How can I tell if it is a cracked head gasket or vavle cover gasket leak on a 1997 dodge intrepid 3.5L with 213,000 miles.

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Asked by Apr 15, 2013 at 02:55 AM about the 1997 Dodge Intrepid 4 Dr STD Sedan

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I just got this car on Saturday, April 13, 2013. She has more power than I expected and more mileage. I only paid $200.00 for her in trade. All I had to do is make a rabbit hutch, so I basically paid $200.00. Anyway they told me it had  leak but said it was the valve cover sealant that was leaking. But now I Have had 2 people tell me its the head gasket, granted they have not looked at the car in person. I have added some pictures to kind of give you an idea. The main area you can see where it leaks is on right side under valve cover, and as you can see by photos its wet. It did smoke on me today, but it was from whatever fluid is on it. Please tell me its not the head gasket and if it is, how much will it cost to repair?? I am so nervous.

7 Answers

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here is another photo

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the top picture is a close up of the right side of the engine by valve cover. second picture is right side of engine. third picture is another look at the side with leaking visible.

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and last but not least a broader picture of engine, man i hope someone out there knows what to do. this is my first vehicle i have ever got by myself and it looks like i failed. I am so bummed.

To tell if you have a blown head gasket pull the dipstick and see if there is coolant in the crankcase, in the oil. It may be overfull, and a distinctive light brown color and feel too thin on your fingers, that is coolant in there. Blown head gasket. Or the other way around: motor oil in the radiator. Drain a little from the radiator, and if the former owner has been maintaining the car properly it should be a nice green in a 1997, unless somebody put that reddish/brown coolant in there that is almost the same color as rusty water. If there is oil in there, blown head gasket. Also, if there is a lot of air in the cooling system, and the car overheats..the best thing to do is a compression test. What I wrote here is a basic head gasket 101, there is much more to the situation.Sorry I can't tell much from the pictures.

After enlarging the pictures it looks to me like a leak, not a head gasket. Do the compression test, if you can steam clean the engine being careful to not get water on the electrical components. (I know, very difficult) or spray "Gunk" on the oily areas ans wipe with rag as best as possible. then try to see exactly where the oil is coming from. Do you have smoke coming from tail pipe?

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by the look of the picture you got a valve cover leak to be sure take grease remover and wip the area down start the engine let it idle for a bit and check it if it is a new casket and just a skim coat of silcone should do the trick

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no no smoke coming from tail pipe. took it to my mechanic and he said its the valve cover. my car goes in the shop tomorrow. boy sh sure is fun to drive. she sure has alot of power.

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