Cylinder head

Asked by Dec 28, 2016 at 10:46 PM about the 2002 Mercury Sable LS

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I'm stuck whether I should send my head Gaskets
to a machine shop or not I got them pulled already
and I were planning on just cleaning the surfaces
and putting new gaskets on will this work or would
it be best to go to machine shop need details

9 Answers


The machine shop will check the heads for flatness. If they are not warped then you are good to go.

3 of 3 people found this helpful.

The machine shop will also pressure test the head to make sure it's not cracked. Definitely worth the money in my opinion. No sense in spending the time and effort to change the head gasket only to find out the head is damaged after putting it all back together. HTH. -Jim

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

Pressure testing is not standard procedure so ask for it.

3 of 3 people found this helpful.

Correct, it is extremely important that the heads be checked, these are know to crack especially if the engine has been hot at anytime, and if they check good then have them surfaced and if they look like they need it, the valves done, this adds more expense to the job but while it is already torn down and there is just the slightest doubt about the valves or the guides and seals best to do them now.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

All good advice, take the cylinder head(s) to a machine shop and have them checked over. Better yet, buy rebuilt cylinder head(s). It might be wise to get a price estimate on checking you old parts at the machine shop versus rebuilt parts.


Any GOOD machine shop will at the very least, do a magna-flux test to check for any cracks in the heads, after a thorough cleaning, and check for any warpage at all. The heads should be stripped down(valves and guides removed)before cleaning. A magna flux test is probably not as good as a pressure test due to certain interior passages that they may not be able to view that could have cracks in them, and certain cracks will only open/close under hot & high pressure. Either way, as long as you have them off, you should have them cleaned, checked and machined/re-surfaced if needed and also have the valves and seats re-ground or lapped, new valve guide seals installed, then reinstalled with new gaskets. No sense doing 1/2 the job and possibly needing to do it all over again.


I am pretty sure you can not Magnaflux an aluminum cylinder head. The Magnaflux company makes dyes that can be used though.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

3.0 engines had cast iron heads and 3.8 engines had aluminum cylinder heads. Not sure which engine the OP has.


You are right Bob, you can't magnaflux alluminum heads, which is exactly why I didn't specifically address the head materials.Since I didn't know which one his heads are made from, & that is also why I recommended pressure testing, because it wouldn't matter then.

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