Head gasket replacement

October 3, 2018

The end of August of 2009 turned out to be the start of the longest and most difficult/complex job I've done on my car when the head gasket blew at cyl. #2. My car then had 96000 miles. It happened in a large parking lot on a Sunday after I got out of the store and tried to leave. I started the car and immediately noticed a huge white smoke coming out of the tail pipes. Checked the coolant reservoir and it was completely empty. Luckily that plaza is very close to my home so I left my car in the parking lot and walked home. I waited until around 6 pm for the engine to cool down then went back and drove my car home very slowly across another plaza. I made it home without any damage to the engine. Then I started to look for a head gasket set (that I later found on the UK Ebay for around $120 with shipping) and other parts and tools this job required. These included new cylinder head bolts, cam timing tool, valve spring compressor tool. Then the dismantling started

I removed the air pump, thermostat housing after draining the coolant. Then the cylinder head had to be freed on both sides. That means pulling off the air intake on the left side and exhaust manifold on the right side. Luckily the manifold nuts didn't give me problems, they came off pretty easily along with the EGR valve and the heat shield.

After removing the cam cover, I had to remove both cams because at the front side of the engine they're connected to the timing chain. So I first removed the cam sprockets then the head bolts (14). The cams came off easy, no problem there. So it was time to remove the head (so I thought) but something just didn't let it. It turned out the upper timing chain tensioner was the culprit. But of course to remove that, the distributor has to come off. Fortunately it's held on by just one bolt. No sweat there.



Then the cylinder head came off. Although it's made of aluminium, it's still pretty heavy. But back then I was 32 so I lifted it off by myself. Not sure I'd do it alone next time.


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