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Thread: Head Gasket Change Nightmare

  1. #1

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    Angry Head Gasket Change Nightmare

    Today, I had every intention to change the head gasket on my '87 Ram 2.6L. Everything was going good, too good. Even the exhaust manifold bolts came off with little hesitation. I pulled off the head and to my surprise the old head gasket not only was intact, but seemed like it was changed not too long ago. Then after some careful evaluation, the dreaded was realized. A cracked head.

    There were three seperate and very noticeable cracks:

    Crack 1
    <a href="http://s1041.photobucket.com/user/Air_Force_Tyler/media/Mobile%20Uploads/image_zps2ae3ff2d.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1041.photobucket.com/albums/b416/Air_Force_Tyler/Mobile%20Uploads/image_zps2ae3ff2d.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo image_zps2ae3ff2d.jpg"/></a>

    Crack 2
    <a href="http://s1041.photobucket.com/user/Air_Force_Tyler/media/Mobile%20Uploads/image_zpscd20d2c5.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1041.photobucket.com/albums/b416/Air_Force_Tyler/Mobile%20Uploads/image_zpscd20d2c5.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo image_zpscd20d2c5.jpg"/></a>

    Crack 3
    <a href="http://s1041.photobucket.com/user/Air_Force_Tyler/media/Mobile%20Uploads/image_zps76764e53.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1041.photobucket.com/albums/b416/Air_Force_Tyler/Mobile%20Uploads/image_zps76764e53.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo image_zps76764e53.jpg"/></a>

    Luckily, the valves and springs were not damaged not bent, so that saved the truck from the junkyard. With a new head ordered and on its way, I had a few questions in the meantime.

    Question #1: Other than antifreeze, is there any routine preventative maintenance to prevent heads from cracking?

    Question #2: Can I bolt up the new head and add oil and run the engine, or do I need to let it sit with oil in it for awhile so it gets everything lubricated?

    Question #3: Obviously the cracks were caused by engine overheating, is there anything else I should inspect that could have been effected by the engine overheating?

    I will post pictures of my progress as I build the new head back up, but in the mean time I need to wire brush the existing valves and clean them for the new head.

  2. #2


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    Valves usually only g et smashed when an interference type engine throws it's timing belt. It would be a good idea to do a decent lap job and new seals if you purchased a used head.

    A1: Thermostat and cooling system maintenance will prolong overheating/cracking. Either way, these things get old - they crack. It happens.

    A2: Oil is supplied by the pump. The pump can not lubricate unless it is turning. In short - replace the head, fire it up.

    A3: Replace the thermostat, inspect the radiator fins for damage (resulting in low flow), inspect for significant blockage I'm head and block (rust and buildup), replace the thermostat, add fresh coolant. A fan shroud will help cooling, but it will survive without.

  3. #3

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    If I'm not mistaken; you have to retorque the heads after you run the motor for awhile to heat it up.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by saywatman View Post
    If I'm not mistaken; you have to retorque the heads after you run the motor for awhile to heat it up.
    BradMPH has recommended a re-torque at 300-500 miles after head gasket replacement, while the engine is warm. He suggests this assures no blown head gaskets later on. I followed his recommendation, and found it also allows you to inspect how the work is holding up, check manifold torques etc.. All in all, a bit of preventative maintenance well worth the time and effort.

  5. #5

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    thanx, I knew there was a retorque in there somewhere. It's always good to follow the preventive maintenance when doing a project like this, and to let us Mighty Ram/50 owners know about little things like this. once again a big Mahalo's

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