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#4574180 - 11/14/17 07:44 PM Head gasket on 2.2 Chevy
ram_man Offline


Registered: 03/15/13
Posts: 3138
Loc: southern mo
So starting tomorrow I have a 95 cavalier in my garage that has a slight coolant leak at the back of the head (transmission side) just leaks externally. Hopefully I can just replace the gasket and the head be in good shape. Any tips or tricks when doing this? Short cuts ect. I know they are pretty easy all things considered.
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#4574204 - 11/14/17 07:57 PM Re: Head gasket on 2.2 Chevy [Re: ram_man]
clinebarger Offline


Registered: 12/19/13
Posts: 1560
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: ram_man
Any tips or tricks when doing this?


Have the head pressure checked & Surfaced, Check the block deck for flatness, Chase all the head bolt holes with a thread chaser, Use a GOOD torque wrench, Clean the mating surfaces really well.

Stay away from extra thick "rebuilder" head gaskets! These engines are dogs anyway without killing the "quench" & compression ratio.
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#4574291 - 11/14/17 09:02 PM Re: Head gasket on 2.2 Chevy [Re: ram_man]
andyd Online   content


Registered: 09/25/04
Posts: 6622
Loc: Marshfield , MA
Generic advice only: Establish TDC and set cam timing marks before removing anything beyond the spark plugs. Back the head off in 3 stages. Use a carpenter's level to check for flatness. If the engine has a timing chain. Check on line for a how to on immobilizing the chain.so you don't have to drop the oil pan to set the chain.
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#4574303 - 11/14/17 09:15 PM Re: Head gasket on 2.2 Chevy [Re: ram_man]
wtd Offline


Registered: 06/25/02
Posts: 1872
Loc: southwest Mo.
The 2.2 was famous for head gasket leaks. Every one I have owned, I've had to put a head gasket on and every one that I know that has a vehicle with the early 90's 2.2 had to have head gaskets as well.
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#4574317 - 11/14/17 09:34 PM Re: Head gasket on 2.2 Chevy [Re: ram_man]
gabriel9766 Online   content


Registered: 05/10/15
Posts: 905
Loc: Missouri
Fairly simple job. I did my first head gasket on a pontiac sunfire with the old OHV 2.2. It had an external HG leak right behind the motor mount.
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#4574327 - 11/14/17 09:50 PM Re: Head gasket on 2.2 Chevy [Re: ram_man]
cronk Online   content


Registered: 01/06/09
Posts: 1211
Loc: Watertown, New York
I believe the head bolts are one time use on those engines. Looks like Fel Pro sells them so should be able to get where you buy the gasket kit.
Definitely have a machine shop check the head, they typically weren't cracked when we did them at the shop , but did have a couple that were.

The old pushrod 2.2 was a tough engine, one in my S10 had around 200k with nothing but a water pump and a valve cover gasket.
The external head gasket leak was something I occasionally saw with them, but mine was a good one.
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#4574331 - 11/14/17 09:54 PM Re: Head gasket on 2.2 Chevy [Re: ram_man]
FlyNavyP3 Offline


Registered: 07/04/16
Posts: 1263
Loc: Jacksonville, FL
Pretty simple job all things considered. Leaving the intake and exhaust manifolds on when pulling the heads saves time. I'd highly recommend having the head machined and if in any doubt about if its the gasket or a cracked head have it pressure tested. While it's off at the machine shop getting milled have them install new valve seals.

New head bolts are a must.

Consider thermostat while its apart.

I prefer Fel-Pro gaskets personally. Victor gaskets are also acceptable. Stay away from no name eBay gasket sets.

Take lots of pictures and share.
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#4574339 - 11/14/17 10:03 PM Re: Head gasket on 2.2 Chevy [Re: ram_man]
Bud_One Offline


Registered: 04/19/14
Posts: 1737
Loc: Spring,Texas
Yes, pics please grin
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#4574375 - 11/14/17 10:40 PM Re: Head gasket on 2.2 Chevy [Re: ram_man]
ram_man Offline


Registered: 03/15/13
Posts: 3138
Loc: southern mo
I'll take pics. I hope to start on it in the next day or so depending on how busy work is.
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#4574396 - 11/14/17 11:13 PM Re: Head gasket on 2.2 Chevy [Re: ram_man]
Merkava_4 Offline


Registered: 01/30/07
Posts: 17501
Loc: Clovis, CA
Originally Posted By: ram_man
Any tips or tricks when doing this?


https://www.alldatadiy.com/buy/

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#4574595 - 11/15/17 07:35 AM Re: Head gasket on 2.2 Chevy [Re: wtd]
edwardh1 Offline


Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 2779
Loc: Coastal South Carolina
Originally Posted By: wtd
The 2.2 was famous for head gasket leaks. Every one I have owned, I've had to put a head gasket on and every one that I know that has a vehicle with the early 90's 2.2 had to have head gaskets as well.


our bought new 84 oldsmobile Ciera 4 cyl when new, would leak about one drop out of the head to block area each night..
Olds dealer under warranty replaced the head gasket once, then did it again after surfacing the head, then later (no computers in 84?) found a service bulletin that said many blocks built in a certain time span had a "porosity" in the block. so they replaced the block, reusing all the internal parts, though new bearings. that took dealer about a week. bad foundary work in making the block even tho GM had been making blockss forever. engine then ran past 100k and was passed on to my children.
However that was my last domestic car, since then Nissans, Honda and Toyota.


Edited by edwardh1 (11/15/17 07:36 AM)
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#4574610 - 11/15/17 07:47 AM Re: Head gasket on 2.2 Chevy [Re: ram_man]
StevieC Offline


Registered: 08/21/08
Posts: 17116
Loc: Ontario, Canada
I think from the ones dad and I did we backed off the tightness of the head bolts on the timing chain side ever so slightly from factory spec to extend head gasket life. Might want to google it but if memory serves me correctly that is what we did.
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#4574738 - 11/15/17 09:29 AM Re: Head gasket on 2.2 Chevy [Re: ram_man]
MarkM66 Offline


Registered: 10/19/10
Posts: 1516
Loc: stl
I'd buy a cheap used repair manual. Or maybe check the library.

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#4576734 - 11/17/17 06:50 AM Re: Head gasket on 2.2 Chevy [Re: ram_man]
jacobsond Offline


Registered: 06/30/12
Posts: 18
Loc: warm and sunny ND
If your not watching the head gasket can be put on backwards.There is a small coolant passage on one end and will be blocked if you have it flipped wrong.Not that I would ever do that and have to do the whole job over again after you hear coolant popping in the area of the head. smile

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#4577298 - 11/17/17 05:23 PM Re: Head gasket on 2.2 Chevy [Re: andyd]
eljefino Offline


Registered: 06/15/03
Posts: 32151
Loc: ME
Originally Posted By: andyd
Generic advice only: Establish TDC and set cam timing marks before removing anything beyond the spark plugs. Back the head off in 3 stages. Use a carpenter's level to check for flatness. If the engine has a timing chain. Check on line for a how to on immobilizing the chain.so you don't have to drop the oil pan to set the chain.


This car has a timing chain but the cam's in the block so it can just stay there all happy.

I did one of these on a 96 and it couldn't be simpler or more rednecky. I left the manifolds attached, lifted the head 1.5 inches, got in there with a scotchbrite* to clean stuff up, slipped a new gasket in, done in an afternoon.

This car isn't worth going to a machine shop over. The leak is 99% likely due to a crummy gasket and not some stress in the head or block warping it and taking the gasket with it.

* they say scotchbrite sheds stuff that winds up in the bearings wrecking them.

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