Blog What are Head Gaskets and Its Uses?

What are Head Gaskets and Its Uses?

A properly functioning head gasket is a critical component in an internal combustion engine. Unfortunately, it is also one of the items most prone to damage and replacement. Since replacements can be costly, knowing some diagnostic and repair techniques is important. In this blog, we will discuss the function of a head gasket, some signs that it may be close to failure, and a few repair tips.

The head gasket sits in between the cylinder head and engine block, holding both in place while also preventing coolant and engine oil leakage. Additionally, the head gasket works to optimize the pressure in the various cylinders to maintain the maximum power output. Most commonly made from three layers of thin steel, head gaskets are meant to be durable and be rated up to 200,000 miles, that of which is the average life expectancy for most cars. In addition to steel, some head gaskets are made from other materials, including copper, graphite, or elastomeric beads.

Like every car part, head gaskets are prone to degradation and eventually failure. The most common cause of gasket failure is an overheated engine caused by a low coolant level. When the engine overheats, the cylinder head tends to expand, which can crush the gasket and cause it to fail. Another cause of failure is pre-ignition which can occur when fuel combusts at the incorrect time during the engine cycle; thus, it can cause increased pressure on the gasket.

Regardless of what caused the failure, a blown head gasket will generally present with some obvious signs. The first sign that one is likely to notice is an overheated engine which can manifest as a hot hood, change on the temperature gauge, or ticking noise. Additionally, if a blown gasket allows air or fuel to escape from the cylinder, there could be a sudden reduction in engine power. Another obvious sign of gasket failure is a milky residue on the dipstick when checking the oil. This sign, caused by coolant mixing with oil, can cause severe damage to various bearings and should be investigated immediately. Finally, a blown head gasket could also lead to a peculiar sweet-smelling cloud of white smoke exiting the exhaust, which is caused by coolant combusting in the cylinders and turning into steam.

The first and most important factor in repairing a head gasket is hasty recognition of the problem. If the engine continues to run for over 15 minutes without an intact gasket, it is nearly certain that a more extensive overhaul will be needed. When attempting to replace or repair a head gasket, one must first drain the oil and coolant while also disconnecting the battery and radiator. Next, it is necessary to remove several large components, including the throttle body, fuel line, intake manifold, and cylinder head. When removing these various parts, it is important to inspect and clean them if exposed to any leaked oil or coolant. After removing the broken head gasket, one should examine the cylinder head and engine block to ensure no warping or other extensive damage has occurred. If not, the new head gasket can be installed, and the other components returned to their original place.

If you are in the market for a new head gasket or other associated components, look no further than ASAP Distribution. As a leading parts distributor for the aerospace industry, we help customers secure rapid lead times and cost savings on an inventory of over 2 billion new, obsolete, and hard-to-find components. Additionally, with our strict NO CHINA Sourcing policy, customers can rest assured that each order is fully traceable or comes directly from one of the leading global manufacturers we work with. Explore our various parts catalogs or use our powerful search engine today to learn how ASAP Distribution can help meet all your operational requirements with ease.


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