Bad Intake Manifold Gasket Symptoms With Solutions And Repair Cost

​One of the most common issues with cars that many people tend to overlook is when an intake manifold gasket starts having issues.

Many symptoms can arise from this, and they can be easily confused with different other problems with cars – yet it often happens that it is this part that’s not doing its job correctly.

This could happen due to many reasons, so knowing what it could be and how to fix it is essential. If you are looking for a way of checking and fixing a bad intake manifold gasket, this is the guide for you.

Read up further to learn more about the many symptoms and ways to fix this part of the car engine.

5 Common Symptoms of a Bad Intake Manifold Gasket

1. Coolant Leaks

The manifold gasket also works as a seal for engine coolant in many cars. This means that when the bad intake manifold is not working correctly, then it’s common to experience coolant leaks.

Sometimes, the leaks can be so bad that you may eventually find coolant under the vehicle or dropping heavily and making puddles below.

How to diagnose for Coolant Leaking:

  • Engine coolant varies in color depending on the car and brand of the product. If you put the coolant in yourself, try to find the bottle you used or remember what color it was. It should match the remaining bottle or the color you remember; otherwise, it may not be coolant.
  • Coolant has an oily formula which means it also feels like oil with soap. Washing it should be really easy, more than motor oil or gasoline. If it cleans easily and feels slightly oily, it probably is coolant.
  • After finding out that coolant is leaking, you must find the source. As the intake manifold is generally on top of the engine, you should take a look at it. If you find any cracked or warped part on the gasket manifold, it’s probably the reason for the leak.
  • Coolant may also come from the radiator in front of the engine. It usually comes with a screw lid on top that lets you see inside.
  • Rubber pipes inside and outside the engine also tend to carry coolant around. If any of these tubes is broken, you will experience coolant leaks.

2. Engine Overheats

Another problem related to the coolant leaking is when the engine overheats. It’s almost obvious that this would happen as coolant is the product that cools down the engine and prevents overheating.

But sometimes, you don’t find about the leak until it is too late and the engine overheats to the point of burning. Sometimes, you don’t even see the leaks or dropping coolant, as they could be minimal.

How to tell if the Engine is Overheating:

  • Start by checking the gauge in the dashboard. This temperature gauge will let you know how far the temperature is going in the engine.If the indicator tells you that temperature is reaching really high levels, it means that there’s a lack of coolant. When the needle in the gauge goes crazy, it also means the same.
  • Steam, smoke, and smell of burn. When the engine overheats, there’s nothing more telling than steam or smoke coming out of the hood. With the steam or smoke, you will also experience a very penetrating smell of burnt.
  • It could be rubber and plastic burning, or the engine itself. When this happens, it means you are already damaging the engine. Turn the car off as fast as possible.
  • Weird noises coming out of the hood are also a great way to know that the engine is overheating. While sounds can be practically anything, bubbling and spluttering noises only happen when a heated liquid such as coolant starts leaking.
  • The coolant will splash around the engine and begin to boil which will make a distinctive liquid noise inside. Turn the car off and check coolant levels.

How to Fix a Coolant Leak & Engine Overheating:

You can fix a coolant leak after finding it. But make sure you do this with care, and only when the car is cold.

  • First, park your car and let it cool down for at least 30 minutes. This way you can touch it without problems.
  • Use a stop-leak product or liquid. There are many options out there, some of them are marketed as “radiator leak fix” or similar, these also work well.
  • Remember to use just enough depending on the size of your car. Most stop-leak bottles will have instructions on how much you need to use according to the size of the vehicle.
  • Check that coolant and water are enough. If they aren’t, you will have to let the stop-leak product do its work and then add the missing coolant or water accordingly.
  • Then wait 15 min with the car in idle and start it. It should run normally. Try not to overwork it to prevent further leaks until it’s totally fixed in a mechanic’s shop.

3. Vacuum Air Leaks

A faulty or broken intake manifold gasket may not only leak coolant but air. When the vacuum leak starts happening, the ratio of air and fuel will be messed up and cause your car to stall.

If your car stalls, however, it could be due to many reasons, so it is essential to make sure it is the intake manifold gasket and not any other part.

How to check for Vacuum Air Leaks:

  • Looking for an air leak is more difficult than searching for an oil or coolant leak. So, you’ll have to do it with care starting from the rubber hoses and fitting in the engines. Look for cracks and tears, they could be the reason instead of the gasket.
  • Check where the gaskets are, the one that’s between the manifold and the cylinder and the one between the intake manifold and the carburetor.
  • Use soapy water with the car in idle but ON. Spray around the intake manifold gasket and see if any air comes in or out.
  • Another thing you can do is to use your eyes and ears. This will take a lot of time, but it is almost the most effective way to do it.
  • If you hear something sucking air too fast or leaking air strongly, it is the manifold gasket that has a leak. Another common sound is when the engine starts revving or smoothing out when spraying the soapy water.
  • An effective way to catch a leak or multiple ones is using a smoke machine. You can spray smoke to the engine close to where the manifold is. Make sure the smoke is thick enough so you can see the difference when the air starts leaking.
  • You may also place the vapor or smoke into the system with the aid of a mechanic; it won’t damage the engine and will exert the smoke out through the gasket.

How to Fix a Vacuum Air Leak

Fixing a vacuum air leak related to the intake manifold is not easy and commonly ends up in replacement. But doing this may help:

  • Tighten up the intake and throttle body bolt in the engine. You should follow the crisscross pattern in the bolts. Start tightening at the center.
  • Remember to follow the repair manual of your car to meet the ideal torque. Use a torque wrench that fits.
  • After tightening precisely as it says in the repair manual, you should go and check for the vacuum leak again. If it was a problem of lack of tightening, it should be fixed by now.
  • If the leak is still there after tightening the bolts in the body mounting bold of the intake, you’ll have to replace the intake manifold gasket.

4. Fuel Waste

A damaged intake manifold gasket will also cause problems with fuel consumption. This happens when the air to fuel ration inside the engine starts to disrupt. The engine will start consuming more fuel than it usually does and your gas tank will not last the same.

Of course, this will take your money away as the gas economy will be completely destroyed.

How to tell if there is Fuel Waste:

  • Some cars come with average fuel consumption gauges or indicators. If this increases or gets crazy compared to any time before, you probably have a fuel waste due to a defective intake manifold gasket.
  • Look for any air-leaking part of the engine. This could be the issue. Search around the intake manifold gasket.
  • Make sure it is not other fuel-consuming factors such as unaligned wheels, tires lacking air, or any other engine problem.

How to Fix a Vacuum Fuel Waste:

Fixing a fuel consumption issue with your engine related to the gasket is similar to fixing an air vacuum problem. Here’s you could fix it effectively:

  • Buy a sealant or stop-leak product from the market. It could be either for carburetor or vacuum of the car.
  • Make sure where the leak point is first, and then spray the sealant. Then wait for at least 10 minutes for the leak to seal off. Then try starting the car again and check for the leak. It should be gone by now.
  • If the problem keeps happening after adding sealant, you’ll have to contact a professional or replace the intake manifold gasket directly.

5. Acceleration Losses

A stalling engine is an excellent symptom of a bad intake manifold gasket, but the car doesn’t necessarily have to stall to know it’s that. Sometimes, this happens when you are accelerating.

An air leak, for example, may cause the engine to lose pressure and thus lose power when accelerating. It may even happen when the car is idle without accelerating.

How to tell if you have Acceleration Issues:

  • If after accelerating the car, you feel how it doesn't power up like it usually does – you probably have an intake manifold gasket problem. You may experience a slight pause after accelerating or an irregular acceleration.
  • Leaving the car to idle should never promote an engine revving difference. However, when the intake manifold gasket is faulty, you’ll hear and feel how the engine starts to revolution down or lose power slowly.
  • This happens because the car can’t regulate idling speed due to loss of air pressure inside.
  • Other ways to tell when the car has an acceleration issue related to an intake gasket is when you hear popping sounds coming directly from the engine.
  • Or when the car faintly backfires, it is also a great sign that you have a defective intake manifold gasket.

How to Fix an Acceleration Issue

An intake manifold gasket can be the issue when the car doesn’t accelerate as it normally does. This typically happens when the gasket is improperly installed. Here’s how to fix that:

  • First, try to remove the manifold. Use the right tools and resources to prevent any issue while doing it. Otherwise, call a professional mechanic.
  • Then check that the manifold is the right one according to your car model, year and make. Sometimes, the smallest difference can cause problems related to this gasket. You may clean the gasket before installing to make sure it wasn’t anything related to debris.
  • If everything’s okay, then you can put the gasket back to its place again. Remember only to do this if you have experience.
  • You’ll have to disconnect the battery, remove the engine cover, remove any component in the way of the gasket, remove the heat shield, and eventually tighten up the bolts in the engine correctly. Expert help is essential to prevent any further issue.

Bad Intake Manifold Gasket Replacement Cost

If you experience one or many different of these symptoms, you will probably have to replace the intake manifold gasket instead of just fixing it.

For this, there’s nothing more helpful than calling a technician or mechanic to check the car for you. And surely, you’ll have to replace this part before it’s too late.

The cost of an intake manifold gasket can go from $50 to $200 depending on the model of the car, year and size.

While the price of the manifold can vary a lot, the cost of the mechanic’s labor to uninstall and replace this part can also change following the same factors. A mechanic or technician can charge from $150 to $550 plus an additional fee.

Overall, you can spend up from $200 to $700 in just replacing the intake manifold gasket. While it is not the most affordable of jobs, it can be one of the costliest if you don’t fix it at the right time.

Burnt engines and related issues are far more expensive than a single gasket replacement, so be sure to fix this before it’s too late.

A Bad Intake Manifold Won’t Be a Bother Anymore!

Now that you know the different symptoms and ways to fix an intake manifold gasket – you shouldn’t be bothered by one of these anymore. If you follow our advice and instructions correctly, getting rid of this problem will be a piece of cake as long as you have enough experience.

Otherwise, don’t hesitate to call a professional mechanic or technician – so you don’t eventually damage your car more than it was.

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