Exhaust Manifold Gasket Buyer's Guide
- Simply put, the exhaust manifold gasket is a type of seal that helps the exhaust manifold contain post-combustion gases from the engine.
- A vehicle’s exhaust manifold collects exhaust gases from the engine cylinders and redirects them to the exhaust pipe. The exhaust manifold gasket seals the unit and prevents gases from exiting the unit.
- Extreme engine temperatures, oil or coolant contamination, and/or a constant influx of exhaust gas will definitely be able to wear a gasket down.
- There are a handful of symptoms that indicate a faulty exhaust manifold gasket. These include unusual smells and noises, as well as poor engine performance.
- Exhaust manifold gasket leaks can potentially lead to a misfire, although this is not always the case. However, vigilance and swift repairs may prevent this from happening.
- Exhaust manifold gasket replacement costs usually range from $2 to $110.
- With CarParts.com, choosing a new replacement exhaust manifold gasket can be quick and easy.
A vehicle’s exhaust system is one of the most important systems that help keep a vehicle running. This system collects and sometimes even processes exhaust gases produced by the engine. Without the exhaust, the engine wouldn’t even function because all the harmful exhaust gases will accumulate and will harm not only the engine itself but also the environment. This is why whenever an exhaust component fails, it typically has a huge effect on the rest of the vehicle.
The exhaust manifold gasket is an often overlooked part of a vehicle’s exhaust system. However, when this part starts to fail, there could be a lot of serious consequences. What is this part and when should you replace it? Find out the answers to these questions and more with this short but informative guide.
What is an exhaust manifold gasket?
Simply put, the exhaust manifold gasket is a type of seal that helps the exhaust manifold contain post-combustion gases from the engine. The exhaust manifold gasket function is to cover surfaces of the exhaust manifold and the cylinder head and helps prevent leaks in the exhaust system.
Exhaust manifold gaskets, like most gaskets, are usually made of metal braces with rubber seals. However, other exhaust manifold gasket materials are also available. Because they usually contain elastomeric compounds, they also help reduce vibration and sound under the hood.
How does an exhaust manifold gasket work?
An internal combustion engine is a machine that requires an ignition source, oxygen, and fuel to work. These components, when combined together, generate enough power in the engine’s cylinders to move the vehicle in a process known as combustion. One byproduct of this process is exhaust gases.
A vehicle’s exhaust manifold collects exhaust gases from the engine cylinders and redirects them to the exhaust pipe. The exhaust manifold gasket seals the unit and prevents gases from exiting the unit.
The exhaust manifold gasket is also important in the process called exhaust scavenging. Scavenging is the process in which gases that exit the cylinder creates a vacuum. This vacuum then pulls in more of the air-fuel mixture necessary to keep the engine running.
How does an exhaust manifold gasket fail?
There are a handful of factors that contribute to a failing exhaust manifold gasket. Extreme engine temperatures, oil or coolant contamination, and/or a constant influx of exhaust gas will definitely be able to wear a gasket down. Sometimes, the damage can be so severe that exhaust gas leaks can develop between the engine cylinder and the exhaust manifold.
What are the Symptoms of a Bad Exhaust Manifold Gasket?
There are a handful of symptoms that indicate a faulty exhaust manifold gasket. Since the issue affects the exhaust system, most of the symptoms will have something to do with the exhaust. Below are just some of the most common signs that you may be dealing with an exhaust manifold gasket leak or damage.
Poor Vehicle Performance
Because the engine relies on the exhaust system to “breathe,” a faulty exhaust manifold gasket will affect vehicle performance and fuel efficiency. If your engine shows a significant decrease in power or if it underperforms in situations where the vehicle needs the power the most (i.e. driving up a hill or struggling to pull away from a stoplight), you might have problems with your exhaust system.
In cases like these, you’ll need to thoroughly diagnose the situation before performing any repairs to avoid costlier repairs down the line.
Unusual Burning Smell
As mentioned above, exhaust manifold gaskets are made of tough metal like steel or iron so it can withstand the heat under the hood. Some gaskets are even equipped with heat shields that help protect the surrounding components from heat damage.
When exhaust manifold gaskets fail and the engine exhaust leaks out, an odd smell can be detected, especially if the engine has been running for too long. In some cases, these unusual smells can also be accompanied by smoke from under the vehicle.
Unusual Noises from the Exhaust
Unusual noises coming from your vehicle are never a good thing. In the case of a failing exhaust manifold gasket, unusual noises are typically the first sign you’ll ever notice. These noises can manifest as hissing, splitting, or tapping sounds.
Other symptoms might also be present when you’re dealing with a broken exhaust manifold gasket. White burn marks can be found around the manifold flange or the gas pedal may vibrate as you’re driving, although these symptoms might not be present in all cases.
Overall, it is not advised to drive with a broken exhaust manifold gasket as the fumes may contain harmful gases such as carbon monoxide. It is recommended that you either consult a repair manual/database or your local mechanic for more information on exhaust manifold gasket replacement, diagnosis, and repair.
Can a bad exhaust manifold gasket cause a misfire?
The short answer is yes. When your exhaust manifold gasket fails, exhaust gases may leak out and “trick” the oxygen (O2) sensor into reading lean (too much air in the air-fuel mixture). More air is drawn into the leaking area to compensate for the loss of pressure. As a result, the PCM will increase fuel delivery to the engine in order to make up for the lean condition.
As a result of this, the engine ends up running rich (too much fuel in the air-fuel mixture). This will cause the spark plug to go bad and potentially lead to a misfire.
How much does it cost to replace an exhaust manifold gasket?
Exhaust manifold gasket replacement costs usually range from $2 to $110. Prices primarily depend on the part’s compatibility with a vehicle’s specific year, make, and model. Other factors also contribute to the price including materials used, brand, series, and quantity.
Exhaust manifold gaskets are usually sold individually. However, they also come in sets of two to eight pieces. Kits are also available and will often include heat shields and all the necessary hardware. Gaskets for the exhaust manifold are also sold according to their location on the vehicle: the passenger or the driver’s side as well as the rear and front end.
Finding the right fit
With CarParts.com, choosing a new replacement exhaust manifold gasket can be quick and easy. The site’s vehicle selector tool lets you search parts that are compatible with your vehicle’s year, make, and model. You can also use the advanced search console to look up replacement parts according to your price range and other preferences such as brand, location, quantity, etc. Get a reliable exhaust manifold gasket that won’t break your bank from the store you can trust.
How to Pick the Right Exhaust Manifold Gasket
The seals in your vehicle are often underestimated because a common misconception about them is that they just cover the areas they are placed over. But that is not the case. One of the most vital seals in your vehicle is your exhaust manifold gasket. It functions by guarding the surface of the exhaust manifold and the engine cylinder heads so that unwanted gas leaks can be prevented. However, it can wear out and deteriorate over time. The only thing you can do is to replace it. So if you need to buy a new exhaust manifold gasket for your vehicle, here are the things you must take into consideration in order to pick the right one:
Which exhaust manifold gasket should be used?
There are many types of exhaust manifold gasket that are being sold in the automotive market. The two most popular types include the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and the aftermarket. If your vehicle is like most modern cars, it is safe to choose an OEM exhaust manifold gasket. This type is made to directly fit your vehicle because it made from your manufacturer's specifications. Moreover, it has a definite warranty.
On the other hand, the aftermarket type of exhaust manifold gasket is more appropriate for high-performance vehicles. This type is durably made from steel; however, it can have a higher cost than the OEM type, and can be sold without due warranty.
It is recommended to use an exhaust manifold gasket that is particularly compatible with the year, make, and model of your vehicle. Moreover, you must choose an exhaust manifold gasket that is convenient for installation.
What to look for in an exhaust manifold gasket?
You must definitely look for an exhaust manifold gasket based on stability and reliability. This is because as a part of the exhaust system, the manifold gasket can be susceptible to extreme pressure and heat. Hence, you must purchase one that will give you an optimum performance for a long period of time.
Keep in mind that you must choose an exhaust manifold gasket that is sold by a dependable brand. Whether you opt for a cheap or an expensive type, you must not compromise the quality of the product you will be buying.