M30 Headgasket replacement, part 1

January 20, 2003

Reading time ~2 minutes

On the weekend of 12th January 2002 I was invited by H at Ashford Motorsport to visit him and let him replace my head gasket for me. I was planning to do it in the street outside my house when H intervened with his offer, and a good job it was too - we started at 14:00 and didn’t finish until 03:00 the following day. Imagine how long it would have taken me on my own (well actually I would probably have broken it beyond repair). Read on for part 1. My head gasket had sprung a leak at the front right corner, just behind the distributor. Coolant was escaping under pressure. Fortunately it wasn’t contaminating the oil, but it did mean regular coolant top-ups (every day the header tank was completely empty).

Here are the replacement parts I had bought for the job. I got most of them from Euro Car Parts.

First, the new gasket itself, and the rocker cover gasket:

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If you’ve never seen a head gasket before, you will be surprised at how well made they are. I was expecting a piece of paper, but as you can see they are quite thick, and some of the holes (like the cylider bore holes) are reinforced with metal.

Here’s a closer look

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You also need 14 new head bolts

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These are the combined gaskets and heat shields from the exhaust manifold

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This is the new seal for the camshaft, where it comes out behind the distributor to drive the rotor arm

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There were three bags of assorted components, here is the first…

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…the second…

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…and the third.

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The long strips in bag 1 and 2 are for the sides of the top timing chain cover. The 12 parts in bag 3 are valve stem seals. I didn’t bother with those as I didn’t strip down the head. Most of bag 2 is inlet manifold gaskets. This is the new thermostat

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More to come in Part 2.

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