What is a Cylinder Head Gasket ?

Educational

Oct 08th, 2019

What is a Cylinder Head Gasket ?

What is a Cylinder Head Gasket?

A cylinder head gasket is a component of a car engine that separates mediums like oil and water in the engine, as well as acts as an external seal. 

Gaskets are of various makes - some are interleaved sheets of steel and elastomer, some are solid 'O-ringed" sheets, and some are composites of two or more industrial materials. 

It acts as a seal between the cylinder head and engine block and has cylindrical bored holes that hold pistons. As such, gaskets have to be hard-wearing to withstand internal pressures. 

Replacing a Cylinder Head Gasket 

Replacing a part like this is no simple task. It takes a lot of work to do, as it is an intensive part of the engine. The good thing about head gaskets is that they rarely break down. It means that replacing them is not a frequent issue.

If for some reasons, your car’s cylinder head gasket does need replacing and you cannot bring it for servicing yet, here is how you do it:

  1. Disconnect the car battery to avoid short-circuiting. 
  2. Drain the engine of any medium like oil or water.
  3. Remove the components of the broken head gasket. It is best to use a manual to do this part to avoid removing or losing pieces.
  4. Insert the new cylinder head gasket, also using the help of a manual to guide you in reassembling it. Make sure to clean all the parts as well. 

Here are some things to keep in mind: 

  • When you disconnect the parts, do not disturb any other component of the engine. 
  • When you reassemble the new head gasket, tighten all the pieces in place. If one comes loose in the future, it could cause problems for your engine.

Detecting the problem in the gasket at an early stage will help you avoid high-cost engine issues in the future. Get a professional, as much as possible, to do the necessary repair. 

Symptoms of Head Gasket Issues

You may not notice a burst head gasket straightaway, but there are 'symptoms' or signs that will let you know that it is broken and needs replacing. The following signs should give you a heads-up about the condition of your head gasket: 

  1. Overheating - this symptom becomes more noticeable the further you drive, probably due to a restricted radiator.
  2. Coolant in the oil
  3. White smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe - this is due to the internal leaking of water, which leads to the production of steam. 
  4. Bubbles in the radiator, or even the overflow tank - this usually happens when air goes into the cooling system. 
  5. Low-running engine 

Temporary Fix to a Blown Head Gasket

If for some reasons you cannot completely fix a burst head cylinder gasket, here's a quick fix to keep your car running a few more miles. Chemical gasket sealers are available, and you can use one to DIY-repair a blown head gasket issue. Follow the instructions on the product label. 

Not every case of burst head gasket can be solved by this temporary fix, though. So if overheating persists, head on to the nearest service station. 

So here you have it - all you need to know about your car's cylinder head gasket and how to fix it.