4 Major Symptoms of a Briggs and Stratton Blown Head Gasket

You may have noticed the head of your Briggs and Stratton as the structure surrounded by the fins. This head gasket plays an important role in the engine. 

The gasket of the head seals the engine block and the cylinder head. It is responsible for protecting and maintaining the compression. It also prevents any lubricant from entering the combustion chamber. 

Unfortunately, a blown-up head gasket is quite common. In this article, you will know how to detect a blown-up head gasket of your Briggs and Stratton. I will also discuss how to troubleshoot when you find the symptoms. 

Signs of A Briggs and Stratton Blown Head Gasket?

Too much oil, white smoke for no reason at full throttle-these are the most obvious signs of a blown-up Briggs and Stratton head gasket. The mower stopping when hitting a corner is also a sign of a blown out gasket. 

9 out of 10 times it is the blown head gasket in case of white smoke. The smoke comes with a sweet smell. Whereas, overflow of oil may be happening due to putting in too much oil. 

Make sure the mentioned symptoms are apparent only when the tank is not overfilled and the carburetor is unharmed. 

What Are the Symptoms of a Briggs and Stratton Blown Head Gasket?

Digging deep, a lot of mechanical hypotheses comes out as to why a gasket gets damaged. One example is the expansion rate of the engine not being matched by the gasket. That is when the gasket cannot seal the expansion adequately. 

However, here I will discuss the visible symptoms you can easily analyze and find out. 

Read below and learn how to detect the symptoms of a blown head gasket on your Briggs and Stratton mower:

1. Large Clouds of Smoke

So, it’s a Sunday morning and you decide to smell some freshly cut grass. But while dragging your lawnmower around, you smell something sweet.

Turn around and see the white smoke following you like a phantom! It’s not Betty the ghost, it’s coming from your Briggs and Stratton. 

White clouds of smoke with a sweet smell is one of the most prominent symptoms of a blown head gasket. The smoke increases as you throttle up! 

The smoke usually sweeps through the exhaust. It is produced because of a leakage of antifreeze to the cylinders from the gasket. Inevitably suggesting a damaged gasket. 

If the color of the smoke is blue, this suggests an oil passage leakage, making its way to the cylinders. 

A damaged gasket permits combustion pressure into either the cooling system or even the oil breather system. This can also happen when the dipstick does not stay put or a radiator hose blows off. 

2. Leakage or Oil Spill

If your head gasket is damaged, you may find ‘milky liquid’ or sludge on the dipstick. It can be found on the underside of your oil filler cap as well.  This is caused by an oil leak.

When the head gasket is blown, the coolant transfers into the oil. The oil may also get transferred and mix with the coolant. 

There is going to be a line of oil around the gasket where one part is joint to the other. The oil leaks through as the seal of the head gasket can break over time. 

3. Failed Compression Test

The head gasket maintains a certain vacuum seal in the engine’s combustion chamber. A steel plate separates the engine block and cylinder head. When the head gasket fails, the compressed air or fuel escapes creating reduced compression. As a result, engine power also reduces. 

The bolts of this plate, if missing or if the gasket is cracked, then the vacuum seal may be broken. Consequently, pressure from the gasoline chamber will decline. Rendering the engine unable to get full power. 

This is why your mower may drop dead when it hits a corner. The compression test is very simple. Pull the starter cold a few times. If the engine reads a pressure less than 60 psi, the gasket’s in trouble. If the reading does not change with an addition of oil to the spark plug hole, the head gasket’s blown. 

Or you could just use a compression gauge. 

4 Overheating

Overheating is usually a result of radiator clogging. A leak leading to coolant seeping out is also why the engine temperature does not come down.  Moreover, if the fan that works in cooling does not work, overheating will occur. 

However, the engine will also overheat when the head gasket is blown. 

Pro Tip: Smoking is a good enough reason to start investigating a blown head gasket. Other symptoms may be attributed to other reasons.  

What to Do When You Detect A Briggs and Stratton Blown Head Gasket?

Antifreeze contamination is very harmful to the engine’s bearings. As soon as you find out about the blown-out gasket. 

Replace the oil filter and conduct an oil flush to get rid of the oil leakage. If possible, disassemble the entire engine unit and check for oil damages. Drying out all oil is also a must.

Replace the damaged or dried-out head gasket seals. You may use liquid sealant as a temporary solution. Replacing the seals is your best bet.

To conclude, it is best to replace the blown head gasket. I will suggest cleaning up the engine unit while you’re at it. Remnant leaks can really damage the unit. 

Is Replacing A Briggs and Stratton Blown Head Gasket Typically Expensive?

It is possible to replace the Briggs and Stratton head gasket at as little as $8. That is for a singular part, like this one. The entire kit costs around $100. 

Single parts can be replaced within half an hour or so. A more damaged gasket needs an expert. 

The price in that case including services may be up to $1000-$3000. However, in that case, you may as well purchase a new lawn-mower. I’d say this range is pretty expensive.

How Often Should You Inspect or Service the Briggs and Stratton Blown Head Gasket?

Well, you shouldn’t need to inspect a blown head gasket unless you see oil spillage around the gasket. 

Ideally, you may keep the lawn-mower in check after every use. Just because it is good practice. 

Final Thoughts

It is safe to say that a blown head gasket is a pretty common problem. So is the case for Briggs and Stratton mowers. 

It is also very expensive to fix. Rather than replacing the mowers, it is better to purchase new ones. 

However, these mowers give a satisfying performance on their good days. So if that’s what you are looking for, go for it.

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