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Ok so I have noticed that my head gasket on my 1976 2002 has a leak. Its not major since I have been checking my oil and its not getting low. Im  still going to change the head gasket but I dont know if I should buy a whole gasket seat to change the rest of the gaskets when I take everything apart. Not that Im being cheap I just want to know if its really necessary. Anyone have any opinions/ suggestions. Thanks 

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If all you are doing is pulling the head then you could leave the oil in but I would change it immediately after you finish the job as some coolant is bound to get in there during the job.  Also I would recommend taking the head to a machine shop to have it freshened up and checked for cracks and/or warpage, they can install the valve seals for you.

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As others noted, good idea take head to machine shop and let them to check flatness, pressure test, etc.You will need

Valve cover gasket

Upper timing gasket

Intake gasket

Exhaust gasket

Exhaust manifold to Downpipe gasket

1 gallon BMW coolant

5 qtrs. engine oil & oil filter

Dizzy o-ring

Dizzy housing gasket

Distributor Oil Seal; Distributor Mounting Flange; Bolt Seal

And last but not least, torque the head as followings


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Drain the engine block of coolant before pulling the head.  I did not do this the first time I pulled a cylinder head and wound up filling # 4 and # 3  cylinders partially with coolant.


Have some short pieces of wood handy to place the head on when you remove it from the engine.  Don't put it on the floor or workbench without some sort of cushion.


Once you start this project, there will be many "while I'm in there" thoughts... like the heater hoses.

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AutohausAZ has a great deal on set, cheaper than most head gaskets alone, diesel worked great for valvle train area, and a wire brush for combustion area, clean as much as u can before sending out and it should look like new after machine shop is done, coat everything with good oil before firing and two sets of hand make install much easier if manifolds are pre-mounted, highly recco, clean clean clean on reinstall

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Typically machine shops will clean the head for you (bead blast or hot washer thing, not hot tank) so dont worry about that too much. I use CRC Brakleen on anything else. Usually on the block I've been know to use a wire wheel chucked up in a drill. Just dont go crazy and everything works out great. I do it on my diesel motor all the time too.


When I install the headgasket I wipe everything down with brakleen real good then spray Permatex "Copper Spray Gasket" on both sides of the head gasket and the block and head surface. I did this on my 02 and my pickup which sees lots of boost and high compression numbers. So I love the stuff!


Other than that seal the corners of the timing cover with a dab of rtv and loctite the exhaust and intake studs in so that they dont leak oil.


Good luck and ask questions if you need to. We're here to help! :)

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