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In the next couple of weeks I'm going to replace the cylinder head on my Mk1 1.6 (see here for reason), having never done this before I'm after some Top-Tips/ Do's & Dont's and have a few questions about the process.

*I have sourced a replacement (used) head which has been skimmed and has the valves, springs, hla's and cams all in place (so more or less complete).*

- Are the cylinder head bolts a standard Torx fitting?

- Can I re-use the existing cylinder head bolts or will I need to get new ones?

- Is there any point in cleaning up the head before I put it on? if so, how?

- If the new head has been sat on a shelf for a while, will the hla's be ok? will they pump up with oil once the engine is started up?

- Any special tools that I need for the job or tools that will make my life easier?

It'll be a couple of weeks till I can get back home and pick up the replacement head, I'll pick up my copy of Rod Graingers workshop manual and some tools whilst I'm there too.

In the meantime I'm going to begin ordering the parts I need so they're waiting for me to collect when I get home.
Things like...

- complete headgasket set (Autolink)
- injector o-rings & seals (I may as well fit the dual-feed rail I have)
- any specialist tools I'll need.

All I'm after here is a quick head swap, I'm not interested in any performance work being done to the head (ie porting, polishing, gas flowing etc etc) , I'd just like to get the car going as soon as possible.

I've searched but nothing comprehensive came up, hence all the questions.

4,202 Posts
Halli did me a quick guide as mine's coming off for work this week.

Hope he doesn't mind - but this is what he sent me:

Get some small freezer bags so you can group the nuts and bolts and write on the bags where they came from.
De-pressurize the fuel system (engine running and detach the yellow electrical block under the steering column)
Remove fuel filler lid.
Detach battery.
Take off all of the air intake up to the throttle body.
Drain oil and coolant.
Remove all coolant hoses to the cylinder head
Detach electrics to the throttle body.
Undo the throttle cable.
Remove the coil pack, leads and plugs. Unclip the electrics from the loom.
Remove the wire to the rear temperature sensor.
Remove the front temperature sensor completely - this will save you needing to buy a new one when you snap it off!!!
Remove the manifold nuts.
Remove the bracket bolt that is above the oil filter.
Remove the electrical clips for the Fuel injectors.
Remove the auxiliary belts (use tippex to mark the direction with an arrow)
Remove the water pump pulley.
Remove the cam cover/cam belt covers.
Mark up the cam belt at TDC with tippex. Mark where the belt touches the cams at the top (19 teeth between marks) and sides, mark the cams with an arrow or something to point up so you get the right orientation and mark the direction of the belt with an arrow.
Undo the fuel hoses where the hose meets the metal pipe (near the carbon cannister) (plenty of rags to soak up the fuel that will come out)
Undo the Cylinder head bolts using a size 12 multi point socket in the correct order to avoid bending the head. I can scan and send you the page from my manual if you need the order.
Just crack the bolts off in the correct order first.
Then quarter turn all bolts in correct order.
Then half turn all the bolts in the correct order.
Repeat half turns in correct order until finger loose.
Remove bolts - they can be used again (some cars they are only used once)
Take the whole cylinder head off WITH the intake manifold still attached (Soooo much easier than taking the manifold off first)
Then take the fuel rail off and the intake manifold.

Hope that helps,


275 Posts
Get some small freezer bags so you can group the nuts and bolts and write on the bags where they came from.
Do not be tempted to skip this step, you WILL forget where the various bolts go!

I've just refitted the head on my 1.8, and didn't need any special tools.
The only vaugely special bits I needed were various sized extensions to get to the bolts where the exhaust manifold meets the rest of the exhaust.

The heads of the head bolts on mine looked strange but come came off with a normal socket (12mm I think). It needs to be the type with lots of edges rather that just 6 flat edges though.
I reused the head bolts on mine, I hope that was the right thing to do...

While it's off and you've got access consider renewing the cambelt, waterpump, and front crank seal.

It's worth taking lots of photos of where things go too. I didn't and regretted it...
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