How to Install a Head Gasket How to Install a Head Gasket

What You'll Need
Vehicle repair manual
Drop cloth
Socket wrench
Torque wrench
Pry bar
Gasket scraper
Head gasket
Room temperature vulcanant

Installing a head gasket can be a costly job at the local garage, so if you are mechanically inclined, you may want to consider taking it on yourself. Make sure you set aside a few hours to work on your engine, as there are many steps involved in installing a new head gasket. Since the make and size of each engine is different, you will need to be familiar with the specific steps and tools needed for your vehicle. Make sure you have all of your tools ready and read each step through before beginning. 

Step 1 – Prepare Work Area

Read through your vehicle repair manual to make sure you have all of the appropriate wrench sizes you will need. Keep your manual open on the head gasket page as an easy-to-consult reference. Arrange your tools beside the manual to save time hunting for the correct wrench. Put a clean drop cloth on the floor near your work area for the engine components you will be remove ting get at your engine head. Make sure tools are far enough out of the way that you will not trip over them accidentally. 

Step 2 – Remove Engine Components

Following your vehicle manual, remove all necessary engine components to access your engine head. Carefully place each component on your drop cloth, remembering to keep them in order for easy reassembly. Drain all necessary fluids and store them for proper disposal. 

Step 3 – Remove Engine Head

Remove the cylinder head bolts and lift off the engine head. If the engine head sticks, use a pry bar in the exhaust port to gently break the seal. Once the seal is broken, remove the engine head and the old head gasket.

Step 4 – Clean and Inspect Engine Head

Use the gasket scraper to clean the surface where the head gasket sits on both the top and bottom of the engine head. Cleaning these surfaces will ensure a tight seal, thus avoiding any future leaks or problems. Take the time to inspect the engine head for any damage, ensuring that the head itself doesn’t need to be replaced. 

Step 5 – Install New Gasket

Place the new head gasket onto the engine head where you found the old one, firmly pushing in the corners. Make sure the head gasket fits properly around all of the engines internal components, paying particular attention to the cam journals. If the head gasket edges to not reach all the way to the sides of the engine head to form a tight seal, use room temperature vulcanant as an additional precaution. 

Step 6 – Reassemble Engine

Referring to your vehicle repair manual and working backwards, reassemble your engine starting with the engine head. Make sure the engine head sits snugly on the new head gasket to create a tight seal. Take the time to ensure each component is properly installed before fitting the next part. Inspect each part as you install it to make sure you don’t need to make any further repairs.

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