What is a Head Gasket
In short a head gasket is simply a seal inside the engine, although it is just a simple seal it is very important in the maintaining the integrity of a combustion engine.The head gasket seals pressure within the combustion chamber and can be located between the engine block and the cylinder head.Another function of the head gasket is to ensure oil and coolant remains within the coolant passages that run through the engine. This seal needs to be maintained in spite of the high temperature and huge amounts of pressure and the head gasket is specially designed to do exactly that. In short a head gasket is responsible for ensuring the performance, cooling and lubricating of the whole engine and it is due to the importance of the head gasket, that head gasket technology is continually researched and developed to improve the efficiency of the engine.
Head Gaskets & Cooling
The head gasket is the key component in maintaining the optimal running temperature of the vehicles engine and unfortunately it is one of the first areas of the engine to be effected by the overheating in the engine. The head gasket seals the coolant channels between the cylinder head and engine block. Coolant then flows through the coolant channels after being cooled by the radiator and this in turn cools the engine.
The temperature of the engine is regulated by the thermostat which ensures the engine is running at the optimal temperature by controlling the flow of coolant within it. Should the head gasket, radiator or thermostat begin to fail then the engine can quickly overheat which can cause massive internal damage. Overheating in the engine can lead to a loss of compression, the mixing of the oil, water and coolant and a reduction in lubrication.
What Are Head Gaskets Made Of
The various materials used to make a head gasket need to have a number of properties that will allow the gasket to function at very high temperatures and with a tolerance for the extreme pressures of the engine. The head gasket also needs to be able to be resistant to air oil and coolant at varying temperatures and have no reaction to any chemicals found within the engine.
Every different engine design requires a unique head gasket that needs to meet the performance requirements of the engine. Millions are spent every year in the research and development of head gaskets and the materials they are comprised of, as manufacturers continually try to find more efficient ways to stop the overheating of a combustion engine. Much of this budget is spent on the testing of the durability of materials under extreme temperatures to ensure a seal can be maintained under these conditions.
Years of testing have shown that there are a number of materials that can be used to create a suitable head gasket. Stainless steel is a very common material used for head gaskets although graphite and fibre based materials are just as popular.
Due to advances in modern head gasket research, chemically created compositions such as silicone, neoprene and polymetric resins have started to emerge as alternatives to the more traditional materials used. These new synthetic compounds are not only able to withstand the extreme temperatures but have an overall cheaper manufacture cost.