Cylinder Head Problems on a Caterpillar C15 Diesel Engine

As you might expect, Caterpillar C15 diesel engines are a very popular model with our customer base. If you're interested in the history of the C15, check out our C15 engine spotlight!

Over time, we've noticed a few similar questions popping up from our customers related to common cylinder head problems in this engine. We're going to cover these symptoms, why they're happening, and what solutions we have for you in this article!

You can also watch our Technical Sales Representative Rob McDowell explain some of this issues in our video:



If you're looking for a cylinder head for your C15, we've got 'em! Our ASE Certified Technicians will help you find fit for your engine!

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What are Some Common Problems with the Caterpillar C15 Cylinder Head?


Caterpillar c15 cylinder head | Highway & Heavy Parts


Some of the symptoms related to the Caterpillar C15 cylinder head we hear most frequently include:

  • Losing Coolant
  • Compression in the Cooling System
  • Fluid in the Exhaust
  • Compression Leak or Chirp Under Load
  • White Smoke Coming from Your Pipes
  • Sludge Under Your Oil Fill Cap
  • Overheating

But, it's not enough to just recognize the symptoms. You also need to understand why they're happening so that you can fix them!

Think you might need a new cylinder head? Check out our list of signs you need to replace your diesel cylinder head!

Why is my C15 Diesel Cylinder Head Having Problems?

Okay, so you know what's going on with your cylinder head, but the more important question might be why. 

With overheating, if the cooling system fails or the engine is loosing coolant, it cannot properly maintain its safe operating temperature. This leads to excessive heat and cracks forming in the cylinder head. These cracks are caused by the expansion and contraction of the cylinder head as the engine heats and cools beyond its normal safe operating conditions. 

Similarly, compression in the cooling system doesn't allow water to circulate properly, which results in overheating. 

Cracks in your cylinder head can cause other issues within your engine. They can allow coolant to enter the cylinders and engine block. This leads to oil contamination and other issues within your engine. If you want to know more about issues caused by cracks in your cylinder head, check out our cylinder head failure analysis!

Another issue that overheating can cause in your cylinder head is warping. As we mentioned above, if you have overheating, the cylinder head is heated and cooled past what is normal. This causes it to expand past its limits, and then it often will not go back to its normal shape. Instead, it will become distorted. Among other things, this, too, can lead to cracks in your cylinder head.


What Solutions are There for My C15 Cylinder Head?


Caterpillar c15 cylinder head replacement | Highway & Heavy Parts


When your cylinder head becomes damaged like this, it's important to find out the cause of the failure. Otherwise, you'll continue to have problems with it until you fix the larger issue.

And if you're experiencing a C15 cylinder head failure, we have the solution for you! Highway & Heavy Parts has a large selection of cylinder heads for your diesel engine, including the 20R2646 cylinder head, which is brand new with valves. We can help you find the right fit for your engine!


Do you need a new cylinder head or any other part for your diesel engine? Our ASE Certified Technicians are here to help! Give us a call at 844-304-7688, or request a quote online!

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