When Can I Resurface My Diesel Engine Cylinder Head?

Have you thought much about your cylinder head? Well, we have! Today we're going to let you know when you can safely resurface your diesel engine cylinder head.

 

 

We get a lot of questions about cylinder head resurfacing. Does it need to be done? How many times can I do it? What are the advantages? We're going to fill you in on exactly what you need to know!


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What is Cylinder Head Resurfacing? 

When you resurface a cylinder head you're basically making the flat surface that goes against the block true again. It's going to make it completely flat.

 

cylinder-head-resurfacing | Highway & Heavy Parts

 

When you have a failure, maybe a blown head gasket or overheating, sometimes that cylinder head will warp and it will be uneven. Overheating is a common cause of cylinder head issues, because when a head is heated to a temperature outside of standard operating conditions, it will expand. When it cools, there's a good chance that it won't settle back into its correct shape, and will become distorted.

This warping makes it hard to hold a head gasket, which can lead to leaks. So cylinder head resurfacing is a great way to fix that problem, if the issue isn't too severe.

If you're interested in cylinder head failures, check out our failure analyses on warped and pitted heads and cracked heads.

 

Problems with Cylinder Head Resurfacing

While it might seem as though resurfacing your cylinder head is the best way to get some more miles out of it, there are some reasons you might not want to do so.

Each cylinder head has a minimum thickness that it can be, and you can only take that much off the head. This is for a couple of reasons:

First, when you take material off the head, you're taking strength out of the deck.

Second, a lot of engines today are overhead cam engines, and when you lower the cylinder head down on the block, every time you resurface it, it comes a little lower—and lower and lower. Eventually, the adjustable idler gears on the front of those engines sometimes don't have enough adjustment to make up for how much we've taken off the head.

 

lowering-cylinder-head-on-block-cylinder-head-resurfacing | Highway & Heavy Parts

So each cylinder head will have a minimum thickness, and that's what we really need to concentrate on.

 

When Not to Resurface Your Cylinder Head

volvo-engine-cylinder-head-resurfacing | Highway & Heavy Parts

 

Sometimes it's just not possible for you to resurface your cylinder head. There are heads out there, say the Volvos' for instance, that don't have an adjustable idler gear on the front. You can't take anything off those heads, because when you put the head on, it will lower the cam gear down into the gear that drives it. This will cause the lash to go away, or the clearance to go away, and that's not a good situation.

 

If you need tips on installing or re-installing your cylinder head, we've got 'em!

If you find that resurfacing your cylinder head isn't the right fix for your diesel engine, check out our selection. We have a complete stock of new and reman cylinder heads for Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel, Navistar, and more—whatever your needs are, we've got you covered!

 

Have more questions about cylinder heads or any other diesel engine component? Call our certified techs at 844-215-3406, or you can always request a quote online!