A head gasket is a small but vital car component located between the cylinder head (top part of the engine) and the engine block. Although it serves many purposes, its primary job is to keep the high pressures and temperatures created inside the engine within the engine itself, which ultimately stops the engine from blowing into pieces. It also keeps the oil and coolant separated so that they don’t contaminate other internal parts of the engine.
What is a Head Gasket Made of?
As expected, a head gasket is made of materials that can withstand demanding temperatures and pressures. Most head gaskets are constructed from stainless steel, rubber, or graphite. Newer materials, such as neoprene, copper, silicone, and polymetric resins, are also used these days because these materials can handle demanding conditions equally well as their counterparts.
At the same time, these materials are relatively inexpensive. Of course, nothing lasts forever. Since a head gasket is exposed to a lot of elements, which are gases, oil, fuel, water, and pressure, it can fail as well. When it fails to do its job, it’s considered ‘blown,’ meaning that you will require a new head gasket. Thankfully, most head gaskets usually last for eight to ten years.
How Much Does it Cost to Repair the Head Gasket?
The parts by themselves won’t cost you an arm and a leg. It’s the amount of work involved in fixing the issue that makes it a costly affair. Depending on the severity of the damage and the car model you drive, a head gasket replacement job can take anywhere from six hours to several days.
The average cost to fix the problem would be around $1000 to $3500, which is to say that it might cost you more than the resale value of the car. So, you need to decide whether to fix the car or ditch it, depending on your car’s resale value. Of course, if you can perform the job yourself, then it won’t cost you much.
|Walmart||$250 – $50
|NAPA||$1400 – $3200
|Mr Tire||$1550– $3450
|Midas||$1650 – $3400
|Your Mechanic||$1700 – $3500
The parts can cost you as little as $250. That said, the cost for the parts can go up to $650 for some cars. But, you will still be able to save a huge chunk of money because the labor charges range from $600 to $2500 or more.
Can you Drive with a Blown Head Gasket?
It depends on the car you own. After all, not all cars can take abuse. Some cars will seize up almost immediately, while other cars will be able to tolerate the abuse for many months and beyond. So, it depends on how tough your car engine is. That said, it’s not advisable to drive with a blown head gasket because it can cause additional damage to the car’s engine.
If you can’t afford to fix the car right away, you should think about parking it safely as opposed to driving it around. Until you are able to save enough money to replace the head gasket, you can use the local public transportation system. It’s also in your best interest to find out what caused the head gasket to malfunction in the first place to avoid a repeat situation.
How can you tell if there is a problem with the Head Gasket?
The first thing that you will notice is that your vehicle isn’t operating right. The overall drivability will be a bit rough, and the car won’t seem as powerful as before. You will feel that it’s running slightly harder than usual, especially when you are driving up hills.
This is due to lower compression caused by a leaking head gasket, which may be preventing at least one of the cylinders from performing at its full potential. Besides the lack of power, you will also start noticing low coolant levels. The chances are that you might also observe a slight drop in the fuel mileage.
The good news is that there are specialized tools available to test the car for a blown head gasket. So, you don’t have to rely on hard-to-detect symptoms to make a precise predicament.
Head Gasket Replacement Procedure Explained:
A damaged head gasket is a grave issue. Therefore, it needs to be addressed as soon as possible. However, a job of this nature should not be attempted by a layman because it’s difficult to even access the gasket in the first place because of it’s hard-to-reach location.
Yes, you will have to remove a lot of engine components to access the gasket. Not to mention that the exact procedure for head gasket replacement varies from one car to another. So, you would have to take a look at the car manual to figure out the exact steps before attempting the repair.
- Once you gain access to the old head gasket, you will have to take it off with the help of a pry bar.
- Then, you will have to gently clean the area to ensure a firm placement for the new head gasket.
- Before installing the new head gasket, you need to check for signs of leaks, tears, and other damages.
- You will then fit the new head gasket in place of the old one. Simultaneously, you will replace the thermostat as well.
- The coolant will have to be flushed out too in order to remove all the contaminants that may have flowed in due to the leak.
- In worst-case head gasket jobs, additional engine repair work would be needed, depending on the scale of damage caused by a blown head gasket.
If the work is done properly, the vehicle should run like new again.
Head Gasket Repair Cost: How to Save Money?
To save money, you shouldn’t ideally attempt to replace the head gasket on your own because you will probably end up causing more harm to the car. Not to discount the fact that it may be impractical for most vehicle owners to perform a repair of this nature.
Of course, if you are 100% certain about your mechanical skills, then you can consider doing the job to save the labor cost. Otherwise, you should shop around, seeking quotes from many mechanics in your area. By comparing the quotes received from numerous mechanics, you can shortlist a mechanic that provides the best rates.
Of course, the chosen mechanic should be trustworthy. Ideally, you should look for AAA-certified shops in your area rather than going with your gut feelings.