Cylinder heads are located above the cylinders within an internal combustion engine. The pistons close the heads over the cylinders, creating a combustion chamber that compresses the contents of the cylinder.
Cylinder heads obviously play an important role in the combustion process, but what many people don’t realize is that they are very lightweight in design and construction.
This causes them to start cracking after about five years of use in some cases, especially when it comes to aluminum cam heads. But if you have cast iron heads, cracks will eventually form.
But the culprit behind most broken cylinder heads is a problem. Read on to find out what causes it and how much it will cost to fix it.
Common Causes of Cylinder Head Cracks
An overheated engine is the most common cause of a cracked cylinder head, as engine components are stressed beyond their design limits.
A big reason cylinder heads crack is because the valve seats harden due to the concentrated heating process. This puts more pressure on the cylinder heads, causing small cracks to form over time.
The engine also doesn’t always have to overheat for this to happen. All it takes is for the valve seats to be under tension for cracks to start forming in the heads.
Cost to repair a split head
The cost to repair a cracked cylinder varies between different car models. The minimum cost you can expect to pay is $500, but with parts and labor costs, it could easily reach $1,000. Then, depending on your make, model, severity, and where you take your vehicle to get it repaired, it could cost you $2,000 or more.
If your car is still under warranty, your dealer should be able to cover these costs. Sometimes new cars are sold with engines that have a mixture of metals inside them. For example, a car may have a solid cast iron engine block that makes it feel solid.
But what you won’t know right away is that the cylinder head is made of aluminum and not iron. This increases the possibility of weak spots forming in the metal and improper installation of engine components. As soon as this happens, the cylinder heads will immediately begin to crack, even if the car is new.
The best way to preserve cylinder head is to fill the radiator and make sure there are no leaking hoses or tight belts.
If your car ever overheats, you may need to replace the head gasket and check for broken heads. Your mechanic will be able to make the best recommendation at this point as to whether or not you should replace the cylinder heads.