Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How to Buy a Good Quality Cylinder Head

The cylinder head is one of the single most critical parts of your car’s mechanics, and one part that can trigger the most engine damage if it becomes compromised.

The cylinder head, along with the head gasket, sits on top of the engine block, creating a perfect seal over the cylinders that allows the pistons to function and protects the engine’s delicate components. It also maintains the vacuum necessary for the engine to operate normally. If this cylinder head develops a leak, cracks, or sustains other damage, it can bring the engine to a grinding halt – and quickly. The damage caused by a bad cylinder head can be so severe that the engine itself could end up needing replacement.

Obviously you want to keep the head in the best possible condition in order to keep your engine running smoothly and prevent significant damage. If something does happen to it, you’ll want to have a mechanic check out the problem immediately. Signs of a bad cylinder head include:

  • Leaking oil around the head – engine oil circulates in the engine block so if there’s a crack or other compromise, oil may seep out.

  • Misfiring – because the head maintains proper compression in the engine, if it’s damaged you will notice the engine “missing” or running abnormally.

  • Leaking coolant – anti-freeze keeps the engine cool, and if you notice it leaking around the head, there’s likely a problem.

  • Smoking head – the operation of the engine produces smoke, so if the head is leaking you may see it coming through.

If you’re lucky enough to catch the broken head before your engine blows, there are some things you should take into consideration to prevent the problem from happening with the new cylinder head.

How to make sure you’re getting a good quality cylinder head

  • Be careful with rebuilt cylinder heads. This is a very expensive part (from $200 up to a thousand or more) so you may be eager to save a few hundred by going with a remanufactured head. If you do choose this route, only go with a shop that has positive reputation, and make sure you ask to see all the documentation for the new parts used in the rebuild. It can be reasonable to go with remanufactured cylinder heads for a very old vehicle that may not outlast a pricey brand new head.

  • Choose compatible metal. Cylinder heads come in aluminum or cast iron but don’t just choose randomly – use whatever your engine block is made of. The two metals contract and expand at different rates under heat and pressure so mismatched components is just asking for cracking.

  • Make sure the bolts match. Whether your head cracks or the bolts aren’t the right ones for the head and engine block, it won’t matter how the damage happens once your engine blows. Improperly fitting bolts won’t hold the head in the tight fit needed to protect your engine.

  • Look for a warranty – even on rebuilds. Get the best possible mix of guarantee and price that you can afford.

Replacing your engine’s cylinder head is a difficult, involved process that is best performed by an experienced mechanic. YourMechanic supplies top-quality cylinder heads to our certified mobile technicians. We can also install a cylinder head/temperature sensor that you've purchased. Click here to get a quote for a cylinder head/ temperature sensor replacement

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

How to Buy Fuel Treatments
Adding a fuel additive to your gas tank when you fill up is one way to clean vital engine parts of deposits, improve the performance of your engine,...
The Traveler’s Guide to Driving in Malaysia
CraigBurrows / Shutterstock.com Malaysia is a popular destination for many tourists today. The country has amazing sights and attractions that you will want to explore....
Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in New Mexico
The state of New Mexico offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch...


Related questions

Q: Stalls when shifting and oil leak issue. 2000 Mercedes Benz E55 AMG

First, check to see if the brake light is on when the vehicle is running in park. If the brake lights are on or the brake is pushed at the same time the gas pedal is pushed, you will get...

Q: Misfire on cylinders 1&4

It sounds like it could be the harness and simply disturbing it by swapping connectors eliminated cylinder #1 from misfiring, for now. Having owned a few VAG products and having many friends with them, you might want to try a...

Q: What is wrong with my car?

Hi, it sounds like you are having a few issues with your car. The P0117 code you received is the coolant temp sensor failure. Although your gauge is not reading high, with the coolant temp sensor failing, the gauge will...