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In the industrial field, machines are fundamental elements for the production and development of different processes. These machines usually have diesel or gasoline engines in which the head gasket plays a crucial role in its correct operation.
In this article we will explore what a head gasket is and how it works . In addition, we will take the opportunity to discover how to know if the head gasket is bad and even how often the head gasket is changed .
What is the head gasket?
The head gasket is a mechanical component that sits between the cylinder head and the engine block. Its main function is to ensure the tightness and proper sealing between these two parts of the engine , avoiding gas and liquid leaks that could compromise its performance.
The cylinder head gasket is designed to withstand high temperatures and pressures , as well as resist the corrosive action of engine fluids. It is usually made of composite materials such as rubber-coated metals, graphite materials, or a combination of both.
Head gasket design can vary depending on the type of machine and the specific application. It usually consists of several layers and elements , including a main layer made of rubber-coated steel or graphite material that provides good sealing ability and flexibility . Sealing rings can also be included to improve tightness in different areas of the engine.
How does the head gasket work?
Its main objective is to seal the cylinders, the cooling ducts and the oil ducts, avoiding the mixture of fluids and gases. This guarantees that the engine maintains adequate compression in the cylinders and a correct circulation of the cooling and lubrication liquids.
In addition to providing a hermetic seal, it must also withstand the constant changes in temperature and pressure it is exposed to during operation. This implies that it must be made of resistant and durable materials that can withstand the stresses and deformations generated by these extreme conditions.
It is important to note that the exact operation of the head gasket can vary depending on the type of machine and its specific application . Some machines may have additional requirements, such as reinforced head gaskets to withstand extreme loads or special cooling systems.
How to know if the head gasket is bad?
Lack of proper head gasket maintenance, such as regular replacement per manufacturer's recommendations, can result in costly repairs and lengthy downtime. Therefore, it is essential to pay attention to the integrity of the head gasket. To know if the cylinder head gasket is in bad condition we must pay attention to several factors:
- Liquid leak: If you notice the presence of liquid leaks, such as coolant or oil, in the cylinder head area of the machine, it could be an indication that the cylinder head gasket is defective. These leaks usually manifest as spots or droplets on the affected area.
- Engine overheating: A bad head gasket can cause poor coolant circulation, resulting in an increase in engine temperature. If you notice that the machine frequently overheats or that the engine temperature is higher than normal, it could be an indicator of a head gasket problem.
- Loss of compression: A damaged head gasket can cause a loss of compression in the cylinders of the machine. This can manifest itself in symptoms such as decreased performance, reduced power, difficulty starting the machine, or rough operation.
- Emission of white smoke: If the machine emits white smoke from the exhaust, especially when it is running, it could be a sign that there is a coolant leak into the combustion chamber through a bad head gasket.
- Presence of bubbles in the radiator: When checking the cooling system, if you notice air bubbles in the radiator when the engine is running, it could be an indication of a leak of combustion gases into the cooling system, which can be caused by a faulty head gasket.
How to know if the head gasket is bad?
Many of you will wonder how much it costs to fix the head gasket and how often it is changed. The reality is that, although the spare part is not expensive, a broken head gasket is quite an expensive breakdown . This is because for its change it is mandatory to separate the cylinder head from the engine, in addition to, of course, the necessary labor. The average price of this type of repair amounts to a whopping between 500 and 800 euros. Despite this, it is always important to detect its breakage in time to avoid higher expenses derived from its use in poor condition.
There is no exact time in which the head gasket should be changed, but there are a series of circumstances that will mark more or less when it may be necessary to change it. It is essential to know the manual of the machine and its indications as well as of course follow the manufacturer's recommendations . Following the advice of both elements we can have a fairly clear idea about when to change it. Of course, if your machine performs its work in extreme environments, it will be necessary to change the head gasket more frequently. In this case, regular monitoring is mandatory.
Proper maintenance and care of the machinery will offer us an extension of the useful life of the cylinder head gasket. By this we refer to oil and coolant changes according to the manufacturer's prescriptions, as well as frequent revisions to anticipate future serious breakdowns. In addition, as is evident, if the machine has a history of frequent breakdowns and breaks in the head gasket, it is likely that it will need to be changed more frequently.