What is a Head Gasket?

what is a head gasketIf you’re asking “what is a head gasket?” then the chances are that you’ve got something wrong with yours.  Your head gasket is an extremely vital component in your engine that you probably never think about.  When you think about the engine in your car, you know it has pistons and a crankshaft, but we don’t often think of the supporting components that make sure the pistons and crankshaft can continue to make power to move our vehicles.  There are supporting components like the valves that open and close to allow the 4 stroke combustion process to continue and your oil pump which makes sure all of the moving components stay cool and slippery.  Your head gasket is like these systems in that you don’t often think of it as a vital component, but without it, your engine won’t work correctly, if at all.

If you’re wondering what is a head gasket made of, the answers can vary significantly from vehicle to vehicle.  Head Gaskets can come in many different materials and designed based on the design of your vehicle’s engine.  The basic design of the head gasket in your vehicle is based mostly on the amount of compression your vehicle’s engine makes.  The compression ratio in your engine determines the peak pressure during the compression stroke and also correlates to the amount of pressure your engine makes during the combustion stroke.  The higher the pressures present in the cylinder, the more robust the head gasket needs to be to contain that pressure.  Along with a high compression ratio, the presence of a turbocharger or supercharger will also significantly increase cylinder pressure and require a heavier duty head gasket.

On older low compression engines, head gaskets may be made of thin paper or composite materials while newer high compression or turbocharged engines will employ heavier duty materials including various types of metals.  In extreme applications, head gasket can even use metal O-rings that are pressed into the head or block to further contain combustion pressure.

Containing combustion pressure is a head gasket’s main job.  Keeping the exhaust gasses where they’re supposed to be allows the expanding gas to do maximum work on that cylinder’s piston transferring the maximum energy to your crankshaft and your vehicle.  One of the primary killers of a head gasket is pre-ignition or knocking.  This is when the fuel/air mixture in your engine’s cylinder ignites rising the cylinder pressure while the piston is still on the compression stroke.  The high pressure of the combustion process is then further compressed by the piston and cylinder pressures can skyrocket.  Of the components in the combustion chamber, the head gasket will usually fail first.

Many modern engines have sensors attached to monitor for pre-ignition to quickly reduce ignition timing, but these systems are only reactive and often make corrections too late.  If your head gasket fails, it not only will allow combustion gasses to escape reducing the power and efficiency of your engine, but it can allow engine coolant and oil to cross paths and even enter your combustion chamber.  This mixing of fluids and allowing them into the wrong places can cause misfires, poor lubrication, and rust on important surfaces in your engine shortening its useful life from years to hours.

If you determine your vehicle has a failed head gasket, there is a quick and easy solution.  Adding BlueDevil Head Gasket Sealer to your engine coolant can quickly and easily seal the leak in your head gasket sealing the combustion gasses in the combustion chamber and keeping your coolant and oil where it should be.

For more information about BlueDevil Head Gasket Sealer, click on the banner below!
BlueDevil Head Gasket Sealer

 

 

 

 

 

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what_is_a_head_gasket.jpg – By Steve Mann – Licensed By Getty Images – Original Link

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