What Is Cylinder Head Warpage and What Causes It?

Categories: Cylinder Head Tips

Cylinder heads are an essential part of your vehicle’s engine (whether it’s a car, truck, or boat). If something goes amiss with this important piece of equipment, then you will likely have many other problems you will have to address. Therefore, it’s important to know what a healthy cylinder head looks like so you can assess if your cylinder head has any damage. Being able to assess cylinder head warpage or damage will also guide or allow you to understand what your next course of action should be. A common problem you may face is cylinder head warpage, and it’s important to understand what it looks like and how it could happen so you can avoid or recognize it in the future.

What is a Cylinder Head?

Unless you are a car buff or have had experience with problems under the hood before, you may be wondering just what a cylinder head is. Located on top of the cylinder block on the engine, this combustion chamber can house components, such as the valves, spark plugs, and fuel injectors. It also has intake and exhaust valves to let the air escape as well as holes to allow coolant from the radiator and oil to flow through to the engine. Cylinder heads differ from vehicle to vehicle, and you may find you have one of these types:

  • Flathead Cylinder Heads
  • Overhead Valve Cylinder Heads
  • Overhead Camshaft Cylinder Heads

If you are unsure which cylinder head your vehicle requires, Clearwater Cylinder Head has a large online (and offline – please call us if you have a unique car / classic car) inventory and variety of cylinder heads to choose from based on the make and model of your vehicle.


What Is Cylinder Head Warpage?

Cylinder head warpage means your cylinder head is misshapen enough that it can cause leaks under your hood because it does not seal and sit in place like it was originally shaped to do. Cylinder head warpage is a critical issue for vehicles and, if left untreated, can cause many other issues, such as gasket failure. Untreated cylinder head warpage may even lead to the need for full engine replacement. Below is a YouTube video that provides more info on cylinder head warpage and diagnosis.



What Causes Cylinder Head Warpage?

The warping of cylinder heads can have a few different causes, but overheating is the main reason that vehicles experience this distortion. When the cylinder head is exposed to higher than normal temperatures, it expands in its place. Once the cylinder head cools, the material it is made of contracts and it shrinks back to its original size. This cooling down and shrinking process will lead it to taking a shape that is different from its original condition and will lead to damage to your vehicle if it goes unchecked.

How To Prevent Engine Overheating?

The best way to prevent cylinder head warpage is to prevent what can cause it. Fortunately, overheating is not too difficult to prevent and doing so can save you thousands over time. We recommend following the tips listed below to avoid overheating your vehicle.

  • Keep your vehicle properly checked and maintained
  • Check your cooling systems frequently and replace parts if needed
  • Make sure you fill your radiator up with coolant
  • Inspect and clean your radiator often
  • Maintain and check your drive belt


Cylinder Head Experts – Clearwater Cylinder Head, Inc.

As an owner of an older vehicle or boat, you may be running into problems concerning its cylinder head. If you notice things such as overheating, white smoke appearing when starting the vehicle, excessive oil consumption, low coolant levels, or poor fuel economy you may be in need of a replacement. Since a cylinder head can be tricky to replace, Clearwater Cylinder Head Inc. would be more than happy to assist you and get you back on the road (or water) with our selection of replacements. With over 25 years of experience and a massive catalog of products, Clearwater Cylinder Head provides professional and friendly support for all of your cylinder head needs. Feel free to contact Clearwater Cylinder Head Inc. toll-free at 1-800-572-1963. We look forward to providing you with excellent service as recently highlighted in this November 2020 customer review left on our Google My Business page.


I purchased a new cylinder head for a 96 Ford Ranger 2.3 Lima. The head was shipped on time and fit perfectly. It was fully assembled with cam, valves and springs. Returning the core was easy in the same carton the new head was shipped. I would definitely recommend Clearwater Cylinder Head. Great price, better than the rebuilt heads at the chain stores. – R.S.