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Keep gaskets from bonding aluminum block?

Is there a way to keep paper gaskets from bonding to aluminum parts? I had to spend hours for scrubbing and a whole can of gasket remover to get a water pump gasket off last weekend. I’d like to avoid that much work next time if possible.


I like to use my fingers and apply a very thin layer of silicone sealer to both sides of paper gaskets. I basically wipe the stuff on and get it as thin as possible. Let it get a bit tacky and place the gasket.
When it comes time to remove them they peel right off.

Some water pumps use an aluminum gasket that comes with a thin strip of sealer on each side. Those are nice, but I’m not sure if one’s available for your cars or not and I don’t know if they meet your specifications. The last pump I did was on a GM 3800 engine and the Gates pump came with a self-sealing aluminum gasket. Nice.

Those can be a real PITA to remove.

I’ve never had a sharp single edged razor blade held at the optimum angle let me down. The angle is critical so you don’t gouge the soft aluminum surface. I have a variety of tools that hold them at a good angle and on one, the handle is about 12" long for those harder to reach locations:

On aluminum, I use a plastic paint scraper and keep sharpening the edge. It won’t gouge the aluminum but it does get dull quickly.

You might try some different solvents too, see if that helps. I usually just use a little gasoline and a scraping tool to aid in the removal of a sticking gasket. If the gasoline doesn’t work I’ll try some other solvents I have on hand, like acetone, transmission fluid, wd40, brake cleaner, berryman chem-tool, etc. On aluminum parts I prefer to use a plastic or wood scraping tool. An old expired credit card sometimes is just right for that job.

@Bad_goat has already removed the “bonded” gasket.

What the goat wants to know is how to prevent the gasket from becoming so difficult to remove in the future, not how to remove a gasket.

Bad goat, you are on the right track. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and can be done.

Years (decades) ago I owned and worked on many air-cooled Japanese motorcycles that utilized lots of paper gaskets and that’s when I started using the technique discussed in my last post. Those who remember that era probably also remember discarding all those Phillips-head screws and replacing them with socket-head screws.

oops, my mistake. One poster here recommended a special purpose (for automobiles) spray adhesive for prepping gaskets, I wonder if that would work also?

I have never used any sealer on paper gaskets. Never had a leak because of it except on some 70s GM thermostat outlet housings that were not flat. Filed them flat and no more leak.

If you have a proven method to remove them with little hassle you don’t need any preventative measures. So showing someone a method that works accomplishes the same goal.

I’d tried all the previous mentioned solvents. None really worked well. A metal razor worked ok, but it was hard to use at safe angle with the engine in the vehicle. I ended up using sharpened plastic, and lots of types of solvents/cleaners. I’ll try the rtv, it can’t hurt.

I have not had to deal with paper gaskets since the real old days but back when we hillbillys would make our own out of cereal boxes we would soak them in oil first. Not recommending it, just sayin.

Actually, it can hurt if you don’t get an extremely thin and even layer. The sealant will create a leak if it is uneven and there is too much. You would likely have done it correctly, but it is worth mentioning because it is so important.

I had to do that to fix my 2 cycle weed whacker engine last summer. I can still get the engine-internals gaskets, but the replacement gasket to the whacker’s bizarre fuel-intake gizmo is no longer available, so I made my own from a box of saltine crackers. Kept me weed whacking last summer anyway. It’s always good to know of alternative work-a-rounds, thanks Barky.

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Thank you @GeorgeSanJose Next up a rotor made up of a wine cork and paper clip.