Block Gaskets Failure Analysis

Are you experiencing leaks around your gasket? This failure might be caused by improper installation procedures rather than just normal wear. It's unlikely that a gasket will just fail on its own. It's more likely a symptom of a larger issue. In the cases of these gaskets, that issue is the application of glue or other adhesives during installation. Following proper installation procedures can not only help save you some headaches down the road, but it can also prevent an engine leak that leads to further failure.

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Using Sealants and Adhesives on Gaskets

Improper install techniques can definitely cause your gaskets to fail. One such harmful practice is using sealant or adhesives when they aren't necessary. Some gaskets do call for sealants, but unless its specific install instructions call for it, doing so can severely impair the functionality of your gasket. Using a glue can actually prevent the gasket from properly sealing, leading to leaks and eventual failure. The picture below goes through what happens to different gaskets when sealant is used. For more information on different types of gasket failure, take a look at Head Gaskets Failure Analysis.

Gasket failure caused by use of sealant/glue

The below pictures show oil pan gaskets that had been installed with the use of a glue. As you can see, this type of sealer severely damaged the gasket and led to its failure. The gasket had begun to leak and fall apart.

   

Based on the evidence from these gaskets, we can conclude that any type of glue or sealer on this kind of pan gasket will result in the same type of failure. Instead, install gaskets on a clean surface, allowing them to compress and seal on their own.


Gasket failure from adhesive use

The below gasket has split due to the improper use of adhesives. Gasket sealer had been applied to the gasket, causing both sides of the gasket to feel tacky. This kind of adhesive can overload the gasket, especially around the bolts. This area is under the most flange pressure and the adhesive interferes with the gaskets proper operation. The gasket cannot conform properly to the surface, leading to the visible tearing and splitting in the image below. This can lead to leaking and other engine problems.

   

When you install your gaskets, they should be completely dry. This will help to prevent the types of failure seen above. If you need to use an adhesive to help with correct placement, only use a small amount and try to keep it away from the bolt holes. Again, try to follow manufacturer's instructions on the use of sealants and adhesives to ensure you're not doing any damage to your gaskets, and, by extension, your engine.


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Originally posted November 17, 2015, Updated January 15, 2020