This will cause your engine to heat up too much, which your car might warn you about on your dashboard. Either way, check to see how much coolant you have.
- Weak Engine Performance – The first symptom you might experience is a weaker engine. If the cylinder head has a crack, that means compressed air is escaping from the combustion chamber. You will notice the engine running a lot slower or awkwardly once this happens.
- Smoke – Although this is rare, big cracks in the cylinder heads will allow exhaust gases to leak out and cause smoke to come from the engine. This is clearly a sign that you need to get a new cylinder head right away.
- Engine Misfire – This relates to number three. If the cracked cylinder head is too severe, then the mixture in the combustion chamber won’t even be sufficient enough for the engine to fire up. Either that or your engine will die repeatedly as you’re driving and you will have to keep turning it back on.
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The average repair cost
The cost of a cracked cylinder head repair job will vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle that it’s in. You can be sure that it will cost at least $500, which includes labor and parts costs. If you were to replace the entire cylinder head, it would only cost $200 to $300 on average. With labor at about $90 to $100 per hour, this comes out to roughly $500 for the job. However, this is assuming the cylinder head is made of aluminum like they are in most cars these days. If you have an older vehicle or more expensive vehicle, you probably have a cylinder head made of iron. Since iron is a more expensive material than aluminum, you might be looking at $500 just for the parts. The labor may also require more hours for this repair job to be done correctly. Therefore, you could be looking at $1,000 to repair a cracked cylinder head made of iron.