If you are here to find out the best cylinder head gasket then we assume you already have your head gasket blown and need a new one to replace it. The head gasket is located between your vehicle’s engine block and cylinder head and work as a seal for these two. Choosing the best cylinder head gasket needs proper guidelines as it has to go through a sophisticated procedure to persist in the challenging environment of being in contact with intense heat and pressure and also with the elements like water, fuel, exhaust gas, etc.
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What Does It Do
- The main purpose of the head gasket is to seal the cylinders to obtain maximum compression protecting it from the leakage of any coolant or oil.
- It is made of different materials like steel, copper and other elastomeric substances capable of withstanding the tough environment.
- This is a casting component for the internal combustion engine that comes with bored holes for hosting pistons.
- These gasket holes keep contact with the coolant jacket and oil pathways which need to be taken care of.
Now we’ll be discussing the signs indicating a bad head gasket meaning a failed one so that you can know when you should actually replace one.
Signs Indicating Cylinder Head Gasket Failure
There can be quite a few reasons why your engine head gasket could fail where the most common being the exposure at high-pressure. Whatever reason you gasket fails for, find it out with the following signs that your head gasket is no more!
- Overheat Problem: The engine can overheat if the head gasket seal is damaged between the cylinder and coolant jacket, allowing the coolant to leak into the cylinders. Though it is less likely, the coolant can also leak down the side of the engine block as well. In either case, the loss of coolant compromises the cooling system of your engine, hence producing overheat.
- Oil Leakage: Similarly, check if the cylinder head gasket has failed at one of the oil pathways. The oil leakage into the cylinders or into the coolant or outside the engine can toast your head gasket.
- Oil Mixing Up With Coolant: If you find the engine oil or the coolant looks to be foamy or milky then rest assure that the oil is getting mixed with the coolant due to the head gasket failure. It can affect both the lubrication and cooling system of your car’s engine.
- Losing Compression: If the gasket between the cylinders fails, you will encounter rough running and also the loss of power indicating the unusual behavior during the compression cycle of each of the pistons of the cylinders. You can easily verify the actual engine compression loss.
- Whitish Exhaust Smoke: If the coolant leaks into the cylinder while the engine is in operation, you’ll see the coolant is also burning due to the combustion process. This combusted coolant will be vaporized as whitish smoke. If the vapor is denser and thicker then the leak could be bigger in size and you certainly need to check the head gasket. Although similar smoke or vapor can come from the water exiting the exhaust pipe for a cold motor, that would be insignificant and dissipate with time.
- Blueish Exhaust Smoke: In this case, failure of a cylinder head gasket can allow oil to leak into the combustion chamber and due to the process the combusted oil will exit the exhaust pipe as blueish smoke. Although the modern synthetic oils are good at finding leaks more rapidly than the conventional older ones. The denser the smoke the more you need to worry to get your head gasket replaced. Don’t get confused with the black murky smoke comes from rich fuel mixture.
How to Replace The Cylinder Head Gasket
The head gasket is not the easiest of the components to replace and requires some sophisticated techniques to deal with. As you have come to this section, you probably found out the failure of your cylinder head gasket and need it replaced. The previously discussed point should be enough for you to detect the failure but you can also do it using some other techniques like checking the CO2 in the cooling system or testing the compression using a head gasket tester. The low coolant or low compression will ensure the failure of the head gasket.
To get a general idea about the replacement procedure of head gasket, kindly go through the following steps. However, the precise procedure is more detailed and varies upon the build style and model. Before you start the procedure, don’t forget to get equipped with the screwdriver set and the ratchet socket set.
Step 1: It’s always better to start with a service manual if you are not experienced in this technical task. Remember to get one for the specific make and model like the Chilton or Haynes repair manual.
Step 2: Get an oil drain container and start draining the coolant and engine oil. Then dismantle the engine down to your cylinder head. This includes removal of the filter housing and air filter, intake tubing, the intake manifold, the fuel system components like fuel injectors and serpentine belt. This should be done with the drivers and sockets we mentioned earlier. Although removal of the fuel components can demand the use of some special tools that are capable of removing the fuel injectors or fuel lines if you are doing it in a fuel injected vehicle.
Step 3: If you need to exclude the timing chain or the belt as some engines require, then you may have to remove the cover of your front engine, the water pump, and other surrounding components using your equipment set. In case you forget to put things back make sure to track the alignment of the belt or chain with a reference picture or a diagram and also mark the timing chain with the correct time.
Step 4: You can easily realize that you will have to deal with many studs or bolts that go through the head and thread into the engine. Be careful while removing the cylinder head to keep it undamaged and place it back properly. Also, pay heed to the bolts to reuse them although some cars use a torque making a bolt usable only one-time. In that case, you need to replace the bolts and try ARP head bolts that have good user reviews.
Step 5: After step 4, carefully remove the cylinder head, probably with an engine hoist to make the removal more secure. Then you can start the inspection process and even better will be to get it checked in an automotive machine shop. In that case, they’ll be able to guide you properly and also help you in case of slight warpage recovery by resurfacing the head. If the amount of removed material is big then get a thicker head gasket as the compensation. If the warpage seems more than a simple warpage then also have your engine block and the deck inspected by the machine shop.
Step 6: Now clean the stuff like the cylinder head, engine block, bolt holes, and the threads. Use gasket scraper and thread cleaning tools for this job to ensure the cleaning is done safely.
Step 7: It’s time to place the head gasket back onto the engine block maintaining the respective holes. Also, be careful that you don’t block any oil or coolant passage.
Step 8: The cylinder head is now supposed to be placed on top of the gasket. Make sure you properly tighten the bolts while placing. Now, use a calibrated torque wrench and follow the tightening sequence for the fasteners according to the service manual. To avoid any warpage some manufacturers suggest staged tightening method where you need to torque the bolts to a lower torque and re-torque them at the final torque. However, prior to the task, check whether the torque wrench is calibrated properly. Because improper calibration can lead to over tightening or under tightening, leaving the engine vulnerable to damage.
Step 9: Now it’s time for other components to be reinstalled. This time install them in the reverse order they were removed.
Step 10: Get your engine refilled with coolant and oil. You can also replace the oil filter and make sure that your cooling system is free from air bubbles.
Step 11: After putting things back together and refiling the fluids you are all set to go. But before you start your car, you better turn the engine by hand as you have removed the timing components and make sure no piston is in contact to the valve. Finally, we recommend you to have a gentle drive for a few miles once you feel everything is right.
Top Cylinder Head Gasket Brands
By now, you should have realized the importance of a head gasket and how much work its replacement procedure takes. However, you will also have to choose a high-quality head gasket from a prominent manufacturer brand. Here we will be reviewing three top brands for cylinder head gasket to help you choose the right one for your vehicle.
Felpro is one of the most popular suppliers of cylinder head gaskets for vehicles. Their gasket range covers most of the of vehicles run on the road. The best thing is that they offer a complete package for replacement kits included with all the necessary accessories and intakes needed in the head gasket replacement procedure. Although you can buy the gaskets individually as well. In the main, Felpro is highly recommended as the first choice for replacing your head gaskets.
Apex is another famous brand that comes with a wide variety of options for the head gasket replacement. They also offer a complete gasket kit along with the individual one. You can even gather their head bolts and other parts for being anticipated towards the project. They are well-known for making durable gasket kit and other parts. You are certainly not going to regret buying them.
Victor Reinz makes it to our top 3 list for best head gasket brands. Like the other brands we’ve mentioned above, this one also offers a complete gasket kit along with the individual ones. They also offer head bolts for making it easier for you. This head gasket cost is very much affordable and is widely available on the market regardless of the vehicle you want it for. Victor-Reinz head gasket and other kits will not disappoint you for sure.
If you have had enough running with your car then the cylinder head gasket failure is something that can happen anytime. So, don’t just get panic if you have a blown head gasket, instead be smart enough to find its failure and replace it with the best one possible. This way you can save your engine from any major damage, allowing it to go on and on for years.