How to Change a Saab Head Gasket

by Kyla Chele Cambrooke

A head gasket separates the cylinder head and the engine block. It helps keep the motor oil and coolant from combining while the two fluids flow through the cylinder head and engine block. The head gasket also holds in the internal combustion. Reasons for replacing a head gasket can include installation issues, damaged bolts or a weak gasket design.


Drain the cooling system. This prevents the pistons and crankcase from filling up with coolant. Unscrew the plug under the air conditioner compressor or behind the power steering pump to empty the coolant. The coolant drains faster once you push a screwdriver into the container to remove corrosion buildup.


Use a 1 1/16 socket to take off the chain tensioner. Take off the 14-mm sprocket bolts and drop the chain below the cylinder head surface. Try to keep the camshaft from moving. Push a screwdriver into the sprocket and place it on the head.


Take out the air conditioner compressor on the radiator, exhaust, intake manifold and fuel rail with the attached injectors. Take out the two bolts on the timing chain cover under the head. Take out the rest of the bolts on the head gasket.


Position the camshaft bearing caps in the exact location the manufacturer recommends. Remove the ignition distributor mounting. Resurface the cylinder head if damaged. Keep the springs and valves in place. Use 80-grit sandpaper to clean the engine block and rinse it with a solvent. Replace the timing chain when the engine has more than 100,000 miles.


Install the head gasket and bolt to the radiator. Place sealant only on the block’s timing cover and the block’s end plate. Replace the camshafts and align them so the cam bearing cap bolts allow the oil to flow to the hydraulic lifters. Replace the bolts for the timing-cover-to-cylinder head bolts, camshaft sprockets and timing chain. Sprockets should torque 48 foot-lbs.


Take off the middle bolt on the chain tensioner. Lug on the spring-loaded type bolt and glide in the pressure lever. Position the chain tensioner and place the spring assembly inside the tensioner.

Items you will need

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