5 Symptoms of a Bad Intake Manifold Gasket (And Replacement Cost)

An intake manifold gasket is a simple, yet extremely important component. It’s situated between the cylinder head and the intake manifold in order to provide a seal there. If that gasket fails, you could be looking at some serious problems.

Keep reading to learn the most common symptoms of a bad intake manifold gasket, why it may fail, and how much it’s going to cost to replace it.

Bad Intake Manifold Gasket Symptoms

1) Coolant Leaking

coolant leaking

Some vehicles have water jackets in the intake manifold for cooling the intake charge. On these setups, the intake manifold gasket functions a bit like a head gasket, in that its purpose is to seal against both air and coolant leaks.

Naturally, if this seal were to be worn out or damaged, then coolant fluid will be able to seep through the seal and leak out. The leak could either be external (into the engine bay) or internal (into the intake manifold, then the combustion chamber). You may know when this is happening because the smell of coolant will be in the cabin and it is a very distinct smell.

If it gets really bad, then you might even see steam and puddles of coolant from under the vehicle. The vehicle could overheat if it loses too much coolant, and will blow white smoke if the coolant is burned in the combustion chamber.

2) Engine Stalling

engine stall

When the engine stops turning or is turning too slowly, then stalling will occur. This can happen when a faulty intake manifold gasket causes a vacuum leak, which messes up the ratio of air to fuel.

Then you could be driving and all of a sudden experience a stalled engine. Of course, there could be many other reasons for a stalling engine, but a bad intake manifold gasket is surely one of them. Go see a mechanic to have them verify if it is this gasket or not.

A mechanic will be able to perform a smoke test to rule out vacuum leaks. A smoke test injects smoke into the intake system. If there is a leak in the system, smoke will come out from an area it’s not supposed to.

Read also: 5 Symptoms of a Bad EGR Valve and Replacement Cost

3) Overheated Engine

engine overheating symptoms

An overheated engine is a continuation of the coolant leaking problem. If your bad intake manifold gasket has caused an internal coolant leak, then the coolant is going to get into the intake manifold. Once this happens, your engine will eventually overheat.

You may not even see any visible leaks coming from your vehicle on the outside. But you will know if your engine is overheating because it will show on your dashboard.

It is best to get this issue addressed as soon as possible. An overheating engine is likely to cause other more severe damage if left unchecked.

If your engine is overheating, you will want to rule out other parts of the cooling system to make sure you are replacing the right part. A leak down test will tell you if your head gasket has failed or the head has cracked instead.

You could also test the thermostat to ensure it is working properly. A thermostat that is stuck closed will also cause overheating issues.

4) Bad Fuel Economy

Since a faulty intake manifold gasket causes a disruption in the air to fuel ratio, then your engine is going to consume more fuel than normal.

This means you will be spending more money on gas for doing the same amount of driving that you normally do. As a result, your fuel economy will decrease greatly.

5) Loss of Acceleration

car won't accelerate

Aside from an engine stalling, you may notice a simple loss of acceleration after you step on the gas pedal. You may get a little bit of power at first, but then the acceleration will stop and start again as you keep your foot on the pedal.

You obviously shouldn’t continue to drive your vehicle when it is in this condition since it’s dangerous to do so. If you are experiencing two or more of the other symptoms, then you definitely need to have your intake manifold gasket replaced promptly.

Intake Manifold Gasket Replacement Cost

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intake manifold gasket replacement cost

The replacement cost of an intake manifold gasket is anywhere from $250 to $600. The cost of the labor will be anywhere from $200 to $500. The gasket itself is very inexpensive and will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 to $120.

You may have multiple intake manifold gaskets if you have a V6, V8, boxer (Subaru and Porsche), or other engine layout with multiple cylinder banks. All intake manifold gaskets should generally be replaced at the same time.

On top of these costs, you will need to worry about the additional fees and taxes too. Overall, though, this is not an expensive replacement job and it should be affordable for most drivers to get done.

Can You Drive With a Bad Intake Manifold Gasket?

While it is indeed often possible to drive with a bad intake manifold gasket, you should not drive too far. Issues like this don’t go away on their own, and they also don’t tend to get better with time.

Leaking additional unmetered air into the combustion chamber has the potential to make the car run lean, which means the engine is likely to run hotter. Knock or predetonation is also more likely. Too much knock under load can actually destroy a perfectly good engine. 

An overheating engine is likely to cause additional damage to the engine, including a warped or cracked head or a cracked block. This damage would cost far more to repair than a simple intake manifold gasket replacement normally would.

Common Causes of Failure

Though intake manifold gaskets are designed to withstand severe conditions within your engine, they won’t last forever. Here are some of the most common causes of their failure:

  1. Age and Wear – As miles on your vehicle accumulate, the constant heat cycling can eventually cause the intake manifold gasket to become brittle and lose its sealing properties. Those with older or high mileage vehicles are especially at risk.
  2. Overheating – If your engine has a history of overheating, additional stress has been put on the gasket. The excessive heat can cause the gasket material to prematurely break down prematurely, leading to leaks or even small pieces breaking off.
  3. Coolant Contamination – Over time, coolant within your engine gets contaminated with dirt, rust, or other particles that can clog narrow coolant passages. This in turn can lead to localized hot spots which can damage the intake manifold gasket itself.
  4. Poor Install – Improper installation during a repair may cause the gasket to not seat properly, leading to leaks and other issues fairly quickly.
  5. Material Defects – In rare cases, the intake manifold gasket may have a manufacturing defect or be made out of cheap, low-quality materials that cause it to fail prematurely. This is far more likely to occur in aftermarket brand gaskets, making it a good reason to use a high-quality, OEM-spec gasket. Though that inexpensive gasket you see on eBay or Amazon may seem like a great deal, it can cost you much more in the future.

Diagnosing a Faulty Intake Manifold Gasket

While the symptoms we’ve already gone over can point to a faulty gasket, there exist other issues that can cause similar problems. Here are some of the diagnostic methods a professional mechanic or experienced DIYer may use to determine if an intake manifold gasket is to blame:

1) Visual Inspection

The first step in almost any type of diagnostic work is to do a visual inspection of the engine bay. A mechanic will look for signs of coolant leaks, such as pooling coolant or white residue around the intake manifold. They may also check for any visible damage to the gasket itself although it may be difficult to get a clear view in many instances.

2) Pressure Test

A pressure test on the cooling system is one of the best ways to confirm an intake manifold gasket leak. This involves pumping pressurized air into the system and checking for any leaks. If the gasket is leaking, the mechanic will normally be able to locate the source of the leak at this time.

3) Smoke Test

Another way to confirm an intake manifold gasket leak is by performing a smoke test. This involves introducing smoke into the intake system and watching for any of it escaping from the gasket area as the smoke can get through the tiniest of cracks. This method is particularly useful for identifying vacuum leaks caused by a failing gasket.

4) Leak Down Test

If the intake manifold gasket is causing an internal coolant leak, a leak down test can be performed on the cylinders. This involves introducing compressed air into each cylinder and measuring the amount of air that escapes. If coolant is leaking past the intake manifold gasket and into the cylinders, it will show up during this test.


56 thoughts on “5 Symptoms of a Bad Intake Manifold Gasket (And Replacement Cost)”

    • You have a few options. You could get a factory service manual from Chrysler, you could grab a repair manual like Chilton or Haynes, or you could check forums or YouTube online to see if you can find detailed repair instructions. Try searching something like “2012 Chrysler 300 replace water tube o ring”. Make sure the name of that component is correct, otherwise you might get some random results.

  1. The shop we took our car to said that it would take $875 to replace the intake manifold gasket on our car. It is a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am. Does this sound reasonable?

  2. Is $600 (parts and labor) reasonable for intake manifold replacement for 2009 Saturn Vue? Said it will take about 5 hours…

  3. Hi. I have a 2k Blazer, 4.3L 4×4 with about 170k on odometer. Engine was replaced with rebuilt at 60k due to young drivers. I swapped engine myself using as much as needed from old engine (got engine from reputable rebuilt engine site). I had a vacuum leak develop a few k miles back. I removed intake manifold and found 3 different leak sources (1 o-ring torn on vacuum port, 1 bad hose, and the manifold gasket on 1, 3, 5 obviously looked worse than other side). Got it back together, new plugs, wires, rotor, cap and checked all hoses, etc., and it ran great. But only for a few days. Started idling rough. Then P0301 kept coming up. Was going to swap plug from cylinder 1 to 5, and wire to 2 to see if either made a difference. I broke the wire getting it off (my bad). Noticed the plug only looks to have fired on one side as one side was still white. New plug and an old wire that ohmed good later, it runs better, but rough idle. One thing I noticed when intake was out was the surface was not smooth around the water jackets. This intake would have about 230k on it. I’m guessing maybe intake air leak. I only get P0301 errors. Maybe I pinched the gasket at cylinder 1 and caused a problem. I know everything else is correct (timing, clean as can be throttle body, ran fuel injector cleaner through it 3 or 4 tank fulls each, running 93 octane now). Highway speed no issue, no stall, but take off is poor up to about 1500 rpm, then smooth. Idles poor. I am at a loss, but thinking I should pull intake again and replace gaskets. Cost is minimal, but takes a few hours, and it’s cold out and I don’t have a garage. Also, can the old intake be milled about 0.015″ or so to get it smoother? Or is it better to replace it with a new one, or a used one that looks better? I would greatly appreciate your advice. No oil in antifreeze, and vice versa. So it would just be an air leak (at this point). But if it is an air leak, it will get worse. And most likely at the most inopportune time. It is my only vehicle, so I must drive it. But I could replace gasket in a few hours, then wait the 24 hours for Permatex to dry on a weekend. Thanks for any advice rendered.

    • Hey Bob, I don’t know about the intake. Might be a good question for an automotive machine shop.

      It sounds like you have concerns about the intake manifold gasket on bank 1. I know I’ve messed up an installation or two on my first go before, so I would be inclined to take the manifold off again and redo that side, or at least verify that everything still looks good.

      If it’s a big pain to get that far into the motor without a garage, perhaps you could do a compression or a leak down test to give you more information that could point to why it’s running rough. I would also consider a smoke test since you confirmed a few vacuum leaks, just to make sure you don’t have any more that maybe didn’t present themselves the first go around.

      Good luck and let us know how it goes!

  4. Do it yourself i did. Gasket set cost me $23 and it took me less than a day to do it. I took pics before i started and short video and i labled everything i had to unplug with numbers so all i had to do was match the numbers back when i was done. It was way easier than i thought. So easy i decided to do the manifold and head gaskets on my f150 also.

  5. I just received an estimate for almost $1500 to replaced intake Manifold Gasket on my 1997 Buick Century Custom. Does that sound right. I live in the Seattle-Tacoma Washington area. Looking at other posts on here, it doesn’t sounds like It.

    Thank you

  6. 1995 Ford Explore ‘my kit comes 6-19-20 ‘costing me 45 dollars and I’ll be saving tons ‘installing myself in an hour Flat yup ‘then I’ll prolly install spark plug right after they have 300 thousands miles on them ‘Knowledge is Power of Keeping that hard earned money in your Wallet

  7. 2004 Jaguar XJ8 codes P0171 and P1111 – I’ve noticed hard shifting on some takeoffs and when attempting to use the passing gear…Please share any insights..Thanks!!

    • P0171 “system too lean” often indicates a vacuum leak somewhere. You can determine if there’s a vacuum leak using a smoke test. P1111 is used for Jaguar diagnostics and is no cause for concern.

      • To lean bank 1 which is o2 sensor off manafold before curve to shoot out under whole car screws out n unplugs from electric pack

    • Okay so I hope this information is not too late for you keto 171 is you have different banks Bank One bank to bank 3 and bank for those are for your O2 which are oxygen oxygen sensors meaning that differentiates the oxygen and the gas flow through your exhaust meaning it’s you too lean bank 1 so you need to change Bank 1 O2 sensor which comes off the manifold down to the bottom of the pipe before it bends to go past your passenger seat to the exhaust t1111 is not a fault code it’s a designated code Jaguar uses meaning system ready drive cycles completed if it was another code it would mean drive cycle is not recorded complete after last fault

    • I had this problem with my 1989 Mustang GT 5.0, it was the EGR valve. Eventually the car will not move, so replace it ASAP. My car got to that point, put it in drive and it would not move at all when I stepped on the gas. Its simple to replace, I did it myself, used a pipe wrench, loosen it, change it, tighten it up and you should be all set.

  8. I have a new Range Rover Velar with a faulty intake manifold gasket. I’m concerned what other damage this could have caused. Should I cut my losses and hand it back?

    • Hi Pamela,

      I was informed I have that same issue with my car (same model). Intake manifold and gasket replacement for $1475. Did you end up going with the first estimate of $1600. Hope you’re feeling a difference with the car!

  9. I have a Altima 06 when I got it I changed my radiator bc it was overheating then I performed a relearn on the throttle body change spark plugs and 02 sensors , there’s no coolant in my oil or anything but there’s this constant problem where I drive my car for like 4/5 days and then next morning it does not wanna turn over it’s not the starter or alternater so I took it to the shop and there telling me to do work on my head gasket and I just don’t see why it would have anything to do with the head gasket

  10. I have a 2000 chevy s10 that stops just short of overheating when I drive (short distances, less than 10 min) and the heat won’t work. I brought it to a shop and they ran a diagnostic and said it would be over $800 to fix the manifold gasket. Does the conclusion and price sound right?

  11. I have 94 chevy Silverado with a 305 engine. I had my intake gasket replace. the mechanic drilled on my intake to adjust the idle. could this have messed up something? now when I drive it there is a knocking noise when I accelerate. I am afraid to drive it so I don’t do further damage. any advice?

  12. Is $900-1000 reasonable for parts/labor for spark plugs, valve cover gaskets and intake manifold gasket for 2007 Ford Freestyle?

  13. Help! I have a 2004 Nissan Altima and it’s just been one problem after another since acquiring it. I just had my boyfriend replace my intake manifold gasket because it sounded like a go cart when I was driving it. After replacement my car keeps shifting poorly and losing power. I can’t drive over 50mph because the RPMs are so high and it behind to lose power on its own. I put a code reader on it and I’m getting P0732, P0300, P0301, and another P0732. I have replaced so many parts in this car. Please tell me what you think it could be!

    • Shows you have a misfire on cylinder 1 and incorrect ratio in gear 2. Check transmission fluid level and condition and possibly new plugs. If the throttle body is messed with, it may require reprogramming.

    • Usually a bad Mass Air Flow sensor. Also, don’t forget to reset your computer. Pull the fuses to engine control module. Replace. Start, should rev to 1300 rpms.

    • P4020 signifies a problem with your catalytic converter. Technically, a leaking intake manifold gasket could cause a cat converter failing if coolant leaked into the exhaust but it’s pretty unlikely.

    • Our local Meineke shop is a total ripoff. Took me to the cleaners because I am an older woman without a man standing behind me.

      • Meineke is a total scam can’t believe they haven’t been sued or put in jail. I remember year ago I was with my aunt and she needed front brakes in a tempo . They gave her a price of $1400. If she didn’t know any better they would’ve robbed her but she went to a local shop and ended up being $83. How can the justify a $1,317 markup? They are all crooks at meineke. Not sure how they get away with it but I hear about it all the time! Need a class action lawsuit if enough people got together that have been ripped of by being over charged or saying they needed to fix stuff that wasn’t needed!

    • Meineke! They will rip you off and the job will not be done correctly. Not even the breaks and muffler repair they claimed to master is done right. Additionally, they pretend to be giving you a discount on over charge bill which is not true. I wouldn’t go there for anything!

      • 2004 Mercury Monterey van Premier package – December 2021 – Ford Service department wants to replace the lower intake manifold as well as the gasket. Quoted me over $1,900, near $2,000, for the complete job; $1,200 for a replacement lower intake manifold itself! Mechanic said he needs this part because “there’s rods in there”. He never said if my current lower manifold is cracked or not. Never used a smoke machine, but showed me how it leveled out the computer levels with running when sprayed brake cleaner onto the air intake. Google quotes me between $500-$800 for same part. Does the lower intake manifold itself even need replacing or just the gasket??? As this is seeming like a rip off to me. It is made of aluminum, so may crack with removal? I don’t know for sure. But my gut isn’t setting well with their quote.

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