In the huge mechanical wonder that is the engine, small parts like the cylinder head gasket often go unnoticed-until they stop working. Gaskets seal in all the hot gases produced during combustion and keep the process safe and efficient. Any leak can have serious effects on the engine components and may cause total engine breakdown. So if there are noticeable signs of cylinder head gasket failure, you'd better replace it as soon as possible. There are some things to take into account before you shell out some bucks for a replacement unit.
Of course, it's best to get a gasket that fits your engine's specifications to be sure that it will work well. Based on product fit, most head gaskets are offered as:
- OE replacement
If you're looking for gaskets that are as durable as or stronger than your stock, go for OE-replacement units. Why? It's because they are usually made to meet or exceed the standards set by the crash institute for original parts. But even if their fit and quality are as good as original components, they don't wear the label or the logo of the car manufacturer.
- Direct fit
Direct-fit gaskets are designed to bolt on directly to your vehicle without a need for welding or any modification. These units are also made to fit specific vehicle models.
Types of gaskets
Another factor you should take into consideration is the gasket's construction, which affects not just durability, but its cost as well.
- Sheet gaskets
These mass-production gaskets are made out of asbestos or fibrous graphite. They come cheaper compared to other types, but they are less durable and are more prone to cracks and breakage when placed under extreme thermal pressure.
- Solid material gaskets
Made out of sturdy metals, these gaskets ensure better quality, but are priced reasonably. Since they can withstand high pressures and temperatures, solid-material gaskets are commonly used in automotive applications.
When assembled, cylinder head gaskets become very important components of the engine structure, so make sure that the units you'll get can hold up to the dynamic and thermal forces put out by the cylinder head and the engine block.