Head Gasket Replacement Cost, Time, & Signs it’s Blown
Head gasket replacement is a labor-intensive but necessary process when a vehicle’s head gasket fails. While there are alternatives to temporarily repair a leaky head gasket, people who choose this route often face even more expensive repairs to other components from damage caused by a bad head gasket. The cost to replace a head gasket can multiply quickly if a cheap sealant repair job fails and damages your engine block, engine bearings, radiator and more.
Contact one of the Houston-area My Transmission Experts automotive service shops using the form below or call (281) 884-3825 to schedule a diagnostic appointment with a licensed auto technician at the shop closest to you. We offer emergency towing, and have many financing options available for you.
Why Replace Blown Head Gasket?
Replacing a bad head gasket is a smarter choice over repair because modern MLS head gaskets have a life expectancy of at least 100 years. Choosing cheap sealant repair instead of replacing the blown gasket risks expensive damage to other engine components, likely occurring within just days or weeks when the “repair” sealant fails.
A head gasket’s job is to seal the engine block and cylinder head to stop oil, engine coolant, and pressurized gas from escaping the engine. If the seal breaks or starts leaking, the driver will experience reduced or loss of power, a shaky engine, and overheating. If left untouched, the faulty head gasket will allow water, coolant, and possibly anti-freeze to enter the engine block and radiator causing even costlier damage.
Signs of a Blown Head Gasket
If you observe any or all of the following symptoms of a blown head gasket your vehicle might need head gasket replacement.
- Exhaust that is usually clear looks white
- Coolant leaking from beneath the engine below the exhaust manifold
- Engine overheating or running hot
- A sweet smell when the engine is running
- Engine running rough with less or lost power
- Hissing or whistling sound when the engine is running that worsens when you step on the gas pedal (telltale sound of the exhaust or pressurized air leak)
A licensed mechanic can inspect your head gasket and other engine components to ensure precise diagnosis and repair recommendations. If you are unable to reach a mechanic or considering DIY head gasket repair or replacement, we have some helpful tips.
Checking for Symptoms Manually
If you experienced the telltale signs above that initially indicated a problem with your car, truck or SUV; manually check the following warning signs that can only be observed after manual inspection.
- Check to see if your spark plugs are bad
- Take off the radiator cap and start the engine to see if there are bubbles visible in the radiator or radiator coolant fluid tank
- See if your exhaust looks white or white-ish from anti-freeze contamination
- Check your oil to see if it looks chalky or milky
Head Gasket Repair vs Replacement
There are head gasket repair options if replacing your head gasket is not an option (because of part availability or cost limitations). You should know that the head gasket sealant is a band-aid and not a fix.
If you decide to use a temporary head gasket sealant until you can replace the head gasket, you are gambling additional damage to surrounding engine components such as the engine block, radiator, and lines.
Head Gasket Replacement Cost
The cost to replace a head gasket is heavily dependant upon the time it takes to replace it and what other damage (if any) also needs fixing. Replacing a head gasket is a labor-intensive job that costs between $1200 and $1500 on average in the United States for parts and labor combined.
The labor cost is about $1000 on average, while replacement parts cost anywhere from $250 to $400 or more (depending on what type needed or preferred to replace head gasket).
There are two types of head gaskets, composite and metal. Most newer head gaskets are composite, and the most popular modern gaskets are multi-layer steel (MLS) and solid copper.
How Long to Replace?
The time it takes to replace a head gasket depends on where it is located, whether the new head gasket is in stock, and how long it takes to arrive if you need to order one. The location of the head gasket is also an important factor because some designs make it more difficult and time-consuming to get to the head gasket. On average you can expect a gasket replacement turnaround time of three to seven days.
Can you drive a car with a blown head gasket?
Yes, but you should not. If you drive a vehicle when the head gasket is blown eventually the oil will get into the radiator and into the engine water, causing catastrophic failure of multiple components.
Preventing Gasket Failure
Proper maintenance can increase the life expectancy of your head gasket. Modern multi-layer steel head gaskets should last at least 100 years if you change your car’s oil and filter, refresh water and coolant, and maintain the radiator and spark plugs regularly.
Head Gasket Replacement & Repair
If you suspect your head gasket needs replacing, our mechanics highly recommend getting your car to a trusted local car repair shop to get it properly diagnosed and fixed BEFORE it also damages the engine block and breaks the radiator.
Schedule Head Gasket Replacement
Contact the My Transmission Experts auto repair shop closest or most convenient to your location in west Houston on Hwy 6 N and West Little York; in Katy on Mason Rd and Kingsland Blvd; in Montgomery on TX-105; and Porter adjacent to Kingwood on TX-494 Loop and East Hammond Dr.