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Blown head Gasket

I’ve got a 2003 Eclipse RS (2.4L inline 4) with a blown head gasket. i’m looking through the service manual and came upon something that i was unsure of. Should i only replace the cylinder head gasket, or the entire head gasket set?

You’ll be hard pressed to remove the cylinder head without removing the exhaust mainfold, intake manifold, and valve cover. The head gasket alone is not enough new gaskets for the job. Get the head gasket set, and you should have more than enough gaskets to do a proper job.

Also, since the cylinder head is made of aluminum, I’d STRONGLY suggest you have a machine shop check it for flatness, and maybe shave it flat if need be. Otherwise, you could be doing this job again in the near future.

Alright. I’m attaching a link to the full set web page. Any chance you’d be kind enough to briefly give me a synopsis of each piece in the image if at all possible?
The top gasket is the head gasket.
The next gaskets including the 5 rings are valve cover gasket set.
The next two rows are throttle body gaskets and intake manifold gasket.
The two rows after that are the exhaust manifold gaskets.
The 16 small round seals are valve seals.
The remaining seals are various seals that are required for emissions ports, coolant ports, and various other ports that may need to be replaced if the cylinder head needs more machine work.

You may not need every gasket and seal in this kit. There always seems to be leftovers when I do a job. But, I will use the major gaskets. This is a much better option than trying to re-use gaskets or using gasket seal goop that’s guarantied to leak later.

Perfect. I do appreciate the help. Last question(s)- other than purchasing the head bolts, is it a good idea to buy new bolts for the other gaskets?

Also, this blow out was diagnosed by watching for air bubbles flowing continuously from the radiator, as well as overheating and so much pressure buildup that the coolant forced through not only the original clamp, but an additional clamp that i placed on the hose to stop a previous leak. Does this sound right, or should i take it in and have it diagnosed in shop?

No need to. The head bolts are special Torque-to-yield bolts that will stretch to their limit when originally installed. Once this happens, they will not be able to be reused. The other bolts are not like this, and can be re-used without worry.

Alright. Do appreciate the help. About the second opinion via a dealership or repair shop, is the second opinion worth it?

It seems like you are not sure if the head gasket is blown. I am not sure if the bubbles you describe mean the gasket is gone. Have you looked at the oil and the coolant. Also a pressure test of the cylinders might be in order. Last but not least if you don’t address the original cause of overheating the new gasket is going to be history pretty soon too.

there is no milky coloring in the oil, but there is definitely something causing a lot of pressure. today i had someone start my car and rev it while in neutral. at about 2000 rpms air bubbles began spewing out of the radiator. does this not indicate compression being lost to the coolant system?

One backyard test to verify if a head gasket is leaking in the combustion chamber area can be done like this.

With the engine cold loosen the radiator cap to release any pressure in the system if it exists.
Retighten the cap.
Start the engine and allow it to run for about a minute.
Shut the engine off and loosen the radiator cap.
If you hear a noticeable hiss sound when the cap is loosened then odds are the head gasket is gone.

If the car has high mileage or has suffered any overheating then at a bare minimum the valve stem seals should be replaced while the head is off.
High mileage means that preferably the cylinder head should have a valve job performed along with resurfacing if needed.

And a new thermostat should always be part of a head gasket job. It’s cheap insurance.

will do. thanks!