Why You Need to Keep an Eye on Your Car's Engine Gaskets

Posted on: 17 June 2017


When you open the bonnet and have a look at your car's engine, all you may see is one large piece of metal, with various appendages. Within that metal exterior is a very complicated structure that relies on many different moving parts. It's very precisely engineered, in order to produce the propulsion necessary to move your vehicle along. Most often, as a car owner, you won't have to worry about the interior workings of the engine, but you do have to keep an eye on certain important parts, to ensure longevity. Why do you need to know all about gaskets and what do you need to check?

Where are the Gaskets?

Essentially, there are three different gaskets that form a seal in between important parts of the engine. On the bottom of the engine is the section that holds the oil, known as the sump. There is a gasket in between this section and the main part of the engine, known as the block. This is where the crankshaft is housed, that creates the initial energy. Another gasket goes on top of this section and separates it from the cylinder head. This is where the valves are located, that control the air and fuel mixture. The third gasket goes on top of this section and separates it from the rocker cover.

What Gaskets Do

These gaskets are relatively simple to look at, but they are made from a very robust material, usually copper. They have to deal with very extreme temperatures, contraction and expansion on a constant basis and have to provide a very tight seal between each part of the engine. In particular, the cylinder head gasket has to protect crucial components from any leakage of gases or liquids.

If the cylinder head gasket was to break, it could cause catastrophic damage to the engine. However, you will almost always get advance warning that it's starting to fail and must take action accordingly.

What to Look for

One of the first signs could be smoke coming out of the exhaust tailpipe, as some water begins to mix with oil. The engine will lose compression, won't have as much power and it won't sound the same as it used to. You may also find that the engine starts to overheat on a frequent basis. Whenever you see this and cannot see any obvious leakage from a hose, gasket failure could be your conclusion.

What's at Risk

If an engine overheats without you taking action, cracks can develop in the block itself. When this happens, you may have to replace the whole engine.

What to Do

Always remember that gaskets are designed to last for only a specific amount of time. Consult with your mechanic to see if it's time for you to change them, and remember that complete gasket sets should be swapped out, whenever one needs to be looked at.