What does a head gasket do and its repair

By Camelia Maftei

As anyone with a few years of motoring history behind them will know, a blown head gasket can spell disaster, not only for the engine of the vehicle but also for its owner's bank balance. So what is a head gasket and what does it do? Like all gaskets, the head gasket forms a seal, but unlike most gaskets, it forms multiple seals, it seals the oil so it can flow freely and lubricate the engine. However, it also forms a seal that keeps the oil from mixing with the coolant that is vital in preventing the engine from overheating. Finally, it seals the cylinder head where air and fuel are mixed for combustion, any loss of pressure here will significantly reduce the performance and efficiency of your car's engine.

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What causes a head gasket to fail?

As with all components, it can simply be that age is a factor, leading to the gasket degrading over time, eventually causing the seal to fail. A persistently overheating engine can also damage the gasket, which is why in our experience, it is vital to have coolant and oil levels regularly checked.

Another possible cause is poorly carried out repairs, either to the coolant system or the gasket. Car gaskets need precision fitting, if slightly too loose, they can obviously leak, and if fitted too tightly, the gasket can be distorted and damaged, severely limiting its lifespan. A head gasket repair is a highly specialised task. Our years of experience mean that our qualified fitters here at Protyre can carry out repairs and maintenance of the highest quality for your ultimate peace of mind. It is always worth remembering that you are never more than a few clicks of a mouse away from our free online vehicle check. Any car repair work needed can be carried out at your convenience in one of our garages.

What are the signs of head gasket failure?

The first obvious telltale sign that there could be a problem is oil and coolant patches or stains around the engine block, which could be coming from a leak. Another clue can be a misfiring engine, a modern combustion engine is a finely balanced machine, the fuel and air mixture in the cylinder needs to be just right for a car to run smoothly and any damage to the seal can cause misfiring.

A particularly smokey or misty and vaporous exhaust could also be a sign that coolant or oil is getting into places it shouldn't be. This will greatly increase the noxious gases and pollution that your vehicle is emitting, so it should be investigated by a professional as soon as possible. It hardly needs to be said that any of these signs should be checked before the problem turns into a disaster, and a very expensive one at that.

The final sign of head gasket failure will be when the vehicle overheats and can no longer regulate its temperature. At this stage, the vehicle should be stopped at the earliest opportunity, safely parked, and allowed to cool down before any attempt at diagnosis is even considered, and under no circumstances should any fluid levels be checked until it is cool enough to safely do so, scalded hands and face will not improve matters. To continue driving in this situation risks doing very great and in some cases, irreparable damage to your vehicle's engine.

Protyre is the local garage you can trust.

Here at Protyre, we offer the full range of services for all your motoring needs, whatever the make and model of your vehicle. We also have extensive stocks of major brand tyres, including Bridgestone, Falken, Sumitomo, and Pirelli, all available to be fitted in one of our many garages. So if you have any concerns about your vehicle's head gasket or just need some reassurance, please don't hesitate to contact our qualified professionals. At Protyre, our aim is to keep you motoring as safely and efficiently as possible, one less thing to worry about in these difficult times.

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About the author

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By Camelia Maftei
Camelia leads Protyre's customer service team and is skilled in customer communications.
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