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What is a Head Gasket and What Does it Do?

27 July 2015, 14:46


Modern vehicles are commonly manufactured with an engine block and a cylinder head bolted on top, which makes a head gasket a critical seal. This important component is situated between the engine block and cylinder head. It is a machined casting for an internal combustion engine, designed with cylindrical bored holes for hosting the pistons. A head gasket performs the task of a seal between the engine block and cylinder head.

This gasket should be able to maintain that sealing need and prevent leakage between the two crucial engine parts, when being subjected to the compression process. Simply put, the purpose of a head gasket is the sealing of the cylinders to ensure maximum compression is obtained. The head gasket of a car is exposed to several elements of a vehicle, which are water, oil, exhaust gases, and fuel.

The importance of a head gasket is demonstrated by the fact that it contains the compression ratio within the combustion chamber of your car. In addition, the gasket performs the task of separating the passage of oil and water that pass through the block and cylinder head of the engine. Generally, a head gasket blowing is caused by overheating. This may occur if the engine coolant reaches a temperature whereby pressure is built to the same degree as the metal of the engine expands. In the majority of cases, the water mixes with oil, causing other severe damage to the engine.

On certain occasions it may be found that the compression in the cylinder creates a perforation, or hole in the head gasket; generally known as a blown head gasket. The usual signs of a blown head gasket are a fast pressure rise in the cooling system, before the engine reaches a warmed temperature.

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