How to Change the Head Gasket on a 1988 Ford Tempo

Head gasket repairs on the Ford Tempo can be quite expensive if you take the car to the repair shop. The primary reason is the time that it takes to remove the head from the engine block. The repair is not too difficult to accomplish yourself. This project will take at least a couple of days to complete because of the steps involved, but the most important thing is that you do not rush the project or you may cause premature failure of the new gasket.

Tools Used: Torque wrench, Wrench set, Socket set, Marker, Masking tape, 2 drain pans, Screwdriver, Automobile jack, Jack stand, Wheel chocks, Fresh coolant, Fresh engine oil, Oil filter, Clean rags, Head bolt set, White paint, Artist brush

Change Head Gasket

Open the engine compartment and prop the lid with the prop rod. Disconnect the negative cable from the battery with a wrench. Open the valve on the bottom of the radiator using a wrench. Drain the engine coolant into a drain pan and set it aside for recycling after the project is complete. Remove the valve cover from the cylinder head using a socket and ratchet to loosen the bolts. Remove the front and rear timing belt covers using the socket and ratchet.

Remove the timing belts from the engine using a wrench to loosen the bolts on the timing belt tensioners. Raise the front of the Tempo using the automobile jack. Place a jack stand under the vehicle near the jacking point and raise it to the frame of the car. Open the drain plug on the oil pan and drain the engine oil into a drain pan. Remove the oil filter from the Tempo. Put a new oil filter on the car and tighten it hand-tight.

Drain the oil from the old filter into the drain pan. Disconnect the pipe from the exhaust manifold using a wrench to loosen the nuts on the clamp. Disconnect the air inlet duct at the air cleaner. Cover the opening using a rag to prevent dirt and other debris from entering the opening. Label and remove the vacuum line and electrical wires at the cylinder head using a marker and masking tape. Remove the connector to the thermostat housing using a wrench.

Disconnect the lines at the fuel injection pump and the nozzles. Disconnect the glow plug harness from the main wiring harness. Remove the bolts from the cylinder head using a socket and ratchet. Start from the center and work out. Lift the cylinder head straight up and away from the engine block. Take the cylinder head to an automotive machine shop for resurfacing. Remove the head gasket from the engine and discard it. Make sure the block area is clean.

Pick up the resurfaced cylinder head from the machine shop. Place the new head gasket on the engine block, right-side up. Place the cylinder head on the engine. Paint a reference mark on the top of each of the cylinder head bolts. Insert the bolts into the cylinder head and tighten them hand-tight. Torque each of the bolts to 22 foot-pounds with the torque wrench. Turn each of the bolts an additional 90 degrees using the torque wrench, using the paint mark as a reference.

Tighten the bolts a third time using the torque another 90 degrees. Connect the glow plug harness to the main wiring harness. Install the injection lines to the pump and each injector. Install the connector to the thermostat housing using a wrench. Connect the vacuum and electrical wires at the cylinder head. Remove the rag from the air inlet opening and connect the duct. Under the Tempo, connect the exhaust pipe to the manifold and tighten the nuts with a wrench.

Remove the jack stand from under the Tempo. Lower the car to the ground. Install the timing belts on the engine. Tighten the belt tensioners using a wrench. Install the front and rear timing belt covers. Tighten the bolts with a socket and ratchet. Install the valve cover and tighten the bolts with a socket and ratchet. Pour fresh engine oil into the crankcase of the engine. Refill the reservoir and radiator with fresh coolant. Connect the cable to the battery.

Tips & Warnings

Wear safety glasses when working under the Ford Tempo to prevent injury to your eyes.

Be sure to change the engine oil as instructed. Failure to do so may cause further engine damage since it is highly likely that engine coolant will be in the oil because of the head gasket failure.

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