How Hard Is It to Replace a Head Gasket?

by William Norman

Replacing a car engine's head gasket involves a major tear down of the engine. The procedure also calls for precise measurement of metal surfaces, and the technician may have to repair other parts of the engine as well to prevent future head gasket failures.

Scope of Job

While the head gasket itself consists of a single part, preparing the engine for its replacement represents a large-scale operation, according to Repair Pal. The repair technician must remove air intake and exhaust components, and drain the coolant. In some cases, the technician also must remove the timing assembly, valve covers and camshafts.


Replacement of a head gasket first requires precision measurements using a straightedge, according to AA1 Car. These measurements must indicate variations from flatness as small as 0.002 inches. Resurfacing a head usually requires the help of a machine shop.


Head gaskets wear out for a variety of reasons. AA1 Car notes that anyone replacing a head gasket also should inspect the rest of the engine for potential problems and be ready to perform additional, possibly elaborate repairs.

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