A head gasket repair can cost anywhere between £400 and £1,500, with the average UK price being around £600.

Unfortunately, the price can also run into the thousands!

By the end of this article, you will understand why the price is so high as well as:

  • What a head gasket does
  • The warning signs of a blown head gasket
  • How to keep your repair cost low
  • How long a head gasket lasts

 

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What is a head gasket? And what does it do?

The head gasket sits between your engine block and cylinder heads and provides a seal for the combustion chamber. Its roles include:

  • Maintaining compression to ignite fuel and contain exhaust gases
  • Keep oil, coolant and water out of the combustion chamber
  • Prevent leaks to keep these fluids from mixing

It looks like this:

Close up of the head gasket

Due to the nature of its work, it is the most stressed engine part. It has to do several complex tasks at once and deal with extreme pressure and high temperatures.

Any perforation (a small hole caused by overheating) or a blown head gasket is bad news for your car and your wallet.

 

What Causes a Blown Head Gasket?

A blown head gasket is usually caused by high temperatures and intense pressure. The head gasket literally holds your engine together - enough to give anyone a breakdown.

Luckily, the head gasket is a tough bit of gear. It's designed to last around 200,000 miles, so you might never have to worry about a head gasket replacement.

 

Why Does a Head Gasket Repair Cost So Much?

As with any expensive car repair, labour costs are the main culprit. The actual part doesn't cost very much, but a repair can take up to 10 hours. It's very difficult to get to your head gasket because you need to disassemble the engine to complete the repair.

And when you're paying £50 an hour for the mechanic's time, the costs soon stack up!

If that wasn't bad enough, a blown head gasket can also cause plenty of other engine damage. It can warp your cylinder heads - which cost an eye-watering £900 to repair - and cause almost irreversible damage if you keep driving your car without a working head gasket - rendering your car a write-off.

Not a fun bill to deal with by any means.

 

How can I keep my Head Gasket Repair Cost Down?

If you're thinking there's a DIY solution, we're sorry to disappoint. You should NOT attempt a head gasket repair without proper training and experience. The repair cost is expensive enough without you causing any extra problems.

Although, there are a few things you can to in order to keep your head gasket repair cost down.

  1. Keep on top of your car servicing. A regular servicing schedule keeps your car in top condition and helps you prevent problems from developing.
  2. Inspect your engine regularly for the warning signs laid out below, and book a head gasket repair if you find any.
  3. Stop driving if you think you have an engine problem. A blown head gasket is expensive enough - don't inflate the cost by causing £££ worth of damage!

 

Compare and save on garages near you to find the best price for your head gasket replacement

 

Smoking engine bay of car with bonnet open caused by blown head gasket

Excess heat and pressure in the engine bay can easily cause a blown head gasket - and you won't be going anywhere anytime soon!

 

When Should I Book a Head Gasket Repair?

You should book a head gasket repair as soon as you notice the tell-tale signs like a smoking exhaust, milky oil fluids and loss of power when accelerating.

If you notice any of these, you should stop driving immediately and book an appointment with a garage near you. Make sure your vehicle is towed to the garage to avoid any other damage or invest in some head gasket sealer as a very short-term fix.

Here's what to look out for in more detail.

 

1. White or Milky Oil

Your engine oil should be a light brown colour when you check the dipstick. If it looks white, milky or you see sludge on the dipstick, your head gasket may have failed.

Coolant will have leaked into your car's combustion chamber, seeped past the piston rings and pooled in your engine oil. And oil and coolant don't mix well at all.

 

2. Smoking Exhaust

A constantly smoking exhaust is a sure-fire sign of head gasket failure. It means coolant is burning as part of the combustion process, also because of a leak.

 

car exhaust smoking heavily, white smoke pouring out into atmosphere

Your exhaust should never smoke this much - if you notice it, get it checked out as soon as possible

 

3. Faulty Exhaust

There are plenty of ways your exhaust can tell you about a blown head gasket. Sweet-smelling fumes or water leaking from the exhaust are just two of them.

 

4. Loss of Power or Performance

A failing head gasket can struggle to compress your engine bay correctly. This reduces the efficiency of the combustion process and leaves your car struggling for power

 

These are the most common warning signs of a blown head gasket, but there are a few others to be aware of as well:

  • Oil stains in the coolant tank
  • External leak
  • Engine starting sluggishly
  • Bubbles in the radiator
  • Fouled spark plug

 

If you notice any of these, book a head gasket repair as soon as possible and avoid driving your car until the appointment. Your caution might just save you a few hundred pounds!

 

Recap

A head gasket repair can cost thousands of pounds, but the average UK price is around £600. Most of this is the cost of labour. Seeing as the head gasket is a vital part of the engine, (and the replacement can take 10 hours) it's easy to see why.

It seals the combustion chamber, allowing oil and coolant/water to circulate freely without ever mixing. A blown head gasket is bad news for any driver because it can cause plenty of other engine problems. This can cause your repair cost to spiral out of control.

Keep your car well maintained and look out for any leaks, milky oil or strange exhaust fumes to help your head gasket last as long as possible. If you ever notice a problem, book a head gasket repair.

 

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