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Cylinder Head Gasket Replacement

What is a cylinder head gasket?

The cylinder head gasket is the most important sealing device in the engine. Made from metals that are able to withstand the high pressure of compression and combustion, the gasket seals the mating surface between the cylinder head and the engine block. In addition, this gasket also seals around oil and coolant passages to prevent these fluids from contaminating the combustion chambers. Over time, these gaskets do wear out, especially if pinging or knocking from lower octane gasoline add to the normal compression within the chamber, or if the engine is overheated.

What are the symptoms of a faulty cylinder head gasket?

A poorly running or non-running engine. We might notice a blue or black smoke if oil is seeping into the combustion chamber, or white smoke if it is coolant. Moreover the engine might exhibit irregular overheating, as exhaust gases cross over into coolant passages. This is the time to get the car checked out before a head gasket problem causes other issues in the car - your catalytic converters and oxygen sensors do not like coolant or motor oil.

What is the severity of a faulty cylinder head gasket?

Significant. If the engine still runs, do not linger on the repair or the price will rise and the chances of becoming stranded will grow rapidly. On the other hand, this is the type of repair that for older, higher mileage vehicles that requires some thought on the worth of the car versus the cost of repair. Find a good mechanic, one who specializes in engine work, and set an appointment. Also ask the mechanic to check over the vehicle and advise on any other repairs that might be on the horizon, and use this information to make a final decision. A head gasket repair will take several days to a week, so take a couple of extra days to plan. and also look for alternate travel.

What is the typical cost to replace a cylinder head gasket?

  • Estimated part(s) cost = $80- $400
  • Estimated labor cost = $300- $500
  • Estimated total cost = $380 - $900

The cost of a head gasket replacement will vary greatly depending upon the size of the engine and the make and model. Parts for this repair will run from $80 to $200 dollars for gaskets and seals, and in some cases upwards of $400 if the bolts that secure the cylinder head to the engine block need to be replaced. When the car has been overheated, the head will need to be sent out to a machine shop to be inspected for warpage or cracks, and to be resurfaced. These services will add another $300 to $500 to the bill. Labor for this repair is where the bill really rises. Essentially the whole top of the engine must be taken apart, including the exhaust and intake manifolds to remove the cylinder head. Lastly, expect for some incidental expenses to be part of the final estimate, as old parts break and additional small repairs are needed.

Again, pricing will vary by location and your vehicle make and model. Save time by using Openbay to compare and book an appointment with a service center in your area.

Service article written by an ASE Master Technician