How to Replace a Head Gasket on a Motorcycle

by Jason Marker
itstillruns article image
modern sports motorcycle image by terex from

While smaller and seemingly less complicated than an automobile's engine, a motorcycle engine is still a complex arrangement of components. Where these components meet, gaskets are used to create seals to prevent the leakage of lubricants, coolants and gases. Due to a number of factors such as age, frequency of use, overpressure and the constant heating and cooling cycles of normal use, gaskets can and will eventually fail. A failed gasket can cause a minor oil leak or a catastrophic coolant leak, and any gasket that has failed should be immediately replaced to ensure the longevity of your motorcycle engine.

Step 1

Remove the exhaust headers, fuel tank and any fairings or obstructions per the instructions in your shop manual. For liquid-cooled motorcycles, drain coolant per the instructions in your shop manual. Set parts aside in a safe place to prevent damage.

Step 2

Loosen the cylinder head bolts and gently remove the cylinder head. Remove the old gasket and use the gasket scraper to remove any gasket remnants from the cylinder and cylinder-head gasket surfaces.

Step 3

Lightly coat the new gasket with gasket dressing and place it on the gasket surface of the cylinder. Carefully replace the cylinder head and cylinder head bolts. Tighten the cylinder head bolts to the torque specs outlined in your shop manual.

Step 4

Replace the exhaust headers, fuel tank, fairing and any other part you removed to access the cylinder head. For liquid-cooled motorcycles, refill the cooling system with fresh coolant per the instructions in your shop manual.

More Articles

article divider