Everything has its price nowadays, especially car maintenance. You might not have considered a head gasket repair before, but it’s worth doing so.
Even if only to budget for it should the worst happen.
But what is a head gasket repair and what do you need to know about it?
We’re going to talk you through the cost, why you have to pay so much money and why it’s so important to look after your head gasket.
So, brace yourself for that price…
The cost of a head gasket repair
It can cost anywhere between £400 and £1,500!
The cost of the head gasket itself is relatively cheap – it’s all the added costs on top that inflate the bill. The average cost is a little under £600, but that’s without any other damage.
When your head gasket blows, there’s a good chance your engine will suffer warped cylinder heads at the same time. This is an extra £900 on top (on average).
Your engine might also have suffered more damage on top of all this, especially if you drove with a faulty head gasket. We’ll explain why in a minute.
How can a repair inflate that much? Why does a head gasket repair cost around £600 to complete? Well the answer is actually very simple…
Why is it so expensive?
The head gasket is pretty inaccessible. You can’t replace it without disassembling most of the engine first.
And that takes time.
A head gasket repair can take up to 10 hours. That’s a lot of labour, which is costly. That’s why the price inflates.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do to make the repair any cheaper. You definitely shouldn’t try and work on your head gasket yourself and there’s no other way to get to it. It’s buried so deep within the engine that other parts have to come out first.
Which is a bit annoying.
The saving grace is that your head gasket should last 200,000 miles. This is usually more than the lifespan of your car, so regular car servicing should be more than enough to keep it well maintained.
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A head gasket repair is expensive, time consuming and a lot of stress. Why? Well, it’s one of the most important parts of your engine – and you probably haven’t heard of it!
It’s time to put this hardworking unsung hero into the spotlight it deserves. Here’s what you need to know about your head gasket itself.
What does the head gasket do and is it important?
The head gasket is a critical component in your engine. It acts as a seal between the cylinder heads and the engine block and looks something like this:
It’s a really small part, but your engine would struggle without it.
The head gasket stops oil, water, coolant, fuel and exhaust gasses from mixing. While each of these are important and help keep your car running smoothly, they don’t mix well. In fact, it would be disastrous for your engine if they ever mixed. As in, you could write your car off.
That’s why you should never drive your car if you suspect that your head gasket has blown. You can cause more engine damage which can make your car irreparable!
Once again, you shouldn’t ever have to deal with this problem. Taking care of your car regularly should keep the strain on this unsung hero to a minimum. However, if you find yourself needing a head gasket repair, always choose a trusted local garage who offers the work at the most affordable price. It’s expensive enough as it is and you don’t want those costs rocketing up any further.
How will I know I need a head gasket repair?
Clearly, it’s important to keep an eye on your head gasket. How will you know if you’re about to experience a problem? Well, there are some very clear warning signs to look for!
There’s white sludge on your dipstick
Your oil should be a light brown colour when you check the dipstick. Any other colour is bad news – especially if it’s white.
This suggests that there’s coolant in your oil tank, which is a sure-fire sign that your head gasket isn’t sealing the engine bay well enough.
There’s an excessive amount of white smoke from your exhaust
Some white smoke is normal, especially in older cars on a cold day. However, if there’s still a lot of smoke once your engine has warmed up, you can’t ignore it. A less efficient engine is bad news for you and the environment and that starts with a faulty head gasket.
A faulty exhaust
Similarly, problems with the exhaust are often caused by the head gasket failing. Sweet smelling fumes or water leaking from the exhaust are never normal. Chances are, fluids are mixing where they shouldn’t, which stems from a head gasket problem.
A loss of power or performance
A limping car is never a good sign. If it’s slow and sluggish, the problem usually lies with part of your engine. It could be your head gasket, so stop driving immediately and book your car into a garage.
These are the four most common signs that you need a head gasket repair. You might also have a blown head gasket if you experience any of the following:
- Oil stains in the coolant tank
- External leak
- Engine starting sluggishly
- Bubbles in the radiator
- Fouled spark plug
If you’re ever worried about your head gasket, speak to a professional mechanic as soon as possible. It might be nothing, but catching the problem early could save you hundreds of pounds!
Look after this unsung hero sooner rather than later
Your head gasket is designed to last but you shouldn’t neglect it. Overheating, pre-ignition issues (such as a faulty starter motor) or a poorly installed part can all shorten that lifespan and lead to problems.
And, as it’s such a vital part of your engine, you need to look after it even more than other parts.
Most of us don’t give the head gasket the recognition that it deserves. It’s such a small part and it’s so tucked away that it’s quite easy to forget about.
Well, now’s the time to start caring about this unsung hero.
Think about investing in some head gasket sealer and remember to book a car service once a year. The best way to protect your head gasket is to keep your car in top condition at all times.
Want to know more about the unsung heroes in your car? Why not start with your track rod ends!
A head gasket repair can cost a lot of money. It’s not easy to fix the part and it takes several hours to do so. Make sure you look after this unsung hero by following these three tips:
- Keep a regular car servicing schedule to keep your car in top condition
- Look out for white sludge in your oil tank and book a head gasket repair if you notice it
- Stop driving when you think you have an engine problem because you can cause even more damage
Mandy is an ex-mechanic, with 22 years’ experience in the motor industry. As an in-house motoring expert, Mandy is the go-to woman for any relevant questions that our customers have; both garages and drivers. From specific problems with your car to general maintenance, Mandy is a reliable source of information and advice. Her passion for motoring is a huge factor to her success and the huge wealth of knowledge that she has. She now uses her remarkable grasp of the industry to write regular content for our readers to help drivers understand their car better, avoid being ripped off by garages and save money on their motoring requirements.