The head gasket is one of the most scary parts of the car to name. Why? Because its repair is expensive and complicated, it usually requires hours and hours of workshop and sometimes it can even make you have to give up your car.

So you don’t have to worry about that expense and you can do it yourself, we will teach you how to change the head gasket in several steps, when you should do it and the material you need for it. You will save all the money from the workforce of the workshop and you can repair your car from home.


Symptoms that indicate that you should change the head gasket

Before talking about how to change the meeting, you should know if you have to worry about changing it or not. There are several symptoms that will indicate that your board is defective and are the following:

  • Oil in the cooling system:  you can only know if this has happened by checking the car coolant, since you will not notice anything unusual when driving it. If you see that the refrigerant becomes a kind of “mayonnaise”, it means that it has been mixed and that the joint is damaged.
  • Pressure in the cooling system:  overheating and low level of cooling are clear symptoms that there is an overpressure in the cooling system. The cylinder head gasket will be burned and that causes this filtration that, in the long run, can end the entire engine. Normally when this happens, white cloud is seen in the exhaust pipe, very thick and with a strange sweet smell. Analyze the spark plugs to know which cylinder has the problem, which you can identify because it is probably cleaner than the rest.
  • Coolant inside the oil system:  a symptom that is also difficult to see and can cause very serious engine damage. To find out you would have to make an oil change and check if the oil has remained like a kind of brown mayonnaise.
  • Coolant leak:  are there small puddles of coolant under your car? You have a refrigerant leak and the culprit is probably a damaged cylinder head gasket. The problem is that this leak can also be for other reasons, so you would have to examine the car in depth to know if the culprit is the head gasket.

If your car has any of these symptoms, you can start worrying and you should continue reading to learn how to change the head gasket.

Tools needed

  • Toolbox:  you will need all kinds of wrenches and screwdrivers to remove the parts that are above the cylinder head and the cylinder head itself (from ratchet, Allen, …).
  • Torque wrench:  to place the new cylinder head and respect the tightening torque (how much to tighten each screw).
  • Gloves: hand  protection against all kinds of elements.

How to change the head gasket in 8 steps

1. Disconnect the battery
Find the battery of your car in the hood and locate the positive (red) and negative (black) terminal. Use a key to unpin the negative terminal first and then the positive one. Never do it in reverse, you could break the electrical system and cause serious damage to the car.
2. Drain the oil and antifreeze from the car
You can learn to drain in the article how to change the oil and car filters . Follow the steps to point 6 and you will have achieved it. To drain the antifreeze, depending on the model, you will have to look for a drain screw or faucet in the lower part of the radiator or a plug in the engine block. You just have to open it and let all the antifreeze out.
3. Access the head gasket
To get to the head gasket you will have to release the timing belt cover and remove the antifreeze tube and the different cables that are above it (electrical connections, spark plugs, throttle, …). Once you have removed them, you will reach the rocker cover and the cylinder head itself.
4. Remove the old board
When you have accessed the cylinder head you just have to remove the screws with a wrench and you can remove it with your hands. And you will see that the board will leave without problem.
5. Clean the cylinder head surface 
Use a grit sandpaper and a degreaser to remove soot and all dirt from the stock. It has to be completely clean.
6. Fit the new head gasket
This is the most delicate part, since placing it badly will make you have to change it again in a very short time. The seal must be fixed as indicated in the instruction manual of the seal you purchase. Save up to 50% by buying the head gasket in our store .Above all you must be careful when putting the screws, since you have to respect the tightening torque. Remember the number of turns you took to remove each screw or use the dynamometer to get it.
7. Replace all parts 
After putting the new head gasket you will have to place all the pieces that you have removed to access it. Don’t forget any and place each one in the same place it was.
8. Refill the oil and antifreeze tank
To finish you just have to reload the car with oil and antifreeze. Once you have done it, you will have finished with the change of head gasket.

Can the gasket be repaired with a sealant?

If you don’t want to change the stock, either because you don’t dare, or because you don’t want to spend the repair money, you can try a sealant . Will it solve all your problems? Maybe, maybe not, or at least it may extend your car’s life a little.

The use of a sealant is very easy and is usually indicated in the instruction manual. You will only have to drain the antifreeze, fill the water tank and the sealant in question and circulate for the number of kilometers indicated in the instructions. Then, you just have to drain all that water with the sealant again and replace the antifreeze.

How much does the change cost

The price of the complete repair is around  € 800 , depending on the severity of the breakdown and the car model you have.

The high price of this change means that, on many occasions, the owners of some cars prefer to buy another before repairing it. However, if you have knowledge of mechanics and follow the steps that we have mentioned above, unless you have a very old car, it will be worth making the change.

How often

The change of the head gasket is unusual and is different from other typical repairs. In fact, it is normal not to change it unless you have some kind of breakdown because it is not necessary to do so.

You will only have to change it if you notice some of the symptoms that we have described in the first section. Otherwise, do not worry about the head gasket.