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Volvo Head Gasket – Repair Tips

Volvo Head Gasket

See what our members have to say about head gasket repair.

A head gasket is a gasket that sits between the engine block and cylinder head(s) in an internal combustion engine. Its purpose is to seal the cylinders to ensure maximum compression and avoid leakage of coolant or engine oil into the cylinders; as such, it is the most critical sealing application in any engine, and, as part of the combustion chamber, it shares the same strength requirements as other combustion chamber components.

MVS Forum Member sntee says:

I said in an earlier posting that I would let anyone that was interested know how my Cylinder head gasket change had gone.

I won’t bore you all with the details but I did learn a few things that MAY be relevant to some other recent threads….

Here’s my Top Ten –

1) My mystery oil loss and fumes in the cabin problems turned out to be a worn out rear camshaft oil seal. The oil was running out of the Cam position Sensor, down the back of the engine and onto the exhaust manifold. It was then burning off (hence the fumes and no drips on the driveway).

2) Exhaust manifold gaskets are a b#tch to fit – see my other thread “Vacuum Routing Diagram?” for details.

3) There is a hard plastic tube sheathed in foam insulation, that runs around the front of the engine (under the Inlet manifold) to the oil seperator and it is incredibly brittle! I managed to break mine in two places just moving it about 😡 and I’ve yet to discover the implications of this, so if anyone can enlighten me I’d appreciate it.

4) My Distributor and Rotor Arm were completely shot. An area that often gets overlooked when trying to diagnose faults. I’d recommend anyone with a high miler takes a look next time they’re under their bonnet (hood).

5) A head gasket change on these beasts is one hell of a task for an amateur. Took me 4 full days from start to finish. I was extremely careful about every step….. and still managed to bugger it up!!!

6) Haynes manuals were written by the inventor of chocolate fireguards 😯

7) Having said that, I followed their very vague instructions for making homemade tools as an alternative to the stupidly expensive Volvo items (cam locking tool, Cam Pulley counter hold tool, etc.) and I have to say they worked fine and cost a total of about

MVS Forum Member rothgar adds:

Loved your post as I am in the early minutes of doing my head gasket. My car’s overall condition is too dicey to spend 2 grand on this repair. But I am having trouble with step 1 — removing the intake manifold. I am missing some bolts since I can’t get this beast to budge. So far, I’ve found 2 bolts under the intake manifold but am having trouble finding the third.

Any clues would be appreciated 😕

BTW: This comes from a Volvo Master Tech. If you are having overheat or stalling problems check and/or replace your thermostat. The darn things come apart. I was told my 94 850 was toast by a friendly roadside service station — who refused to install the Thermostat I’d bought. Got the car home and installed the new one and viola — except for blowing incredible amounts of anti-freeze through the engine it works. It’s the blowing A/F through the engine that is spurring my Head gasket replacement.

Love all the details you can remember!!

Volvo Head Gasket – Repair Tips


Tony Chang says:

Thank you for putting up this tutorial for replacing top gasket. for your information,I am in Hong Kong. My Volvo is a 1998 S-70. Overheating and loosing coolant for years.
Volvo agent in HKG wanted lots of money to repair without assurance they can resolve my problem. They wanted me buy a new model.
After reading your instruction, I instructed our auto mechanic to do the job. the problem is now solved over the weekend repair.
thank you very much.


Where do I get a step by step instructions? thanks

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