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2001 chevy Malibu blown head?

Ok finally created account after reading for months. For the last 7 months I have been trying to repair my car on my own. Figured it’s a 2001, with only a less than two year old rebuilt engine. I know everything is almost 20 years old and who knows if the engine was even new.

Is my head gasket blown? White smoke only since it’s been cold on startup when really cold out. Car temp go to 3/4, but has never overheated. Ita usually around halfway point and doesn’t really jump up a lot. It all started when I switched my motor resistor and couldn’t get to my thermostat. Went to o’Reilly when it was getting high in temp and worker there had me run car, stop it, and took off radiator cap immediately and of course coolant went everywhere he said oh it’s ok. My heat and air only worked on 5 then went out completely. I changed resistor then worked on 4 and 5 then went out. Fuse was bad and changed the control panel and when changing it the on/off knob was sizzling when I pulled it apart. My oil cap isnt milky. I had a quar too much oil in it and just drained it all, but it didn’t look real dirty. Is this a blown gasket, could it be my thermostat? I haven’t had heat all winter and it’s been cold in Indiana. I drained my radiator and engine. Going to auto zone in 5 hours to get oil, coolant, and head seal blown gasket to pour in coolant tank. In the mean time I am changing thermostat and putting heater/AC control panel back on. Sorry it’s so long wanted all the information I could give and you guys to know I am not the dumbest, but definitely not the smartest car mechanic. I appreciate any feedback and advice. I am just tired of taking it to shops and paying outrageous labor prices when I can do it, or it seems like they patch one problem then another pops up. I know the car is old, but it only has 115,000 miles in it…less than 30 on this “new rebuilt” engine. Thanks again

If the white smoke only happens when it’s first started, and then goes away, it does not point to a blown head gasket. If there’s constant white smoke, you probably do have a problem there. The temp gauge going to 3/4 is kind of worrisome.

A failed thermostat would either cause the engine to overheat (failed shut) or not get up to temp (failed open). Since the temp gauge reads 3/4’s, I don’t think the thermostat is your issue if the gauge is halfway accurate.

Your no heat problem could be a blend door not operating. You should be able to hear and possibly see the blend door actuator move when switching the controls from cool to hot.

Or, you could have air in the system from exhaust gases getting in via a blown head gasket. Do you ever have any heat? Is it sort of warm, then switches to cold at idle? Or just straight up zero heat?

Here’s what I’d do. Make sure the radiator is full. Make sure the coolant reservoir is full. Take the cap off the radiator when the engine is cold. Start the engine. If coolant immediately pukes out, you’ve got a head gasket letting exhaust gas into the coolant system (bad gasket).

Ok. I had heat after switching the resistor for about a week only on 4 and 5 and it was nice and warm. Then shut off. I checked the fuse and it was bad. Switched fuse and getting tubing or whatever it is(looks like tubing) to replace the sizzling on off control switch. Ill have heat today, switching thermostat bc I already have one. Drained oil just bc it had way too much in it and basically doing oil change. Does not blow white smoke after start up. Coolant sprayed out the top everywhere early yesterday morning.
My passenger side anti-roll bar cracked on me and that’s when I noticed the coolant shot out my reservoir tank. Earlier tonight went to check everything out and my coolant reservoir was empty. I looked under hood every night now and its first time it shot out the top like it did. Yet to have any leakage under car. Drained radiator and it had about a 3/4-1 gallon and it’s a little dirty, but my oil wasn’t really dirty. It only gets to 3/4 if I’m idling for a while, 90% of time it never goes over 1/2. Should I use the gasket sealant to be safe? I get conflicting answers on everything depending who I ask. I Google as much as I can and learned the hard way Google has answers, just most are wrong. It’s why I finally joined this site. I’m using the car for future fixes. It’s old, but runs well. Didn’t have problems really until I wanted heat and got the wrong advice.


If the coolant shoots out the radiator or reservoir with the engine at cold idle, I’d say you’ve got a head gasket problem. I’d say yes to the sealant. I wouldn’t use “stop leak”, use a head gasket sealer. Before doing that, parts stores have a test kit that will confirm if you have exhaust gases present in the coolant. I’d want to be sure. But blowing coolant out of a cold engine is a pretty good sign.

The resistors you’re talking about just control the fan speed, I think. Usually when they fail, you’ll only have high speed and not the lower fan speeds.

Either way, if the coolant system isn’t full, with no air pockets in it, you won’t have consistent heat. Air will usually go to the highest point, which is usually the heater core, and you get intermittent to no heat. So I’d concentrate on that first - a full radiator and reservoir with no air in the system.

I’m not 100% sure what I’m looking at in the picture. But I think you need to focus on the cooling system. Have to have it full of coolant, or the other issues won’t matter long because the engine will overheat or freeze during the night. Then it’s all over!

I hate to say it’s a failed head gasket without looking at it myself. But if the coolant blows out cold (not just overflows slightly out of the open radiator filler neck, but really bubbles out)…yeah, I don’t know what else it would be other than the head gasket (or cracked head). Let some other guys post in the morning. More advice is good.

As a side note, a guy at work has a Monte Carlo that was doing the same, blowing coolant out, overheating only at idle (during the MS summer). He used head gasket sealer and has been driving it for months like that.

You do have antifreeze in the radiator ? Not just straight water.