How to Replace the Head Gasket of a Nissan Maxima

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The 2011 Nissan Maxima comes equipped with a 3.5-liter engine and four different trim levels. If you noticed your single engine Nissan Maxima overheating, it is possible the vehicle can damage the head gasket. If this is the case, you will need to replace the head gasket. The gasket lies under the cylinder head above the engine block. Most of the vehicle's upper engine parts need to come out of the vehicle to reach the gasket.

Things You'll Need

  • Ratchet and socket
  • Screwdriver
  • Coolant
  • New head gasket
  • Torque wrench
  • Work on the upper engine components when the Nissan Maxima is cold. Disconnect the negative batter cable from the terminal. Position a pan under the radiator to drain the cooling system. Empty the motor oil reservoir. Release the pressure from the fuel pressure system.

  • Mark and place labels on the upper engine components. Disassemble or disconnect the belts, mounting brackets, cables, hoses, covers, mounting bolts, wires, assemblies and various engine parts toward the top of the vehicle: timing chain, camshafts, intake manifold, engine assembly, exhaust manifold and thermostat housing.

  • Remove the cylinder head mounting bolts in the opposite sequence of the tightening. Look at a Nissan Maxima service book for the correct bolt sequence. Lift the cylinder from the Maxima and old gasket from the cylinder block. Use a light screwdriver if the head gasket is stuck to the unit.

  • Clean the cylinder head and mating surface of the gasket. Inspect the area for leaks, dents, crack or defects. Position the No.1 piston in Top Dead Center or TDC by turning the crankshaft. Install a new gasket and position the cylinder head. Use new mounting bolt on the cylinder head.

  • Insert the mounting bolts and tighten in five steps. Torque to 72 foot-pound for every bolt. Loosen each bolt. Torque to 26 to 32 foot-pounds. Turn the bolts an additional 90 to 95 degrees to the right. Pivot clockwise to an extra 90 to 95 degrees.

  • Replace and reconnect the exhaust manifold, thermostat housing, intake manifold, fuel injection assembly, camshafts, timing chain, engine assembly and the battery cables. Place coolant in the reservoir. Refill the motor oil in the Maxima. Crank the engine and inspect for leaks.

Tips & Warnings

  • Review a Nissan Maxima repair manual for illustrations of various car parts.

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