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Gaskets and Seals
Gaskets and seals are needed in your engine to make the machined joints snug, and to prevent fluids and gasses (oil, gasoline, coolant, fuel vapor, exhaust, etc.) from leaking.
The cylinder head has to keep the water in the cooling system at the same time as it contains the combustion pressure. Gaskets made of steel, copper and asbestos are used between the cylinder head and engine block. Because the engine expands and contracts with heating and cooling, it is easy for joints to leak, so the gaskets have to be soft and "springy" enough to adapt to expansion and contraction. They also have to make up for any irregularities in the connecting parts.
Oil seals are rubber and metal composite items. They are generally mounted at the end of shafts. They are used to keep fluids, such as oil, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid inside the object they are sealing. These seals flex to hold a tight fit around the shaft that comes out of the housing, and don't allow any fluid to pass. Oil seals are common points of leakage and can usually be replaced fairly inexpensively. However, the placement of some seals make them very difficult to access, which makes for a hefty labor charge!