2001 Mercedes C320 – Uncovering cut corners, Head Gasket and Head Replacement

2001 Mercedes C320 – Uncovering cut corners, Head Gasket and Head Replacement


Every once in a while, we find a story behind a car sad enough to make us want to sob. This is one of them. Our customer Nyssa found us through our normal marketing efforts and wanted to bring in her newly bought 2001 C320. The car was over heating, and she had suspected the car was needing a new head gasket.

A few hours of diagnosis confirmed the hypothesis. Not only had the car needed a head gasket, our mechanics found out this car had been wrecked before. Paint tape-off lines had been found all over the car, as well as various unpainted, newly installed body parts.

I guess it was Columbia Autoworks to the rescue! We started taking the motor apart. Below are a couple pictures of the tear down.


Intake manifold and fuel rails – Check.


Valve cover gaskets, coil packs, water pump, and timing chain tensioner – check.

Now we start to uncover the real story of the car. Upon taking the heads off the car, we noticed several of the head bolts to be extremely loose. Your head bolts are what connect the heads of your car to the engine block. If these were factory untouched bolts, they would have been much tighter. Finding these bolts loose means one thing – this head gasket had been replaced before. This also gives us a clue about the quality of the workmanship as well.

Used head bolts tend to stretch beyond their temper when used again. Finding these bolts loose also means the last mechanics who installed these head gaskets tried cutting corners. By reusing a set of $200 dollar bolts. Installing new head bolts onto a head gasket job is as important as replacing the head gasket itself!


In this particular case, the head bolts were the main culprit to the head gasket leak. Which can be seen in this picture. You can literally see where the coolant was leaking into the cylinders. This $200 dollars in savings costed our customer countless agony and money. But, we’re going to do this right.


The heads are finally out! Its time to bring it to our trusty guys over at Central Cylinder & Head. Its time to see if these heads are worth putting back into the car. We’ll get them hydro leak tested, and scoped to make sure there’s enough metal on the heads to put back into the car. If these heads were shaved too many times, it will disrupt the timing and build a faulty engine.


News came back from Central Cylinder & Head. Looks like our corner cutting ex-mechanics tried saving more cash! The guys over at Central reported to us that these heads had been shaved 1 – 2 times more than they should have. They should have replaced the heads the last time they replaced the head gasket.

But no worries. We at Columbia Autoworks have relationships all over town. We called a certified auto recyclers and got some quality used heads at close to 1/3 of the cost the dealership would have charged.


Scoped, hydro-leak tested and shaved. Got to love the look of newly polished cylinder heads!


Fresh out of their bath! They look brand new. SO EXCITED to see them in action. Lets put the car back together shall we?


We took a little time and polished the top of the block as well. Its hard to find a mechanic who still takes pride in their work. BEAUTIFUL!


Heads and rockers in. Next comes the intake manifold, water pump, valve cover gasket, coil packs, spark plugs…. blah blah blah.


The point is, we got the car up and running. Healthier than ever. The new heads came together nicely, and sound like a new set of heads. Next time, before you buy a car, bring it buy us first. The few dollars we’ll charge you on a pre-purchase inspection could save you thousands!



By | 2014-02-09T03:27:59+00:00 February 9th, 2014|Domestic & Import Service|0 Comments

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