How many times have you heard of a blown head gasket? Probably umpteen times if you are a motor head. Most car owners dread the three words because a blown head gasket is not only expensive, but it also takes countless hours to repair. A common culprit for this type of problem is the improper installation of head bolts. As the primary elements connecting the engine block, head gasket and cylinder head, the installation of head bolts need a careful approach. Incorrect configuration compromises the seal of the combustion chamber, the lubricant grooves and coolant channels. Therefore, the correct installation of the head bolts is paramount. Read on.
Check Head Bolt Lengths
Each hole in an engine cylinder accepts head bolts of a specific length. Therefore, ensure that you have the correct head bolt length for each hole. Notably, some grooves are designed for short bolts while others require long head bolts. If you insert a short bolt in a hole that requires long bolt, then the bolt engages only a few threads and makes the engine block unstable. Before you begin installing head bolts, measure each piece and group them accordingly. You will have an easy time matching the correct bolt length to the right hole on the block.
Use Right Torque Wrench
A common mistake that most car owners make when installing standard-type head bolts is the use of a wrong torque wrench. Doing so often results in the bolt not achieving the desired torque, thereby causing the bolts to stretch or forcing the threads to pull out. Using an accurate torque wrench eliminates the problem since it allows the tightening of the head bolts to the recommended tightening sequence. Moreover, the right torque wrench enables you to tighten the bolts gradually for an even clamping force, thereby reducing gasket head distortion. According to car specialists, it is advisable to use a torque-to-angle indicator gauge together with a torque wrench rather than using the torque wrench alone. It ensures that you achieve the correct bolt loading without guessing the right tightening angle.
Run Engine Before Retorquing
Some head gaskets might require you to retorque the head bolts for a tighter fit. If your engine cylinder allows this, then warm up the engine first. It raises the engine temperature to normal operating ranges and will enable you to retighten each head bolt. However, make sure that the engine has cooled down to room temperature before retightening the bolts if the cylinder head is made of aluminium or risk burning your hands. The warm-up allows the gasket head to expand, thus enabling easy retorquing.
For more information, reach out to a supplier of head bolts, such as ARP head bolts.
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