This paper discusses a new approach to the finite element analysis of cylinder head gaskets. The new method is based on a feature of the ABAQUS® finite element solver which allows the user complete freedom to define unique material properties. This is an attractive option for cylinder head gasket analysis because the user has the freedom to describe materials which are non-linear and anisotropic. There is also the possibility of specifying independent loading and unloading characteristics. To ensure repeatability and avoid errors, the new method includes a user-friendly program to automate the input deck preparation procedure. In addition to offering new capabilities, the new method was found to converge more quickly than the current gasket analysis method.