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2.3 Ford Head Gasket Change

Changing the head gasket on the Ford 2.3 is a fairly major operation, but because the whole motor is fairly easily to work on an experienced gasket changer can do it in a few hours. For details on getting the peripheral parts stripped away from the head, see Timing Belt Change. For details on getting the upper half of the intake manifold off, see Fuel Injector Swap. After the fuel rail has been pulled loose from the lower half of the intake manifold, you can leave it connected to the fuel lines and lay it on a rag on the fender. You will want to leave the lower half of the intake manifold attached to the head to make breaking the head loose from the block and lifting it out of the engine bay easier. Also, since the head is coming out, you'll need to disconnect the exhaust manifold, thermostat housing (drain the coolant first), and the timing belt tensioner. Another thing is to remember to disconnect the oil line from the turbo. The exhaust manfold should be able to just sit in it's regular location, supported by the turbo, which is supported by the downpipe and turbo support bracket.

After removing the head bolts, lift up on the lower intake manifold to break the head loose from the block. The head is heavy for one person stretched out over a fender to lift, so you may want to arrange for an extra person before hand. Once the head is out of the engine bay, it's time to clean off the block surface. You'll need a gasket scraper, and you'll want to get the deck and head mating surface as clean as possible. This is a great time to take the head to a machine shop and get a valve job, and maybe even some porting and a new cam. This is how a cleaned up and reassembled stock head looks when ready to go back in:

Intake Side

Exhaust Side

Hopefully at this point you know whether you're reusing the stock head bolts, new head bolts, or studs. When in doubt, reusing the stock bolts should be fine if they came out OK. The big advantage of studs (in addition to strength) is that they can hold the head gasket in place during installation. Their biggest disadvantage is that it can be very difficult to get the head on and off a studded block due to the weight, akward lifting angle, and height that the head must be lifted above the block to clear the studs. It's now time to put the head back on the block, positioned correctly in conjunction with the gasket. Once again, two people would be a big help here. Installing the lower half of the intake manifold prior to installation is also a good thing. Don't forget to install the oil pressure sending unit on the head before you put it on. It's a big pain afterwards.

With the head in position install the head bolts. A torque wrench is required at this point, and should be used to torque all the bolts to 30ft/lbs using the pattern desribed in the manual. The pattern starts in the middle and then alternates to the ends. After this step, repeat using 60ft/lbs, and then again using 90ft/lbs. Check all the fasteners one more time at 90ft/lbs just to make sure.

Now it's time to start putting it back together. ***IMPORTANT*** If you don't remember anything else, remember to get the oil line to the turbo hooked back up. Bolt up the exhaust manifold, thermostat housing, and timing belt tensioner. Get the fuel system and upper manifold hooked back up as decribed in Fuel Injector Swap. Once all that has been done, instructions for putting the rest back together can also be seen at Timing Belt Change. At this point you should be all set, and ready to fire it up! If you've installed a new non-roller cam, be sure to follow proper cam break in procedure by using convetional oil and keeping the motor above 3000 RPM for the first 30 minutes of operation. If you have problems getting it running right, run it as little as possible below 3K, and shut it off when making changes. Don't let it sit and idle before break-in is complete.


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Page last updated: Friday, 28-Oct-2005 11:26:06 EDT