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Thread: How do you replace a head gasket?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    How do you replace a head gasket?

    This is probably one for Matra and the other more technical fellas here on UCP. I have a leaking head gasket. I have a replacement in my possesion, how do i fit it? very simple question, im assuming ill need to take the head off and stuff. do i need a new rocker cover gasket then too? do i need to replace hoses? whats the deal? as much info as possible or even a link to a site with a walkthrough would be heaps appreciated. heres just some general info about my engine:

    Nissan L16 SOHC
    1.6L NA
    Headers are only engine mod right now.

    ive had to have one done before after a blown head gasket and that cost me near 800 dollars to have fixed. the majority of the cost in labour. im feeling confident enough to do this myself now but i can always use extra help
    The Datto will rage again...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
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    You'll definitely need a torque wrench and the correct numbers to put it back together. If you don't, you'll ruin the engine. Other than that it's a matter of unbolting and bolting it back together. You'll probably need to drain the fluids as well.
    If you should see a man walking down a crowded street talking aloud to himself, don't run in the opposite direction, but run towards him, because he's a poet. You have nothing to fear from the poet - but the truth.

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    Adelaide, Australia
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    Go buy a engine manual,label everything as you take it off,if yoye taking the front cover off, anew timing chain would be a good idea also,in the manual their will be a section on head,cam removal etc,make sure you get the cam timing right,very important,if you follow a book you cant go wrong,also chech the head for pitting etc,it may need to be faced.Good luck with it blue
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Bolton, UK
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    Its just a case of taking off the head, removing the remains of the old gasket, and bolting it back together with the new gasket.

    Some pointers: Overhead-cam engine right? Need to make *double* sure the cam is aligned correctly when you put it back. Id say thats the hardest part of it There should be markers to help align the pulleys, if not you can improvise with some tip-ex. May be an idea to replace the belt (I assume its a belt not chain?) since you'll be taking it off anyway.

    You'll probably have to replace the 'rocker cover' (cam cover) gasket, I always manage to break them when I take them off A good idea is to get a decoke set, that would give you all the gaskets you need to replace the head.
    Hoses you can reuse if they're serviceable, and I dont see why you'd need to drain any fluids.

    You do need a torque wrench, and settings for it. I'd recommend getting a service manual (Haynes etc), that would give you it and any other procedures on the head bolts. On some heads you have to turn it so many degrees after torqueing. Also tighten from the centre out to spread the load.

    Thats all I can think about atm

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Perth, Australia
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    6,536
    The coolant will need to be drained. The oil should be fine. I'd recommend getting the head serviced when you take it off, there are specialist places for this, or you can take it to any mechanic and they'll use their usual place. Cannot stress the import of getting the timing right enough. The torque wrench will be expensive, but it is vital. I've never heard of being able to hire one, but it's worth a look. If you know any home mechanics they might have one you could borrow. Also remember to check the head bolts' tension after a week, but this will all be outlined in the shop manual. Any good technical book store should have one. Armed with the book and the right tools, you should be fine. I did my mini's one, it was easy. No cam or timing to worry about there though, just the tappet gaps.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Torque wreches are REAL cheap now. If they're THAT expensive in Australia, I see the opportunity for a wee export business from Scotland to OZ http://www.screwfix.com/app/sfd/sea/...1&cd=1&x=0&y=0 10 quid

    Get Haynes manuala dn read it three times before considering doing the job. THEN read it again adn think waht if it all went wrong. IF you still feel confident, then all the above advice fits.

    Empty the coolant AND empty the oil. Worth doign the latter as 'bits' often get into the sump, you want it all emptied out and refilled before starting the engine

    you DO have to get the cam timing right, make sure and put the cam tensioner back properly ( mates BDA bent the tensioner on it's first turnover - had to get stripped down again ) Not sure of if you need to take the cam out on that engien, if not, fine, if you do, remember and make sure it's shimmed properly on rebuilding.

    Inspecting the gasket, block and head where it's been leaking and try to surmise WHY. There may be some corrosion or face damage or warping. It's easy to check for warping IF you have a metal straight ruler - engineers metal rules are fine. Might be easier to take the head to a specialist - they should give you the nod on it OK for free But wathc out they'll likely want to convince you somethign else needs done While the head's off you shoudl check the condition of the valves and the valve seats adn stem seals. Also the pistons and bores. A good way to do all of these last things is to strip it off and then invite a mechanic mate round for a few beers adn ask him what he thinks needs doing
    "A woman without curves is like a road without bends, you might get to your destination quicker but the ride is boring as hell'

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    269
    you might need the head skimmed

    this will defenately need taking into a place with a mill or surface grinder

    can i suggest that there is a method to skimming yourself but does take some skill


    get yourself some engineers blue , ( its a dark blue dye/runny paste)

    and apply using a rag to the engine head , not too thick though just a thin covered layer

    then usign an true must stress a "true" flat , (an engineeers flat)

    run it as parralell as possible over the head , this will take off the high spots exposing them as clear metal , now get your self an old file, or a new one does not really matter, you can do the head part on a surface plate if you can find one!, using a figure of eight motion.

    now grind a radius and a clearance angle on the edge (have a look at the attached pics for examples i have done)

    one this is done is it as a scraper ( this method is actually called scraping)

    and lightly remove all the high spots, once one layer of metal has been
    scraped ,clean up with a rag.

    then apply another layer of blue and repeat the whole process untill there is hardly any high spots or none

    i have found that this method you can get a high level of accuracy

    managed to get a large plate to within .006 microns flattness

    hope this will save you taking it into a garage, workshop to get skimmed

    thats if it needs it done that is!

    hope this helps don't know if anyone has used this method before (being an engineer it comes naturally lol)
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  8. #8
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    maybe not then. i dont have a torque wrench but i do know where i can get a book from. sounds like one of those jobs that if you fluff something then your engines going to be munted an i cant afford that right now. i think i might have to see my backyard buddy for some help

    Thanks for all this guys an i will file it away in my brain for when i can afford/have tools to do it on
    The Datto will rage again...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    269
    all that explnation for nothing!

    lol kidding mate hope you get it sorted for cheap then
    www.britishmods.co.uk

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Posts
    1
    Quote Originally Posted by Matra et Alpine View Post
    Torque wreches are REAL cheap now. If they're THAT expensive in Australia, I see the opportunity for a wee export business from Scotland to OZ http://www.screwfix.com/app/sfd/sea/...1&cd=1&x=0&y=0 10 quid

    Get Haynes manuala dn read it three times before considering doing the job. THEN read it again adn think waht if it all went wrong. IF you still feel confident, then all the above advice fits.

    Empty the coolant AND empty the oil. Worth doign the latter as 'bits' often get into the sump, you want it all emptied out and refilled before starting the engine

    you DO have to get the cam timing right, make sure and put the cam tensioner back properly ( mates BDA bent the tensioner on it's first turnover - had to get stripped down again ) Not sure of if you need to take the cam out on that engien, if not, fine, if you do, remember and make sure it's shimmed properly on rebuilding.

    Inspecting the gasket, block and head where it's been leaking and try to surmise WHY. There may be some corrosion or face damage or warping. It's easy to check for warping IF you have a metal straight ruler - engineers metal rules are fine. Might be easier to take the head to a specialist - they should give you the nod on it OK for free But wathc out they'll likely want to convince you somethign else needs done While the head's off you shoudl check the condition of the valves and the valve seats adn stem seals. Also the pistons and bores. A good way to do all of these last things is to strip it off and then invite a mechanic mate round for a few beers adn ask him what he thinks needs doing
    I cant find that torque wrench on screwfix anymore, would this do? Torque Wrench 3/8 - Toolstation
    It's not 10 though!

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