Okay boys and girls, this is a fun one. After taking my sweet little time doing this repair, I now know more about head gasket repair than I ever cared to know. Before I started this repair, I didn't even know what a head gasket was. Now I consider myself an authority on them.
One thing that you should notice that I do throughout this repair. When I unbolt, unclamp or unscrew something, I put that bolt, clamp, or screw back into the hole that it came out of if possible. That's because I could never remember where all these darn bolts and screws go. Remember that as you look at most of my pictures.
As for tools, the only fancy thing that you will need for this job is a angle torque meter. When tightening the head bolts, it calls for 3 different passes. The first 2 passes are done using the torque settings of your torque wrench. The 3rd pass is done using the torque angle meter. You DO NOT want to try and guess at this last pass. These meters come in all kinds of different styles (analog and digital), and cost any where from $8 to a few hundred. The one pictured below was only $8. It is not as easy to use on some bolt locations but it will get the job done accurately.
You should also have a quality fender cover for this job. I found this on on sale for around $100. They are normally twice that much.
On a scale of easy to hard, this was kinda daunting. It is mainly labor intensive and the fact that I did it in my garage with no help kinda made it a little more challenging. Using jack stands and laying under the car to remove and reinstall the exhaust all by myself is an experience that I do not care to experience again anytime soon. Other than that, the right cylinder head is a LOT easier than the left side. I am going to keep my directions just as the service manual instructs for a 2001 Corvette.
Your engine may or may not differ slightly. In some places I will quote the manual, and then give a Layman's description of what the instructions are telling you to do (for people who find that working on cars can almost be rocket science
). With that said, let's get some!
Cylinder Head Removal - Right Side
Step 1. Remove the right fuel rail cover.
If you don't understand this instruction, put your tools away and take the car to someone qualified.
Step 2. Remove the secondary air injection (AIR) hose clamp.
- Two things to note here. First, getting your hands back behind the the right cylinder head to try and do this is next to impossible. Secondly, it is much easier just to remove the entire AIR pipe as one piece instead of trying to disassemble it first, as the service manual wants you to do in step 3. In my writeup, you will notice that the AIR pipe is still on the car during my entire dis-assembly. I had to remove both the right and left cylinder heads before I could get the AIR pipe off the engine.
Here's the hose clamp that they want you to remove. It is bolted to the back (next to the firewall) of the right cylinder head.
Step 3. Remove the AIR hose (1) from the check valve.
Here's a picture from the service manual.
Now here's what I suggest that you do. After you have unclamped the AIR pipe from the back of the right cylinder head (or removed the clamp), remove the entire AIR pipe as one piece. See the picture below. Getting to that bolt behind the left cylinder head is an adventure.
Step 4. Remove the AIR pipe bolts at the exhaust manifold.
AIR pipe removed.
If you are doing this the way that I have suggested, you can skip the next 4 steps because you have already completed them. I only post them so that you will have the steps specifically as they are listed in the service manual.
Step 5. Loosen, DO NOT remove the AIR pipe bolt at the rear of the left cylinder head.
Step 6. Slide the AIR pipe up and out from behind the bolt.
Step 7. Reposition the AIR pipe.
Step 8. Remove the AIR pipe gasket from the exhaust manifold.
Step 9. Remove the throttle position (TP) sensor harness clip from the positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) tube.
Step 10. Remove the PCV tube from the throttle body and rocker arm cover.
Step 11. If equipped with the regular production option (RPO) LS1 engine, remove the PCV valve pipe strap nut.
That would be this nut.
Step 12. Remove the PCV valve pipe from the right rocker arm cover and intake manifold.
Step 13. Disconnect the spark plug wires from the ignition coils and spark plugs.
- Twist the spark plug wire boot 1/2 turn.
- Pull only on the boot in order to remove the wire from the ignition coil.
Okay, the first time that I disconnected my wires, I tore the first one up. I spent a whole day trying to get out one spark plug. Now I can remove all 8 and the wires in about 30-40 minutes. How did I get so good? It's called motivation from experience. Each spark plug wire cost $26. It that doesn't motivate you to take your time, not get frustrated and tear up your wires, the cost of all 8 definitely will.
Step 14. Disconnect the ignition coil wire harness main electrical connector.
Step 15. Remove the ignition coil bracket studs.
Step 16. Remove the ignition coil bracket.
Step 17. Loosen the valve rocker arm cover bolts.
Step 18. Remove the valve rocker arm cover.
At this point, get out some PB Blaster and start soaking the cylinder head bolts. There are 15 of them (there are 5 that you can't see at this point just below the exhaust manifold). Those things will cause you to give birth to a trouser trout if you don't. They are tight like you wouldn't believe. When you go to reinstall them, you will quickly find out why they can't be reused and why they are such a PITA to remove.
Step 19. Remove the gasket (1) from the rocker cover. Discard the OLD gasket.
This is a no brainer. DO NOT be a cheap azz and reuse the old gasket.
Step 20. Remove the oil fill cap from the oil fill tube.
This is not necessary unless you are replacing the oil fill tube for some reason.
Step 21. Remove the oil fill tube, IF REQUIRED.
This is not necessary unless you are replacing the oil fill tube for some reason.
Step 21. Discard the oil fill tube IF YOU DO REMOVE IT FOR SOME REASON. Do NOT reuse it if you remove it.
Step 22. Clean and inspect the valve rocker arm cover.
Place the valve rocker arms, valve pushrods, and pivot support, in a rack so that they can be installed in the same location from which they were removed.
Step 23. Remove the valve rocker arm bolts.
Step 24. Remove the valve rocker arms
Step 25. Remove the valve rocker arm pivot support.
Step 26. Remove the pushrods.
Step 27. Clean and inspect the valve rocker arms and pushrods.
Removal of the intake manifold is NOT required to service the coolant air bleed pipe, but is required to service the coolant air bleed pipe covers and/or gaskets.
Step 28. Remove the intake manifold.
Instead of duplicating a writeup that I have already done, follow this link
to my EOP sensor replacement DIY, in which the manifold removal is explained in detail. You will find that you may have already completed a few steps of that DIY at this point. Once the manifold has been removed, continue to step 29.
Step 29. Remove the coolant air bleed hose from the throttle body, if required.
This hose should still be attached to the throttle body if you followed my EOP sensor writeup. Leave it attached there.
For the next 2 steps, see the picture below.
Step 30. Remove the coolant air bleed pipe studs (1).
Step 31. Remove the coolant air bleed pipe (2) with gaskets (3).
(For the next 2 steps, see the picture below. Note that I cannot remember a need to perform the next 2 steps as nothing is connected to these points at the back of the engine. Again, that's what I recall. I only include them to keep my instructions just as the service manual has them written.
Step 32. Remove the coolant air bleed pipe cover bolts (1), if required
Step 33. Remove the coolant air bleed pipe covers (2) with gaskets (3), if required
Step 34. Remove the gaskets from the coolant air bleed pipe and covers. Discard the gaskets.
You may get the idea that you can reuse these gaskets. Trust me, YOU CAN'T. Those tiny little gaskets can cause one big ol' leak. If you break the seal, REPLACE THEM.
Step 35. Remove the coolant air bleed hose (2) from the pipe (1).
That hose should still be connected to the throttle body from when you removed the manifold.
Step 36. Clean and inspect the coolant air bleed pipe.
Make sure that the surfaces of the pipe that will touch the gaskets are spotless. You want a solid connection there. Also, pay close attention to the way the gaskets are orientated. Don't install them backwards.
You are now ready to spend some time UNDER the car. Get your safety glasses ready. You don't want crap falling into your eyes.
Step 37. Raise and suitably support the vehicle.
In my EOP sensor DIY, I explain how I raise my vehicle. Remember, there are only 8 points that you can use to raise your vehicle. These locations are in your owner's manual.
Step 38. Remove the exhaust manifold nuts. (left side shown, right side similar)
These bolts are also a candidate for some PB Blaster. "Don't bust your knuckles, bust your nuts with PB Blaster!"
Step 39. Remove the connector position assurance (CPA) lock.
I must have read this instruction 20 times before I figured out what the CPA locks were! The CPA locks are the blue things that ensure that the heated oxygen sensor connectors stay connected. Some guys will get frustrated and cut them. I took the time to squeeze the ends of them with some needle nose pliers and unplug them.
Step 38. Disconnect the oxygen sensor electrical connector.
Handle the oxygen sensors carefully in order to prevent damage to the component. Keep the electrical connector and the exhaust inlet end free of contaminants. Do not use cleaning solvents on the sensor. Do not drop or mishandle the sensor.
Step 39. Remove the oxygen sensor.
Step 40. Lower the vehicle.
Step 41. Remove the oil level indicator tube.
Then gently wiggle the oil level indicator tube while lifting upward.
Allow the engine to cool before removing the spark plugs. Attempting to remove the spark plugs from a hot engine may cause the plug threads to seize, causing damage to cylinder head threads.
Clean the spark plug recess area before removing the spark plug. Failure to do so could result in engine damage because of dirt or foreign material entering the cylinder head, or by the contamination of the cylinder head threads. The contaminated threads may prevent the proper seating of the new plug. Use a thread chaser to clean the threads of any contamination.
Step 42. Remove the spark plugs.
The best advice that I can give you here is to just be patient. Once you've removed your spark plugs for the first time, it gets SIGNIFICANTLY easier to do it again from that point forward.
Step 43. Remove the exhaust manifold bolts.
If you think that you have removed all the exhaust manifold bolts and the thing still feels like it is stuck to the engine block, then you've missed a bolt somewhere. Double check to make sure you've removed them all. One bolt likes to hide. Although the manual doesn't say to do this, I replaced all of mine. When you see how rusty they are, you'll want to do the same. That's the last bolt that I want to break during my reassembly.
Step 44. Remove the exhaust manifold, and old gasket. Discard the gasket.
Step 45. If necessary, remove the exhaust manifold heat shield bolts and shield.
I seem to always find it necessary to get that damn thing out of the way. It is NOT a fun task.
The cylinder head bolts are NOT reusable!
Don't, in your wildest dreams think about reusing those bolts!
Step 46. Remove the cylinder head bolts.
There are 15 bolts. If you did not soak yours in PB Blaster, I hope you're wearing your Depends.
Step 47. Remove the cylinder head.
Step 48. Remove the cylinder head gasket.
Step 49. Discard the gasket.
Step 50. Discard the cylinder head bolts.