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How Long Does It Take To Fix A Head Gasket?

in Ownership
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Head gaskets are one of the most critical parts of a car that many people don’t know about. Head gaskets are a vital seal inside your engine, between the cylinder head and the engine block. They protect from coolant and engine oil leaking into the cylinders and can cause many problems when they go. If you’re learning about head gaskets because your mechanic says you’ve blown one, you’re not alone. But how long does it take to fix a head gasket?

The answer is that fixing a head gasket can be a complicated procedure and the amount of time it takes depends on many factors. We’ll cover how long you should expect a repair to take, why it’s so important to get your head gasket repaired, and common signs that you should have your vehicle checked for head gasket failure. 

How Long Does It Take To Fix A Head Gasket? 

Head gaskets are one of those parts that can be a same-day fix or take several days to repair, depending on various factors. The most crucial factor is how damaged your head gasket is in the first place. 

If you catch a head gasket failure quickly, you’ll help minimize the damage from the failure and make it easier for your mechanic to repair the problem. 

However, one of the problems is that you can’t just replace the head gasket and make a proper repair. The cylinder must also be removed with the head gasket and the area cleaned so a new cylinder can be installed. 

Head gasket repairs often come with coolant flushes and even oil changes to help make sure nothing was in those liquids that could have contributed to the failure. 

Those additional but necessary steps take time and increase the amount of time it takes to replace a head gasket. 

For most mechanics, a head gasket replacement cannot be done in less than 6 hours. However, your mechanic may need several days to get the job done right, depending on the severity of the head gasket breach and whether anything other than the gasket itself was damaged. 

If you’re wondering how long does it take to fix a head gasket, the truth is that it varies. Not only can the damage make a big difference, but so can the design of your car’s engine. Some vehicles make replacing the head gasket and associated cylinder much easier, while it can be challenging to access the right parts of your vehicle in other circumstances. 


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Can A Failed Head Gasket Total My Car? 

Yes. The truth is that adequately replacing a head gasket and the associated cylinder may cost more than your car is worth. In that case, you or your insurance company may decide it’s not worth repairing the vehicle. 

Your mechanic may also advise you to save money and purchase a new car, not because they don’t want to repair it, but because they know the cost of repairing your vehicle is more than it is worth. 

Do Head Gasket Sealants Work? 

Head gasket sealing products are supposed to help repair a broken head gasket and prevent future leakages, but do they work?

Head gasket sealers work, take a lot less time, and are cheaper than a traditional head gasket repair. Sound too good to be true? Good, because there are severe problems with head gasket sealants. 

The main problem is that the sealant is added to your coolant, which eventually makes its way to the head gasket and, ideally, seals any leaks. There are two problems with this process, though. The first is that even the best sealants are only a temporary solution, leaving drivers vulnerable to a more severe failure down the line. 

Head gasket sealants also risk sealing any other small tubes or areas in your cooling system, which may lead to other blockage problems down the line and compromise your cooling system. 

A failed cooling system leaves your vehicle vulnerable to many other failures, and some of those failures can be dangerous. 


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Signs of Head Gasket Failure

One of the best ways to minimize the answer to how long does it take to fix a head gasket is to catch any potential head gasket problems before they can escalate. 

Preventing head gasket failure isn’t difficult, but some vehicles are more prone to the problem than others. If you know a model prone to head gasket failure, it’s even more critical to ensure your car is going in for regular maintenance and to deal with fluid leaks quickly. 

Overheating Engine

An overheating engine can be a risk factor for head gasket failure (along with many other problems), but it can also be a symptom. After all, head gasket failure is a failure of the coolant system, which means that your vehicle won’t deal with engine heat as efficiently. 

Unexplained Coolant Loss

Your cat’s coolant system is a closed system, which means that you shouldn’t lose coolant over time. If your car is suddenly low on coolant, and you’re unable to find a leak or another cause for the lost coolant, you may have a head gasket problem. 

Milky Oil 

One sign of head gasket failure and oil contamination is if the color of your oil changes and becomes milky. This is a sign that the coolant is mixing with the oil. Not only is this a sign of head gasket failure, but it can also change how your coolant and engine oil function, leaving your car vulnerable to other problems. 


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White Exhaust Smoke

Like milky oil, white exhaust smoke is a sign that your vehicle has coolant where it shouldn’t be a clear indicator of a head gasket leak or a blown head gasket. In most vehicles, the exhaust should be entirely or mainly clear, so white smoke should be pretty noticeable. If you catch this problem while it’s still subtle, you may be able to lower the cost of your head gasket repair by cutting down on your mechanic’s necessary labor hours. 

The sooner you catch a head gasket failure, the more likely you’ll be able to save your car and keep repair costs low. Remember, head gaskets themselves tend not to be costly parts. But the cost of a new cylinder and long labor hours for your mechanic adds a lot to the cost. The easier you do your mechanic’s job, the less you’ll have to pay for a bad head gasket.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Head Gasket?

A head gasket repair isn’t just a multi-day job; it’s also one of the most expensive car repairs. A blown head gasket is simply not for DIYers; even an average mechanic will struggle with a head gasket repair job. Therefore, most car owners would have to call a professional mechanic to get this job done.

The average repair cost of a head gasket replacement is $1,400 to $1,900, depending on your vehicle type. In some cases, the cost may reach north of $2,000, which is why it’s sometimes cheaper to scrap the car altogether. Head gasket repairs are expensive not because of costly parts. In fact, a brand-new gasket only costs $100 to $200. What makes this type of repair expensive is the labor.

Due to the engine’s central location, it needs to be taken out for disassembly – one of the many reasons why this is a labor-intensive job. Depending on your vehicle model and several other factors, expect to pay about $900 to $1500 in labor alone. To avoid paying exorbitant repair fees, ensure you know the early signs of gasket leaks.

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