Blown Head Gasket?

2001 1.8 sentra started over heating and running terrible. It also took forever to start, it would just turn over and over before eventually starting. Once it did start to run it would idle very rough and water/coolant would bubble back into reservoir and smelled like exhaust.
I pulled spark plugs and removed valve cover. looking into the spark plug holes i could see coolant in the two middle pistons.

I would assume it is hard to start because off all the liquid being blown into the spark plugs. All of the oil looked fine, it was not milky or anything.
Compression test was… 130, 125, 110 135 and all held pressure it did not bleed out quickly.

Am i dealing with a head gasket problem or possibly some other gasket or issue.


It is most likely the head gasket leaking and the head is likely warped. Coolant will gum up the rings and cause considerable damage to the bottom end if the head is not repaired soon.

Could it be an intake gasket? The only reason i am second guessing the head gasket is because the oil is ok and there is no smoke from exhaust.


I’d get it evaluated and repaired ASAP. In addition to the combustion pushing exhaust gasses into the coolant when the cylinders fire, the pistons are also drawing coolant back through the headgasket breech on their intake strokes. And, as Rod already mentioned, coolant can do a lot of damage in the wrong places.