The cylinder head gasket is a small, inexpensive diaphragm, yet replacing it is expensive and complex. Changing the cylinder head gasket can therefore take hours, and requires partial disassembly of the engine. This reflects the important role played by this indispensable piece.
What is the role of the cylinder head gasket?
The cylinder head gasket, as the name suggests, performs the function of junction between engine block and cylinder head. It is a small piece of metal or asbestos that seals the components of the engine. It prevents liquids circulating in the engine from seeping into the cylinders. In particular, the seal prevents the coolant from mixing with the engine oil. This is likely to disrupt the explosion in the combustion chamber. A leak at the cylinder head gasket can also make the engine lose compression. The engine power may then decrease. The engine may even degrade if the problem is not resolved in time.
How do you know if a car’s cylinder head gasket is defective?
If the cylinder head gasket is damaged, a variety of easily recognizable symptoms soon appear. Here are the signs that do not deceive:
• Thick white smoke escapes from the muffler, which means that the coolant has mixed with the oil;
• The engine overheats because the coolant level drops;
• The engine oil level drops rapidly;
• The oil which mixes with the coolant creates a kind of mayonnaise which sticks to the engine oil cap;
• The engine oil and coolant warning light come on on the instrument panel;
• The water hoses harden;
• The heating or air conditioning no longer works.
As soon as these signs appear, most often at the same time, then it becomes urgent to go to a garage or call a specialist. However, while no apparent concern arises, the cylinder head gasket must be systematically replaced after 200,000 km, the limit of its average lifespan. This helps to avoid even more expensive repairs.
Duration and price of cylinder head gasket change
Replacing a cylinder head gasket is a tedious operation which requires concentration and technicality. The car must be immobilized for one or more days in a garage. The process can take anywhere from 5 to 11 hours as the motor will be completely disassembled. In general, the service costs around 1,000 to 3,000 € at a professional garage.