Why You Need To Change Your Head Gasket

Author: Stuart Buckingham   Date Posted:30 May 2018 


The term 'blow a gasket' is certainly widely used in the Aussie vocabulary and almost as Australian as 'she'll be right' or 'stone the crows' but unfortunately, for those of us in the boating scene, unless you're hearing about a mates reaction to losing a big fish it probably means you're outboard is in strife and needs a new head gasket and possibly more.


What is a head gasket?

A head gasket on a traditional two stroke is between the cylinder head and the cylinder block. For those novices out there, the cylinder head is where your spark plugs screw into. Its job is to join the two parts and seal them to withstand the engine's compression and let cooling water flow between the block and the head.


Why should it be replaced?

Unfortunately, as all parts age, they become weak and begin to break down. The same goes for head gaskets and this is why it is important to change them approximately every 4 years. Head gaskets are exposed to heat, saltwater (predominant in Australian boating) and other substances which all play a role in reducing the integrity of the gasket. It's for these reasons that changing the gasket is important.


What are the consequences of not replacing head gaskets?

A head gasket failure will result in water intrusion into the engine, possibly causing major engine damage. Other outcomes or symptoms can be a loss of engine power, due to lost compression and/or water hindering the combustion process, and poor engine performance, by rough idling, loss of speed or power, etc.


Summing up:

Replacing your head gaskets can be as much as a 'piece of mind' exercise as routine maintenance. Pulling the head off and changing the gasket also allows you to conduct other maintenance, such as inspecting and/or replacing any internal anodes, inspecting the engine bores, checking for buildups of salt or sand and making sure that everything looks in good shape.


Remember, most routine maintenance on an outboard is actually preventative maintenance. For instance, we still replace a water pump impeller every season, even if it's pumping water, just in case it's nearing the end of its life and head gaskets are really no different.


To shop our range of head gaskets, click here.


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