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Replacing head gasket on my 96' 2.2. How clean do the surfaces need to be? I've been using carb cleaner and a plastic razor.
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time to get cereal
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You can use a file across the block... that head is going to need to be a lot cleaner than that though. You should have a machine shop check it, they have to clean the mating surface to make sure it's flat.

Or just buy a remanned head and have all new valves/springs. They don't cost that much.
 

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Second what manbearpig said. When your head gasket blows, you really should have a machine shop check the head for cracks and flatness. When mine blew on my 2.5 a few years back, it cost me $130, plus the $250 I spent on a reman head because they found a crack in mine. It's just about worth it to spend the extra bucks on a fresh reman head rather than throw money at the machine shop to tell you that your head is bad and you need a new one anyways.
 

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I brought the heads from the 3.1L in my Grand Am to a machine shop... it had dropped a valve seat among other things. 600 dollars to get them back to factory spec. Yea, went online and found the remanned for 150 each.
 
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