A head gasket repair is the 7th most expensive repair in a vehicle according to Goliath, and a new car is going to cost you much more than that.
This is why, more often than not, people go for a head gasket replacement. Once you have decided to replace, the question that often arises is how much does it cost to replace a head gasket?
The head gasket replacement is going to cost you about $1500 – $2000 depending on the damage incurred by the engine and various other factors.
But the irony here is that the gasket itself costs about $30 or even lesser. High-performance ones cost the most at about $100.
If you have the technical knowledge and the tools to do the job, the cost of replacement is just the gasket, which is not much unless you are going for a pricey one like a copper gasket.
But, so many factors weigh into the cost. And not just the gasket and the labor but also including the damage to the other parts of the engine.
Cost To Replace A Blown Head Gasket
The head gasket is supposed to last you a lifetime or at least 10 years on the condition that you get your car service regularly.
But that is not always the case; Apart from regular wear and tear, engine troubles also cause the head gasket to blow.
The causes range from extreme overheating to low coolants and even combustion issues.
Replacing a head gasket costs an upward of $1500, and most of the cost goes towards the labor.
The reason: to reach the head gasket, the technician would have to dismantle the engine and then build it back up after replacing the part.
In addition to that, they also reset the camshaft and do the timing gears. Only with these done will the engine run as before.
Since this is a labor-intensive task, it needs at least 10 hours or more to get the work done.
And the hourly rates apply for every hour the job is done. Depending on the state you are in, the rate could be $75-$125 per hour.
And most importantly, this is not done by your run of the mill mechanic. Specialized auto repair shops do the work, and of course, this costs more than your regular job.
But better get the job done via a dealership or a trusted auto repair shop.
Independent mechanics may use aftermarket parts that you cannot trust. But they cost lesser than the dealership or the repair shop.
What Can You Expect From Your Mechanic?
Where is the head gasket located that it needs an engine rebuild?
It sits sandwiched between the engine block and the cylinder head, making sure that the fluids and gases stay separate when they travel back and forth.
When a head gasket blows, the job of the mechanic is not just to replace the gasket but also to check the engine parts for damage incurred.
He’d probably check the cylinder head for warping. If warped, he files it to ensure a flat surface. Without a flat surface, the gasket doesn’t fit right in, and the fluids can still leak.
Apart from the cylinder head, the technician also replaces the thermostat and flush the coolant as needed.
The latter would cost around $50-$150 while the former approximately $30-$75. He might also have to replace the gasket, which costs anywhere from $1 to $15.
The head gasket is not going to cost you much, but then again, there are high-priced units as well.
These are usually gasket sets that include the gasket, bolts, etc. The lower-priced gaskets usually just contain the gasket alone.
You may not be charged separately for those, as most repair shops include this in their pricing. But if you are wanting to know the details of the pricing, make sure to ask for an itemized bill.
5 Factors That Impact The Cost Of A Gasket Replacement
Head gasket replacement is a serious job and is definitely in the big league.
If the head gasket is busted, the engine would not function optimally and will lead to damage that gets more and more expensive as the days go by.
There are many factors that influence the replacement costs, including the urgency of the repair and the extent of the damage.
1. Age Of The Car
Despite the fact that head gaskets last long, it can wear out over time after years of use. Wear and tear are part of any component, however long-lasting it is.
The Head gasket faces heat on a regular basis, and that causes it to fail.
But a replacement for blown head gaskets on older cars is dependent on the damage to the other parts.
Sometimes it is worth not replacing, and if replacing, it is sure to cost a lot more since chances are that other parts of the engine are more impaired.
2. Make And Model Of Your Car
The make and model of the vehicle is the deciding factor on the replacement expense.
A high-performance car or a sports car might cost you much more to repair than a cheaper model. The same goes for modern cars with complicated engines.
The replacement cost is contingent on the labor and the expertise required to take apart the engine. Again, the head gasket material would also depend on the engine block and the cylinder head.
3. The Severity Of The Damage
If you have your car looked at soon after you detected a blown head gasket, it would not affect the other parts of the engine as much.
But usually, a head gasket does not fail out of the blue. It develops a leak, which, when undetected gets bigger. Finally, your gasket blows.
A blown head gasket causes damage to the cylinder, piston, thermostat, cooling system, exhaust, and many other components of the engine.
The scope of the damage plays a major part in the repair costs, however old the vehicle is.
4. Type Of Engine
When it comes to a blown head gasket, as I keep saying, the repair cost hinges on the work involved.
It is a labor-intensive job, and as such, the engine is pulled apart, at least the top part to reach the head gasket. Your mechanic would also inspect the cylinder and piston for damage.
After considering the above, the cost goes higher if the engine is a V6 or a V8.
A V6 and V8 have two cylinder heads, which, of course, takes more time to repair, increasing the cost. Certain complex engine configurations like the one in Subaru Boxer are difficult to repair.
5. Type Of Gasket
Head gaskets are of different materials namely composite, rubber, cork, copper, or layered steel.
They are made for different configurations and handle the heat differently. Your mechanic chooses the gasket depending on the cylinder and its ability to withstand the forces when in operation.
The type of the gasket doesn’t affect the cost of repair much unless you go for pricier versions like copper.
How Does The Auto Repair Shop Fix The Rates?
Even though I keep mentioning hourly rates, the mechanic just doesn’t get the entire rate mentioned. The hourly rate includes his/her pay and also the shop’s physical expenses.
Apart from that, the hi-tech diagnostic tools and the various equipment is easily a six-figure expense.
Considering the costs, you would be charged with a portion of the above to cover the cost.
Auto repair shops use a computer program that calculates the time necessary to complete a certain task. This is then multiplied by the hourly rate to reach the final repair cost.
This system helps the repair shop to charge the customers consistently. Also, it prevents the mechanic from taking too much time to complete your repair.
With this system in place, if a technician completes the task well before time, then he/she receives a higher hourly rate. Else, their pay might be well below their hourly rate.
The flat-rate system doesn’t apply to all repairs. It doesn’t work for the issues that require quite a lot of diagnosis.
The quote you receive from the repair shop consists of an estimated timing for all the procedures that they perform. In theory, your repair should be done by then, but, practically, it is not possible.
For example, consider electrical issues; Here, it takes quite a lot of time to diagnose the problem at hand, and the fix may finish just in minutes.
In this case, the diagnosis time is inevitable. In short, you are paying for the expertise needed to spot the problem.
On the other hand, our concern here is a head gasket replacement, where you know the issue beforehand. But the time required to take the engine apart and build it back is what takes the time.
Hence, it comes under the flat-rate system and the mechanic’s hourly rate, or should I say the hourly rate of the shop in question.
Menu pricing is quite common, and you must have come across or even used it. Oil changes or brake jobs come under this.
Here the parts required for the job and the job itself is the specified rate, but anything else that comes along the way is extra.
For example, if, as a part of the advertised oil change, the repair shop gives you 5 quart of oil and your car requires more than that, anything extra will be charged separately.
Or even if your filter needs work apart from the regular cleaning, be sure that you will pay for it.
In these cases, make sure to get a list of jobs and the written estimate in hand before giving your approval.
Factors Influencing Labor Rates
Didn’t your head just turn when you heard the hourly rate for the mechanic or the expense incurred in replacing a blown head gasket?
While it may seem too much or that you are being robbed, in reality, that is not the case.
To make it clear for you, here is a list of factors that influence the pricing.
- Repair shop – Dealership or independent
- Overhead costs of the facility
- Make and model of the vehicle they service – exotic or regular
- Labor costs
- Business overhead
- Skill level of the technician
How Long Does A New Head Gasket Last?
Your new head gasket can last long as much as 10 years contingent on the engine being in good working condition. If your engine overheats, you can expect it to blow out again quite quickly.
A faulty thermostat, low coolant level, and even combustion issues can cause the engine to overheat.
Can I Repair A Blown Head Gasket Without Replacing It?
If the leak is minor and it has been identified in the early stages, it doesn’t require a mechanic. You can buy a sealant and do the job yourself.
However, if the damage is too much, you will have to go for a replacement. Even with a sealant, it is a temporary job, and you will have to shell out for a replacement.
If you like to know more about this topic, I highly suggest you read this article.
How Long Does It Take To Fix A Blown Head Gasket?
It can take anywhere from two days to two weeks to replace your head gasket. It is an expensive repair, and as such, it takes advanced skills to replace it.
The time taken is dependent on several factors, not limited to:
- The damage to the engine
- The availability of a technician
- The type of engine
- The availability of the engine
Head gasket replacement is a major repair, and it takes time, skill, and money to get it done.
Coming to the cost, your repair shop can charge you anywhere from $1500 to $2000 depending on the location, damage to the components, the type of engine, and finally the make and model of the car.
The repair cost, while high, is based on several factors and not just the hourly rate of the mechanic.
Few other factors that influence the repair costs are the overhead cost, diagnosis time, the skill level of the technician, etc.