Head Gasket Repair Cost: Here’s How Much It’ll Cost

Most people would rather their cars didn’t break down. Then, they wouldn’t have to be without them, nor would they have to spend what feels like an arm and a leg to get them fixed.

Of course, not all repairs take forever to complete, and some of them can even be really cheap. However, when it comes to a head gasket repair cost, that isn’t always the case.

Repair Cost Of A Blown Head Gasket

Okay, so you probably want to get right down to the business of a blown head gasket’s repair cost. However, before providing that answer, let’s discuss what a head gasket is and what it does. That will ensure that everyone reading is on the same page.

Combustible engines use various types of fluids, like oil, coolant, etc. The head gasket is a seal located between the cylinder heads and engine block. Its primary function is to prevent fluids from mixing.

Diesel engine head gasket inside the engine.

When engine overheating occurs, the head gasket can begin to leak or become blown. This can cause a variety of symptoms to arise, but you’ll have to stay put and read on to learn more about them. They won’t be covered until the next section.

The price of a head gasket replacement will vary, and its amount will depend on factors like vehicle make and model. One thing is for sure though, the total at any repair shop is going to be way over a few hundred bucks.

According to research, consumers typically spend between $1,100 and $2,100 on head gasket work. Those are certainly large amounts, and you’re not going to find them under sofa cushions or car seats.

Instead, you could have to take out a loan, cover the price out of your savings, or ask a family member for help. There are other ways to handle the costs, though, but some of them might require you to start preparing now.

Have you ever considered getting an extended car warranty? No. This isn’t an infomercial pushing anything on you, but that alternative often saves policyholders money on auto repairs. Hence, it could be worth looking into. Another solution is to begin saving a little here and there. The research shows you’ll need at least $1,100, so you know your starting point.

Are there any local mechanics in your area that offer to finance auto repairs? If so, it may be in your best interest to get acquainted with them. Perhaps take your vehicle over for a tune-up or oil change and see what the shop brings to the table.

Then, providing that everything checks out, you can apply for financing if your head gasket ever blows. If approved, you’ll be able to get the work done for little to no money down and pay off the total in low monthly installments.

There might be a way for you to save some money. Are you a do-it-yourselfer that’s good with your hands? How about a full set of mechanic tools? Do you have access to them? If you answered yes to these questions, a DIY repair approach could be best, particularly if you aren’t interested in spending $1,000 or more.

Instead, only pay for the necessary parts and do the work yourself to avoid a hefty labor charge. Then, you may only end up spending $100 to $200 or so, as the price of a head gasket often falls between those figures.

Customers signing up a repair job at their vehicles’s shop.

It is time to move on to the symptoms associated with a blown head gasket, but first, it is notable to mention that repairs are usually higher for high-end and luxury vehicles.

Therefore, if you’re the proud owner of one, which happens to have a bad head gasket seal, your costs could eclipse that $2,100 mark. Keep that in mind, just in case, so you don’t get shocked later.

Symptoms Of A Blown Head Gasket

That wraps it up for the head gasket repair cost section. Thus, now we can dive into the symptoms caused by blown head gaskets. Then, with any luck, you’ll be able to diagnose the issue when a situation arises.

1.     Overheating

Once a head gasket begins to leak, it is not uncommon for a vehicle’s engine to overheat shortly after becoming cranked. First, the coolant in the system leaks into the combustion chamber. Next, it is evaporated and sent out as a gas through the exhaust. In turn, the coolant level is depleted quickly, and overheating occurs.

FYI, a busted head gasket and low coolant aren’t always the only things to blame for overheating. For instance, a stuck thermostat or collapsing radiator hose can cause such a predicament. Then again, so could a busted fan shroud, a malfunctioning electric fan, or a faulty water pump.

2.     Oil With A Milky Appearance

Most people have a general idea of what motor oil is supposed to look like. When the lubricant is new and in good condition, it is typically amber and somewhat transparent. Meanwhile, as the substance ages, it will become dark brown to almost black. Plus, you won’t be able to see through it.

Close up of used oil in a car filter.

But what happens when coolant and oil mix? If a blown head gasket enters the picture, that is exactly what you’re going to experience. As such, when you check your oil, it is going to have a milky appearance. No longer will it be that amber or dark brown shade. Rather, it’ll be almost tan like chocolate milk, or Yoo-hoo, a popular chocolate beverage.

After finding the oil on the dipstick in such a condition, remove the oil fill cap to confirm your suspicions. Look on its bottom side to see if it contains oil with a milky appearance too. Additionally, examine the inside of the tube, valve cover, or other spots where you pour the oil in. If the oil in these places is milky, you very well could have a blown head gasket.

3.     White Smoke From The Exhaust

Sure, you’ve probably seen something come out of your exhaust before. However, there’s a good chance that it was just steam, which stopped once the engine and exhaust were warm. But when a head gasket is blown, you should be able to tell the difference. The busted seal will allow oil or coolant to get into the combustion chamber. Then, they burn and create white smoke that escapes through the tailpipe.

Be mindful that white smoke could indicate a blown head gasket but the problem might be something completely different too. And not everything is as dire as a leaking head gasket. Hence, you may not even have a big issue under the hood or anywhere, for that matter. It is still in your best interest to find out what it is though. If nothing else, knowing that it is nothing will provide you with peace of mind.

4.     An Engine Knock

It may also be possible to determine if you have a blown head gasket by listening. Unless your car is brand new, you’ve likely gathered an idea of what the motor sounds like when it’s running correctly over time. So, if something like an engine knock develops, your ears will let you know.

This noise usually only becomes apparent in significant cases when a substantial amount of compression is lost. Not only will the engine knock catch your attention, but you will surely notice a rough idle while the car is sitting still. And on occasion, the motor might even stall.

A rough idle is one thing, but stalling is something else, as it could cause you to get into a wreck. Maybe someone hits you in the rear when following too closely behind you at an intersection when the problem occurs, or a driver failing to see you stalled could barrel through a stop sign, T-boning your ride.

So, address the matter sooner rather than later, if for nothing else, to keep collisions from such stalls at bay.

Some Final Thoughts

As you can see, the symptoms associated with a blown head gasket can vary. Sometimes, car owners will experience them all at once, and in other instances, maybe only one or two of them present themselves.

Not only that, but you have also learned that a typical head gasket repair cost is between $1,100 and $2,100. Do what you can to prevent a head gasket issue from developing, but at least you are now prepared for the quote a mechanic may give you.

Or, don’t forget, you can do the head gasket replacement yourself to save some money. Then, the entire job might only cost a hundred to two hundred bucks. Decisions, decisions, what will you do? The choice is yours and yours to make alone. There are benefits to going it alone as well as there are to employing the services of a mechanic.

So, weigh the pros and cons carefully before deciding, but don’t wait too long. The longer you do, the longer your car will be down, and you’ll have to rely on friends or public transportation for rides everywhere.

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About Brock Rangel

Hi, I am Brock, and I am the lead editor/photographer for TheCarColony. I have been a mechanic for over 14 years now, and I am here to spread my car knowledge across the web!

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