How to Replace the Head Gasket on a Honda Element

by Kyla Chele Cambrooke

Whether you have a two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive Honda Element, replacing the head gasket is essentially the same process. Most of the upper engine parts need to come out of the vehicle to locate the gasket. The head gasket sits lodged between the cylinder head and the engine block. When you change the gasket, make sure you torque the cylinder head bolt in the correct sequence for the engine.

Step 1

Raise the front section of the Honda Element with a floor jack and support the vehicle in the air with jack stands. Slide a drain pan beneath the radiator drain plug to empty the cooling system. Glide another clean pan under the engine oil reservoir to drain the motor oil. Disconnect the positive and negative battery cables from the terminal.

Step 2

Alleviate the pressure from the fuel system. Find the fuel pump fuse located under the hood and labeled "fuse." Pull the fuse out of the box with your fingers or pliers. Turn the Honda Element on and allow the vehicle to idle and eventually it will stall.

Step 3

Label and tag each upper engine car part as you remove and disconnect the part from the boxed-shaped vehicle. Remove, unlatch or separate the belts, covers and assemblies, including the accessory drive bolt, engine appearance cover, breather pipe, brake booster vacuum line, air cleaner, intake air duct, manifolds and throttle cable linkage.

Step 4

Separate the numerous hoses, such as the brake booster vacuum hose, heater hoses, evaporative "EVAP" canister hose, upper radiator hose and lower radiator hose.

Step 5

Lift the camshaft pulley from the vehicle and slip off the timing belt. Take off the motor mount bracket bolt on the side of the cylinder head.

Step 6

Loosen the 10 bolts on the cylinder head in the appropriate sequence for the Honda Element. The cylinder head bolt numbers for the loosening sequence on a Honda Element with a 2.4-liter engine are 1, 5, 7, 9 and 3. The lower-level head bolt numbers are 2, 4, 10, 8 and 6. Note bolt No. 1 sits along the outer-right portion of the cylinder head on the top and bolt No. 2 sits on the bottom section on the outer-right portion of the cylinder head.

Step 7

Wipe, scrap and clean the mating surfaces. Position the new head gasket on the cylinder block. Make sure the gasket has the word "front" or "top" facing upward. Place the cylinder over the gasket. For proper installation, line up the gasket and cylinder head with the dowel pins.

Step 8

Torque the new head bolts in the correct tightening sequence. The upper-level head bolts numbers are 6, 4, 2 and 8. The lower head bolt numbers are 7, 1, 3 and 5. There are two bolts on the left, outer side of the cylinder head. Torque bolt nos. 1 to 8 to 29 foot-pounds with a torque wrench and use a torque angle meter to pivot the bolts an extra 90 degrees. Tighten the two outer bolt numbers 9 and 10 to 8.75 foot-pounds.

Step 9

Replace the components on the Honda Element, including the timing chain and camshaft sprocket. Continue the process in the opposite order of the removal. Pour new coolant in the cooling system. Place new motor oil in the reservoir. Connect both battery cables to the terminal. Look at the Element for any leaks.

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