head gasket inquiry

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  #1  
Old 06-14-13, 10:35 AM
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head gasket inquiry

I'm getting ready to order a head gasket set. I'll be replacing the head gasket on my '92 Accord. I'm trying to ask/follow advice from experienced members here as I encounter uncertainties as I'm proceeding with the job. I have a few questions at this point:

1. It's probably been discussed/debated plenty of times but do I want to get the “layered steel” or the “graphite” (or “fiber') type head gasket for the replacement? I've seen it remarked that the finish on the cylinder head and block must be flatter and smoother (when using a steel gasket) than what has been traditionally required for graphite gaskets to make gaskets seal properly. I've noticed that both types (head gasket material) are available in head gasket sets available for this vehicle. Which would be recommended, and why? I suppose it may depend on different circumstances?

2. In regard to what brand of gasket set to consider, I assume most here will recommend getting “OEM” replacement only, or at least a known brand name such as Fel-Pro. There seems to be quite a price range depending upon brands of such names of Fel-Pro or Beck-Arnley, etc. Also there are considerably less expensive sets from unknown off-brands available. I suppose the rule of thumb is the more you pay the better quality you're going to get, and that trying to save money buying some “unknown” brand is in the long run not worth it.

3. How difficult is it to tell for sure whether the head requires resurfacing? If I can get my hands on a precision straightedge and proper feeler gauge, or maybe take it to a shop that has such, will I be really be able to obtain an accurate assessment of whether resurfacing is necessary, or should it (resurfacing) just be done anyway because realistically it's generally too difficult to be sure about flatness being within tolerance even if checking with the straightedge and gauge.

Incidentally, I've haven't removed the head yet, so haven't seen the old head gasket yet. That's because I understand a head gasket set usually comes with new "tube seals" and I was wanting to keep the head still anchored on while I remove the rocker arm assembly and do the work as described on the following post (and shown in the video on the post): ENG: F22 Spark Plug Tube Seal Replacement - CB7Tuner Forums

Thanks for any comments.
 
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  #2  
Old 06-14-13, 02:45 PM
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The block will just need cleaned. The head is the one that gets warped.

Use the best gasket set. Don't save a dollar and use unknowns. Fel Pro works fine.

Take the head to a shop and let them check and resurface it. Clean it up before you take it in. Some shops charge up to $35.00 for cleaning them. You can do it with a pressure washer and a little solvent.

Starting off with everything clean/flat, using good parts, and using the proper torque sequence on the head bolts will get you good results.
 
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Old 06-14-13, 02:54 PM
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Thanks marbobj. Can you tell me whether I should get the MLS (multiple layered steel) head gasket or the "graphite" type? And if I have the head shop check it for flatness and it's still within specified tolerance should I nonetheless still have it resurfaced anyway?
 

Last edited by sgull; 06-14-13 at 03:43 PM.
  #4  
Old 06-14-13, 07:42 PM
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The graphite type is a good one when you have a block of cast iron and an aluminum head. The block and head expands slightly differently and the graphite allows for a little give at the interfaces. But I would be surprised if you had problems from type as long as the quality was there. I've never had problems with the Fel Pro set.

As far as the head, I would take it into a shop and tell them to check and true it. You have to have it cleaned to check it for true anyway. Most of the time they'll dress it up before they check it. Then if they need to, it will have to be milled. They should tell you if the milling would take it out of tolerances and the possibility of the head being unserviceable.
 
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Old 06-14-13, 08:30 PM
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Okay marbobj thanks again for the reply.
At the Fel Pro website I came across the statement "If the vehicle engine was equipped with an MLS gasket from the factory, the Fel-Pro replacement will be a PermaTorque MLS gasket."
Actually I don't know whether the factory gasket was MLS type. If it was, then according to that statement I probably should not consider a graphite type, even though the head is aluminum and the block is cast iron (unless of course I'm mistaken about block being cast iron for this vehicle.) How might I find out for sure whether the factory gasket was MLS type?
Also, can you describe what you mean by most of the time a shop will "dress it up" before they check it for true?
 
  #6  
Old 06-15-13, 03:30 AM
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sgull,

An increasing number of OEMs have turned to "Multi-Layer Steel" (MLS) head gaskets to provide improved durability. MLS gaskets, which are found on Ford, Chrysler and many Japanese engines, typically have three to seven layers of steel. The outer layers are usually stainless spring steel and embossed. The inner layers provide added support and thickness. The embossed multi-layer construction reduces the load on the head bolts, which in turn reduces bore distortion for less blow by and lower emissions. The outer layers of steel are coated with a thin layer (.001" to .0015") of nitrile rubber or Viton to improve cold sealing. MLS head gaskets are very durable because their solid steel construction retains torque very well and doesn’t take a compression set like composition gaskets. But the rigid nature of MLS gaskets also means they have very little conformability. That’s why MLS gaskets require an extremely smooth, flat surface finish on both mating surfaces (typically 20 to 30 RA or less). Reproducing the kind of high quality surface finish needed to seal MLS gaskets requires up-to-date milling equipment and precision resurfacing techniques. Even then, it may be difficult to get a good cold seal on some of these engines. One alternative here is to install a conventional gasket (graphite or composition) that doesn’t require such a smooth finish - if such an alternative gasket is available for the application. Several gasket manufacturers have conventional replacement gaskets for the Ford 4.6L as well as other applications.Aftermarket gasket manufacturers are also using MLS technology to introduce more durable replacement gaskets for certain "problem" engines that came originally equipped with conventional head gaskets. These include the 2.0L Dodge Neon engine and the Toyota 5VZFE 3.4L V6 truck engine. The aftermarket MLS replacement gaskets for both of these applications have a thicker surface coating and can handle a more traditional surface finish of 60 to 70 RA.

Thank You
Amy
 
  #7  
Old 06-15-13, 06:15 AM
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The term of dressing up a head just refers to cleaning up the head of old gasket residue. Checking it for true is using a perfectly straight flat edge to check for warping. If that meets specs or can be brought into specs, the surface would be finished to a spec that reflects how smooth it is. As Amy was pointing out that surface finish would have to match the gaskets being used.

The parts people selling the gaskets should be able to tell you the OEM type. You may need the VIN #. If you have a problem call a Honda Parts Department and ask them.

My take would be to pull the head and let the shop put it in shape to go back on and take care to not mess up the block finish. Don't use sharp metal to clean it to avoid gouging it.
 
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