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Pelican Technical Article:

Replacing Your Head Gasket

Steve Vernon

Time:

12 hours12 hrs

Tab:

$25 to $75

Talent:

*****

Tools:

All of them

Applicable Models:

VW Golf GTI (2000)
VW Golf GTI 1.8T (2002-05)
VW Golf GTI 20th Anniversary (2003)
VW Golf GTI 337 (2002)
VW Golf GTI GLS (2001)

Parts Required:

New head gasket set

Hot Tip:

Have a friend or engine hoist to help

Performance Gain:

Working Engine

Complementary Modification:

Radiator flush

There are several signs that you are in need of a new head gasket. The most common amongst them is the mixing of your oil and coolant. If you have had a water pump or thermostat fail, and your car overheated, there is a very good chance you are going to be looking at performing this job, as the extreme temperatures associated with an over heated engine can damage both the head and its gasket.

Replacing your head gasket might be the biggest job you will attempt on your car short of rebuilding the entire engine. It is not a quick or easy job, but can be done by a DIY mechanic if you take your time, have the right tools and follow the instructions. This job can take a few days for a novice, so make sure you have the car in a secure and weather safe area before you start. You are going to be opening up the engine and may even be sending the head out for repairs, so you don't want to be working outside when it starts to rain.

I can not stress this enough: get a digital camera and take lots of pictures before and during this job, document wire and vacuum routing plus anything you feel unsure of, this can only help when it comes time to put everything back together.

If the head gasket has failed and you are going to all the trouble to replace it you really should have the head sent out to have it cleaned and inspected. Aluminum heads have a tendency to warp and if your head has warped putting a new gasket on a warped head will not solve any problems and just cause the head gasket to fail again.

There are several steps that need to be preformed on other parts of the car before you begin removing the cylinder head. We have covered all of these in separate articles so I am not going to include them here, as this will be a long enough project as it is. Please refer to all the prep work articles contained here on Pelican Parts.

The articles you will need to reference are:

Safely raise and support your vehicle.

Remove the engine covers and disconnect the battery.

Drain the coolant system.

Remove the V-belt and tensioner.

Remove the timing belt. Note; you do not need to remove the engine mount, just the timing belt off the cam sprocket and tensioner. You will need to label and remove all the fuel lines on the left side of the engine.

Remove the upper roller on the timing belt tensioner.

Remove the fuel injectors and fuel rails.

Remove the coils.

Remove the valve cover.

With all of this done you are going to start removing things from the motor. We are going to remove the head with the intake and exhaust manifolds on. I left the throttle body on but disconnected the wiring harness and intake tube from it. If you want to remove the throttle body completely please see our article on cleaning your throttle body. We will be disconnecting the exhaust manifold at the turbo and the turbo will be staying with the car.

At the front of the engine remove the two 10mm nuts holding the vacuum lines and the two 5mm Allen bolts holding the self. With the bolts removed lift the shelf up and off the dipstick tube. Slide the shelf out of the way. Remove the 6mm Allen attaching the intake manifold to the alternator bracket.

Next remove the vacuum lines from the top of the intake manifold, and the two from underneath. There is another vacuum line underneath the intake but I could not reach it and removed it once I had the head lifted. If you can reach it remove it now.

Unplug the knock sensor on the engine block below the number 1 and 2 intake runners.

Remove all the emission and vacuum lines from the top rear of the engine and disconnect the electrical harness. Remove the lines from the front and the air intake tube from the air box and intake tube.

Remove the whole assembly from the car as one piece.

Disconnect the harness from the cam input.

Remove the hose from the combi valve.

Remove the two 5mm Allen bolts holding the coolant connection flange to the cylinder head leaving the coolant hoses attached to the flange. Remove the three 5mm Allen bolts securing the combi valve to the cylinder head.

From underneath the car remove the heat insulation from the turbo charger outlet pipe. It just unsnaps. Then using a 10mm wrench remove the lower pipe mounting bracket.

Move back to the top of the engine and remove the upper turbo heat insulation from the outlet pipe.

Remove the two 10mm bolts on the mounting bracket and the hose clamp from the rubber pipe.

Remove the turbo outlet pipe from the car.

Use a 13mm wrench and remove the two bolts holding the heat shield in place.

Remove the three 17mm bolts holding the exhaust manifold to the turbo charger.

Loosen all the head bolts slightly in the order shown. Do not completely loosen the bolts on the first pass through the order. It should take several repetitions of the order to finally loosen them all and remove them. The head bolts are stretch bolts and single use only. Make sure to use new head bolts when reinstalling.

Lift the heat assembly slightly and check for any hoses or electrical connections you may have missed. I could not reach a vacuum line and decided to remove it once I had the head in the air. Of course this is much easier to do if you have an engine hoist. If you are lifting the head with the help of a friend you will need to double check that everything is unattached before you get it in the air. Make sure you have removed the support bracket bolt by the alternator before you try and remove the head.

When lifting the head make sure it clears the engine block and the locating pins on the block. We broke a stud on the turbo which necessitated lifting the head straight up further than would usually be needed.

Remove the old gasket from both the block and the turbo charger.

Notes: Carefully clean the head and block of all old gasket or debris. Never use a metal scrapper and always take caution not to scratch the head or block. Take care not to get old gasket or cleaning materials into the open ports in the block or cylinders. If the head and block are going to be separated for a length of time take care that rust does not form on the block. Do not open the head gasket until you are ready to install it and handle it as little as possible. If you damage the gasket get a new one before installation as a damaged gasket will just lead to a leaking head.

Blow out and clean out all of the head stud holes before installing the head bolts. Use a thread chaser if necessary. If the holes are not clean and dry it can lead to hydro locking which can cause serious and terminal damage to the motor.

After you have sent the head out for inspection properly clean all the matting surfaces and reinstall the head back onto the block taking care to locate the head on the locating pins and to not damage the gasket while doing so.

Use the appropriate head bolt lubricant and install the bolts according to the diagram. The head bolts must be torque to certain specifications. Check for the proper torque values for your head and follow those instructions carefully.

Installation is the reverse of removal.

At the front of the engine remove the two 10mm nuts (red arrows) holding the vacuum lines and the two 5mm Allen bolts (yellow arrows) holding the self.
Figure 1

At the front of the engine remove the two 10mm nuts (red arrows) holding the vacuum lines and the two 5mm Allen bolts (yellow arrows) holding the self. With the bolts removed lift the shelf up and off the dipstick tube. Slide the shelf out of the way. Remove the 6mm Allen (green arrow) attaching the intake manifold to the alternator bracket.

Next remove the vacuum lines from the top of the intake manifold (red arrows).
Figure 2

Next remove the vacuum lines from the top of the intake manifold (red arrows).

Next remove the two small lines from underneath (red arrows).
Figure 3

Next remove the two small lines from underneath (red arrows). There is another vacuum line underneath the intake but I could not reach it and removed it once I had the head lifted. If you can reach it remove it now.

unplug the knock sensor on the engine block below the number 1 and 2 intake runners (red arrow).
Figure 4

unplug the knock sensor on the engine block below the number 1 and 2 intake runners (red arrow).

Remove all the emission and vacuum lines (red arrows) from the top rear of the engine and disconnect the electrical harness (yellow arrow).
Figure 5

Remove all the emission and vacuum lines (red arrows) from the top rear of the engine and disconnect the electrical harness (yellow arrow).

Remove the lines from the front of the head (red arrow) and the air intake tube from the air box (green arrow) and intake tube (yellow arrow).
Figure 6

Remove the lines from the front of the head (red arrow) and the air intake tube from the air box (green arrow) and intake tube (yellow arrow).

Remove the whole assembly from the car as one piece (red arrow).
Figure 7

Remove the whole assembly from the car as one piece (red arrow).

Disconnect the harness (red arrow) from the cam input.
Figure 8

Disconnect the harness (red arrow) from the cam input.

Remove the hose from the combi valve (red arrow).
Figure 9

Remove the hose from the combi valve (red arrow).

Remove the two 5mm Allen bolts (red arrows) holding the coolant connection flange to the cylinder head leaving the coolant hoses attached to the flange.
Figure 10

Remove the two 5mm Allen bolts (red arrows) holding the coolant connection flange to the cylinder head leaving the coolant hoses attached to the flange. Remove the three 5mm (yellow arrows, two shown) Allen bolts securing the combi valve to the cylinder head.

From underneath the car remove the heat insulation (red arrow) from the turbo charger outlet pipe.
Figure 11

From underneath the car remove the heat insulation (red arrow) from the turbo charger outlet pipe. It just unsnaps. Then using a 10mm wrench remove the lower pipe mounting bracket (yellow arrows).

Move back to the top of the engine and remove the upper turbo heat insulation from the outlet pipe (red arrow).
Figure 12

Move back to the top of the engine and remove the upper turbo heat insulation from the outlet pipe (red arrow).

Remove the two 10mm bolts (yellow arrows) on the mounting bracket and the hose clamp (green arrow) from the rubber pipe.
Figure 13

Remove the two 10mm bolts (yellow arrows) on the mounting bracket and the hose clamp (green arrow) from the rubber pipe.

Remove the turbo outlet pipe (red arrow) from the car.
Figure 14

Remove the turbo outlet pipe (red arrow) from the car.

Use a 13mm wrench and remove the two bolts (red arrows) holding the heat shield in place.
Figure 15

Use a 13mm wrench and remove the two bolts (red arrows) holding the heat shield in place.

Remove the three 17mm bolts (yellow arrows) holding the exhaust manifold to the turbo charger.
Figure 16

Remove the three 17mm bolts (yellow arrows) holding the exhaust manifold to the turbo charger.

Loosen all the head bolts slightly in the order shown.
Figure 17

Loosen all the head bolts slightly in the order shown. Do not completely loosen the bolts on the first pass through the order. It should take several repetitions of the order to finally loosen them all and remove them. The head bolts are stretch bolts and single use only. Make sure to use new head bolts when reinstalling.

Lift the heat assembly slightly and check for any hoses or electrical connections you may have missed.
Figure 18

Lift the heat assembly slightly and check for any hoses or electrical connections you may have missed. I could not reach this vacuum line (yellow arrow) and decided to remove it once I had the head in the air. Of course this is much easier to do if you have an engine hoist. If you are lifting the head with the help of a friend you will need to double check that everything is unattached before you get it in the air. Make sure you have removed the support bracket bolt (red arrow) by the alternator before you try and remove the head.

When lifting the head (red arrow) make sure it clears the engine block (yellow arrow) and the locating pins on the block.
Figure 19

When lifting the head (red arrow) make sure it clears the engine block (yellow arrow) and the locating pins on the block. We broke a stud on the turbo (green arrow) which necessitated lifting the head straight up further than would usually be needed.

Remove the old gasket (red arrow) from both the block and the turbo charger (yellow arrow).
Figure 20

Remove the old gasket (red arrow) from both the block and the turbo charger (yellow arrow).

Use the appropriate head bolt lubricant and install the bolts according to the diagram.
Figure 21

Use the appropriate head bolt lubricant and install the bolts according to the diagram. The head bolts must be torque to certain specifications. Check for the proper torque values for your head and follow those instructions carefully.

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Page last updated: Wed 12/7/2016 02:35:15 AM