Is fixing a blown head gasket worth it?

As your vehicle gets older, repair costs can start to pile up. On the one hand, you’re continuing to deal with recurring, ongoing maintenance, just like you would with any car: oil changes, fluid top offs, broken belts, brakes, battery, rotating and replacing tires, and so on. But at the same time, major systems start to go out. Maybe a serpentine belt needs replaced. If you’re driving a manual car, you might have to replace the clutch as it gets older. The alternator might go out, or an engine coil could die.

The truth is, though, all of these maintenance tasks piling up pale in comparison to one huge issue: a blown head gasket. Even people who consider themselves to be the opposite of savvy when it comes to car repair have heard about this dreadful mechanical issue. They may not know what it is, or what causes it–but they know that it’s expensive to perform.

In this guide, we’ll explain what the head gasket is, and what it means when it’s “blown.” We’ll talk about average repair costs, too. From there, we’ll help you assess whether replacing your head gasket makes sense to do. If you decide that it is not worth replacing, call Junk Car Traders. In Arizona we have great customer service and can give great top rates on junk cars. 

What is a head gasket?

The head gasket is an essential component of your engine. It sits between your engine’s “head” and “block,” connecting the two. The head gasket seals both the combustion aspects of your engine, where fuel and oxygen mix together to propel your car, as well as the areas where coolant passes through your engine to keep it from overheating. That’s a big job: it’s no wonder that the gasket can “blow” after a certain number of miles.

What happens when it blows?

When your head gasket fails to do its job of sealing the engine properly, it’s considered “blown.” This can cause compression problems with your engine, and can also result in overheating: coolant will often leak out the sides of your engine. Without coolant, your engine can overheat in a hurry.

What does it cost to repair?

Repair costs for head gaskets vary considerably. The average range is around $1,400 – $1,600. However, for more complicated engines, it can go as high as $2,500. Why is it so expensive? In order to replace the head gasket, your entire engine has to be disassembled. This takes a lot of hours of labor. Putting it back together, though, takes even longer: the engine must be reassembled with precise settings, and the cylinders must be timed correctly to avoid misfiring. Overall, it’s an incredibly time consuming and complex process.

Is it worth doing?

If you have an older vehicle, replacing the head gasket may not be a worthwhile repair. Get a couple of quotes for replacement, and then compare the cost of repair to the value of your vehicle. If your car is worth significantly less than the cost of the repair, you may be better off contacting a junk car buyer like Junk Car Traders at, getting cash for the vehicle, and using that cash to make a down payment on something that’s in better shape.


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