Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Head Gasket Chronicles

I started the head gasket project the other day. I have learned a few things.


Popped open the hood and was greeted with this.

6.6 Liter Duramax turbo diesel motor. An impressive powerplant.

Holy crap, I'm in over my head.

Seriously... What was I thinking? I don't even know what half that stuff in there is much less does or what it plugs into.


OK, don't panic. Take a deep breath and focus on what you do know. Let's start with something simple. We'll take out the batteries. Unintended electric shocks suck. Hell, intended ones probably do too, but stupidity has a price. Sorry, where was I?

Batteries. Yes, two of them. Freaking truck can't just be simple.

Let's do this.

Easy to access, lots of room. Came right out.

This won't be so bad, just take it one step at a time and take lots of pictures.  Let's take out the other battery.

That one looks a little more packed in there. Still, just a battery. 

 Stinking thing is bolted down in there. Won't move at all.

That bolt down there is a problem.

 The bolt requires a long extension to reach it.

I don't have a long extension.

Thus endeth day 1.  One whole battery removed.  This isn't going to be easy.

Time to head in and work a shift. Back tomorrow.


After the stutter of day one, we stopped at Harbor Freight on the way to work and picked up a ratchet extension set. HA!  Take that problem. Not dealing with that mess again.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, battery.

Come right out when you take that bolt off.

What's next? Let's take off something big, just to feel like we're making progress.

How about...
Yeah, that part looks big and relatively easy to get out.

BLAMMO! Success. 
Damn, what next? Let's start moving along here.

How about that big thing that says 6.6 Liter on it? That would really look like I'm accomplishing something.

Wait, it's held in by those weird Torx screws.

I don't have any of those screwdrivers.


Maybe I'll get some wires unhooked. Those things are laying all over the place.

Just have to remember to take lots of pictures about where they run and which thing-ee attaches to what deal-ee, right?

Maybe if I add some pointing fingers, that would help.

Green one goes on top.  Max was taking pictures

Look at those pointing fingers.

Excellent pointy-ness.
Alas, the paying gig calls. Luckily, I know more about being an ER nurse than about being a diesel mechanic. I only get an hour or two before work on work days.

Off to work.


The previous day saw another trip to Harbor Freight to get some Torx screwdrivers. Now I could get the 6.6 Liter thing off!

And, I had the day off, so I had all day to work on the truck.

Except for Max's final flag football game, can't miss that.

Oh yeah, and the Halloween/birthday party the kids are going to.

So, I've got an hour or two to work on the truck.

This will never end.

Oh well, on to it.

I needed to pull off the radiator fan shroud. But, there are these obnoxious plastic rivet things holding them in that I don't want to break. And, there is this metal block attached to the driver's side of the shroud and it's got a nifty wiring harness attached to it.

It looked important, so I thought I'd keep it.  I managed to pull the clips and get it off.

I flipped it over.

Hmm. They named it Allison.  Weird.

I used my new Torx screwdrivers to undo a few screws and got my 6.6 liter sign off. Looks like it feeds into the air intake above the turbo.

I'm sure it has a technical name, but I call it the 6.6 Thing.

Then, it was time to unlace the wiring loom from the top of the engine. It went places and had connectors that hooked up to places. I figured I should take lots of pictures.

For the most part, I left out the pointy fingers. I didn't want to confuse the lay-people out there.

This plug here is on top of the AC compressor

A better picture of these two without the pointy fingers.

Don't forget this one on the alternator

This one from the grounding bracket ends on top of the uhhh, thing. I should probably look that up

A pointy finger for the back of the alternator

And this little guy going onto this metal tube. 

Yeah, I'm hosed.

I got most of the harness moved from the top of the engine and a few other things done, then  it was off to the Halloween party. 

Back at it tomorrow. Consistent progress, my notebook, and lots of pictures will be my only hope for getting through this project.


  1. This is a major project! A couple of months ago I told my sister in law I would replace her headliner in her 2002 Toyota Corolla . I thought no problem. Little did I know you had to remove the side curtains and running boards!! Thank you you tube! It turned out great but more work than I thought!

  2. I know. I dread it, but I do it anyway. Luckily, I don't have a firm deadline.

  3. How did you determine you needed to unearth the heads to resolve the problem? What were your symptoms? I am avoiding admitting I have a head gasket issue.

    1. I was losing about 2 gallons of coolant per trip to work (12 miles). The coolant overflow was constantly pressurized. If I undid the lid after sitting for 12 hours, it jetted out like it was still hot.

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