5 Intake Manifold Gasket Leak Symptoms and Replacement Cost (2018)

​​Do you know “car breaths”?  Yes, your car breaths as like you.

It takes in air and releases continuing fuel and air through the exhaust. Let me clarify. To drive the car, your car engine needs appropriate air that means oxygen and fuel combination on its cylinder. It makes explosions on the cylinders.

To supply this oxygen is the task of the intake manifold. It distributes the same amount of air to each cylinder.

Generally, a leaky intake manifold gasket will make various symptoms that can alert you at the initial time. So, you need to know the intake manifold gasket leak symptoms clearly.

Let’s dive!

What is an Intake Manifold Gasket?

The Intake manifold gasket is one of the most valuable gaskets you found on your car’s engine. This is made of metal, rubber or plastic and sometimes with the combination of these elements. It fills the small gap between the engine and intake manifold.

If this gasket is failed then excessive air enters into the cylinders. It causes engine overheating and drivability problems.

​Symptoms of Intake Manifold Gasket Leak

​1. Coolant Leak

car is leaking coolant

Car is leaking coolant for several reasons.

One of the recognizable symptoms of bad intake manifold gasket is coolant leaks. Intake manifold gasket works as a seal for the coolant of your car engine. Generally, when this seals were damaged, then the coolant will ​flow out over the seal. Leaks allow the coolant and motor oil to mix together.  External ​leaks are very easy to find.

But if there is an internal leak which causes the coolant to flow into the combustion chamber is quite tough to spot them. But you need to ensure, is it coolant leak or not?

Possible Places to Find a Coolant Leak:

  • ​Radiator
  • ​Head Gasket
  • ​Hoses
  • Thermostat
​Finding Process:
  • ​The simple way to confirm for external coolant leak is to check for drops of brighter coolant underneath of your vehicle. Different colors of engine coolant are available on the market. It depends on the brand.
  • Check for oil in your coolant. The mixture of these two is the first symptom of gasket failure.
  • ​You can also find this through the smell of coolant in the cabin. It is a different smell.
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    Just touch on the coolant. If there is any leak you can feel some oily thing like soap or shampoo.

​After confirming the coolant leak, you need to find the location of leaking. If the coolant is leaking out through the joining point of the engine and the manifold, then it happens only for the damaged gasket. The coolant can also leak through the radiator or the rubber pipes.

​2. Engine Overheats

Engine overheats

​An overheated engine is another reason of the failing intake manifold gaskets. Continuous coolant leaking is the cause of overheated engine. In every time you do not appear the coolant to be leaking.

Sometimes coolant will not leak in the intake manifold gasket, directly go to the intake manifold. It causes to overheat the engine. Also, you can’t find any external leak.

If your engine is overheating, check these below ways to identify.

  • ​Check the Dashboard: If your car engine is overheating, at first you will notice on your dashboard. There is a temperature gauge on the dashboard for indicating the gas and water level. Also, there is a ‘danger zone’ with red color area. If your car temperature reaches on this zone or stay close to this then engine start to overheat. Although you don’t drive so far.
  • ​Noisy Engine: You can hear some strange guzzling, spluttering, sucking or sparkling sounds. Because the fluid starts to heat and splash on the engine parts.
  • Burning Smell: You will get some burning smell when your car engine gets extremely hot. In several cars you will find plastic coolant tanks. So, you will get plastic/rubber burning smell. Even if you get an odor you need to ensure your car is safe or not.
  • Engine Smokes: If you notice any smoke or steam is coming from your car, then this is confirm that something is wrong. It’s not too late. You need to stop the car instantly. And leave your engine for cooling.

​3. Engine Performance Issues:

car engine performance

​Another common symptom is engine performance issue. The leak of intake manifold gasket can create major performance issues like stop engine vacuum and generate pressure.

For this reason, too much air enters in the cylinders and there is not enough gas for performing. It will cause engine performance issues like stalling, misfires, decrease acceleration and power.

  • ​Idling Your Car: Let your car idle. Notice, how much time it needs to idle or stall totally. If there is any problem your car idles quickly. Because your car can’t regulate the idling speed properly.
  • Loss of Acceleration: You will get another sign when you accelerate your car. Step the gas pedal down and you will notice the power loss of acceleration. You can’t drive your car properly as before. Acceleration will stop suddenly after getting a small amount of power. Or, Irregular acceleration will be the sign of gasket leak.

​4. Vacuum Air Leaks

Vacuum Air Leaks

​Vacuum air leaks occur for the leaks of intake manifold gasket.  For this leak, air sucked in on the cylinder through the carburetor. Smallest leak on the intake manifold can cause a fuel-trim issue.

If you find one of the above symptoms I mentioned, check your car as soon as possible.

It needs huge time if you try to find the air leak only using your ears and eyes. It’s not as simple as finding ​an oil leak. You can also buy this cheap vacuum repair manual from any auto shop or online.

Here I mention some methods to find the air leak easily!

Possible Vacuum Air Leak Locations:
  • ​Cylinder to Top of the Cylinder;
  • ​Cylinder to Engine Crank-Case;
  • ​Cylinder to Engine Exhaust-Pipe;
  • ​Carburetor body to Top;
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    Intake Manifold to Top of Cylinder;

​Method 1:

  • ​Start your car and then let it idle on the position.
  • ​Spray the carb cleaner (what you think works well) at the joint of the intake manifold with the engine. Don’t bath your full engine area with carb cleaner at a time.
  • ​Try to hear car’s idling closely. If you hearing your car engine dies or idle fast, then there is an air leak at the join you sprayed before sometime.

​Method 2:

  • ​At first turn off your engine. Then pressurize the intake manifold with less than 5 psi of regulated air.
  • ​Now spray soapy water on the suspected area. You can use a spray bottle for soapy water. You need to spray several times to find the exact leak point.
  • ​If you see the bubbles, then you can confirm the leak points.

​Method 3:

  • ​You need a propane bottle and hose to find the leaks. Start your car engine and pick up the hood.
  • ​Just open the propane bottle so that the propane gas can pass.
  • ​Listen carefully for the change of your car engine idling. When propane vapor pass through the leak idling will change immediately.

​5. Air to Fuel Ratio

​Air to fuel mixture ratio is one of the causes of faulty intake manifold gasket. It arises a negative impact on your engine performance. Your car engine will absorb more fuel than regular.

For the same driving time, you need to spend more money on gas. So, your car fuel economy will affect significantly.

Therefore, more air sucked in through the leaky coolant from faulty intake manifold gasket. It creates an inappropriate mixture. Inside the intake manifold, its air pressure is lower than our atmosphere.

When cylinder fills with the less fuel and more air from the normal then various problems occur with your car. Generally, it causes numerous backfires, failures and rough idling.

​This video will help you to get more details about air fuel ratio​.

​So, ​What is Your Next Step?

​You just find your car's leak point. So, your next step is to fix all errors. You can easily do this at home. But if your problem occurs again, then you must need to go for gasket replacement as soon as possible.

Before fixing you need to follow some steps. They are:

  • 1
    ​Turn off your engine and let it cool down.
  • 2
    ​You can also open your car windows and doors to cool fast.
  • 3
    ​After cooling your engine open your car’s hood and then open the radiator cap (when you think it is safe to touch).
  • 4
    Now you need to add more coolant or some water in the absence of coolant.

​Fixing a Coolant Leak

  • ​You need to ensure your car engine is cool enough to touch.
  • ​You can use this radiator stop leak for fixing. You can also use another if you think best. This amount depends on your vehicle size. If you have small car then you need a small amount or if you have a big truck you will need to use more than a bottle.
  • ​You need to ensure the levels of your coolant, radiator and water.
  • hand-o-right
    Now, start the car engine and let it idle for 15min.
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    Run your car in a normal mode.

​Fixing a Vacuum Air Leak

You can easily fix a small vacuum leak by using brake parts cleaner. You can use this stop leak product.

  • ​You must ensure the leak point by using our above methods.
  • ​Now, spray a little amount of sealant to the exact leak point. Wait for a short time to dry this.
  • ​Now try to start the car.

​Actually, this not an easy task to find the vacuum leak and fix it properly. Inexperienced people will lose more time to find the exact place.

If your problem occurs again after doing this above steps, please contact ​a professional.

Intake Manifold Gasket Replacement Cost

Intake manifold gasket replacement cost is between $180 and $550.  The labor costs are supposed from $160 to $430.  The parts cost will be between $21 and $118.

This estimated price does not contain fees and taxes. You will need to consider this important issue. Moreover, this is not too much expensive replacement cost.

Final Words

​Finally, you know ​every symptom of intake manifold gasket leak. By following our techniques, you can easily find the leak point. When there is a leak, it is essential to know what the reason. So, you can avoid this incident from happening again and again.

Hope you will enjoy our guide and it will solve your problems. If you have any question please leave a comment below!

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