What is an Engine Head?

Categories: Cylinder Head Tips

Engine heads are critical for any vehicle to run smoothly. Often referred to as cylinder heads, this part sometimes needs replacing in older vehicles or cars which have done many miles. Keep reading to discover what an engine head is and whether you need to replace or upgrade yours for your vehicle to remain in optimum condition.


What is an Engine Head or Cylinder Head?

The cylinder head is the part that sits at the very top of the engine. The aim of the engine head is to create a seal at the top of the engine cylinder, which in turn makes the combustion chamber. It also contains the spark plugs and valve gear for your engine and has passageways that the oil and coolant will pass through. It’s a critical part of any engine, and one that you’ll find should last for many years when it is cared for correctly.


What Parts Are In An Engine Head?

There are multiple parts that make up the cylinder head. Firstly, you’ll find the head gasket, which sits between the engine block and the cylinder head. This stops the oil and coolant from leaking. There are also exhaust and intake ports, which will help to remove the gases produced during the combustion process. The cylinder head valves open and close to let in fuel and air with a larger intake valve and smaller sized exhaust valve. The combustion chamber and fuel injector are also integral parts of the engine head, helping it to function properly at all times.


What Does An Engine Head Do?

The main purpose of the engine head is to create a combustion chamber by sealing the top of the cylinder. It also houses the spark plugs and valve gears, which are important parts of any engine. No engine will be able to work without an engine head, which is why it needs to be maintained well as your vehicle ages.


Do Engine Heads Add Horsepower?

While adding horsepower isn’t the main aim of the engine head, you’ll find that it does work to increase torque and horsepower. You may want to consider upgrading your cylinder head, but don’t expect this to completely change the horsepower of your vehicle. This will be very dependent on your car and the quality of the new cylinder head.


What Does Upgrading Cylinder Heads Do?

Choosing a new cylinder head to upgrade your vehicle can offer many benefits. You may notice increased horsepower, an improvement to the throttle response, and better torque curves. Just make sure you work with a mechanic to choose the right cylinder head for your vehicle, or you may find you decrease the power of your car with the incorrect choice.


How Much Does It Cost To Replace Engine Heads?

When it comes to replacing your engine head, you either have the option of DIYing this project yourself or working with a mechanic. Many people opt to go down the DIY route, as this can be a very expensive task for a professional to undertake. Typically, it costs between $2,000 and $3,500 for a cylinder head replacement. This factors in both the cost of the new head and the labor, but it may be higher or lower based on the vehicle you drive.


What Are Common Engine Head Problems?

While cylinder heads typically last for many years at a time, there are some common issues that you may face as your vehicle ages. The number one issue we see with engine heads is overheating. This can be caused by a variety of issues, such as loss of coolant, restriction to the flow of the coolant, or head gasket failure. When the engine head overheats, it may become cracked and damaged. However, the worst-case scenario would be that it causes damage to your whole engine. If you notice smoke coming from your exhaust, then this is a clear indication that there is an issue with the cylinder head.

Poor engine performance is likely when you have issues with your cylinder head. If the engine head cracks or becomes damaged, it won’t be able to burn fuel efficiently, which may lead to you needing to restart your car more frequently. Oil leaking is another indicator of issues with the cylinder head, as is a drop in the coolant level. It’s important that you get any of these issues checked out immediately, as they may result in long-term problems or damage to your entire engine if the engine head is left too long without being replaced or fixed.


How Do You Know If Your Engine Head Is Damaged?

There are many signs that your engine head is damaged that you should be aware of. Smoke coming from the engine is a huge sign that something isn’t right, as is a leak of oil or coolant. These signs suggest you need to stop and investigate what is wrong with the engine head before assessing whether it can be repaired or needs replacing completely.


Will A New Cylinder Head Improve Vehicle Performance?

A cylinder head upgrade can improve vehicle performance. However, you need to make sure you are selecting the right cylinder head for this purpose. Keep in mind that a bigger cylinder head isn’t always the right choice. Instead, look at the valve size, port size, and flow numbers, which will help you to calculate which is the best option for your vehicle. An experienced mechanic can take you through the best options for your specific situation and support you with this upgrade.

The engine head is one of the most critical parts of any engine. By making yourself aware of the signs of a damaged engine head, you can help to prevent further damage to this part or your complete engine. The sooner you fix a broken cylinder head, the more likely you’ll be able to enjoy using your vehicle for years to come. It’s perfectly possible to DIY this replacement at home, but always consult a professional if you have any concerns about undertaking this task yourself.


Engine Head Repair Experts

Since repairing bad engine heads is not a typical DIY project, we recommend that you consult with a professional vehicle parts company. Clearwater Cylinder Head (CCH) is an experienced (over 2 decades) parts company focusing on engine heads. We specialize in providing warranty-backed rebuilt heads for a wide range of vehicles (even boats!). With a large online catalog of engine heads, we probably have the engine head components you need to repair your car, truck, heavy machinery, or boat. We look forward to helping you find the right engine head for your vehicle. Please contact Clearwater Cylinder Head by phone at 800-572-1963.


I’ve bought several cylinder heads from them and never been disappointed with the service or speed of delivery.

– Joseph Reid