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Testing for blown head gasket with the pico scope – Auto Repair Chat

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In this video I have a look at a Acura MDX that was towed in and I was told that it was overhet several times. The last time they got it hot, it was so hot it would not start again. Let's see if we can make a quick diagnosis on this one using the Pico scope.
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50 thoughts on “Testing for blown head gasket with the pico scope”
  1. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Technician Red says:

    You need to use a pressure pulse sensor to see the pulses not a WPS sensor. It has worked great for me.

  2. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Paublus Americanus AMERICANUS says:

    I have driven millions of miles and have never turned my engine into a briquette. Even with engines leaking water, antifreeze, oil, Oldsmobile diesels, and whatever. Sort of like a woman not knowing she is pregnant while having a baby. Braindead.

  3. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Soloner 1415 says:

    Love the scope videos thank you for sharing

  4. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Jose Ortiz says:

    Very good test!! Also works awesome with Radiator pressure tester.. just watch needle while cranking & pressure builds 🤑🤑🤑

  5. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Vince Lee says:

    good

  6. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Welding Junkie says:

    I wish we could redo this test with a pulse sensor and see what we see. I’ve never used my wps on the radiator before. Interesting

  7. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars dwoodog says:

    Even though I love the videos, sometimes I feel you breeze over the "for dummies" part, So how did we tell by looking at a graph that goes from 0-5 PSI it need a head gasket?

  8. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Otis says:

    The waveform looks like it shows every cylinder uniquely contributing to the overall pressure build. It looks like a six bar commutator with a unique signature. I'd say that's pretty skookum.

  9. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars george536 says:

    Is there a pressure cutpoint when cranking? Or should it stay below atmosphere? (0.00psi)

  10. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars George D'Amico says:

    Looking at the trace the cylinder next to the number 4 has lower compression. Probably where your leak is.

  11. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars slappy915 says:

    Not sure how else to let you know but your shirts run much smaller than labeled. I ordered a 2XL and it fits much more like a L.

  12. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars joseph espinoza says:

    cool test most of time you can feel or see puffs out of rad.

  13. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars spelunkerd says:

    That's a creative idea, look for early rise in coolant pressure. My first thought was normal pressure is ~10psi, however that only builds AFTER the coolant is warm enough to produce a tiny head of steam inside the closed space. So, we can run the system with cap off to burp for about 10 minutes, 0 psi while cranking, for sure. The backyard way to look for a gross leak would be to crank with coolant at the brim, cap off and watch for the bubbly fountain, ha ha. However if thermostat is closed, engine cold, it may take a while. I'm a little surprised you got a brisk pressure rise with thermostat closed….

  14. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Michael Smith says:

    I gallon antifreeze..1 qt. Flex Seal. Problem solved lady.

  15. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Fred Maxwell says:

    This sounds like a road kill project.

  16. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Phil Leo says:

    Hey Eric, I am continuing to watch your excellent channel brother. And remember. The next time your beautiful wife and awesome business partner accuses you of ever being immature, just tell her to get out of your Fort😀phil

  17. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars BILL S says:

    If you overheat it often enough, it will cure itself.

  18. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars marques hairston says:

    I usually use a leak down tested and cooling pressure tester to identify what cylinder and what bank has the blown head gasket

  19. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Ron Brown says:

    Eric O, how did you adapt your Pico transducer to the Astro radiator test caps?

  20. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Boris P says:

    Interesting test. Would be interesting to see the same test on another known good car just to see how much pressure is built via a water pump itself.

  21. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Steven H Zoll says:

    yeah always wondered if you could see that. thanks for thinking out of the box!

  22. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Synaux says:

    I dont get how that is proof that the heads are blown, can you explain? 🙂

  23. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Richard Foster says:

    Wow steel belts showing at all 4 wheels, there lucky.

  24. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Sam G says:

    The word you mean to say is "irrelevant", not "redundant". Nice work.

  25. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Moe Horowitz World says:

    Wow

  26. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars fonzo2525 says:

    Bad day in black rock when you get the your engine is smoked call from Mr.O,no need for a 2nd opinion i guess is the only good news news,lol

  27. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars JIF says:

    Isn’t the easy tell all route to troubleshoot a blown head gasket, to just look at the oil?
    If you have anything else but oil in the oil…

  28. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Brian Sparks says:

    I love that you have a Picoscope and are not afraid to use it!

  29. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Dan Simmons says:

    MDX is a fine SUV, to bad someones mental health can cause these issues.

  30. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Vincent Celis says:

    Adding a relative compression channel might show a correlation between cylinders being low on compression and the pressure transducer channel especially when the coolant is drained. Nice thinking Mr. O, keeping this in the back of my head!

  31. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Joe Costantino says:

    Transmission is probably nuked too

  32. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Mark Ferraro says:

    great video EO i looked and listened to the waveform. At 1.31 of video you can hear the cadence change. You can see the pressure rise when cyl 6 is on compression. The trigger channel gives you relative compression for "free" at the bottom at it drops for a while and comes back. i think all the cylinders are compromised with cyl 6 being the worst. great use of you r tools all the best

  33. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Ted Christman says:

    So sad, folks that can least afford a loss like this. The inability or ignorance to perform simple maintenance results in the loss of transportation. Guess they will by another beater and do the same to it. Grast Video Eric, nice to see another way to diag a blown head gasket. I have stepped off my soapbox.

  34. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Jared M says:

    Am I the only one that wants the raw repair videos back, and less diagnostic stuff?

  35. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars J Griff says:

    Just a hondoo. Time to recycle

  36. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Big Dog50001 Automotive says:

    I like that test Eric. Some people have to learn the hard way not to overheat their cars, especially Hondas.

  37. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars alan farenden says:

    Save big bucks on vehicle servicing, run till it breaks; then pay bigger bucks on new vehicle.

  38. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars TheRealJackassJesse says:

    Doesn't the water pump create pressure?

  39. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Jeremy 2199 says:

    Keep the videos coming. I've learned more watching your videos than anything else.

  40. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars vwwrenchie says:

    This one was definitely a "hot topic" but as usual you come up with an "Acura " diagnosis.👍😎

  41. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Alan Matthews says:

    Could you do a quick scan?? Thanks

  42. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Alan Matthews says:

    Parts that are probably nuked!! Catalytic converters. Expensive! Oxygen sensors. Spark plugs! Lower crank bearings!! Expensive. Warped heads more expensive stuff. Why drive it overheating?? Hate the car?

  43. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars RC Hobbyist Extreme says:

    I automatically assume the head gasket blew when they over heat. It almost sounds like timing issues with that cranking. I always press the issue that when the needle goes in the read, the head gasket is dead. Also the head is WARPED because of it. Yes, dead engine. Replace engine.

  44. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Alan Matthews says:

    Well at least they did not cool it off with ice cold water.
    The slow ramp could be a mild head gasket leak or toasty cylinder leak. I would expect a larger leak. Need to compare to known bad. Hahah!
    Another test would oil analysis at Blackstone Labs. They would see the antifreeze in the oil!

  45. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars michael blacktree says:

    Rode hard, put away wet.