How to Replace a Head Gasket on a 24-Valve Cummins

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Cummins diesel engines are a common engine option in full-size Dodge trucks. The six-cylinder, 5.9-liter Cummins engine has four valves per cylinder for a total of 24 valves. The gasket between the cylinder head and the engine block forms a tight seal between these two components. A leaking head gasket can cause the oil in the vehicle to have a milky appearance when it becomes contaminated by coolant.

Things You'll Need

  • Socket wrench
  • Drain pan
  • Torque wrench
  • Place a clean container beneath the radiator, and open the drain cock with a socket wrench. Allow the coolant to drain into the pan, and save the coolant for reuse. Disconnect the cable from the negative battery terminal so you don't start the engine during the procedure.

  • Detach the accessory drive belt from its pulleys, and remove the alternator from the engine compartment with a socket wrench. Disconnect the air cleaner from the intake manifold. Remove the crankcase ventilation system and evaporative emissions system from the engine.

  • Remove the fuel lines from the fuel rail with a socket wrench. Disconnect the cables for the accelerator, cruise control and transmission to obtain access to the intake manifold. Remove the distributor cap with the electrical wiring still attached, and detach the electrical wiring from the ignition coil.

  • Detach the electrical connector from the engine coolant temperature sensor. Disconnect the water bypass hose and upper radiator hose from the engine to access the intake manifold. Remove the intake manifold and valve covers from the engine with a socket wrench.

  • Record the original position of the valve train components, including the rocker arms, push rods, exhaust manifolds and spark plugs. This ensures you can install these components in the correct position later. Remove the valve train components from the engine with a socket wrench.

  • Remove the mounting bolts for the cylinder head, and lift the cylinder heads from the engine block. Discard the gasket on the engine block.

  • Turn the crankshaft clockwise so that the timing marks for the crankshaft and camshaft do not align. This ensures that no piston is in the top dead center position when you install the cylinder head. Wait five minutes for the lash adjusters to depressurize before installing the cylinder head.

  • Place a new cylinder head gasket on the engine block, and mount the cylinder head on top of the gasket. Tighten the mounting bolts for the cylinder head to 50 foot-pounds with a torque wrench on the first pass and 105 foot-pounds on the second pass.

  • Install the valve train components to their original positions, using the notes you made in step five as a guide. Replace the additional components you removed to access the cylinder head by performing steps two through four in reverse.

  • Connect the cable for the negative battery terminal, and replace the coolant in the cooling system. Start the engine and check for fluid leaks.

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