The most accurate response to your question is that the head really has to be removed to be tested for a leak. If you take it to a machine shop they can bolt it down to a test bench, put a few plugs in it, and pressure it up to check for leaks. If it is good, that doesn't necessarily leave just the gasket. While it would be the most suspect if the head was ruled out, it could still be a block problem.
You do, however, have a glimmer of hope in the statement of you seeing steam on the right side of the block. With the enigne cool, you can pressure up the cooling system and check for external leaks at the head gasket level. Also, while you are looking, be careful to check around the spark plugs, an area that heads like to crack. The tool to pressure it up, which you may be able to borrow from a shop or parts store, or rent at a rental shop, is a little hand pump with a pressure guage and a fitting that fits your radiator cap. Don't go any higher with the pressure than is recommended in the instructions to test the capacity of your system.
Best of luck with your repair.
Saturday, April 29th, 2006 AT 12:25 AM