What Are The Best Header Gaskets? – 2020 Edition

Best header gasket kit - review guide featured image

Shopping for header gaskets? Fortunately, you don’t have to blow a gasket yourself in order to find a great one for your vehicle. We’ve thoroughly reviewed the best header gaskets for 2019 below. Plus, we’ve created a thorough, and thoroughly user-friendly, guide to selecting the best header gasket for your car or truck.

Ready to get started? Let’s put the pedal to the medal!

What is a Head Gasket?

Small, simple and incredibly important, head gaskets play an important part in the safe operation of any vehicle. Head gaskets play two key roles:

  • They contain engine compression.
  • They keep three liquids in the engine from touching one another.

Cars, trucks, motorcycles and basically all other motorized vehicles are powered by internal combustion engines. These engines create power through what’s basically a controlled explosion.

First, a mixture of fuel and air is created in the cylinder. Then the spark plugs create a spark. This spark ignites the fuel/air mixture, resulting in an explosion.

The energy from the explosion moves a pistol. The motion from the piston turns the crankshaft. As the crankshaft turns, it transfers energy to the transmission. From there, the wheels turn and the vehicle moves.

The head gasket starts this entire process, making it instrumental in basic operations. But, perhaps more importantly, the head gasket contains the potentially dangerous explosions processes.

Our Picks For Best Header Gasket

Our #1 Choice
Fel-Pro 26415 PT Cylinder Head Gasket
Runner-up
Evergreen HSHB8-10401 Cylinder Head Gasket Set Head Bolt
Honorable Mention
SCITOO Replacement for Head Gasket Kits Chevrolet Impala Buick Pontiac Oldsmobile 3.1L 3.4L Engine...
Fel-Pro 26415 PT Cylinder Head Gasket
Evergreen HSHB8-10401 Cylinder Head Gasket Set Head Bolt
SCITOO Replacement for Head Gasket Kits Chevrolet Impala Buick Pontiac Oldsmobile 3.1L 3.4L Engine...
Our #1 Choice
Fel-Pro 26415 PT Cylinder Head Gasket
Fel-Pro 26415 PT Cylinder Head Gasket
Runner-up
Evergreen HSHB8-10401 Cylinder Head Gasket Set Head Bolt
Evergreen HSHB8-10401 Cylinder Head Gasket Set Head Bolt
Honorable Mention
SCITOO Replacement for Head Gasket Kits Chevrolet Impala Buick Pontiac Oldsmobile 3.1L 3.4L Engine...
SCITOO Replacement for Head Gasket Kits Chevrolet Impala Buick Pontiac Oldsmobile 3.1L 3.4L Engine...

Our #1 Pick – Fel-Pro 26415 PT Cylinder Head Gasket

A high-quality head gasket with a robust seal which meets or exceeds original equipment specifications.

Pros

  • Precision crafted to meet or exceed OEM specs
  • Tight seal for improved engine performance
  • Works great even in new, powerful engines

Cons

  • Fel-Pro’s part lookup system can be confusing

These PermaTorqueMLS head gaskets fit as precisely as OEM equipment. In fact, we found Subaru certified techs online who claimed to use these parts in their own cars, because they’re cheaper than dealer gaskets but just as reliable.

A tight seal allows for optimum pressure and temperature. Designed specifically to handle casting motion caused by newer cars. Fel-Pro is a trusted name in automotive.

An affordable way to change your gaskets every five years or so without having to pay dealer prices for original parts.

Our #2 Pick – Evergreen HSHB8-10401 Cylinder Head Gasket Set

A premium head gasket with Viton valve stem seals and OEM specifications at an affordable price.

Pros

  • Built to meet or exceed OEM standards
  • Much more affordable than original gaskets
  • Made from multi-layer steel for long-lasting durability
  • Vitro valve stem seals keep liquids safely contained

Cons

  • For best results, additional sealant required

Using cutting-edge manufacturing techniques and designs, these head gaskets from Evergreen are just as precise and durable as OEM parts but for a fraction of the cost. Features non-asbestos materials, silicone rubber, Viton valve stem seals and multiple-layer steel.

These premium replacement gaskets are suitable for a wide variety of cars and trucks. The graphite head construction promotes thermal regulation and chemical resistance. A safe, affordable alternative to original gaskets.

Our #3 Pick – SCITOO Replacement for Head Gasket Kits

Although not packed with fancy frills, these are dependable, well-made header gaskets which fit a wide range of Chevy vehicles.

Pros

  • Tough enough for professional racecars
  • Affordable replacement OEM gaskets
  • Suitable for Chevys, Pontiac, Buick and Oldsmobile vehicles

Cons

  • Doesn’t contain updated intake style (OEM only)

SCITOO parts are typically considered geared towards professional racing, but their head gaskets are worth consideration for everyday cars and trucks, too. Made from high-quality rubber, these gaskets are able to maintain a tight seal in both high and low temperatures. Tough and dependable, these replacement gaskets are even suitable for a professional racecar engine.

Kits are available for a wide range of vehicles including Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick models. Their included database will help you find the right model, although it could be made easier to navigate.

Our #4 Pick – MLS Cylinder Head Gasket from CNS EngineParts

A complete head gasket set includes two multi-layered steel head gaskets, Viton Valve Stem seals, and everything else needed to completely replace OEM gaskets.

Pros

  • Complete kit includes everything needed for gasket replacement
  • Fits most trucks in Ford F class.

Cons

  • Only suitable for narrow range of vehicles

This complete kit meets or exceeds OEM parts for a variety of Ford vehicles. Designed to fit F250s, F-350s, F-450s, F550s and more.

Package includes an MLS Cylinder Head Gasket Set, an RTV Gasket Silicone, two multi-layered steel head gaskets with 18mm, intake manifold gaskets and more.

Our #5 Pick – Bar’s Leaks 1111 Head Gasket Fix

A quick, easy way to chemically repair damaged gaskets quickly. An affordable and unique alternative to replacement.

Pros

  • Quick repair solution for damaged header gaskets
  • Easy to use and store
  • Fast-acting solution seals cracks in less than an hour

Cons

  • Not as safe or effective as complete head gasket replacement

While replacement is the best long-term option, this unique “fix in a can” from Bar’s Leaks is an effective way to plug leaks in any damaged head gasket. Simply spray directly onto the head gasket. The antifreeze-compatible sodium silicate sealing liquid fills gaps and cracks before hardening.

Safe for damaged, leaking or blown head gaskets. Although the manufacturer claims this is a permanent solution for gasket damage, most experts recommend using it only as a temporary fix. Carry a bottle in your car for a fast solution to an unexpected roadside emergency. Don’t let a blown gasket stop you in your tracks!

Frequently Asked Questions about Head Gaskets

What Does a Head Gasket Do?

Inside an internal combustion engine three different fluids each have a specific purpose:

  1. The first fluid is oil. Circulating throughout the engine, oil keeps the parts lubricated while preventing friction.
  2. The second is coolant. This fluid reduces excessive heat buildup in the engine.
  3. The third is the fuel/air mixture. Engines run on either gasoline or diesel fuel.

Head gaskets prevent those fluids from escaping the engine block. It also keeps each fluid separate from the others.

What is a Blown Header Gasket?

You’ve probably heard the phrase “blown a gasket” used to describe a person who has exploded in anger. Well, that expression originated here. A blown engine gasket is one which has failed in some way.

A blown gasket can be very serious right away or it can start small and grow. But there’s really no such thing as a minor blown gasket. You’ll want to fix the problem fast. Driving with even minor problems can be unsafe.

Head gaskets have a few weak spots. If the gasket does fail, the problem will likely occur in one of these three areas:

  1. The areas between cylinders. This is where the material used to make the gasket is thinnest.
  2. The insertion points on the head of the block where the bolts are connected.
  3. Anywhere on the gasket where the thickness of the metal has a variation or defect

What Causes Head Gasket Failure?

There are a few different ways a head gasket can become weak and then fail. Some of these problems can be very hard to detect beforehand, and originally start developing well before they’re installed in your car.

Basically, there are three different scenarios which can cause gasket failure:

Operation Failure

Problems with the cooling system or ignition timing can cause damage to the header gaskets.

Installation Failure

Errors occurred during the manufacturing process. Materials, bolts or sealers used to make the gasket were low-quality or improperly handled.

The engine itself might be another source of potential problems. While engine construction is rare, it can cause problems with gaskets.

Design Failure

Certain new vehicle models of vehicles can put extreme thermal stress on the gasket due to poor design. This is also relatively rare.

Final Thoughts

Head gasket issues can lead to big problems on the road, including complete engine failure. Fortunately, fixing minor gasket problems helps prevent major issues. Our guide above will help you find the perfect gasket for your needs, and keep your car running safely and smoothly.

Brett Gordon
 

The engine behind editing at DigMyRide and the brains behind its build. During the day, Brett is a thirty-something dude from SoCal climbing the corporate ladder, but by night, he spends his time contributing to the online world of automotive tech & trends.