Why Does A Cylinder Head Need To Be Replaced?

Categories: Cylinder Head Tips


At various times in your vehicle’s life, you may experience performance issues that stop it from working to its full capacity. A cylinder head failure is a common issue. A cracked or broken head can prevent your engine from performing to the best of its ability. Keep reading to discover why your cylinder head might fail and when you would need to replace this part in the future.


Why Does a Cylinder Head Fail?

The number one reason that we see cylinder heads fail is due to overheating. This overheating can be caused by coolant loss or restricted flow of the coolant. When a cylinder head is cracked or damaged, it can result in damage to your whole engine in some cases, which is why it’s critical to act upon this issue as soon as possible. If you notice high oil consumption, your engine overheating, or poor fuel mileage, then make sure you get your cylinder head and engine checked out to see if a replacement is the best option for you.


Why Is The Cylinder Head Important?

The cylinder head is designed to control the airflow in and out of the cylinders. It helps to control the fuel deployment process, holding the injectors and valves. In fact, it actually contains more moving parts than you’ll find elsewhere in the engine, which is why it’s critical for the overall performance of your engine.

The cylinder head was originally invented by Samuel Dalziel Heron, an aerospace engineer born in Britain. During his time working there, he researched the first air-cooled cylinders before relocating to the USA to continue his career. The cylinder head is now an instrumental part of any vehicle, with various designs based on the car you are driving. It’s important to learn the signs of a cracked cylinder head, which will ensure you get it replaced or repaired when needed.


How Do You Know If Your Cylinder Head Is Cracked or Damaged?

If you have a cracked cylinder head, there are many signs you might notice to indicate this. Firstly, you may notice white smoke or steam coming from the exhaust pipe, suggesting a failure in this area. Low coolant levels or the engine overheating are other common symptoms of a cracked cylinder head.

Your vehicle performance is likely to be impacted if your cylinder head is cracked, with poor running conditions or misfiring. The warning lights may be illuminated on your dashboard, suggesting you need to check the engine. Finally, combustion gases in the cooling system are another common issue we see when the cylinder head cracks, encouraging you to seek assistance from a garage as soon as possible.


Can A Damaged Cylinder Head Be Repaired?

Now that you know the key signs of a cylinder head needing a repair, you might be wondering if this is even an option in the first place. The good news is that a cracked cylinder head can be repaired, but this option will naturally depend on the number of cracks in the cylinder head and the severity of these cracks. Pinning and welding are the most common techniques used when it comes to cylinder head repairs, offering a relatively fast and cheap repair solution. The cost of the repair will vary on how much work is needed, as well as whether parts need to be purchased. You’ll want to speak with a professional to assess your unique situation and discover whether it’s realistic for your cylinder head to be repaired.


Should You Buy A Used Car With A Damaged Cylinder Head?

Used cars are a great way to save money on your next car purchase. If you’ve found the perfect vehicle for you, but it comes with a damaged cylinder head, you’ll want to ensure you assess this situation very carefully before going ahead with the purchase. We don’t necessarily recommend completely ruling out this option though. As shared above, repairing a cylinder head is a realistic solution for many vehicles, but it will all depend on how severe the damage is to the engine. You’ll want to get a used car checked out by a mechanic first to ensure you aren’t purchasing a vehicle that’s completely past the point of repair. By taking the time to research your options and learn more about the repair process, you can figure out if this is a sensible move for you.


Cars Known for Cylinder Head Problems

Some vehicles are more likely to require a cylinder head replacement than others, which is worth researching when considering your next car purchase. The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze often comes out on the top of the list for issues with the cylinder head, and you’ll find there are other similar vehicles on the market that may be less problematic. You may be surprised to learn that multiple BMWs are also known for having these issues because they all share the same engine. Keep in mind that this can be a very costly replacement in this type of vehicle, with BMW X1 owners often paying thousands of dollars at a BMW dealership for the repair. A local mechanic is likely to offer you a better rate, which is where we’d always suggest going for your work.

Other vehicles which commonly experience cylinder head issues include the 2011 Buick Lucerne, the 2011 Subaru Impreza, and the 2015 Buick Encore. Remember, no matter what vehicle you drive, it’s critical to be aware of the signs of a cracked cylinder head to protect your engine in the future.

If you notice the signs of a cracked cylinder head when driving, we always recommend checking out your engine and this part as soon as possible. The longer you leave the issue when driving, the more likely you will experience further damage to your vehicle in the future. While there are some vehicles that are more likely to have this challenge in the future than others, be aware that your cylinder head is critical for a safe driving experience, so make sure you do all you can to keep it in top condition.


Buy Cylinder Heads Online or by Phone at Clearwater Cylinder Head

Clearwater Cylinder Head maintains a large inventory of replacement cylinder heads to help mechanics and individuals get vehicles and boats fixed as quickly as possible. For those looking to refurbish their existing cylinder head we have a process where you send us your head, we repair it, and then send the head back to you. To search for cylinder heads by your VIN number, please visit: https://www.cylinder-heads.com/search-by-vin/. Alternatively, you may call 800-572-1963 to place an order.


Recent Customer Review – June 2022

“Overall a great experience with Clearwater Cylinder Head. Every time I called with a question after ordering they picked up the phone and were helpful and pleasant (rare these days). My cylinder head arrived at my door 2 weeks after my order which is exactly as promised. The head was packaged well and there was no damage from shipping. The head was remanufactured (as expected) and all surfaces were super clean, all holes were tapped clean and the valves looked great. Had the head installed in a few hours and fired up with no issues. The price was really good as well. Good to know they also stand by their work with a great warranty. Highly recommended.”

  • Ryan Edwards