Do not think that opening the engine and fixing the head gasket is the end of the process. The other equally important part is to reassemble all the components that have been taken out during the process.
‘Spray the cylinder head gasket with a sealer’
Before you place the cylinder head gasket on top of the clean engine block you should spray both sides of the cylinder head gasket with a sealer. Also the studs should be installed before the gasket is fitted that is if studs have been used to hold the cylinder head down. Alignment dowels are often used with the studs to ensure that the gasket remains immobile while the cylinder head is being placed on top of it.
Remember: After installing a new cylinder head gasket, if you wish to make sure that the seal has been applied in a sturdy manner then you can make use of copper sealant sprays that are sold by many vendors. If you avoid the common maintenance mistakes you should be able to prevent problems from turning up in this corner of the automobile.
‘Installing the cylinder head’
Once the surfaces have been cleaned and the gasket has been put in its rightful place you should install the cylinder head and fasten it down.
Remember: All information regarding the tightening sequence, the fastener torque and frequency of servicing can be found in the service manual. There is a particular pattern that needs to be followed during the reassembly, which is quite similar to the process of taking out components. It is also important to make sure that there is very little stress placed on the components and this can be achieved by ensuring that the sealing process is completed with absolute accuracy. You may also need several passes of increasing torque measurements in some cases. Use a calibrated torque wrench and stick to the procedure described in this blog.
‘Replace components that were removed in earlier steps’
You should have used notes and pictures to keep track of the components that were removed. When all components have been put back in their place take a brief look at the fasteners, components and assembly.
Remember: If any seal was disrupted during the dismantling process then it should be replaced and all the mating surfaces should be cleaned along with threads of bolt holes and grimy bolts. There are also some components that do not need sealing but require a gasket maker or silicone paste which is easily available at a local auto-parts store.
‘Connect the battery and refill the fluids’
Before connecting the battery you should reassess all the work done. You should then proceed to fix the positive cable first and then the negative cable
Once you are assured that you have done the reassembly exactly how it should be you can refill the engine with oil. You shouldn’t forget to use a new filter and check the oil level in the engine.
Do not forget to fill the radiator with coolant oil to its optimum level and then wait. If you see some bubbling then it could be due to trapped air in the cooling system. Before starting the engine the cooling system has to be bled. If you want to make the air travel to the overflow tank or the highest point in the system then you should lift the front section of the vehicle. It is also advisable to check your coolant levels and make sure they are at optimum levels.
Caution: Installing the cables in reverse order can cause sparks and it can ignite any flammable liquid in the vicinity.
‘Check for Faults’
This is the time to get into the car and turn on the engine. Do not start the vehicle at this point. If you have a code reader then now is the time you should attach it. If a component hasn’t been plugged in, the code will be fixed instantly. If a component has been left unplugged then you can trace it easily with the help of a code that may pop up at this time. Keep your ears alert at this point and use this guide to know what the noise could mean.
‘Set climate control’
At this point, you should start the vehicle and set the climate control to maximum heat. This makes the coolant enter the heater core and gives it the chance to get rid of any stubborn air bubbles inside the cooling system.
Remember: You should let the engine remain in idle state and allow it to match up to the temperature slowly instead of racing the engine. After the process is complete you should open the hood from time to time to ensure that there are no leaks or smoke coming out of the engine. You should also check the readings on the instrument cluster at regular intervals.
Dangers of DIY
Just like the information given above, there are many car websites on the internet that make this job sound easier than what it really is. Preferably you should leave such a complicated task to the experts as they know very well how to go about it.
For the sake of saving some money you should not risk trying a job of this big magnitude. There are several tests that need to be conducted before and after installing the head gasket and skilled technicians are well acquainted with these tests.
One needs to be completely sure that the head gasket needs replacement because once started it is quite difficult to get things back to the original state if you cannot handle the job well. Some people come to this conclusion that the head gasket needs to be replaced simply because the engine is getting overheated and white smoke is being emitted from the exhaust. However there are many other issues that can cause similar symptoms.
Therefore a series of tests is recommended to ascertain that the head gasket needs a replacement. If you replace the head gasket when there was no need to do it you not only waste a lot of money but also risk causing some damage to the engine. Moreover, repairing or replacing the gasket on your own can cause warping on cylinder and engine heads and if left untreated can lead to total engine failure shortly after repair.
Therefore, it is highly recommended that you take your vehicle to a reputed garage in your neighbourhood and let them test and solve the problems that you have been facing with your ride.