How to Change a Head Gasket on a Honda Civic

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If your Honda's head gasket has sprung a leak or blown, it needs to be replaced. Instead of taking it to an auto mechanic, you may want to change the gasket yourself to save money. This is a fairly complex project, and you'll likely need assistance to lift the cylinder head out.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Wrench
  • Container for waste oil
  • Degreaser
  • Toothbrush
  • Paper towels
  • Unplug all wires and hoses connected to the cylinder head and remove the head cover. You may need to remove the A/C fan to be able to clear it of the studs on the engine block.

  • Set the motor to "top dead center," or TDC. Remove the #1 cylinder's spark plug as well as the valve cover so you can observe the springs. Insert a screwdriver into the open spark plug hole, and rotate the motor by hand, counter-clockwise. When the #1 cylinder is on its intake stroke, watch the screwdriver. Turn the motor very slowly until the screwdriver reaches its highest point. Remove the screwdriver. Slide off the timing belt, and be sure you do not rotate the motor any further.

  • Remove the head bolts in order, and double check that no coolant lines are still connected. Lift the cylinder head out. It will be very heavy--this is where you'll likely need the help of another person. Remove the old head gasket.

  • Drain the oil from the cylinder head. Clean the pistons, valves, headbolt holes and all other parts with degreaser and a toothbrush. Wipe down with a paper towel when finished.

  • Set the new head gasket into the engine block, lining it up correctly. Carefully place the cylinder head back in, on top of the head gasket. Soak the headbolts in oil to lubricate them, then replace them. Tighten each bolt until it is snug--no further.

  • Start the torquing sequence, following the directions in your Honda's manual. In most D-series cars, you need to torque each bolt to 22 foot-pounds, then all to 53 foot-pounds. Be certain to follow the correct torquing sequence as indicated in the manual, or you could warp the head.

  • Reinstall the timing belt and reconnect all wires and coolant lines.

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