The Cylinder head is located at top of the cylinder block in internal combustion engine. It houses several components including the exhaust and intake valves, combustion chamber, and springs. Cylinder head also provides passage space that supplies air and fuel to the cylinder and allows exhaust gases to flow out. These passages are also known as tracts or ports.
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The cylinder head also helps to cool down the engine components by channeling coolant into the engine block. It has a gasket that prevents oil or water from leaking to the engine combustion chambers.
Most of the cylinder heads are made from cast iron which is cheap and durable. On the downside casts iron is less inefficient in heat dissipation. As a result, some vehicles, especially performance cars use aluminum heads which are lighter than the iron cylinder heads. V engines have two cylinder heads while inline engine only has one cylinder head.
Types of Cylinder heads
Flathead cylinder heads
Flathead cylinder protects the cylinder head and does not contain movable parts. They came first before the other two types. Flathead heads offered inefficient air flow and hence generally poor engine performance.
Overhead valve cylinder head
An overhead valve cylinder head is far much better than flathead one. They have a camshaft at the top. Additionally, their valves and pushrods are interconnected for smooth airflow.
This is the most advanced type of head. The cylinder head contains a camshaft which replaces pushrods. They allow the air to flow efficiently and hence boosting engine efficiency.
Cracking is a major problems that affect cylinder heads. It occurs due to overheating. The cracks usually occur in the metal bridges, which separates the individual chambers leading to blown head gaskets. When the cylinder heads cracks, it leaks the engine coolant. As a result, the engine will not cool efficiently resulting in more overheating. Similarly, cracked cylinder head can leak oil into the engine combustion chambers cause adverse damages that would require costly repairs. In fact, you might even have to change the entire engine.
Signs of Cracked cylinder head
- Poor Engine performance
- Coolant and oil leakage
- Engine misfire
Warping is also a common problem in cylinder heads. It is caused by similar conditions as cracking. Here the aluminum gets hot on one side than the other side. After cooling down the whole head twists a little bit. This problem automatically results in blow head gaskets.
Another problem in head gaskets is worn valve guides. The worn valve moves around their bores and allows oil into the combustion chamber. Signs of worn valve guide include loss of power, smoke and erratic idle.
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