What are some of the reasons some engines are more prone to head gasket failure? Is it the way coolant and oil passages are designed and distributed? E.g. Subaru is notorious for head gasket leaks.

  • 2
    I believe this question is too broad in its current shape.
    – Zaid
    Mar 10, 2016 at 7:47
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    I think you should bring this over to the Sandbox where we can probably turn it into a more focused question (or more).
    – Zaid
    Mar 10, 2016 at 7:52
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    Actually it sounds like a great question, there should be no more than a few common reasons like weak points in the gasket design, proneness to overheating, aluminum heads, etc. Mar 10, 2016 at 8:21
  • Rover engines were notorious for it as well. Mar 10, 2016 at 11:24
  • Fiat Punto are very bad .Twice in 5 years is against the Geneva convention.There is only one thingb worse than doing a head gasket in a car and that bis doing one in a boat.
    – Autistic
    Mar 10, 2016 at 11:36

2 Answers 2


A few of the main things I can think of....

Higher cylinder pressures put more strain on the combustion ring.

Detonation/pre-ignition/pinging, especially on high compression or forced induction engines, can blow out the combustion ring.

Warped cylinder head, typically due to overheating.

Close proximity ports. There isn't enough gasket material between the ports, making the gasket inherently weaker.

insufficient clamping force on the head - head bolts/studs.


I can comment on the subaru part of your question. Subaru stands by their 'boxer' engine type, however one flaw to having pistons firing horizontally is that gravity plays against you in the long run. When you think about pistons firing horizontally and rings wearing down, general wear and tear to intake and exhaust valves, coolant leaks, this puts strain on the now completely vertically mounted head gasket. This is why head gaskets fail with a higher incidence in the subaru boxer engines. http://kentbrothersautomotive.com/an-explanation-of-common-subaru-head-gasket-problems/

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