Modern automobiles are now built with an integrated engine where an engine block and a cylinder head are bolted together to ensure better compression and vehicle performance. But what makes this happen is the head gasket. Maintaining performance is key in today’s vehicles, and a head gasket plays a huge role. Whether it be a general head gasket inspection or a Subaru head gasket replacement, head gaskets require as much maintenance as the rest of the engine.
What a Head Gasket Does
Primarily, a head gasket acts as a seal to prevent leakage between the engine block and the cylinder head. Located between these two important engine parts, the head gasket is a machined casting specifically made for the internal combustion engine. It seals the cylinders to achieve optimum compression. However, the gasket is subject to many contaminants such as oil, gases, and even water. This is so, particularly with oil and water, because the gasket separates oil and water as they pass through the engine block and the cylinder head. Such an important task, when not properly working, leads to engine damage.
What to Check to Avoid Damage
First, one has to check for oil contamination. You will see evidence of contamination when the oil, after checking using a dipstick, shows some discoloration. A milk-like ring usually appears. Second, the coolant should be inspected for hydrocarbons by using a gas analyzer. The analyzer can also check for fuel that went unburned. For a less rigorous check, look for leaks on the head gasket’s surface. Another thing to consider is the presence of bubbles in the radiator. Air bubbles can be checked by revving up the engine several times while the radiator cap is removed. Fourth, see if the spark plugs are tinted. The gasket is not working fine if tinting on the plugs is found. The tints appear like white deposits around the plugs, a result of the burning of the coolant. The engine may also show some telltale signs of a blown gasket. If the engine overheats, then blowing has occurred. This means that the engine is not getting enough from the coolant. Lastly, you can try a cylinder compression test to check for gasket issues. If the gasket is failing, this will lead to low compression as well as misfires in the cylinders.
When Early Checks Mean Big Savings
Bear in mind that identifying issues earlier can save you a huge amount of money. Head gaskets can be very costly to repair and replace. Finding an erring thermostat or coolant—each costing below $5—early on could save you a few thousand dollars worth of gasket replacement. Following maintenance schedules promptly can definitely help avoid costly replacements. Apart from the costs accruing from maintaining and keeping your engine in full health, head gaskets may also ask for some amount of time from you for maintenance schedules.
Although inspections, however mandatory, can be done without much help from a technician or a mechanic, replacing gaskets may need some arduous professional work. Head gaskets that have worn out needs to be replaced by a mechanic.