Selecting Head Gasket Sets


A blown head gasket. That can mean major issues for your diesel engine, and major costs. If this happens to you, make sure you know what parts you need to get back up and running again with minimal downtime.


About Head Gaskets

Head gaskets are important to combustion. They sit between the engine block and cylinder head to provide the necessary seal for combustion to occur. If the engine block and cylinder head are made of different materials, they'll expand and contract at different rates. The gasket helps maintain the proper environment for combustion, despite the different movements of the parts.

Head gaskets have been made from a variety of materials, but have typically consisted of a metal interior covered on either side with a composite material like graphite or asbestos (HHP's gaskets are asbestos free!). Newer gaskets are made of layers of metal and a rubber-like substance (the exact number of layers depends on the engine manufacturer). Recently, more durable multi-layered steel gaskets have been developed to withstand high performance demands. These are much less forgiving than other gasket materials, and require an even, smooth surface to function correctly.


Head Gasket Failure

Head gaskets normally don't just fail, but are a symptom of a larger issue in your engine. It's important to diagnose the reason you blew a head gasket rather than just replacing it, because without fixing the entire issue, your gasket will inevitably fail again.

Many problems could cause your head gasket to fail. Steve Scott, writing for Engine Professional lists several things that can give your gaskets issues, including poor liner protrusion, improper torquing, a bad spacer plate, or bad cooling systems. Overheating can also spell trouble for your head gasket, as can using sealant when none is required. The latter prevents the gasket from seating properly, leading to uneven wear and increased stress. Leaks from other parts of your engine can also cause issues with your head gasket, so again, if you find yourself needing to replace it, make sure you find the actual cause of the failure to prevent the problem from happening again—and to save yourself some cash in the future.


Gasket Replacement Options

When it comes to replacing your head gasket, you have several options to explore, depending on the damage and type of work that needs to be done on your engine.

The Head Gasket

The first, and least expensive, option is just purchasing a new head gasket. With this, you'll only get the head gasket, which yes, will save you money, but could leave you with other issues, so it's not the route we often recommend to our customers. You'll more than likely need other gaskets and components to complete the job once you begin the process of replacing the head gasket, so by not purchasing those up front, you're costing yourself time, and likely more money in shipping costs.

Head Gasket Set

Instead, you might want to consider a complete head gasket set or upper engine kit. While more expensive, you'll get all the parts you need to complete the job the first time you order. (The exact components included depend on the engine and specific kit, so it's helpful to have your engine number available while you shop.) This saves you time and money down the road. Depending on the type of repair you have to do, you might even want to consider a rebuild kit, which includes the gaskets you'll need.

Lower Engine Gasket Set

While not including a head gasket, you might want to consider purchasing a lower gasket set as well, if you're doing extensive work to the engine. This becomes particularly necessary if you take the engine out of the truck, or if you have a leak in the front of the engine. This set would also be included in an out-of-frame engine rebuild kit, if the cause of the gasket failure leads you to require an extensive repair.


A blown head gasket nearly always indicates a larger problem in your engine. Don't let that keep you out of commission for long!

If you still have questions about head gaskets and gasket sets, or which might be right for your engine, you can request a quote online, or give one of our certified techs a call at 844-304-7688. We want to make sure you get the right parts the first time!

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