Ask The Experts: Why Is My Cat C15 Head Gasket Failing? Common Causes and Solutions

So, we've talked about various components of your CAT C15 diesel engine and how you can tell if they're causing your engine trouble. Now, we're going to take a look at head gasket failure within a C15.

The head gasket is a critical component of your engine, and is located where the most combustion is created. Remember that your head gasket creates the seal that allows for the combustion in your engine to happen properly. If your combustion chamber isn't sealed properly, you'll have a noticeable change in the performance of your diesel engine.

We've put together some of the most common symptoms that you're experiencing a blown head gasket. You can also take a look at our video above for more.


Are you looking for a new head gasket for your Caterpillar C15 diesel engine? Our ASE Certified Technicians can help you get all the parts you need for your repair!

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What are the Symptoms My CAT C15 Head Gasket is Failing?


cat c15 head gasket problems


If you've noticed a drop in your engine performance, you're probably wondering if your head gasket is to blame. Here are some things you can watch out for: 

  • Pushing coolant out of the radiator

  • Coolant in your engine oil

  • Low or no compression

  • Decrease in engine performance

  • Extreme heat or losing water

It isn't likely that your head gasket will just randomly blow. Instead, it's often an indicator of a larger problem within your engine. For example, if your gasket is leaking water from the o-rings, it might be due to a problem with installation. If a sealant was used, which isn't recommended, you might find your C15 head gasket leaking. This is because the sealant isn't compressible and lowers the friction.

For more information on this, check out our Head Gasket Failure Analysis.

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What Causes Diesel Head Gasket Damage?

Blown head gaskets can be due to thermal push from extreme heat or poor surface conditions. 

cat c15 head gasket problems due to extreme heat


Thermal push is about what it sounds like—damage to your head gasket from extreme heat that cause the bore edges of your gasket to become misshapen. It can also cause the head bolts around it to loosen, as the expansion from the heat forces them out of position.

A common cause of thermal push is detonation (also known as pre-ignition or knock). Detonation can cause other problems within your diesel engine as well, so it's not a problem you want to take lightly. To learn more about detonation and thermal push, read our blog on gasket damage caused by thermal push


cat c15 head gasket problems poor surface conditions


You also want to make sure that your cylinder head is providing a smooth surface for the head gasket. If the surface is rough, the gasket cannot seal as well as it should. Additionally, if the cylinder head is rough, it can lead to scoring of the head gasket, which allows leaks and causes damage to the seals.


What Can I Do About My C15 Gasket Damage?

If you've blown your head gasket, you'll probably want to replace it, and ensure that you've found the source of the damage. That way you can take care of the larger issue and prevent it from happening again.

Highway & Heavy Parts offers a number of different head gasket options for your CAT C15.

Your first option is to purchase only the new head gasket. This is the least expensive option, but it's not normally what we recommend. You'll more than likely need other components to complete the repair. It's better to purchase all the parts you need up front to save yourself time and money on shipping.

You could also purchase a head gasket set. This might cost a little more, but you'll get everything you need to complete your head gasket replacement. 

You also might want a lower engine gasket set, because while not including the head gasket, if you're doing a lot of work on your engine, you might have other gasket issues that need to be addressed. You can learn more in our post, Selecting Head Gasket Sets.

Short On Time? Get Your Quote Online!

In the end, if the head gasket on your CAT C15 blows, you'll likely need to replace it, as well as other components on your diesel engine. Our experts on staff can help ensure that you get all the parts you need to get the job done!


Need help with your C15 or replacement parts for another diesel engine? Give our ASE Certified Technicians a call today at 844-215-3406. You can also always  request a quote online!


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