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VW / Audi Exhaust Manifold Gasket Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

VW / Audi Exhaust Manifold Gasket Replacement

Peter Bodensteiner

Time:

1 hr

Tab:

$10 to $15

Talent:

***

Tools:

12mm socket, ratchet, torque wrench, 3- and 6-inch extensions, swivel extensions optional, needle-nose pliers, anti-seize lubricant

Applicable Models:

 
Audi A4 (1997-01)
Audi A4 Quattro (1997-01)
Audi TT (2000-04)
Audi TT Quattro (2000-04)
VW Beetle (1999-02)
VW Golf (2000-02)
VW Jetta (2000-02)
VW Passat (1996-00)

Parts Required:

Exhaust manifold gasket, new nuts and washers, anti-seize lubricant

Hot Tip:

Use this project if you're installing an aftermarket header

Performance Gain:

Another maintenance procedure that will keep your car running smoothly

Complementary Modification:

Air filter replacement, upgrade diverter valve, oxygen sensor replacement, turbocharger rebuild

Changing the exhaust manifold gasket is one of those procedures that more often takes place in conjunction with another project rather than by itself. For example you will need to do this if you replace your cast-iron manifold with a high-performance, tubular header, or if you are porting the existing manifold. You would also need to follow these steps if removing the cylinder head. Of course, if you've got a leak at the junction of the manifold and the head, you can use this project to guide you in tightening the manifold nuts, or in replacing the gasket to attempt to form a better seal.

It's a good idea to apply some penetrating lubricant to the new exhaust manifold nuts as you install them on the studs. Even on my Minnesota car I did not encounter any problems, but given that a stuck nut or broken stud could be a significant setback if you need to remove the manifold again, it's better to be safe than sorry.

The main difficulty to this project is access. In my case, I had already removed the airbox, turbocharger, and associated plumbing, so I had a straight shot at the manifold. Removing the manifold without removing these things can probably be done, but you'll have to get more creative in reaching the exhaust manifold nuts.

It's a good idea to get a handle on the arrangement of the exhaust manifold nuts before you start.
Figure 1

It's a good idea to get a handle on the arrangement of the exhaust manifold nuts before you start. The friendly Audi engineers helpfully designed the exhaust manifold with more nuts on the top, where they are easily accessible, rather than underneath, where they are harder to reach. The camera taking this photo is facing the number 3 exhaust port directly. You'll find two nuts/studs above each exhaust port (green arrows), while underneath the nuts/studs are shared between adjacent ports (purple arrows). This gives us eight nuts to remove on top, and five below, for 13 total.

Unlike when you tighten down the nuts at the end of this project, there's no need to go in any particular order as you loosen and remove the nuts.
Figure 2

Unlike when you tighten down the nuts at the end of this project, there's no need to go in any particular order as you loosen and remove the nuts. However, it can't hurt to follow the preferred tightening pattern (in reverse), and it may help familiarize you with the layout of the nuts and any obstructions you may run into.

I found a six-inch extension useful, particularly for reaching the lower nuts.
Figure 3

I found a six-inch extension useful, particularly for reaching the lower nuts.

Your access to the exhaust manifold may not be as unobstructed as this.
Figure 4

Your access to the exhaust manifold may not be as unobstructed as this. In this case the air filter box and associated plumbing, as well as the turbocharger and its related connections, have been removed for other projects. If you're starting from an intact engine compartment, you'll get the biggest gains in accessibility from removing the airbox and its cover and snorkel.

A rather thick washer sits behind each nut.
Figure 5

A rather thick washer sits behind each nut. These are a bit hard to grasp by hand; fearful of dropping one, I used a set of needle-nose pliers to remove each washer.

Once the nuts and washers are removed, remove the exhaust manifold by pulling it straight away from the cylinder head until it clears the studs.
Figure 6

Once the nuts and washers are removed, remove the exhaust manifold by pulling it straight away from the cylinder head until it clears the studs. This is another step where having removed the airbox will help you out.

This photo shows the arrangement of the holes that allow the exhaust manifold to mount the studs in the cylinder head.
Figure 7

This photo shows the arrangement of the holes that allow the exhaust manifold to mount the studs in the cylinder head. The top of the manifold is to the left.

The exhaust manifold gasket remained behind, secured by the studs.
Figure 8

The exhaust manifold gasket remained behind, secured by the studs. As you pull the gasket off of the head, the multiple layers of the metal gasket separate.

Here is a peek into the exhaust port.
Figure 9

Here is a peek into the exhaust port. Those grey things divided by the wall in the port are the exhaust valves (green arrows). The 1.8T has "only" two exhaust valves per cylinder, versus three valves for the intake side.

Here is another view of the row of exhaust ports and manifold studs.
Figure 10

Here is another view of the row of exhaust ports and manifold studs. Clean the mating surface on the head and on the manifold to remove any debris that may hinder a good seal (green arrow).

The new gasket is packaged against cardboard to protect it from bending or creasing.
Figure 11

The new gasket is packaged against cardboard to protect it from bending or creasing.

Slide the new gasket evenly over the studs in the cylinder head and work it back toward the surface of the head a bit at a time.
Figure 12

Slide the new gasket evenly over the studs in the cylinder head and work it back toward the surface of the head a bit at a time. It will get hung up on the threads of the studs as you push it back.

Replace the exhaust manifold.
Figure 13

Replace the exhaust manifold. Before you get started replacing the nuts, it's not a bad idea to apply some anti-seize lubricant to the exhaust manifold studs once the manifold is in place. Just add a dab on one side of each stud.

Replace the nuts and washers with new hardware.
Figure 14

Replace the nuts and washers with new hardware. Orient the flat side of each self-locking nut so that it faces the washer. Start at with the top nuts between the second and third exhaust manifold runners. Then move to the nut directly below these two, then up again to the two remaining nuts on runners two and three, and then back underneath to the nuts between the first and second runners and between the third and fourth runners. In essence, you are starting at the middle and working your way gradually to the ends, also alternating from top to bottom and back again.

The lower, outer nuts will be last in sequence.
Figure 15

The lower, outer nuts will be last in sequence. Torque the nuts to half the final value the first time around, and then start from the middle again and tighten them to the final value (22 ft-lbs) following the same pattern.

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Comments and Suggestions:
mal Comments: so this is possible without pulling the motor?
April 30, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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