Head gasket replacement instructions

Written by john stevens
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Head gasket replacement instructions
(Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

A damaged cylinder head gasket is usually caused by excessive engine temperatures. When the cylinder head gasket breaks, antifreeze and engine oil mix together. For this reason, the engine’s oil can usually be inspected for water to determine whether the cylinder head gasket is defective. White smoke exiting the tailpipe is also symptomatic of a defective head gasket. A defective head gasket should be replaced as soon as possible to avoid further damaging the engine.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Wrench
  • Socket wrench
  • Engine degreaser
  • Clean rag
  • Torque wrench
  • Engine’s specifications manual
  • Silicone gasket sealant
  • Valve cover gasket
  • Intake manifold gaskets
  • Exhaust manifold gasket

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  1. 1

    Pull the rubber tip at the end of each spark plug wire off of the spark plugs for the cylinder head to be removed.

  2. 2

    Unbolt the exhaust manifold from the cylinder head with a wrench.

  3. 3

    Remove each intake manifold bolt with a wrench, then pull the manifold off of the engine.

  4. 4

    Remove the bolts that surround the edges of the valve cover, then pull the valve cover off of the cylinder head to access the rocker arms.

  5. 5

    Loosen the nut located in the centre of each rocker arm with a socket wrench, then rotate each rocker arm off of the tip of its pushrod.

  6. 6

    Pull the pushrods out of the engine. Keep the pushrods in order if they are to be reused.

  7. 7

    Unbolt the cylinder head from the engine with a wrench, then carefully lift the heavy cylinder head off of the engine block.

  1. 1

    Pull the old cylinder head gasket off of the cylinder head.

  2. 2

    Wipe down the underside of the cylinder head and the top of the engine block, where the cylinder head attaches to the block, with engine degreaser and a clean rag to remove any debris.

  3. 3

    Position the new cylinder head gasket onto the engine block, then place the cylinder head on top of the gasket.

  4. 4

    Insert each cylinder head bolt through the head and into the engine block, then hand-tighten each bolt.

  5. 5

    Tighten each head bolt with a torque wrench in small increments to the proper torque setting. The torque setting varies depending on the engine. Locate the correct setting in the engine’s specifications manual.

  6. 6

    Insert the pushrods through the cylinder head and into the engine. If the same pushrods will be used, they must be installed in the same position they were removed from.

  7. 7

    Position the tip of each rocker arm onto its pushrod, then tighten the nut in the middle of each pushrod to specification with a wrench, as determined by the engine’s specification’s manual.

  8. 8

    Apply silicone gasket sealant onto both sides of a replacement valve cover gasket, then position the gasket onto the cylinder head. Lower the valve cover onto the gasket, then tighten the valve cover’s bolts with a wrench.

  9. 9

    Apply silicone gasket sealant onto both sides of replacement intake manifold gaskets, then position the gaskets onto the engine. Lower the intake manifold onto the gaskets, then tighten the manifold’s bolts with a wrench.

  10. 10

    Place a new exhaust manifold gasket against the cylinder head, then press the exhaust manifold against the gasket. Tighten the exhaust manifold’s securing bolts with a wrench. Do not use gasket sealer on the exhaust manifold gasket.

  11. 11

    Press the tip of each spark plug wire onto the spark plugs.

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