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Don’t Mess Up—Read the Instructions When Installing ARP Fasteners!

On the Ford Coyote 5.0 shown here as with any engine, it’s important to ensure the face where the head- bolt or stud washer sits is very clean. The spot faces on the cylinder head where the washer seats must be completely free of oil residue. Use a clean, dry rag and a degreaser to remove all oil residue from the spot face.
By Miles Cook

Photos Courtesy of ARP

We’ll get right to the point on this one. We’re not featuring some gee-whiz new product in this month’s tech review. Instead, we are taking a look at one company that probably makes the best components of its kind in the racing and performance industry. That company would be Automotive Racing Products (ARP). They do one thing and do it well, and that happens to be fasteners. This includes nuts, bolts, studs, washers and a whole host of other bits and pieces that hold engines and other car-related components together.

So if we’re not talking about any specific part here then what are we doing? We are, in fact, going to discuss how to install these critical pieces of the automotive puzzle. As the title states: “Read the instructions!” And in the case of ARP’s excellent line of fasteners of all types, that advice couldn’t be more important.

Also make sure the washers themselves are super clean as well. Remove rust-preventative oil from both sides of the washers. Use a clean, dry rag and a degreaser to remove all oil from both sides of each washer. The cylinder head and washer mating surfaces must be completely free of oil, grease and lubricant. This is to help prevent the washer from spinning during the torquing process, which will affect the final clamp load.

If you simply look at a fastener as a tool, it becomes apparent that improper use can deliver less than desirable results when using said tool. Following that line of thinking, it should come as no surprise that not following a fastener’s instructions could lead to unwanted issues, not the least of which may be stripped threads, improper clamping or tightening, or even broken or seized fasteners. Oftentimes, the tech staff at ARP gets questions regarding fastener failure or issues with installation, and oftentimes these unexpected results are from simply not following the included instructions.

While ARP fasteners of all kinds are important, our main focus here is going to be correctly tightening cylinder-head bolts and studs. Popular examples include Ford Coyote 5.0 and GM LS applications. And with some variation, this information is relevant for any engine that ARP covers.

ARP spokesman Chris Raschke also told us of one recent update to ARP head- bolt and stud kits for various applications. “We’ve made some improvements to the washers on Coyote and LS kits,” said Chris. “We have also been focusing on the instructions. We wanted to make improvements there as well.”

While there are similarities in instruction sheets for many cylinder-head applications, keep in mind there are also notable differences as well. For example, cylinder-head torque sequences are different with such variances as the Ford Coyote having 10 bolts and the GM LS having 15.

Finally for good measure, we are going to recite installation instructions below for a Ford Coyote application. Note also that we included a few ARP website links below that are very helpful. The ARP site is loaded with tons of super useful technical information to help you get the most out of any ARP individual fastener or inclusive installation kit.

Place the clean washers on the dry spot faces of the cylinder head with the patterned side down. The pattern grips the cylinder head—preventing the washer from spinning while the nut is being torqued. The result is accurate and consistent clamp load.

Installation Method for Head Stud Kits

PN: 256-4702, Application: Ford 5.0-liter Coyote V8 (2011-2012) M12

  1. Inspect all hardware prior to installation. Look for obvious defects or shipping damages. Please call 800-826-3045 with any questions or issues.
  2. To ensure proper thread engagement and accurate torque readings, clean all threads in the block. Chase if necessary with ARP Thread Chaser, PN 912-0008 (M12 X 1.75)
  3. Clean the spot faces on the cylinder head where the washer seats, use of solvent or brake/carb cleaner is recommended.
  4. Install the head gasket and cylinder head.
  5. Screw the studs into the block hand tight, do not apply torque. The hex broach in the end of the stud is designed to assist with only installing/removing the studs from the block, not for applying torque.
  6. Then, using a clean, dry rag remove all oil from both sides of each washer. The cylinder head and washer mating surfaces must be free of oil/grease/lubricant. Failure to keep these surfaces dry may result in inconsistent preloads.
  7. Place the washers over the studs and on to the dry, clean spot faces of the cylinder head.
  8. Lubricate the stud threads and bottom of the nuts with ARP Ultra-Torque Fastener Assembly Lubricant. Then install the nuts onto the studs and tighten hand tight.

Torque Procedure

  1. Following the manufacturers recommended torque sequence, shown below, torque the nuts per steps 1-4

1- Tighten nuts 1 through 10 (12mm) to 40 ft-lbs.

2- Tighten nuts 1 through 10 (12mm) to 80 ft-lbs.

3- Tighten nuts 1 through 10 (12mm) to 125 ft-lbs.

The proper sequence for Coyote, LS or any other engine is included in ARP’s instruction sheets.

Lubricate stud threads and bottom of nuts, then spin the nut onto the stud four or five turns. With stud in hand, evenly lubricate the fine thread only and the bottom of the nut with ARP Ultra-Torque fastener assembly lubricant–an acid brush works well. Spin the nuts onto the studs 4-5 turns leaving the nut so that there are three or four threads above the top of the stud.
Screw the studs into the block hand tight, but do not apply torque. Important: The hex broach in the end of the stud is designed to assist with installing and removing the studs, not for applying torque. Screw each stud in until the stud stops and threads are fully engaged. Do not apply additional torque to tighten the stud. This puts undue stress on the block threads and the stud thread run out. Tighten the nut down onto the washer. Use a socket with only an extension (no ratchet handle). Spin the nut down until it contacts the washer and tighten by hand until it is snug.
Keep in mind that the torque of the fastener is only as good as the wrench that is being used to tighten it, so have your torque wrenches checked out every now and then to ensure they are accurate. Using a calibrated torque wrench, torque the bolts in proper sequence and stepped settings as outlined in the instructions.
Use ARP Ultra-Torque Fastener assembly lubricant. ARP torque values are valid
only when using the ARP lubricant, so using it is strongly recommended.

Mike Galimi
Mike Galimi
Mike Galimi is the Director of Content & Marketing at ProMedia Publishing and Events with nearly 20 years of experience in motorsport writing and photography.