Head Gasket

What is a Head Gasket? Everything You Need To Know

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The head gasket is found on the engine precisely between the cylinder head and the engine block, which functions as a seal in the power plant. The head gasket seals the cylinders, ensures optimal compression within them, and has holes to receive the pistons.

A Head Gasket is a seal between the engine block and cylinder head within the components of an internal combustion engine. The component helps to prevent leaks during compression by interfacing with fuel, water, exhaust gas, and oil. It regulates the compaction ratio in the power plant and ensures water and oil go through their designated routes: the cylinder head and block. Due to its location in the engine, a head gasket may blow.

What is a Head Gasket?

In practical terms, a head gasket is critical to the overall functioning of your vehicle. It is the wrap that provides cover for your engine’s combustion chambers and protects the combustion gas. It’s the seal between the cylinder head and the engine block. Because the head gasket receives a wide range of temperatures and works under a great influence of low and high pressure, the head gasket keeps out coolant fluid from interfering with or causing an increase in the engine’s temperatures.   

Different vehicles have a head gasket that varies in girt because each producer designed them differently, based on the engine structure. The head gasket is critical to the engine’s function because it keeps the power plant enclosed, ensuring adequate compaction build up. 

This build-up guarantees the engine’s performance and prevents the lubricating fluid and water from entering the combustion compartment.

The most significant function is the ability to keep fluids from penetrating the combustion chamber, which would be very dangerous to the engine if allowed to happen. Its presence also ensures compression ratios are kept fairly balanced.

How Does It Work?

The head gasket works by normal principles of mechanics. With the aid of pressure building up within the engine, it keeps the water and oil in their regular location; the cylinders. This is why it’s being located between the cylinders, and the engine is a great idea. So, even it’s location is key to its function.

Symptoms of a Bad Head Gasket

If you notice any of the following signs, ensure to check the head gasket for damage.

  • Leaking Beneath the Manifold

The coolant may outflow from below the exhaust manifold. The head gasket could cause coolant to seep from below the exhaust manifold.

  • Overheating engine

A damaged head gasket would cause overheat after long driving distances. This is because the coolant has gone out through the leaks. 

  • External Head Gasket Leak

The presence of much heat due to insufficient coolant in the engine’s system can cause the external head gasket to leak.

  • White smoke coming from the exhaust pipe

If a leak occurred in the engine’s internal parts, the coolant could flow into the combustion chamber. The coolant gets burnt and becomes gas; this gas shows up as white smoke ejects from the tail line.

  • White milky oil

Over time, the piston’s coolant and oil, which got there due to the damaged head gasket, will become milky white.

  • Low cooling system integrity

If the head gasket is damaged, the coolant will seep out of the power plant and its cylinders, and eventually, the coolant remaining in the system may not be able to keep the engine cool.

  • Bubbles in the radiator 

Apart from the coolant being allowed into the engine, a damaged head gasket also allows exhaust fumes into the coolant. These exhaust fumes form bubbles once in the coolant reservoir.

  • Fouled spark plugs

 The burnt coolant in the combustion compartment precipitates white deposits on your spark plugs.

How & Why Your Car Head Gasket Leaks?

One thing you must bear in mind is that the head gasket leak is not an unusual phenomenon. The more the engine works and produces heat, the less the power of the head gasket. The head gasket can leak due to a range of reasons. 

One of these is the increased heat that comes from within the combustion chambers as the engine powers on. Overheating is a major cause of leakage of the head gasket. The increased temperature causes the head gasket to expand, leading to a leak. 

The second reason your head gasket can leak is due to pre-ignition which causes detonation. 

Causes of Blown Head Gasket

The head gasket features in the internal parts of an installed engine. Irrespective of your car type, make, or model, the head gasket can still get damaged because of its location. The head gasket seals the engine’s hottest parts; the combustion gases and engine coolant.

Due to the large surface and the extremely hot temperatures, the head gasket is not out of place to get damaged with time. And what often poses a challenge is that the gasket head is quite difficult to reach without dismantling the engine, increasing the cost of repairs.

How to Replace Blown Head Gasket & Cost?

Here’s the scare about fixing a blown head gasket of your car: the time and cost of repairing a blown head gasket can make you want to buy a new one. It comes with a tricky repair process. Like it or lump it, you will have to repair your bad head gasket.

Head gasket repair costs vary, depending on some factors which include; the actual damage, whether it’s a block or head damage, the number of cylinder banks, other associated components replaced, overhead cam, and pushrods engines damaged.

The automotive engineer can charge as much as the damage dictates because, like we already mentioned, the head gasket can be quite difficult to access, so dismantling and disassembling the engine will surely cost you. You will need to prepare something in the region of $600. 

Final Thoughts

If you observed numerous head gasket failure signs, try not to drive the vehicle at all so as not to worsen the challenge at hand. Then quickly call on a mechanic to fix the challenges.

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