Is a Head Gasket Worth Fixing?

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Is a Head Gasket Worth Fixing?

When you don’t take care of a car, like keeping the oil and water in it, and you drive it abusively, it can damage the car. From blowing tires to blowing the head gasket. Repairing it isn’t a quick job, and often requires getting a new engine

What is a Head Gasket?

A head gasket is a basic, but crucial component of your car’s engine.  A car engine is split between the cylinder head and engine block, and the head gasket fits in that split, sealing situated between the cylinder head and the engine block. 

The head gasket seals the two parts together, keeping the process of the internal combustion inside the engine and keeping the different fluids inside the engine from mixing together or leaking out. 

The important role it plays in an engine working properly is why when it is blown, head gasket repair or replacement must be immediate. Otherwise, more damage to the engine can happen. 

Can you drive with a blown head gasket?

It depends on the car engine and how much damage was done when the head gasket blew. Some engines stop functioning as soon as that happens, others may run for another hour to another month. But when the engine needs head gasket repair or replacement, when it stops, it stops. Until you’ve had the head gasket repaired or replaced, you won’t be driving anywhere in that car. 

What causes a head gasket to break?

As you drive a car, if the engine and head consume and spend at different rates, this causes the head gasket to blow because it can’t keep the two parts sealed as we describe above.  Because most engines have an aluminum head on an iron cylinder block, it can make that situation worse.  

Some indications that your car needs the head gasket repaired or replaced are: 


A head gasket repair is necessary when the engine has overheated multiple times. The overheating can be caused by low coolant, clogged radiator, the fan not operating, etc. Once the head gasket is blown, the engine will overheat, and hot exhaust gases leaks, filling the cooling system. The coolant leaks into the engine cylinders, and the mixing of oil and water is disastrous for a car engine. 


When a head gasket fails in this manner, the compressed air, and fuel escape, reducing the compression in the cylinder. You’ll notice the car engine is running rough and has lost power, sounding like you have an exhaust leak. 


This is the most common indicator that your car needs head gasket repair. The oil that is typically brown turns a milky color, something like a chocolate milkshake. This happens when the coolant gets into the oil or vice versa. This doesn’t always indicate a blown head gasket, but it is a common indication. 


A bad head gasket or leaking head gasket will send large clouds of white smoke through the exhaust. This white smoke has a sweet smell which is the antifreeze as it leaks past the head gasket and on the cylinders. The white smoke is the steam from the combustion. 


When a head gasket fails at sealing the oil and water apart from each other, both will begin to leak outside of the engine. This can also be simple leaking pertaining to either the oil or the water, or it can be that head gasket repair is needed. 

Does a blown head gasket mean you need a new engine, or can head gaskets be repaired?

It will depend on how much more you drove the car once the head gasket blew. If you noticed any of the things we listed above and take the car right to a mechanic, it is possible that a head gasket repair job will be all that is needed. A head gasket repair is replacing the gasket. 

Is it better to repair a head gasket or replace the engine?

If you have continued driving the car with a blown head gasket, the head itself could be warped and too much oil and water have mixed. In this case, a head gasket repair or head gasket replacement isn’t going to be sufficient. The entire engine will need to be replaced. 

How Much does it cost to repair a head gasket?

The make and model of the car will have an impact on the cost of a head gasket repair. The range is typically between $1,700 and $2,000 to replace the head gasket, including labor. 

A Head Gasket

At The Starting Line 

Because of the damage that a head gasket can cause to an engine, it is important to be aware of the things we’ve listed. Once you notice any of these things happening, getting to a mechanic immediately is an absolute must!

If you need head gasket repair in Lombard and Wheaton, IL, give J1 Auto Repair a call at 630-932-4427.