Signs of a Blown Head Gasket
In previous articles we’ve learned the importance of recognizing the signs and symptoms of a blown head gasket when shopping for a used car. Typical signs and symptoms include one or more of the following:
• Poor or lower power running engine
• White exhaust smoke coming out of the tailpipe
• Engine overheating
• No visible leaks, but coolant level is very low or not visible
• Bubbles in the overflow tank or the radiator
• A white milky oil cap
In today’s article we will take a look at cases in which the last sign---a white milkshake-like mess under the oil filler cap---is not a sign of a blown head gasket.
Not a Blown Head Gasket or Cracked Block
In a recent Toyota Maintenance YouTube channel episode, it’s host “Peter” does a show and tell of a 2013 Toyota Tacoma with approximately 170,000 miles on its 4L 1GR-FE engine that is showing signs of a milky substance under its oil filler cap.
According to Peter, this is a common problem with the engine, but not a problem car owners or used car buyers should immediately panic when seeing. As it turns out, that milkshake-like mess under the oil filler cap is more often not due to a blown head gasket or a leak within the cylinder block allowing coolant to mix in with the oil, but rather, is normal water moisture within the engine that has risen to the cap and condensed mixed with a small amount of engine oil.
This is very common with vehicles that are used primarily for very short runs around town where the engine is not allowed to run long and hot enough to boil off any moisture trapped inside the engine.
Here is a short informative video where Peter discusses the finding on a Toyota Tundra in his shop and explains what it means in this case:
Toyota Engine 1GR-FE I see a pattern here
Is It Really OK?
It is not unusual for a used car seller to pressure wash clean the engine before putting it up for sale to make the car look more attractive to potential buyers. Using a pressure sprayer can work some moisture into the engine that might make it look like there is a coolant leak problem going on.
If you happen to come across a used Toyota for sale with the sign of a white milky oil cap upon inspection, go further with your inspection by considering whether any of the other above listed signs and symptoms are present. If you do notice more, then a closer examination of the car is warranted by a qualified mechanic before deciding on making a purchase.
Related article: Second Opinion Reveals One Bad Repair and Two Toyota Dealer Scams
You can also take the time to run the engine until it is hot and inspect the oil dipstick for signs of water and oil mix beading on the dipstick. Better yet, drain the oil if possible and look for evidence of moisture in the oil while noting the overall oil condition to see if the vehicle has been properly maintained.
Only then will you have a good idea whether what you seeing is a no panic problem with that Toyota up for sale.
For additional Toyota-related articles about buying a used car, here are a few more for your consideration:
COMING UP NEXT: Ford F-150 EcoBoost Spark Plug Replacement Demo
Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.
Image Source: Pixabay