Since this happened to me very recently, I can tell you exactly what the warning signs are for a blown head gasket in your engine.
What happened to me was quite a story. I was driving down the road with my family in Virginia on our way to dinner one night and suddenly I heard a loud clunk and I looked at the dash and my temperature gage spiked past the red zone! Smoke was pouring out of the engine and suddenly in the middle of an intersection we weren’t going anywhere! It was awful! When we finally could check the engine out, I saw that we had coolant draining what seemed like every direction from under the truck.
So, we had to learn the hard way what happens when you don’t listen to your engine when it is yelling warning signs!
First Warning Sign:
We had to keep refilling and checking the coolant reservoir. This is a clear indication that the engine was either getting too hot and burning through the coolant or we had a leak somewhere.
Second Warning Sign:
Prior to the explosion of our head gasket, the engine was overheating. It was in small increments, so it was unnoticeable to the untrained eye, however being a mechanic, I should have noticed.
Third Warning Sign:
You notice a burning smell. I didn’t know what it was from burning coolant at the time, but I should have paid attention to the signs!
Final Warning Sign:
The final, most noticeable symptom is a big cloud of smoke pouring from the exhaust, and the engine gauge showing maximum temperature after a few minutes. Unfortunately, these symptoms often arrive when it is too late to sort the problem out.