Intake Plenum Gasket Buyer’s Guide
- Usually made from rubber, silicone, or paper, the intake plenum gasket is the sealing component between the lower and upper intake manifold.
- Typically, the intake plenum gasket can last up to 50,000 miles before it breaks down.
- There are several signs that your vehicle has a faulty intake plenum gasket including bad fuel economy, reduced power and acceleration, coolant leak, and other engine performance issues.
- A skilled DIY mechanic with the right tools and equipment can accomplish the intake plenum gasket replacement within two hours.
- The price of an aftermarket intake plenum gasket is usually around $50 or less.
Gaskets play a crucial role in the whole operation of your vehicle. They keep important elements, such as pressure, and fluids, like lubricants and fuel, from leaking out. They also prevent impurities or debris from getting inside the engine. But because most gaskets in your vehicle are exposed to extreme heat, they are guaranteed to wear out after being used for a long time. One gasket that you should pay attention to is the intake plenum gasket, which is vital to engine function.
What is the intake plenum gasket?
Also known as the caterpillar gasket because of its design, the intake plenum gasket is the seal that connects the upper intake manifold and lower intake manifold. It is usually made of paper, rubber, or silicone. Since the intake manifold is responsible for evenly distributing air to the cylinders, the intake plenum gasket’s main purpose is to keep the air-fuel mixture from leaking out. In addition to that, it prevents outside particles from getting inside the intake manifold to ensure that the air-fuel mixture won’t be contaminated.
How long does a plenum gasket last?
The intake plenum gasket can last up to 50,000 miles or even more. However, since it’s subjected to wear and tear on a daily basis, the service life of an intake plenum gasket can even be shorter. Once it fails to seal the connection between the upper and lower intake manifold, it can lead to numerous issues that can affect the performance of your engine as well as the vehicle itself.
Signs of a bad intake plenum gasket
If the intake plenum is not airtight, several problems are bound to arise unless you immediately make the necessary replacement to your worn-out intake plenum gasket.
Reduced fuel economy
With a messed up air-fuel ratio caused by a damaged intake plenum gasket, your vehicle’s engine is bound to consume more fuel than usual. If you are averaging 23 miles per gallon when you are driving around the city, expect it to go down when you have a problematic gasket installed.
Reduced power and acceleration
The engine will not be able to perform at its optimum level with a bad air-fuel ratio. So when the combustion process happens, the amount of power that your engine would normally produce will be much lower. This can manifest in your vehicle during acceleration. You might notice that you are not gaining speed at a consistent rate even though you are not letting up on the gas pedal.
The air-fuel ratio will be affected in case of a vacuum leak caused by a faulty intake plenum gasket. This will cause your engine to turn slowly, which can eventually lead to stalling. Although other failing car components can also lead to a stalling engine, you can do a smoke test to see if there really is a vacuum leak.
In some vehicles, the intake manifold has water jackets to cool the intake charge. The intake plenum gasket in this setup is similar to the head gasket when it comes to preventing the leak of both air and coolant. If you have a bad gasket installed, the coolant will likely seep through to the engine bay or intake manifold. Several intake plenum gasket leak symptoms may then appear including the smell of coolant from inside the cabin or drips and puddles of coolant under the vehicle.
The engine overheating is the byproduct of the coolant leaking when the intake plenum gasket is faulty. Since you are losing coolant that keeps the engine temperature low, this problem is bound to occur. You might want to solve this as soon as possible because it can cause severe damage to your engine components.
A faulty intake plenum gasket can also lead to the engine idling unevenly and possibly misfiring. If the gasket can’t keep the vacuum inside the engine and it allows air to dilute the air-fuel ratio, the air-fuel mixture inside the cylinder will be lean and the spark plug won’t be able to ignite it.
Intake plenum gasket replacement
Replacing your worn-out intake plenum gasket might be tough to DIY especially if you don’t have experience in removing and reinstalling intake manifold components. That said, it can still be done if you’re up for the challenge and you have the necessary tools and equipment. You will have to use these tools and equipment in removing several engine parts before you can access the intake plenum gasket. The job can be completed within two hours or more depending on your skill level.
If you are going to hire a professional mechanic to carry out the repair, you can expect to be charged as much as $300 for the replacement part and labor cost. To save on expenses, you can purchase the part from an online car parts retailer and then do the installation yourself.
How much does an intake plenum gasket replacement cost?
You can typically buy a replacement intake plenum gasket from an online auto parts store for less than $50. However, the price may change depending on a number of factors such as the aftermarket brand that produced the gasket as well as the specifications of your vehicle. You can get an upper intake plenum gasket or lower intake plenum gasket individually or in sets consisting of the upper and lower intake plenum gaskets. To ensure value for your money, make sure to buy a product that comes with warranty.
Finding the perfect part
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