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Do Thicker Head Gaskets Seal Better?
Car head gaskets regulate the temperature of your vehicle’s engine and allow the gas to flow through. These rubber gaskets can become worn over time, leading to leaks or catastrophic failure.
When you go in for a routine maintenance check, ensure your mechanic checks the car head gasket for any warning signs.
No! Thicker head gaskets have less space between the gasket and the head face. This causes more compression of the gasket material and can lead to a tighter seal. Applying pressure to a thin metal plate, such as most head gaskets, will compress easily and form whatever surface is underneath.
The thicker gasket material also has an increased chance of causing interference with any pointing or protruding metal around the bolt holes or corners.
This works great with flat surfaces like the face of a head and block, but when dealing with corners and points, it can cause problems.
A thicker gasket will also not compress as easily, so there is less chance of this happening, but it’s still possible that it will interfere with something.
It’s possible to use some copper shims or gasket maker between the material and whatever surface you are trying to form around, as long as there is space for them.
A perfect seal for a head gasket is only possible with some interference. If there is space between the surfaces, the gasket will not seal.
What Is The Advantage Of A Thicker Head Gasket?
|More Compression and Power||Increases engine efficiency and Increased power output.|
|More Cooling Capacity||Reduces engine temperature and Eliminates heat build-up.|
|More Oil Capacity||Offers better lubricating characteristics, Longer life expectancy, Increases oil flow and Spreads wear evenly to the surface of the gasket over time.|
|Higher Torque Output and greater strength||Increases output significantly, Eliminates the lean condition of the cylinder walls ,Lowers stress and allows for greater piston movement.|
|Greater Reliability and Reduced leakage||Reduced internal leakage improves engine life expectancy.|
Reduces oil loss through the gasket seal in areas that normally leak.
|Improved Appearance||Available in many colors and Makes the engine look neater and cleaner.|
|The Greater appearance of luxury and value||Accentuates an engine’s beauty.|
Is It Better To Have A Thinner Or Thicker Gasket?
|Factor||Thinner Gasket||Thicker Gasket|
|Compression||Less compression.||More compression.|
|Oil Heating||Less oil heating.||More oil heating.|
|Compressor Life||Less compressor life.||More compressor life.|
|Heat Transfer area||Less heat transfer area.||More heat transfer area.|
|Heat Loss||Less heat loss.||More heat loss.|
|Gas Passage Resistance||More gas passage resistance.||Less gas passage resistance.|
|Oil Pressure drop||More oil pressure drop.||Less oil pressure drop.|
What Happens If You Put A Thicker Head Gasket On?
1. Increased Combustion Volume
If you put a thicker head gasket on, it will lead to an increase in combustion volume. This will increase pressure, leading to more power potential from the engine.
2. Increased Compression Ratio
The increased combustion volume and increased pressure lead to an increased compression ratio. This increases the power output and efficiency of the engine by allowing more fuel/air mixture in each cylinder at any given moment.
3. Increased Cooling
A thicker head gasket can also lead to better cooling.
The increased combustion volume, pressure, and heat capacity increase due to the head gasket’s higher thermal conductivity that leads to better heat dissipation and reduced hot spots in the combustion chamber.
3. Increased Piston Ring Sealing
The increased pressure, along with increased thermal conductivity, as described above, means more force is pushing on the piston rings, which can reduce leakage and allow for more efficient combustion of fuel/air mixture.
4. Less Chance of Damage to the Engine
A thicker head gasket will typically be a stronger material than the standard gasket, which is less likely to crack under high loads or in case of an accident.
This can also lead to fewer chances of damaging parts/engines under these circumstances.
Does Gasket Thickness Affect Torque?
Yes! The thickness of the gasket determines the torque on the fastener or other part you are securing.
A thicker gasket will create more friction and thus require more torque from the fastener to overcome this friction, leading to a greater chance of leakage or failure of the part in question.
For example, if you used a gasket that was .002″ thick on an engine block with 1/4-20 fasteners, you would probably not have an issue based on the torque applied to these fasteners about 20,000 ft-lbs.
This is likely because friction is not significant enough to cause a problem.
However, if you use this same gasket but change its thickness to .050″, it would be nearly impossible to torque these bolts to a sufficient value.
This friction alone can create 1/2 of the torque required. For example, if you were to apply 10 ft-lbs of torque on a fastener, it would take 5 ft-lbs just to overcome friction alone;
This also leads us to believe that we may end up with cracked or broken studs due to their tempering process.
Does The Head Gasket Affect Acceleration?
Yes! Head gasket failure affects acceleration because it causes a blockage in the coolant, which means it’s going to raise the engine temperature, and this goes on to increase wear rates, which will mean a decrease in performance.
You’ll also see increased fuel consumption and the risk of your engine catching fire. While you can fix head gasket failures with maintenance or repairs, they can happen suddenly.
This sudden failure can always lead to serious engine problems, meaning more money out of your pocket.
If you want to buy a car, be smart and do an engine check first.
When inspecting the engine (or buying a used car) for the first time, pay attention to the color of the coolant.
Start by inspecting the engine bay to see if you can spot any wet areas indicating a leak. While at it, check for oil leaking from the bottom of the engine.
What Happens If A Cylinder Head Is Over-Skimmed?
In most vehicles, the engine is cooled by circulating coolant through passages in the cylinder head.
If this coolant becomes too hot and cannot efficiently absorb heat, it can boil and damage the internal engine components. The same thing happens when you over-skim your cylinder head.
The oil in a typical car’s oil pan is pumped back into the engine to keep important moving parts from overheating and prematurely wearing out.
This is known as oiling or “lubing.” You can also use oil for other purposes, such as lubricating the transmission and preventing excessive heat from transferring to the metal cylinder head.
A properly-oiled vehicle allows cold air to pass through the radiator of an automobile, thereby cooling it more efficiently than a completely air-cooled engine.
If a car’s cylinder head is over-skimmed, the oil cools the head, and the engine can damage beyond repair.
Usually, after the cylinder head is over-skimmed, it would be too late to fix it.
If a technician sees this in your vehicle’s engine after you finish the work, they can probably do nothing about it, as no material is available to plug up all of those holes even if we wanted to.
Your engine will be completely trashed, and all estimates for repair will range from $3,000 to $12,000.
Is Rubber Or Metal Head Gasket Better?
|Factor||Rubber||Metal head gasket|
|Material||It’s softer, is not as strong, and doesn’t last long.||It’s harder, lasts longer, and can withstand more pressure.|
|Cost||You can buy in large quantities for cheap prices.||More expensive than rubber.|
|Durability||The rubber usually lasts for about 1 year.||Usually lasts for about 2 years.|
|Water leak||Water will not leak through a rubber gasket.||Water may leak through a metal head gasket.|
|Noise Level||They are quiet and don’t make any noise during the normal operation of your car.||They make noise when airtight and don’t leak air out.|
|Oil leak||Oil will not leak through a rubber seal because it has no holes.||It can leak oil because the metal gasket has holes that change pressure during operation.|
|Heat Transfer||It works to keep heat away because it’s harder to transfer heat in a rubber seal than a metal head gasket.||Metal head gaskets are better at transferring heat, has holes that allow air to escape.|
When Should You Skim An Engine?
1. When Your Engine Overheats
When engines overheat, they usually shut off until they cool down. Once you do this, your car will start up again, and everything should be fine for the rest of your trip (usually).
Unfortunately, sometimes an engine will overheat and not start. If this happens, you may have to put your car in neutral and turn the key until the engine comes running.
Then you can pull over safely and let your car cool down before continuing your trip.
2. When Replacing a Head Gasket
This happens because of several things. A head gasket can split when water or coolant leaks into the engine, causing it to overheat and spit coolant everywhere.
This can also happen if the head gets too hot while your car runs. Luckily, the head gasket will crack, and you must replace it.
Otherwise, you may need to remove your engine to carefully reassemble the head back onto the block without doing more damage.
3. When you Experience Oil Leaks
Oil is essential to your engine keeping cool while you’re driving. Over time, oil can get dirty and make your car run hotter.
This will cause you to use more oil and may cause you to lose pressure in your engine, which could result in further damage.
Be sure when you notice a leak that it’s not coming from an oil line or your transmission; otherwise, the problem will be a lot bigger than it seems at first.
4. When You Lose Coolant
Coolant is a reservoir that holds water and your car’s essential fluids. Without it, your engine would start to melt!
This will eventually cause a short or an explosion in the engine, which will most likely be fatal. Ensure you know your coolant lines’ location before turning off the car.
If you can’t find them, have them checked by a mechanic and ensure all hoses and lines are connected properly.
Can A Head Be Skimmed With The Valves On?
Yes! You can skim a car head with the valves on. However, this can lead to the leaking of intake air/fuel mixture past the valves as it opens, which can cause performance loss.
To skim the head with the valves on, remove both rocker arm assemblies and pushrods and have them at room temperature before lowering the head onto the block.
Reconnect the spark plug wires before lowering the head onto the block.
If you lower the head onto the block without reconnecting spark plug wires, there is a chance that one or more valves will collide with spark plugs.
This can cause a bent valve stem, broken lifter, or pushrod. You must replace it.
The valve stem can bend for many reasons, such as lowering the head into a rough surface, impact force, or something similar.
With the valves on and moving to open due to camshaft rotation, it’s possible that the valves can collide with protruding parts on the block and cause damage.
The valves are not indestructible and will break if run at too high RPMs or driven at too hard-track conditions.
You need to replace the valve if you have broken or bent valves. Otherwise, the engine cannot operate at its full potential. This can lead to poor fuel consumption, engine performance, and bad driving experience.
Is A Liquid Gasket Better Than A Solid Gasket?
|Factor||Liquid Gasket||Solid Gasket|
|Design||Slightly more elastic||More rigidity|
|Cost||20% more expensive than a solid gasket||Much cheaper but requires much more labor.|
|Performance||Better sealing at high temperatures and low pressures as there is less friction between the seal and the chamber’s surface than a solid one.||Less resistance to the flow of cooling liquid means higher heat transfer.|
|Durability||When in contact with the cooling liquid, it can be more vulnerable to wear than a solid one.||Better overall durability as there are no moving parts to wear out, and it can withstand high temperatures more easily.|
|Labor||More labor intensive||Less labor intensive|
|Installation||Less installation time||More installation time|
|Sensitivity to contamination||More sensitive to contaminants such as water, oil, and exhaust gas compared to solid gaskets||Less sensitive, as there are no moving parts and contaminants don’t get in contact with the sealing surface.|
|Material Selection||The choice of materials determines the nature of the seal and how much pressure you can place on it.||The choice of materials determines the rigidity and durability of the seal.|
You now know a lot about thick or thinner head gaskets. The choice is up to you, but remember to check this article again before you make a decision.
This is an important decision as it affects how well your vehicle runs.