There are occasional times when you are working on your car and you need a gasket in a hurry. Perhaps it’s Sunday night and you are trying to repair your car by Monday morning so you can drive to work, or possibly your car is a rare classic with lots of parts that are no longer available that is not well supported by the aftermarket. Whatever the reason, there is an easy solution! Gasket maker!
Gasket maker is a paste that is used to seal metal to metal gaps just like a stock paper gasket you may find on your engine for your valve cover or water pump. Because you can control where you apply it and make any shape with it, you can use it in lieu of paper gaskets. Typically it comes in a tube that allows you to squeeze it onto the surface you intend to seal. Once applied and after you have tightened your parts, it will harden and behave just like a paper gasket. Gasket maker is most often silicone based, as temperature resistance is one of the most important properties that you need to be aware of (silicone has excellent thermal properties). An engine bay is a very high heat environment so if you want your gasket maker to last, then you’ll want to find one that is safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit minimum.
When applying gasket maker, there are some things that you should be aware of. First, you’ll want to run a small bead everywhere you need the gasket to seal. When it comes to making gaskets for your car’s engine, less is more. Remember that as you draw the mating parts together when you tighten the bolts, the gasket maker will flow and spread out. Perhaps the biggest potential risk to using a gasket maker is over-application because the gasket can spread past the edges of the parts you are trying to seal which can result in globs of hardened gasket getting into your cooling or oil system. This can cause major problems if this happens. To avoid this, just be judicious with how much you apply.
One final note is that you should only use gasket maker on low pressure systems. Oil system and cooling system are fine, but you should not use gasket maker to replace a head gasket or something that must withstand high pressure as the gasket maker doesn’t have the same structural properties as something like a head gasket.
The Best Gasket Maker
When it comes to choosing the best gasket maker, our go to for most things related to car engines is the Permatex Red RTV. RTV is one of the most common gasket makers around and the one we have used for years. It is supplied in a 3 ounce tube with a nozzle for easy application.
As far as material, it is silicone based so it is going to be non-corrosive and safe for use on aluminum and steel components. It also resists shrinkage so once you apply it, it is not likely to degrade and start to leak. It has a temperature range from -65 – 650 degrees Fahrenheit which means it’s safe to use to create engine oil pan gaskets, timing chain cover gaskets, valve cover gaskets, intake plenum gaskets, water pump and thermostat housing gaskets, and many more. You should not use this for exhaust system gaskets. The permatex RTV is resistant to coolant and oil, so you don’t have to worry about the material breaking down with exposure to either.
We should also note that there are other companies that make very similar products that are also very good. JB Weld and Loctite make similar products (note: JB weld also makes extremely strong adhesives that people often refer to as “JB Weld”…DO NOT confuse these adhesive products with JB Weld’s gasket maker or you are in for a really bad time as the adhesive will make your parts permanently inseparable) that will accomplish the same thing as the Permatex.
So we hope that you have found our recommendation for the best gasket maker helpful. If you find that you need something a little bit different for your specific application, feel free to have a look at some of the other gasket maker products available by clicking here. Happy wrenching!