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Head Gasket Replacement
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Head Gasket Replacement

Date Created: 04/22/2008
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This was my first major repair and I found it fairly difficult to get instructions for someone without extensive mechanical knowledge. i'll assume that the reader has little mechanical experience as well.



Before you read any of the following, it's vital to ALWAYS document what parts came off of what. Use ziplock bags to put bolts for different things in them and label the bag. Never leave your bolts or nuts laying loose on a table unlabeled.



First things first: grab a camera and take a few shots from different angles around the engine compartment. You'll thank yourself later on when you're holding a mystery piece in your hand and haven't the foggiest idea where it came from.



Disconnect your negative battery terminal.



Drain your coolant. If you've never done this before, it's very simple. located at the very bottem of your radiator on the passenger side is a small metal plug. simply unscrew this plug (not all the way, just enough for there to be a steady stream coming out) and let the coolant drain into a bucket placed beneath it.

Remove your air intake. It's not necessary to remove the box part, just the tube that attaches it to the intake.



There are several lines that run to your throttle body. 2 lines without cruise control and an extra line with cruise control. all of the lines need to be removed. they should all simply snap or pop off of the throttle body. to remove them from the bracket simply pinch the inside part and force outward. these lines most likely are also connected to a plastic bracket located on the valve cover. remove them from that and tuck them aside somewhere away from the valve cover. make sure they will not pop out. While you're at the intake, remove the line running from the back of the valve cover to the intake.

Remove the hose connecting the coolant reservoir to the radiator. i'd recomend disconecting it at the radiator end. the entire coolant reservoir is removable by pushing it outwards and pulling upwards. if yours looks anything like mine did, i'd highly recomend giving it a good washing.
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Disconnect the hose connecting the radiator to the thermostat housing. it's easier to disconnect it at the radiator end. remove the fan shroud. 4 screws at each corner hold it in place. remove the heater hose from the thermostat housing. remove the thermostat housing.

Time to loosen the serpentine belt! chrysler had two methods of doing this. one is through the power steering pump and the other is a tensioner spring located under the alternator. with the power steering pump method, there is a bolt located at the bottom of the power steering pump. by loosening this bolt, you loosen the tension of the belt. the other method (the one i have) is with a tesnioner spring. to loosen this place a 1/2 inch socket drive into the hole and rotate in a clockwise direction. once the belt lacks tension, simply remove it from any of wheels.



Remove the power steering pump from the intake manifold. no need to remove the hoses just set it in the corner there, making sure it's upright.



Remove the two bolts attaching the alternator to the head.



Remove your spark plugs. if you have a distributor, DON'T FORGET TO LABEL which corresponds to which cylinder.



The following part is by far the most difficult part of this entire procedure; disconnecting the intake & exhaust manifold. there are five bolts on top which are very easily accessible. there are six bolts underneath which will take you a very long & aggravating time to remove. 2 of the 6 are accessible from on top but the other 4 you have to go under the vehicle and snake your arm up there. With some wacky extensions and improvisations, you'll be able to remove them.

Now remove the valve cover bolts. in addition to all of the bolts there may be 2 nuts also holding it on. remove those as well. It's not very visible, but there is a "hidden" bolt in the back of the valve cover so don't forget about that one. To take it off, some force may be required. A soft face mallet works best. DO NOT PRY VALVE COVER OFF WITH A SCREWDRIVER! Doing so can damage the gasket or other components.

Take off the valve cover gasket. I'm not sure how many jeep vehicles this applies to but my valve cover gasket is reusable. If you have a reusable one just clean it up, other wise you'll have to get a new one.



This step is optional though if your engine has any age on it, i'd recommend it. Paint the valve cover. To do this, wash it out with soap and water getting all of the dirt off. Use a metal scrub pad or sand paper to coarsen the surface of the valve cover. Wipe clean, prime it, paint it. Make sure to use HIGH HEAT PAINT ONLY!

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Now remove the push rods. Loosen the rocker arms in pairs (ie:1/4 turn for the exhaust, 1/4 turn for the intake) While doing this, make sure you're holding the pushrods, because you wouldn't want them to fall into the engine. As you're removing the pushrods, it's vital that you have SOME WAY TO MARK WHICH PUSH ROD CORRESPONDS TO WHICH ROCKER. The best method i've found is to find a small box, punch 12 holes in a line in the top of the box, and label it front and back.



Remove the head bolts. To do this you will most definitely need a breaker bar. Some of them are different than others and i'm not sure if they need to be put in the same hole but i always do just to be safe and things usually end up fitting back together better when i do that. The manual says the headbolts may be reused once but no more than once. If there is paint on any of the bolts, this means they have been removed and reinstalled already and you need to buy new ones.

Now it's time to remove the head. Before doing so, make sure there are no electricals attached to it anywhere and if there are, remove them. Double check again that absolutely nothing is attached to the head because you wouldn't want to make an unexpected run to the auto store. You'll notice that on the very front and rear of the head there are two bolts that protrude out and into the headers. Pull the headers back and if they don't stay in clearance of the bolts you have to secure them using straps or have a friend hold them back. The head is very heavy and the best way i found to lift it is to put your fingers into spark plug holes and exhaust holes.


Now that the head's off it's time to scrape off all of the old gasket. Get it all off of the manifolds and the block/bottom of the head. don't use a screwdriver but instead use a scraper or chisel. Also, while your heads out you should change your valve seals. This is done by going to an auto store and renting the tool. The tool will have detailed instructions so i don't have to cover them in this write-up.



Place your exhaust/intake manifold gasket on the protruding bolts of the head. Line up the new headgasket with the block and place it on there making sure it's facing the right direction. Some people say to use RTV sealant or equivalent to help the gasket stay in place but this is A BAD IDEA! DO NOT USE any adhesives on the head gasket. Place the head on the gasket and make sure not to slide it. If you didn't get it lined up correctly, lift the head up and move it over. If you slide it, the gasket could be damaged.



Torque the head to your vehicle's specs and install everything else in the opposite order of which you removed it.



*** Side Notes ***

- The thermostat housing has a gasket also which should be replaced when the thermostat housing is removed. You may choose to use RTV sealant instead of the gasket though.

- Be sure all hose clamps are tight.

- If your coolant looks old, it should be replaced.

- Dispose of all fluids responsibly and appropriately

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