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Thread: What's a fair price to pay for head gasket replacement?

  1. #1

    What's a fair price to pay for head gasket replacement?

    I have never taken my car in for a head gasket replacement. What is a fair price to pay? I have a 96 civic ex 4 dr.

    The car is 40000 miles away from a timing belt replacement..should I have this /water pump replaced at the same time since the timing belt and all the other belts/intake will have to be removed anyway for the head gasket replacement? This will save me another big job for timing belt 40000 miles later?

    I live in the Bay Area, California...

    Thanks for your advice....

    civicfan8

  2. #2
    Still here... sorta... westcoaststyle's Avatar
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    It's really up to you on the timing belt/water pump/tensioner. You're absolutely right that they have to be removed so... might as well imo.

    Why do you need to get the head gasket replaced?

    I know the gasket is ~$50, but not sure about labor. Ask hondatech, he's an actual honda/acura technitian.
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  3. #3
    Seni honura's Avatar
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    Yeah the price is pretty much based on where you live/place your and and go to . I would have all the other stuff changed as well .

  4. #4
    I am tehguy... OH YEAH!! theguy386's Avatar
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    It shouldnt be that hard to do it yourself. Save your extra $$ and try it out.
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  5. #5
    Still here... sorta... westcoaststyle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theguy386
    It shouldnt be that hard to do it yourself. Save your extra $$ and try it out.


    I'm a huge advocate of 'DIY'.
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  6. #6
    JDM Fan Boy incublinkus's Avatar
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    yeah, but keep in mind that DIY turn around time is usually a lot longer...
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  7. #7
    Hybrid Forum Moderator Andy's Avatar
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    Depends on who's doing it and how much needs fixed/replaced. If you've overheated and engine and blown the headgasket, it's quite possible the head or the block itself has also warped. They may just needed milled to be made flat, they may even need replaced. Anytime you remove a timing belt, you'd might as well replace it and the water pump as well.
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  8. #8
    Thanks all...

    It all started after i drove the car to the slopes (a 4 hour drive each way) here in the Sierra several months ago on an engine with 224,000 miles) and the car had slightly higher than normal temp. a few days later after I came back from the trip. I found the coolant reservoir was at its max, but the radiator was not, so I added more coolant to the rad when it has cooled off.

    I thought all were well until several weeks later, the exact same problem happened and engine slightly overheats, coolant reservoir was full but not the rad, which is surely not sucking any coolant from the reservoir and I looked hard and didn't find any leaks in the cooling system. I added coolant to the rad and it was ok again. So, it seemed to have lost some 1/4-1/2 quart of coolant within several weeks.

    I posted a question earlier here in this forum and some of you had suggested checking out the head gasket, which could be damaged but not to the extend that it shows obvious symptoms...and I think this makes sense too...it must have seeped thru a slightly damaged head gasket...do you all think this make sense?

    As for DYI for replacing the head gasket....the turnaround time really matters, so I'll just take it to the dealer and have them do it (while I go to work ) and replace the timing belt as well, but I guess I don't know how much $$$ they will charge. The dealership charged $450 parts and labor for replacing the timing belt/tensioner/water pump 2 years ago, was this reasonable?

    Thanks for all your advice...

    civicfan8

  9. #9
    Just called the dealer and they wanted $1300.00 for parts/labor alone for replacing the head gasket, and another $400. if the head needs to be machined....Sounds like time for a new car then....

    Wonder how much would a regular shop charge?

  10. #10
    Senior Member SRT_Andy's Avatar
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    Dude, you live in the Bay Area and are telling us that you don't know any import nuts that won't do it for $300 if you offered it to them? Of course you'd have to buy the parts and maybe a pizza or two....

    Oh, about your "regular shop" question - you get what you pay for. Don't try to be cheap on everything because they headgasket is a VERY important part of the motor (as you now know), so don't screw around and get it done "cheaply".
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  11. #11
    I'm made of meat! Jafro's Avatar
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    I rarely rant like this these days, but here goes:

    If the head's not cracked, and the rest of the car is worth more than the repair, or worth more to you than 60 months of car payments, then go for it. If you'd like to DIY it and learn a thing or two, you could end up spending only $500 on car stuff and a small fortune on tools so you can do whatever you need to do again later. Just be sure to read everything you can about it before you try. How are the tires? Brakes? Exhaust? Body? Interior? AC and accessories? Compression (will it be good when the repair is complete)?, how much money have you already spent servicing it?

    If you warped the head from overheating it, then you will need to get it machined. Let's assume it is with it's current mileage.

    You'll need:
    4 qts oil $8
    1 gal antifreeze $7
    cylinder head gasket and seal set $90
    timing belt $40
    tensioner pulley $30
    Water pump $40
    ... might as well replace the front main seal, and teh cam seal, too... $10-15

    A respectable machine shop will deck a head and do a valve job for about $250. Hell, NAPA will do it for less than that sometimes. Just send the cam seal and valve seals from your head gasket set with it. That's what they'll wind up installing in it and charging you for along with the cost of rebuilding the head, and sometimes it will save you money. Might as well send them yours so you don't have an extra set that you already paid for laying around. That's what a garage will do. That's what Honda will do.

    You will pay a garage at least $350 for parts because they mark them up. Don't ask, you won't get them cheaper. A non-dealership will not use Honda parts (so what). They will mark up the machine work whether you like it or not. If I owned a garage, I would, too. Nothing is worth the dirt, cuts, scratches, bruises and injuries of working on everyone else's filthy crap. I work commission. I'm paid $15/hr after taxes, and could probably do it in 6-7 hours. For only $150 (to me) that's an awful lot of work, and I'd be busting ass to do it that fast. No time to stop for bleeding.

    It's only a 10 hour job according to AllData. Honda's jerking your chain. If you're already doing a timing belt/water pump job, all that's left is some coolant hoses, the exhaust maniflod, and 10 head bolts to pull. It takes 3 more hours (tops) of actual work than a timing belt job if everything comes off easily... or you can look at it this way... if you're doing a head gasket job, all you have to do is replace a water pump and use all new parts when it goes back together. Part of it (the machining), you or any other garage can't do, and a garage will mark that part of it up, too.

    The only thing that would be a huge PITA for doing this DIY is getting the crank pulley off. You won't be able to do that with hand tools. You need an impact wrench, and unless you know someone that has some air tools you can borrow, you'll either get stuck, possibly cause more damage to the engine, or both.

    Where I work, that type of job is an easy $1250. $560 for labor (10x$56), ~$350 for marked-up parts, ~$350 for marked-up machine work. Maybe if you can find someone with hook-ups that will do it on the side for around $900 total, you won't have to get dirty, but check with your friends and shop around at non-dealers first. I'd be reluctant to do it for that. Dealership labor rates are ridiculous, but that's to make you consider buying a new car instead of fixing a 200k+ mile old car. Most of the privately owned shops will quote much lower than a dealership will.

    If you did it for a living, you'd charge more. The only way to save money on this type of job is to DIY. If you've got skills, you might wind up like me someday and make a pretty good living doing it. Screw IT and web design.

    Good luck with your decision.
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  12. #12
    Rotorphile. Kai's Avatar
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    He should replace the head bolts, too. You need ten at about $8 apeice.

    Then he'd need tools, a ratchet, socket set, torque wrench, a rubber mallet would be nice, some razors, etc.

    Once you buy the tools and do it once, you'll have a good amount of experience underhood and will be more willing to DIY and save even more money in the future.

    If I paid a mechanic to fix everything that has been wrong with my current car since I bought it a few months ago, I'd easily be out $4-5k. Instead, it has only cost me a few hundred in parts. Doing the fixing youself can be the difference between loving your car, or hating the POS taking up space in your driveway.
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  13. #13
    I'm made of meat! Jafro's Avatar
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    Amen.
    Jafro

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  14. #14
    Thank you all....

  15. #14
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