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J&B Auto Tool News

What's the Purpose of an Intake Manifold Gasket?

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Not to be confused with the head gasket, the intake manifold plays an important role in sealing various channels connecting to your vehicle's engine. Found at the top of the cylinder head, it seals the surfaces around coolant and air channels to protect against leakage. 

Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for intake manifold gaskets to fail. If your car has been diagnosed with a leaky or otherwise nonfunctional intake manifold gasket, you might be wondering what caused this component to fail as well as how to fix it

Why Intake Manifold Gaskets Fail

Intake manifold gaskets can fail either from extreme stress or natural wear. If you allow your vehicle's engine to overheat, for example, it may stress the intake manifold gasket to the point of cracking or warping. If you don't change your vehicle's coolant, it may become acidic and, therefore, eat away at the gasket material.

But intake manifold gaskets can even fail from old age. On average, most intake manifold gaskets last about 60,000 to 80,000 miles, after which they begin to experience some form of leakage.

Is a Leaky Intake Manifold Gasket a Concern?

A leaky intake manifold is absolutely a concern. The purpose of the intake manifold gasket is to seal the area between the intake manifold and the cylinder head, preventing air and coolant from escaping in the space where these two surfaces meet. If you have a leaky intake manifold, it means either coolant or air -- or a combination of both -- are escaping between the intake manifold and cylinder head.

Symptoms of a leaky intake manifold may include:

  • Check Engine Light (CEL)
  • Rough idling
  • Engine running hot
  • Engine misfires
  • Visible coolant leaks in engine bay or underneath vehicle

How to Fix a Leaky Intake Manifold Gasket

It's generally not feasible to repair a leaky intake manifold gasket. Rather, you'll need to replace it with a new intake manifold gasket of the same size and type. This involves the removal of your engine's intake manifold, at which point you can pull off the intake manifold and replace it with a new one.

Installing a new intake manifold is easier than trying to replace a head gasket, but it's still a somewhat complicated process. If you're comfortable working around your vehicle's engine bay and have the right tools, though, you should be able to perform this DIY automotive job in just a couple hours.

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