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Head Gasket Replacement Cost

Head Gasket Replacement Cost
A clear analysis of the head gasket replacement cost charged by repair centers is provided here, along with the particulars involved. It should help you decide what a rational price bracket would be for this repair job.
Omkar Phatak
A head gasket is a crucial component that plays a vital role in the functioning of a car engine. If the gasket is blown, engine efficiency suffers. When it's beyond salvage, its replacement is the only option that you have. Spending now on a quality gasket will save you from extensive expenses in the future.

The average head gasket replacement cost in USA is about $1000 with a large spread, due to the multiple variables that determine the price of spare parts.

In UK, the same job will cost about £900 on average, but it will vary substantially according to the car model, cost of spare parts, location and local labor charges.

In what follows, you will find a thorough analysis of the functioning, failure symptoms and replacement cost of a head gasket.

Head Gasket Replacement Cost Analysis

Replacement Cost Estimate: $800 to $1,200

Inclusive Of: Head Gasket, Thermostat, Thermostat Gasket, Coolant, Labor Charges

Gasket Cost: $10 - $550

Labor Cost: $350 to $500

As you will see in the following lines, a significant amount of labor is involved in replacing a head gasket and it reflects in the repair price, that you are charged with. The gasket itself costs only a few hundred dollars or pounds depending on the car model. Along with the gasket, the thermostat and its associated gasket may also need to be replaced, adding about $30 to $100 to the overall cost. Some repair centers will include coolant fluid flush, adding an extra $100 to the price. The total cost involved in getting a gasket replaced may be anywhere between $800 - $1200. In United Kingdom, replacement of a head gasket would cost £650 to £1200. The hourly labor charges in USA range around $100, but will vary largely according to location. A large chunk of this cost (about 80%) will be the fee charged for seven to eight hours of labor. US residents should refer to National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) website for certified car repair centers. If you are going to shop for car parts on your own, J.C.Penney is a good place to start.

Car Model Total Cost of Head Gasket Replacement
Jaguar XJ12 (1981) $880
Subaru Forester (2006) $750
Honda Odyssey (1999) $720
Ford Mustang (2001) $1000
BMW 325Ci (2004) $1000
Dodge Durango (2000) $860
Chrysler Voyager (2000) $900

Head Gasket Function

A head gasket is positioned between the engine cylinder and engine block to tightly seal the combustion chamber. The sealing provided by the gasket, is essential to maintain high pressure inside the cylinder for compression achieved by piston action. The gasket also ensures that the engine oil and coolant do not leak over into the combustion chambers or cylinders. The gasket's function in the engine is akin to a gasket in a pressure cooker. To maintain high pressure inside the cooker, it's essential that the pressure cooker has a gasket. The gasket does the same thing for the combustion cylinders in the engine. Ergo, it's essential that the gasket is in place and intact. In case it's blown, the engine efficiency goes down due to lowering of pressure in the cylinder and mixing of coolant or engine oil.

Blown Head Gasket Symptoms

Sometimes, due to various problems like structural defects or high pressure, a head gasket might get blown off. Most of the time, it's beyond repair and replacement is the only option. There are certain blown gasket symptoms you should know, which can help you diagnose the problem. The things to look out for are chronic engine overheating, coolant level drop and white smoke from exhaust.

Replacement Procedure: Overview

Let us look at the replacement procedure for this important engine component. A significant part of the cost involved in replacement is the labor involved. An overview of the basic replacement procedure will give you an idea about the labor fees charged for the job. First part is gaining access to the head gasket. Before one can do that, the battery of the car needs to be disconnected and the coolant fluid needs to be drained. The fuel hookups must be disconnected. Next a lot of car parts need to be removed to gain access. This includes air intake, the carburetor and coolant lines.

The engine piston needs to be set to the top dead center (TDC) position and consequently the timing belt needs to be removed. There is an elaborate process to set the piston in that position, which I will not go in to just now. Next, the headers need to be disconnected, timing covers, pushrods, rockers need to be removed, then the head bolts and finally you must remove the engine head. Then the old gasket should be removed and the new gasket put in. Once that's done, everything needs to be put back as it was in reverse order.

The car is a complex machine and owning one comes with a considerable amount of maintenance work and regular servicing. When you buy it, its pristine shining metal glory amazes you and fills you with pride. However, once the machine is driven in the world outside, there is bound to be wear and tear in the machinery as heat, dust and friction have a go at it. Unless lubrication, maintenance and repair are undertaken regularly, replacing parts is always on the cards. Car repair can cost you a lot unless you have it covered by insurance. Being watchful and engaging the car in regular servicing can save you a lot of money later.
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