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Gauging Service Intervals - Head Gaskets

 
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Old 09 Aug 2013, 09:23 am
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Default Gauging Service Intervals - Head Gaskets

I see a lot of posts referring to cars needing maintenance due to the amount of miles on the vehicle. While this can be a good way to set your routine for service on some items, it can be a pretty poor one for others. Many times the usage is more important than time or mileage. One particular one that I see a lot is the recommendations for head gasket replacement - about 100K miles seems to be the common opinion. Here's the "rub" with that - on an engine with an iron block and aluminum head(s), the head gasket is a wear item. Every engine heat cycle causes minute wear from the head and block changing sizes from the different expansion rates of the two metals - the head gaskets and fasteners (torque to yield head bolts) are designed to let the head slide around and still seal. How many miles during that heat cycle - 1, 10, 50 - doesn't really matter once the temp stabilizes. The gaskets have a cycle life before they wear out and fail. The problem with doing preventative replacement here is not all cars see the same amount of heat cycles for a certain mileage. The car that gets driven 2 miles each way to work sees the same heat cycles that one driven 50, and will need it's head gasket replaced with far less miles. I've had to replace head gasket on "short trip" vehicles with as little as 30K miles, and seen 200K highway miles on cars before they needed head gasket service. On my aluminum headed 360 small block that sees street/strip duty I re-torque the head studs every spring, just to compensate for gasket wear and retain clamping force. I also use the graphite coated gaskets to help minimize wear.

Just a little food for thought on service intervals. Just as city driven cars need brakes, tires, etc. more often than highway cars do, due to more frequent use per mile, there are other parts that need their replacement schedule adjusted to use.
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Old 09 Aug 2013, 09:52 am
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Default Re: Gauging Service Intervals - Head Gaskets

Sounds like a good plan .....for a very small number of people. All the rest of us will never touch the head gasket or even think about it until it breaks plus most don't keep their cars long enough to ever have that done.

I put about 9,000 miles a year for the last 13 years with my PT. I have no plans to touch the head gasket unless it starts leaking.
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Old 09 Aug 2013, 10:26 am
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Default Re: Gauging Service Intervals - Head Gaskets

i have 256k miles on mine on the original gasket and i'm pretty sure that the headgasket will outlive the rotating assembly.
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Old 09 Aug 2013, 06:14 pm
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Default Re: Gauging Service Intervals - Head Gaskets

Interesting, I think it's the gaskets themselves that 'wear' between layers.
I see they come out with new ones ('revisions') frequently.

If you're wondering why I would notice something as silly as gasket revisions- We take them apart and remove shim before installation.
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Old 10 Aug 2013, 02:08 am
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Default Re: Gauging Service Intervals - Head Gaskets

Evil; Just to add, the 2.5 chryslers had head gasket problems [127,000] and the machine shop guy said smooth surface finish is important to allow the gasket to slide on the head. And he mentioned the cooling holes between the cylinders get corroded closed and cause higher head temps [hot spots]. That's why HOAT antifreeze is recommended.

The 2.4 engine must be pretty good, considering all the problems I read here about overheating! Usually a fan issue.
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Old 11 Aug 2013, 10:48 pm
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Default Re: Gauging Service Intervals - Head Gaskets

Quote:
Originally Posted by CREWZIN View Post
Sounds like a good plan .....for a very small number of people. All the rest of us will never touch the head gasket or even think about it until it breaks plus most don't keep their cars long enough to ever have that done.

I put about 9,000 miles a year for the last 13 years with my PT. I have no plans to touch the head gasket unless it starts leaking.
Yeah, Crewzin, I understand the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" maintenance schedules. Just offering a little insight on why some engines have "early" failures and some seem to last forever.
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Old 16 Dec 2013, 12:00 pm
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Default Re: Gauging Service Intervals - Head Gaskets

Good write up!

Only engine machinists or racers on a budget really know this stuff?
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Old 16 Dec 2013, 02:37 pm
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Default Re: Gauging Service Intervals - Head Gaskets

I'm not sure you can really anticipate head gasket failure. "My" PT came to me with a failed head gasket, but the car had obviously been mistreated and - I'm guessing - overheated more than once. In spite of this, the car had 140k on it before it failed.

Given that the cooling system is properly maintained - and I'm talking everything from maintaining the radiator to main its efficiency, changing the coolant to ensure it's chemically useful, and ensuring the fan turns on on time - I don't think there is any reason to expect head gasket failure in the car's useful lifetime. OTOH, it only takes a few undesirable events like overheats or a few months of low/old coolant or a fan that doesn't turn on at the right time to cut that life dramatically shorter.

Edit: I'd also add that I'm an increasing proponent of having cars track hours of operation in addition to miles, like boats. Back in the day mileage probably seems the more useful statistic, but these days it's entirely possible to find a low mileage car that has spent hours of every day creeping through the same five mile stretch of highway. I'd take the actual high mileage highway cruiser over the poor little econobox that has spent most of its life idling. Cruise control set at 65mph is a lot better life - IMHO - that stop & go for hours a day.

Last edited by thesameguy; 16 Dec 2013 at 02:40 pm.
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Old 16 Dec 2013, 08:43 pm
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Default Re: Gauging Service Intervals - Head Gaskets

Holy thread revival batman!
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Old 16 Dec 2013, 09:55 pm
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Default Re: Gauging Service Intervals - Head Gaskets

Quote:
Originally Posted by Busa_Powered View Post
Holy thread revival batman!
I had to check up on evil to see what he really knows. Come to find out it ain't bad stuff he posts in some threads.

Be good Busa!
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