Intake Manifold Gasket Buyer's Guide
- An intake manifold gasket is placed between the engine cylinders and the air intake manifold to ensure an airtight seal between the two components. This part ensures that constant and consistent pressure is distributed through all engine cylinders.
- The placement of the intake gasket makes it susceptible to heat, pressure, and vibration, which wears down and breaks it over time.;
- You can tell if your manifold gasket is broken if you have coolant leaks, engine and acceleration problems, as well as reduced fuel efficiency.
- The ideal replacement would depend on aspects such as the material of the cylinder head and gasket and the vehicle use
- CarParts.com offers durable replacement intake manifold gaskets that cost anywhere from $3 to $126, depending on your vehicle’s year, model, and make.
A vehicle’s intake manifold is a series of tubes and chambers that are located on top of the engine. The intake manifold makes sure that the air and fuel mixture that enters the engine is evenly distributed to all the cylinders. In addition, the intake manifold is also responsible for keeping your engine cool and preventing it from overheating.;
Engines are equipped with quite a few gaskets which seal fissures and protect surfaces as they come into contact with each other. They also reduce vibration and noise in other moving parts of your car.;
A vehicle’s intake manifold gasket is an often overlooked component. However, it plays an important part in keeping your engine safe from debris and leaks. How do you know if it’s broken? When should you replace it? This buyer’s guide will provide you with the necessary information to help you decide if it’s time to get a new intake manifold gasket replacement.
What Is an Intake Manifold Gasket?
The intake manifold gasket is responsible for keeping contaminants and other unwanted debris from entering the combustion chamber. Like other gaskets, it secures surfaces and creates an air-tight seal between them. The intake manifold gasket, in particular, secures the gap between the intake manifold and the cylinders.
The intake manifold gasket is also responsible for maintaining the even distribution of air into all the cylinders of your engine. It also prevents the fuel-air mixture from leaking out of the cylinders. Without it, the ideal fuel to air ratio required to keep your engine running will be affected. Fuel efficiency will become limited and even your exhaust might turn out to be too rich or too lean to pass emissions testing.
Your engine’s intake gasket should fit snugly between the air intake manifold and the engine block. A vehicle’s intake manifold helps regulate the temperature of the engine and prevents it from overheating. That’s because the coolant runs through the manifold to the cylinders to absorb excess heat emitted by the engine.
What Causes the Intake Manifold Gasket to Fail?
Your intake manifold gasket is designed to last 50,000-70,000 miles. While gaskets, in general, are made to last through harsh conditions, your intake manifold gasket is in a particularly tough spot, since it’s located between the engine and the air intake manifold. The heat of the engine will cause the gasket to expand and contract. Over time, this component will show signs of wear and tear such as warping, distortion, and cracks, and eventually fail.
Once it gets damaged or fails to function properly, your engine is the first to be affected. That’s why it’s crucial to replace your intake manifold gasket right away once you notice some tell-tale signs that it’s broken.
Bad Intake Manifold Gasket Symptoms
There are quite a few symptoms of a bad intake manifold gasket, but these can be hard to identify since they are similar to signs of other common car problems. If you notice that your car or vehicle exhibits more than one of these symptoms, it might be time to get yourself a better and longer-lasting intake manifold gasket replacement.
Coolant smells, leaks, and puddles
Coolant runs through the intake manifold and then to the cylinders to prevent the engine from overheating. Some intake gaskets are made to also seal engine coolant so it wouldn’t get into the engine or flow all over the place. If the gasket fails, it might cause internal and external leaks resulting in excessive coolant loss. This can ultimately lead to engine seizure when left unchecked. Coolant leaks or drips form green, red, or yellow puddles under the vehicle. Coolant leaks are also characterized by a distinct coolant smell. Sometimes, steam might even rise from under the hood as the coolant comes into contact with hot components.
Reduced fuel efficiency
The intake manifold gasket provides a tight seal that maintains constant and consistent air pressure in the air intake manifold. A worn-out intake gasket can interfere with the air pressure that goes into the intake manifold. If the ideal air-to-fuel ratio is not met, the engine will consume more fuel to make up for loss/excess. This means that you might have to shell out more gas money than usual.
Trouble with acceleration
Once the air-to-fuel ratio in the engine is compromised, the engine works twice as hard to keep running at its normal level. You might experience a decrease in power and acceleration if you keep driving your vehicle with a broken intake manifold gasket. You’ll notice that every time you keep your foot on the acceleration or gas pedal it won’t be able to respond normally.
Engine problems (misfire, stalling, overheating)
A sudden shift in the air-to-fuel ratio can also affect how the engine works. For one, it can cause rough idling or an engine misfire. This happens when there’s a problem with the fuel, oxygen, or spark—necessary components in combustion. An overly lean or rich air-fuel mixture can, in turn, cause problems with your exhaust system and your emissions.
Another problem your engine might face when you’re dealing with a damaged intake manifold gasket is stalling. This happens when your engine stops turning or if it turns too slowly.
Lastly, and probably the most important symptom to note is when your engine overheats. Recall that when your intake manifold gasket is broken, coolant might leak out. These coolant leaks can cause your engine to overheat and may lead to further engine damage. However, your engine can still overheat even without visible leaks.
The best option is to include the intake manifold gasket when you’re doing a quick check of your car, or if you’re doing your regular maintenance repairs. An intake manifold gasket leak, if left unchecked, can lead to more serious damage to your vehicle, after all.
Getting an Intake Manifold Gasket Replacement
The ideal replacement would depend on aspects such as the material of the cylinder head and gasket and the vehicle use. As such, your vehicle’s year, model, and make should be factored in when you search for the right intake manifold gasket set.
The manifold gasket is usually made of plastic, metal, rubber, or a combination of these materials. On the other hand, some intake manifold gaskets are made from aluminized steel, coated in a carbon-based rubber compound.
Car models that use aluminum heads work best with a synthetic rubber silicone gasket because this product is compatible with the unique sealing solution used on aluminum surfaces. However, heavy-duty vehicles require an extra-strength gasket that is usually made of steel or steel-reinforced urethane.
For everyday road vehicles, a cork, rubber, or plastic gasket offer the right amount of flexibility and durability needed. A cork, rubber, or plastic gasket, however, can eventually stick into the engine surface.
Some gaskets can actually be cut or trimmed to suit customized applications. For easier installation, go for an intake manifold gasket set that includes pieces for both the upper and lower manifold.
How Much Is an Intake Manifold Gasket Replacement?
OE replacement intake gaskets usually come in sets. They cost anywhere from $3 to $126, depending on the set and material your vehicle requires.
Here at CarParts.com, our vehicle selector tool will make it easy for you to narrow your search to find the right component. Browse through our collection of tough and long-lasting replacement intake gaskets that won’t break the bank.
Intake Manifold Gasket Installation Guide
Once you've confirmed that the intake manifold gasket is blown, replace it immediately. Check out the steps below for hassle-free installation.
Difficulty level: Average
- Socket/wrench set
- Gasket sealer
- Sealer applicator
Step 1: Disconnect the battery cables and drain the coolant from the radiator. Make sure you have a bucket underneath to catch the coolant.
Step 2: Remove the distributor from the intake manifold by pulling off each spark plug wire and then wrenching off the retaining nut from underneath the distributor.
Step 3: Using a pair of pliers or your hands, carefully disconnect the radiator and water pump hoses from the intake's front part. Each hose is secured with a clamp, so you need a wrench to loosen each of the clamp screws. Pull off the hoses and set them aside.
Step 4: Unbolt the intake manifold from the engine block with the right-sized wrench. Take note which bolt was removed from where to ensure hassle-free reinstallation. Lift off the manifold carefully.
Step 5: Screw off the bolts that attach the broken gasket into the manifold surface. Get rid of any residue with a scraper.
Step 6: Prepare the new gasket by coating each side with a sealer.
Step 7: Carefully place the replacement gasket into the engine block's surface. Make sure that the gasket is properly aligned and that there are no air bubbles.
Step 8: Reinstall the manifold, ensuring proper alignment. Torque back the bolts by checking your car manufacturer's instructions on how tight these bolts should be. Bolts that are too tight or loose can damage the gasket and the manifold.
Step 9: Reattach all the other parts you've removed previously in reverse.
Step 10: Refill the coolant and go for a test drive. Watch out for leaks, the smell of burning fuel, or hissing sounds.
Since you'd have to remove a variety of engine parts before reaching the intake manifold gasket, it's best to reserve several hours for the actual installation process. If you're an amateur DIYer, it might take 3 to 4 hours to complete the task.