I might need some advice on changing head gaskets

lyonsd

Active Member
Joined
May 24, 2001
I haven't taken the heads off before, so I don't really know what I'm in for. I also have no manual or instructions.

I'll probably start next week. Anyway, give me a general idea on what needs to come off. Any accessories on the front? How about the turbo?

What should I remove first? I'm thinking the intake manifold.

Thanks.
 
You're local, right? I wouldn't mind helping on one of my days off work if you'd like. I just went through this with mine for the first time...as in the car just started running again on Tuesday. The most I'd done on my own in the past was a turbo swap, so it was a pretty big leap. Pretty much I took off the following...

Turbo, intercooler, crossover pipe, radiator fan, intake pipe, coil pack, intake manifold, unhooked a/c...believe that's about it.

If you're organized and go at it with a plan and all the parts you need it can very easily be a weekend job....I took a few months due to lack of funds, motivation, and planning :biggrin:
 
You're local, right? I wouldn't mind helping on one of my days off work if you'd like. I just went through this with mine for the first time...as in the car just started running again on Tuesday. The most I'd done on my own in the past was a turbo swap, so it was a pretty big leap. Pretty much I took off the following...

Turbo, intercooler, crossover pipe, radiator fan, intake pipe, coil pack, intake manifold, unhooked a/c...believe that's about it.

If you're organized and go at it with a plan and all the parts you need it can very easily be a weekend job....I took a few months due to lack of funds, motivation, and planning :biggrin:

I appreciate the offer for help. I'm planning on starting next week, that is, Monday or Tuesday.

I see you took off the crossover pipe, but didn't mention the headers. Did you leave the headers on?

I'd like to get mine coated, so they're coming off whether they need to or not.

And speaking of header coatings, is it worth it? After all, the stock header are prone to crack, right? I'd hate to spend a decent amount of money coating them and they end up cracking.

So, what are some good alternative headers that are less prone to crack?
 
I definitely know the headgasket change routine. Hell I've gone through 8 sets in the past 4 years. It got to a point where I could change headgaskets in less than two days. I could have everything dis-assembled to the bare block in less than 4 hours. LOL! Then I split my block so what do I know...

You have to take the headers off if you want to get your heads out of the car. And I'd put a set of China headers on before I'd put the stockers back on. Those things are getting so old and brittle nowadays.

Make sure you label all your bolts so you remember where they go when you put everything back together! Also when putting the heads back on, make absolute CERTAIN your surfaces (block and heads) are 100% trued and clean. If you don't want to do this again for a long time, this is a must. Otherwise you'll be back at it after a little while.

Make sure you torque to specs on iron heads (85 ft lbs on all bolts/studs). Do them in sequence and in increments of 10 ft lbs starting at hand tight, then 55 ft lbs. I always ran the Felpro 9441PT gaskets on iron and aluminum heads. I don't think they are as friendly with aluminum heads.

That's about all I can think of right now. Just take your time the first time around. The main thing is keeping everything CLEAN.
 
Also when putting the heads back on, make absolute CERTAIN your surfaces (block and heads) are 100% trued and clean.

Wouldn't that require a machine shop? Can they machine the surface with the block in the car?
 
Well my story was, after 120k hard miles on the stock block, the deck surface was partially warped. I always had the heads surfaced, but the block remained in the car. I'm sure that never helped me with blowing headgasket after headgasket (along with other things that happened like a vacuum line blowing off the regulator at the 1000 ft mark, or running alky and the pump failed). If you want to do it right, I would take the block out and have it re-surfaced if it's never been done and is all original with alot of miles on it. Otherwise if you want to leave the block in the car, at least get the heads done, and just be careful with your tune and don't go crazy on it. The Felpro 9441PT gaskets are designed to "give" partially to uneven surfaces. It's the cometics and the likes of that you have to worry about sealing because those are metal gaskets and they don't give to tolerances on block and head surfaces.

Honestly if this was the first time you blew a headgasket and you didn't blow it that bad, the block should be ok...but after you blow one about 6 times like I did, the stock block surface tends to get uneven:eek: oh then you eventually crack it past 600 horsepower on the stock rotating assembly:D
 
It sounds like a lot, but I found pulling the engine is not a big deal and then you can replace the head gaskets with the motor on an engine stand and detail the motor and engine compartment at the same time. You can pull the motor and reinstall it with everything on it... turbo, headers, etc... Paul
 
It sounds like a lot, but I found pulling the engine is not a big deal and then you can replace the head gaskets with the motor on an engine stand and detail the motor and engine compartment at the same time. You can pull the motor and reinstall it with everything on it... turbo, headers, etc... Paul

This is true. Gives you a chance to detail stuff. Plus assembling stuff on a stand is so much easier. If you want to do it right and be done with it, pull the motor! It's not a big deal if you have access to the equipment. Just don't pull the motor AND trans together by yourself like I tried doing...that's HARD!:eek:
 
Just a note, when you torque the studs ,use moly under the heads of the nuts, and washers . Also I would recommend he buys studs if he doesnt have them yet, as the new ones all have alllen heads in them for easy removal. I would go with the cometics or the rjc stainless shim with his super silicone. Lots of people say 85fts with moly but im uncomfortable with that. Remember 65ft with moly is already equivalent to 80ftlbs and oil. I stay with 80ft lbs and let the silicone dry for minimum 2 days before adding coolant. I also torque the bollts the next day again.

If he is using the factory bolt he should throw them out as they are not safe to refuse and get studs. Clean all surfaces with lacquer thinner or brake cleaner. Drain the coolant from the block drains or your going to have a big mess. Change the oil afterwards, use cork valvecover gaskets with blue loctite on the bolts. Pull the ground wires off the passenger side from under the car first. Enjoy!
 
This is true. Gives you a chance to detail stuff. Plus assembling stuff on a stand is so much easier. If you want to do it right and be done with it, pull the motor! It's not a big deal if you have access to the equipment.

it is a big deal because I don't have the equipment.
 
if you dont have access to the equipment do it in the car. its going to be a PITA on the passenger side but it can be done. Good luck and let us know how it goes.
 
Go with the stainless RJC ones, they are much tougher.:)
 
it is a big deal because I don't have the equipment.

Was in the same boat 3 years ago. :redface:
You may want to update your location in your profile. Someone may be able to help.
 
The head gasket wasn't blown after all. The oil leak was coming from the oil pressure sending unit. Replaced that and all is well.
 
The head gasket wasn't blown after all. The oil leak was coming from the oil pressure sending unit. Replaced that and all is well.
And all that panic. If you use the RJC's in the future be sure to do the re-torque after you run it under some boost. That is critical.
 
Also when putting the heads back on, make absolute CERTAIN your surfaces (block and heads) are 100% trued and clean.


Wouldn't that require a machine shop? Can they machine the surface with the block in the car?

Glad you didn't have a blown gasket. Just for clarification for anyone that reads through this I figured I'd let you know that you do not need a machine shop to check for warpage. Just a straight edge and a set of (preferably stepped) feeler gauges. Any Chiltons or Haynes has the procedure in it.
 
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