A head gasket is a car component located between the engine block and cylinder head. The construction and thickness vary depending on engine manufacturer design. The function of the head gasket is to seal the combustion chamber. A sealed chamber helps to build up compression and also contain exhaust gases. This, in turn, promotes engine efficiency. Additionally, head gaskets prevent oil and coolant from entering the combustion chamber.
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Function of head gasket
Basically, the head gasket seals the cylinder to attain maximum compression. It also allows free movement of heat between the cylinder heads and the engine block. The head prevents any leak between the two vital components of the engine while subjected to the compression process.
Due to its location, head gasket is exposed the water, gases, oil and fuel. It contains the compression ratio of the engine chamber. In essence, it changes the volume of the cylinder hence affecting the compression ratio.
The engine contains pistons connected to the crankshaft. Cylindrical holes host the pistons. The piston in the cylinder bore and down movement gives the car moving power. The cylinder heads are located on the top of the engine. It contains valves that allow fuel and air to enter the cylinders and also to release exhaust gases. This is where the head gaskets are installed.
Usually, the head gasket fails due to overheating in the engine and consequently causing engine block. This results in abnormal head expansion and eventual tear, disintegration or ripping. Regular maintenance of the cooling system will go a long way in avoiding gasket repairs and replacement. It is prudent to let a technician evaluate the head gasket and other components for you.
Blown Head Gaskets
Head gasket is a seal between the cylinder head and engine block. This means that it seals both coolant that has cool or normal temperatures and exhaust gases that have extremely high pressure and temperature. Due to the disparity in temperature and large surface area, gaskets tend to develop leaks after an extended time of use.
It is very difficult to see a head gasket unless you dissemble the engine. It follows that bad head gaskets can be very hard to diagnose. Visual inspection will not help much. It is therefore important to know symptoms which can help diagnose problems head gaskets.
A badly had casket causes coolant to leak from under the exhaust or intake manifold. This usually happens when the engine is warmed up. You can identify the leak if there are no other coolant passages around. Otherwise, you will have to use a UV light to identify the leak.
Excessive smoke coming from the tailpipe
Coolants flow through the head gasket to the combustion chamber after every intake stroke. As a result, the combustion process emits smoke through the tailpipe. If there is a leak in the head gasket the smoke billowing from the tailpipe will be excessive.
Bubbles in the radiator
A leaking head gasket does not only allow coolant to flow into the combustion chamber but also allows exhaust gases to blow into the coolant. As a result bubbles cause a boiling-like occurrence in the coolant reservoir or radiator even when cold. These bubbles are exhaust gases that have entered into the cooling system.
A blow head gasket will cause engine overheating. This is due to low-level engine coolant and also the radiator inability to cool the contaminated coolant. Overheating can cause seals and gaskets damage and addition leaks in the engine.
Engine coolant can leak through the combustion chamber and forcefully find its way through the rings into the oil. When oil and the coolant mix the oil tends to change into a whitish color. This makes the oil ineffective in lubricating the engine components. In addition, water build-up can cause rusting in metal parts.
Faulty cooling system
You can determine if your head gaskets is leaking by pressurizing the oiling system and checking the pressure loss. You could also pressurize the combustion chamber and measure the amount of air leaking out through the head gasket.
It is advisable to minimize your driving of you have blown head gaskets. Leaking cold coolant hot gases can erode the engine block. This could easily escalate to severe damage requiring you to purchase a new engine or a new head. Similarly, water in the engine can destroy the engine bearings.
Head gasket repairs
The cost of repairing a head gasket can vary from one to car to another. Several factors determine the cost including:
- The extent of the damage
- Components to replace
- Number of the cylinder banks
- Whether the engine has an overhead cam or pushrods
Avoiding having blown head gaskets
The good news is that you can minimize the risk of blowing the head gasket. First, you should keep the pressure in the combustion chamber as low as possible. If you have a supercharged or turbocharged vehicle ensure the boost level is set to factory setting. Similarly, avoid running your vehicle engine at high RPM which heats and stresses the head gaskets. Additionally, avoid downshifting if your car uses a manual transmission
You can also reduce the chance of blowing the head gaskets using head studs that are well lubricated and that match correct torque settings. Using multi-layered, metallic head gasket can boost your engine reliability.
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