Small but mighty
They may be small but gaskets are vital to your vehicle. Frequently placed between two surfaces and joined with bolts, auto gaskets act as a seal to hold fluids, maintain pressure and prevent debris from getting into the engine. Your car relies upon a series of gaskets to keep it running smoothly down the road.
One of these gaskets is the intake manifold gasket. From what the intake manifold does to the purpose of the gasket, read on to learn all about the inner workings of the intake manifold gasket.
What is an intake manifold?
In order to better understand the function and form of this particular gasket, let’s first examine the job of the intake manifold. Found on any vehicle with an internal combustion engine, the intake manifold sits on top of the engine and plays a key role in the combustion process.
Designed to run on three timed components, air mixed fuel, spark, and combustion; the internal combustion engine relies upon the intake manifold to help it breathe. Featuring a series of tubes, the intake manifold ensures that the air coming into the engine is evenly distributed to all the cylinders. This air is used during the first stroke of the combustion process.
The intake manifold also helps cool down the cylinders to prevent the engine from overheating. Coolant runs through the manifold to the cylinder heads where the coolant absorbs the heat and reduces engine temperature.
Intake manifold design
Air from the outside travels past the air filter and through an ECM-assisted throttle body that controls air flow speed.
Air exits the throttle body and enters the intake manifold plenum, or main body, connected to the throttle body housing.
Air is drawn from the plenum into a set of passageways called runners through the vacuum created by the downward stroke of the engine’s pistons, located in the cylinder chambers of the engine block.
Manifold is bolted flush and firmly to the engine’s cylinder head with the runners located above the intake valve or valves.
As the air exits the manifold, it’s mixed with fuel from fuel injectors and swept into the cylinder below.
About the intake manifold gasket
This brings us to the intake manifold gasket. Typically made from aluminized steel coated in a carbon-based rubber compound, the intake manifold gasket seals the intake manifold to the engine. High quality intake manifold gaskets are constructed as one-piece with reinforced edges and linings around each port or runner opening. They must be resistant to decay caused by oils and coolants. The performance of your engine depends upon the quality of the intake manifold gasket.
Symptoms of a failing intake manifold gasket
If you notice any of the following symptoms, it could be a sign that your intake manifold gasket is wearing out. Consult your trusted mechanic for a definitive diagnosis and repair.
- Coolant leaking from vehicle
- Engine overheating
- Green, red or yellow leaks under the car
- Check engine light comes on
- Engine starts to run rough
Consequences of a failed gasket
Designed to last 50,000 to 75,000 miles, heat from the engine and the gasket constantly expanding and contracting it can cause it to fail. If the intake manifold gasket fails, coolant can leak out of the manifold. Since the engine is losing coolant, it may overheat because it no longer can properly cool itself. If the issue isn’t addressed in a timely manner, it can cause permanent damage to the engine block and cylinders.
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