The head gasket should theoretically last as long as the engine. Unfortunately, in the place where it is located extremely difficult conditions prevail. Hence its damage. Check the cost of replacement!
Where is the head gasket located?
Its very name indicates this. The gasket is found under the head of the engine in the place where the head joins the engine body. The gasket itself is connected to the cylinder block. Because of where it sits, it’s really hard to get to. In addition, it is located at a point where conditions are extremely harsh. High pressures, temperature changes; all of these affect its durability, which weakens over time
All the major systems of the car, including the cooling system, the lubrication system, and the exhaust system work under high pressure. It is therefore extremely important that everything is tight for both gasoline and diesel engines. This is guaranteed, among others, by our unfortunate head gasket, protecting against the escape of exhaust gases, coolant or engine oil itself.
Structure of the gasket under the head
Flat shape, a number of holes in its construction, at the ends a rubber seal. Quite a small part, which is impossible to see after opening the hood. Holes were created to fit, among other things, cylinders, there were also holes for engine oil ducts, etc. The flat design is about 30/40 centimeters long with holes prepared for a particular make and model of car. This is all you should know in this regard.
Durability of the gasket
Factory is about 350/400 thousand kilometers. However, this is only in theory, in fact, already after 250 thousand kilometers it is worth listening to the engine to catch possible problems with the gasket. Sometimes, however, it breaks down faster. The reason for this may be a design error made by the manufacturer of a particular brand, but also the use of low-quality coolant, which translates into overheating of the engine. When the fan does not work, the water pump fails, the engine may overheat, which will affect the seal wear. There are many more causes of gasket wear, but these are the most common.
How to recognize a damaged gasket?
First of all, the infamous “white smoke” coming out of the exhaust pipe. Why does it happen? Because a leaking gasket causes coolant to enter the combustion chamber. Unfortunately, in newer cars, detecting gasket failure is not so easy. The white smoke mentioned above may mean that the particulate filter is being burned out, which is a normal and necessary procedure. Then it is worth taking into account factors such as lower engine power, due to reduced compression pressure in one or more cylinders. Another symptom is increased engine oil draw, oil stains in the coolant. It’s also coolant ejection and boiling, the smell of exhaust fumes in the coolant, or hard coolant system hoses, normally they should be quite soft and flexible, and when there’s a gasket problem, they seem like they’re going to explode. If you experience any of these symptoms, go to a mechanic immediately. Prolonged driving with a head gasket leak can lead to a seized drive unit.
Head gasket repair costs
Interestingly, the gasket itself is relatively cheap. Depending on the car model and brand the prices vary between PLN 30-200. Unfortunately, the final cost is a different story. In vehicles with R4 engine it will be about 2 thousand zloty. In 6 and 8 cylinder engines the cost may exceed 3 thousand zlotys and more! Replacing the gasket is expensive because it is time-consuming and requires specialized knowledge from the mechanic. It begins by unscrewing the top cover of the engine, then comes the disassembly of manifolds, removal of elements of the ignition system, disassembly of timing, sensors (including oil pressure), to this comes cleaning of the upper parts of the engine block and inspection of the engine head. And that’s not all! Now you know why the cost of head gasket repair is so high.