How Much Does A Head Gasket Repair Cost?
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The answer, I’m afraid, is maybe not what you’d hope. Garage services have never been exactly cheap but a head gasket failure is no minor inconvenience and could set you back thousands to repair. Our research shows that the average replacement service cost in the UK averages over £600 (October, 2020). Those with simpler vehicles, obtaining their repairs outside the capital will likely get in under this price. For vehicle owners with head gasket issues, driving a modern SUV round London, it’s maybe best not to think about.
Unfortunately, head gasket failures are all too common even in modern vehicles. Failures have a multitude of causes, most of which can be avoided with careful servicing and maintenance.
Spotting the symptoms of head gasket failure early could save you big, while getting the repairs done quickly will save you stress and money, as no further damage is allowed to take place.
Why Replacement is so Expensive
Modern engines are not, shall we say, simple. Autonomous driving, integrated driver assistance systems and emissions reducing measures makes for a cramped engine bay these days. Mechanics therefore are required to un-plug, peel back and un-bolt all these wires and brackets before they can even gain access to the engine itself.
As you are likely well aware, engines themselves are not for the inexperienced to dismantle, lots of bolts in set order and with specific tightening torques. Pipework and wires from the engine must also be moved and/ or disconnected and the timing chain/ belt removed before finally the broken head gasket can be liberated from the vehicle.
The re-assembly, being a reversal of the removal, means more hours spent putting everything together, ensuring correct ignition timing and testing to ensure all electricals are spot on. All these steps add up in time and as with any service that charges by the hour, the cost climbs significantly too. Considering garage hourly rates average at over £50, it’s not hard to imagine the costs adding up.
Luckily parts involved in the procedure are fairly inexpensive; gaskets, coolant and oil are all commonly found service parts and are the bulk of the parts involved in gasket repair. The parts are only a small portion of the final bill, meaning experienced DIYers can make a huge saving by performing the work on their own vehicle.
How Long Does It Take to Fix a Failed Head Gasket?
Unfortunately, this answer could vary from a couple of days to over a couple of weeks without having a running vehicle. A relatively minor case of overheating and head gasket failure can normally be solved in a couple of days, giving the mechanics time to tear down the engine, obtain the parts and rebuild it back to a full working state.
The extra time comes courtesy of common complications involved in the nature of the head gasket failure. Extreme overheating can cause warping of the metal parts, particularly the cylinder head. A cylinder head that is not perfectly flat will not allow the gasket to seal correctly, leading to further head gaskets blowing and some serious running issues. The engine parts therefore may have to be machined completely flat, adding expense and more importantly many more days without your vehicle.
In rare cases, with uncommon vehicles, extra time may need to be allowed in order to source specific parts, not available through local sources. Garages schedules can also come into play, they can only work on a vehicle when they have the space and time to do so.
Is There A Cheap Way To Repair A Head Gasket?
It all looks a little doom and gloom but there are other alternatives, performing repairs without replacing the head gasket could save you money and work around your schedule.
Perhaps you don’t have the tools, the skills or the time to rip your cars engine apart. It is for those people that head gasket sealing additives were invented. Simple, effective solutions, aimed at creating a semi-permanent solution to minor head gasket leaks by simply adding to the coolant system.
Many question whether head gasket sealers work at all (link to do head gasket sealers work article), but the industry is currently booming and 5-star customer reviews continue to roll in every day for the top products in the sector. Simply put, these additive solutions are available for a very small outlay and could keep your car running for a few weeks or months, until a garage slot becomes available or you get that payday you were waiting for, to have permanent repairs performed.
As mentioned, the parts for a head gasket replacement are often less than 25% of the final bill. This means that for those with the tools and the know-how, replacing the gasket on the drive will save money whilst providing a permanent solution.
Whether it be a permanent professional fix, an additive solution or a weekend with the spanners on the drive. Any option to sort a head gasket issue is better than the prospect of ignoring it, which many surprisingly take. A huge bill may seem daunting but without the repairs your vehicle will likely develop more serious issues, which could take it off the road altogether.
There’s an option to suit all budgets, all schedules and all vehicles, ensure you do your research to choose the best specialist or products and don’t panic should issues arise. We all feel the pain of car breakdowns at some point, don’t let a lack of knowledge cloud your decisions and get those issues seen to before they bite you in the behind.
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Categorised in: Maintenance