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How NOT to Clean

When cleaning engine gasket sealing surfaces, surface conditioning discs (typically constructed of woven fiber or molder bristles) that contain abrasives, such as a high amount of Aluminum Oxide, are NOT RECOMMENDED. The information contained in this bulletin supersedes any previously published GM service information regarding the use of surface conditioning discs and pertains to all current and previously manufactured engines.

The use of such surface conditioning discs dislodges Aluminum Oxide from the discs and metal particles, which can lead to premature engine bearing failure. In some cases, this failure occurs in as little as 1,000 miles or less after the repair has been made.

Surface conditioning discs may grind the component material and embed it into the disc. This can result when more aggressive pressure is applied during the cleaning/grinding of the gasket surface.

Abrasive pads will produce fine grit that the oil filter will not be able to remove from the oil. The grit that cannot be filtered out has been known to cause engine damage. Abrasive pads can easily remove enough material to round cylinder head surfaces. This has been known to affect the gasket’s ability to seal, especially in the narrow seal area between the combustion chamber and the coolant jackets. Abrasive pads can also remove enough material to affect the cylinder head, block oil pan rail, and intake manifold runner flatness, which can cause coolant and oil leaks. It takes only about 15 seconds to remove .008” of metal with an abrasive pad.

How to Clean

To clean such gasket mating surfaces, General Motors recommends the use of a razor blade or plastic gasket scraper. When cleaning gasket surfaces, please note the following:

  • When using a razor blade type gasket scraper, use a new razor blade for each cylinder head and corresponding block surface.
  • Hold the blade as parallel to the gasket surface as possible. This will ensure that the razor blade does not gouge or scratch the gasket surface.
  • Do not gouge or scrape the combustion chamber surfaces.
  • Do not gouge or scratch any engine-sealing surface during the cleaning process.

The appearance of the gasket surface is not critical- the feel is. There is a possibility that there will be some indentations from the gasket left in the cylinder head after all the gasket material is removed. The new gasket will fill these small indentations when it is installed.

The next step, the Pre-Installation Guide, can be found here.

This information contains partial instructions and is intended to be a guide only.

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