Fel-Pro and Mahle Gaskets Review: Any good?
Gaskets are paramount to how your car performs. Dangerous leaks, the engine overheating, loss of acceleration and bad fuel economy…all these will happen when your gaskets malfunction.
Which is why you want some solid replacements, not cheap knockoffs. Both Fel-Pro and Mahle fit the bill – but in different ways.
Fel-Pro is the absolute aftermarket gasket champion in these departments:
- Oil gaskets (a few popular ones).
- Intake manifold gaskets (here’s a best seller).
- Head gaskets: especially for Subaru Impreza, Outback etc. models plagued by flimsy factory gaskets.
Two big reasons why: incredibly thick, sturdy construction. I’ll touch on that a bit later in the article, but Fel-Pro gaskets are durable and fit/seal snugly to prevent leaks. Also, you get extra o-rings, unlike many OEM gasket sets.
Where does Mahle excel?
Racing stuff. Mahle gaskets have an infatuation with all things extreme – ready for the hot ‘n’ dirty of the track. However, this also makes them more expensive. Highlights:
- Their exhaust manifold gaskets (a good example here) are top-notch and a must.
- Their valve gaskets are on point too, more OEM-like than Fel-Pro’s.
So yeah, generally, both of them are good OEM replacements – with one exclusion, and that would be Honda OEM gaskets. Seriously, Honda motorbikes and cars are stellar in the gasket department.
Fel-Pro gasket review:
It’s not easy to find a good brand among all the aftermarket crap flooding the replacement parts market.
Fel-Pro gaskets aren’t good. They’re very good. In many cases, they’re substantially better than the OEM gaskets your vehicle came with.
Well, with some exceptions. Honda, for example, are near untouchable with their awesome stock gaskets.
Let’s do an experiment. Take a look at the oil gasket best sellers on Amazon. Which brand do you see dominating the best sellers?
This is no coincidence 🙂
But what makes Fel-Pro gaskets good?
Let me give a short example to showcase how Fel-Pro approach manufacture. This is for their intake manifold gaskets – remember I pointed out that it’s the best aftermarket solution:
Let’s analyze this little guy:
Molded rubber: You don’t want natural rubber here. Molded rubber fares better when coming in contact with oils and carriers.
Aluminized steel carriers: Most OEMs come with plastic carrier. Steel is more resistant to coolants and more durable.
Self-centering torque limiters: Upon installing you can damage the gaskets. These prevent you from misaligning the gaskets.
Sealed beads: Leaks are not fun – these beads minimize leakage paths for long-term comfort.
It’s simple – there’s no cutting corners here. We’re talking about a reliable, well-designed piece of quality manufacture.
This is why you can see an insane 4.7/10 average review score and this neat gasket being a top seller.
So, how does Fel-Pro compare to OEM gaskets?
In most cases, their products exceed OE performance. But there’s also another small, yet important improvement:
Extra parts in the Fel-Pro gasket kits.
Taking intake manifold kits in mind, Fel-Pro include fuel injector O-rings. Now, depending on your application you might need thicker or thinner O-rings.
Too big of an O-ring will damage your injector. Too thin/small ones will lead to fuel leaks.
With Fel-Pro’s kit you get both thin and thick rings so you’re covered. You also get some RTV to seal the corners. Here’s a video outlining these small details and a few more points:
As I mentioned before, I’ll expand on Fel-Pro’s valve gaskets and oil pan gaskets a bit later. There, things are more competitive between them and competitors like Mahle.
But for intake manifold gaskets, Fel-Pro are simply top of the top with their PermaDryPlus series. Just check which one fits your vehicle and you’re set.
Fel-Pro vs Mahle:
Which one is better for what
Now, let’s talk a bit about Mahle – Fel-Pro’s biggest competitor, and another cool brand to replace your OEM gaskets with.
Mahle are especially famous for the Victor-Reinz gasket line. This one’s quite interesting, by the way. Victor-Reinz are a subsidiary of Dana, the same company who manufactures parts like the Spicer ball joints for Jeep.
Who knew the aftermarket network could be so complicated, huh?
Back on topic…Mahle gaskets are more than decent. They divide their production in three departments:
Light vehicle gaskets
Heavy duty gaskets (trucks)
Performance series gaskets (race cars)
Mahle significantly outperforms Fel-Pro if it comes to race cars.
The Performance series gaskets are the best thing you can ever wish for if you’re on the track, into drag racing or similar adrenaline-pumping onroad activities.
Also, Mahle manufacture is closer to OEM than Fel-Pro in terms of general feeling/construction.
I’d recommend them for their exhaust manifold gaskets – they’re the best on the market currently.
Going back to the Performance series, here’s a very decent video from the company itself. Watch it and you can learn a bit more about what makes this series so great:
Different gaskets for different folks:
As I mentioned, there are so many different types of gaskets that we can get lost in discussing them. Both Fel-Pro and Mahle cover:
Valve cover gaskets
Oil pan gaskets
Intake manifold gaskets
Exhaust manifold gaskets
Timing cover gaskets
Obviously, always make sure that these aftermarket parts are compatible with your vehicle. As far as recommendations go, here’s what I recommend you.
Fel-Pro with the lead here. Especially for Subaru – there have been quite a few OEM failures with Subaru gaskets.
This head gasket set is the complete winner over any other aftermarket brand.
Valve cover gaskets
This is a tie. Both brands are a good option here and I don’t see any discernible differences between them.
Intake and exhaust manifolds I covered already, with Fel-Pro being better for intakes and Mahle manufacturing better exhaust manifold gaskets.
Oil pan gaskets & Timing cover gaskets
Fel-Pro. Cheaper for the same results, if not even better. Great applications for both light vehicles and trucks alike.
As I mentioned before, if you need gaskets for dedicated race performance, Mahle will be the superior choice. For most car owners, however, Fel-Pro is the go-to choice:
- Available Fel-Pro oil pan gaskets
- A very good timing cover set can be found here – check your vehicle compatibility.
How much does it take to DIY install replacement gaskets?
This depends on quite a few factors, including engine removal complications or how oily/dirty your previous gaskets are.
If you need to clean up a lot, this can easily take 5-6 hours even. In more general situations though, this DIY task shouldn’t take more than 1-3 hours.