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Video: How to Prep & Clean Mating Surfaces for Leak-Free Gasket Installation


(Image/YouTube – Fel-Pro)

The best gasket in the world won’t seal worth a hoot if your mating surfaces aren’t properly cleaned and prepared beforehand.

But, while a lot of how-tos out there include “surface prep” as a critical step, they rarely go into much detail on the actual cleaning and surface-prep process.

That’s why we liked this video from the gasket gurus at Fel-Pro.

It goes in-depth on to how to make sure your cylinder head and engine block surfaces are clean and ready for a gasket install.

More importantly, it address how to create a good seal when working with many types of gasketing material, e.g. cork, rubber, multi-layer steel, copper, etc.

At the end of the video, you’ll even see a few tools that you should NEVER use to clean a surface for a gasket install.

Though the video features cylinder heads and headers, the key to surface prep has a lot to do with the the surface material, for instance, iron, steel, or aluminum—so you can take these principles and apply them to whatever component you’re prepping, including water pumps, oil pans, differential covers, intake manifolds, etc.

The video focuses on what is perhaps the most important facet of a good, leak-free gasket install: surface prep.

Note: Once your surface is clean, you’ll want to check it for flatness, too—watch this video from Fel-Pro to learn how to do that.

If you’ve got a project coming up which involves removing/replacing gaskets, give it a watch and ensure your job goes smoothly.

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  1. thomas mayes says:

    What do you call the cleaning products that we should not use? What is RA?

    • OnAllCylinders Staff says:

      Hey Thomas, he gestures towards a series of abrasive pads for an air tool, you’ll also hear them referred to as Scotch-Brite, scuff pads, grinding discs, sandpaper, etc.
      They work great for removing paint, rust, oxidation, etc…but using them to remove gaskets can result in an inconsistent surface finish, and can leave trace particles in and around the engine, which can get into your oil and adversely affect other areas like bearings and cylinder walls.
      Ra is shorthand for Roughness Average, a mathematical figure used to grade/rate surface finishes. We found a good explanation on this website.

  2. Interesting, thanks for posting onallcylinders

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