Why You Should Use MLS Head Gaskets For Your Next Engine Build

Head gaskets are the guardians of the combustion chamber – they make sure the fire stays inside where it belongs. The amount of pressure and heat that a head gasket is exposed to is enormous in a high performance engine application. If you don’t select the right head gaskets for your application, chances are you’re replacing head gaskets regularly.

There is a fair amount of science that goes into the design of head gaskets for high performance engines. Engine Pro’s Dave Sutton explains the role a head gasket plays in the operation of an engine.

“The purpose of the cylinder head gasket is twofold. First, it must keep the expanding gases trapped in the cylinder by pressing down on the piston head and preventing them from escaping between the head and the block. Uncontrolled combustion – essentially an explosion inside your engine – will test the limits of head gasket construction. We’ve come a long way from the 6:1 or 7:1 compression ratio engines and flat copper head gaskets of the past. The second, more difficult task is to keep the fluids sealed. Achieving the right balance between sealed combustion and fluidity is science.

The two most popular types of head gaskets for a high performance engine are the solid steel core style and the multi-layer steel (MLS) gasket. These seals are designed to handle the increased cylinder pressures of a high horsepower engine.

“A solid steel core head gasket with a composite and/or graphite coating will work well in many performance applications, especially in engines with five or more head bolts per cylinder. When a single steel core won’t do on your high compression or high horsepower builds, you’ll want to look at an MLS joint. With three, five or even seven layers, these stainless steel gaskets are designed to withstand enormous cylinder pressures and are also the best choice for forced induction motors,” says Sutton.

The MLS gasket provides the best sealing properties for most engines. Sutton adds a few more details on why the MLS seal is the best choice for the majority of high performance engine applications available.

“While today’s composite seals are exceptional, the steel construction is what makes MLS seals so much better. Steel is almost impervious to heat, and heat is a major factor in joint failure. Additionally, with 3-7 layers of waffle steel, the spring rate – the force that reacts to the lift of the bolt to maintain combustion and fluid sealing – is much greater on the MLS. These are the main design factors that make the MLS joint superior to a traditional composition design.

If you have questions about what type of head gasket to use with your engine, the team at Engine Pro can help. Visit the Engine Pro website by clicking here to learn more about head gaskets.

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