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Do-It-Yourself Projects
Head Gasket Basics
By Mike Bumbeck /autoMedia.com
Printable version
Degree of DifficultyDifficult
Difficult
Estimated Time300 minutes
300 minutes
Step 1 - Getting down to the head gasket can be an involved process. Always mark and index everything before removal. In this case, it was easier to remove the exhaust manifold, head, and intake as a unit. A service manual is the first and most important tool in the toolbox.
Mark and Index Everything Before Removing the Head Gasket
Step 2 - Check the head and block for flatness. A machined straight edge across the surface and feeler gauge will reveal all. The service manual will provide specifications. Blocks or heads out of specification must be sent out to the machine shop and be repaired. The machine shop will also be able to check for cracks.
Check the Head and Block for Flatness
Step 3 - Prepare the surface. Never use anything that will remove metal. Be careful not to scratch the deck of the block or mounting surface of the head. While it may seem like a good idea to use a scrubber pad connected to a power tool, the surface irregularities created can cause sealing problems down the road.
Prepare the Surface; Never Use Anything that Will Remove Metal or Scratch the Deck or Mounting Surface
Step 4 - Chase the head bolt or stud holes with a tap or thread chaser to remove any crud and prepare the threads. Use compressed air to blow out any stragglers. Correct head bolt torque is of utmost importance. Any interference can throw off the torque readings.
Chase the Head Bolt or Stud Holes with a Tap or Thread Chaser to Remove Crud
Step 5 - Pre-fit the head gasket in the correct orientation. Never use sealant unless specifically required by the manufacturer. Head gaskets that require sealant will usually come so equipped. The service manual will outline sealant locations and requirements.
Pre-fit the Head Gasket in the Correct Orientation
Step 6 - Correct bolt tightening sequence and torque is key to proper head gasket sealing. Use new bolts if required. Coat head bolt threads with some engine oil before installing. Always follow tightening sequence and torque instructions to the last detail.
Correct Bolt Tightening Sequence and Torque is Key to Proper Head Gasket Sealing
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