How to Remove Cylinder Headsby John Stevens J.D.
An engine's cylinder heads are responsible for delivering the engine's air/fuel mixture into the cylinders, as well as providing a means for the mixture to escape the engine via the exhaust pipe once it has been ignited by the spark plugs. Over time, the cylinder head's gasket can crack and/or corrode. When this occurs, oil and antifreeze mix with the air/fuel mixture inside the engine's combustion chamber, which in turn produces smoke from the exhaust pipe. Even if the gasket is not damaged, the cylinder head can crack if the engine is operated under extreme temperatures due to overheating. In either event, the first step in repairing the engine is removing the cylinder head.
Disconnect the exhaust manifolds from the side of the cylinder heads with a wrench. There are several bolts along the length of the manifold which are used to hold the manifold to the head. Once the bolts have been removed, pull the exhaust manifold away from the engine to disconnect it.
Remove the distributor from the intake manifold. The engine's distributor is installed through the top of the intake manifold, usually towards the back of the manifold. Remove the spark plug wires from the top of the distributor by gasping the wire where it meets the distributor and pulling each wire away from the distributor. Use a wrench to remove the single bolt which holds the distributor to the top of the intake manifold, then pull the distributor straight up to remove it.
Remove the spark plug wires which attach to the spark plugs on the cylinder heads by pulling each wire away from each plug.
Remove the valve covers from the top of each cylinder head. The valve covers attach to the cylinder head with a number of bolts located around the lip of the valve cover, which can be removed with a wrench. Once the bolts have been removed, pull the valve cover off of the cylinder head.
Remove the intake manifold. The intake manifold attaches to the cylinder heads with several bolts located on the sides of the manifold. Remove these bolts with a wrench, then pull the intake manifold away from the engine.
Remove the rocker arms and pushrods from the top of each cylinder head. There is one rocker arm and one pushrod per valve. Remove the single nut located on top of each rocker arm with a wrench, then lift the rocker arm off of the cylinder head. Once the rocker arm has been removed, pull the pushrod up through the cylinder head to remove it.
Remove the cylinder head by withdrawing each of the cylinder head's retaining bolts with a wrench, then by lifting the cylinder head off of the engine.