How much does a head gasket cost to replace in the UK?

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Price guide

£200 - £1,000

low

£200

median

£600

high

£1,000

Low, median and high bar chart distribuiton

If your vehicle overheats fast or the engine underperforms, it’s time to check your head gasket. It might need repair or even replacement. But how much will it cost you? The average head gasket replacement cost is £600. While you can DIY to save money, hiring a car repair specialist is a far better choice. 

Replacing a head gasket is time-consuming and complicated—definitely not for those with basic knowledge about vehicles. But you can better understand your budget and get excellent proposals from professionals when you know what affects head gasket replacement prices. Read on to learn more. 

What is a head gasket?

The heart of any vehicle is the engine. Inside it are multiple components that work harmoniously to ensure that combustion occurs. Two of the most critical parts are the cylinder head containing the valve train and the engine block, with pistons and crankshaft. 

While both should work together, they have lubricating oils and coolants that can’t mix. This is where the head gasket comes in. This seal sits between the engine block and the cylinder head to keep their fluids intact. 

head gaskets on top of a car engine
What are the signs of a blown head gasket?

Despite its thickness (not over an inch), the head gasket is durable enough to withstand pressure from a working, combusting engine–until it cannot. A blown head gasket can give you many hints, including:

  1. An overheating engine. Radiator issues, thermostat failure, or a broken water pump can cause the engine to overheat. The increasing temperature can then lead to head gasket damage. When the seal fails, the coolant leaks. And thus, your engine becomes even more susceptible to overheating.
  2. White smoke. Do you see white smoke coming out of the exhaust? It could mean a leaking coolant coming into contact with the hot parts under the hood.
  3. Contamination. If you are diligent in checking your oil or coolant, you might notice a mixture of both when you test them. It could be because the seal has already malfunctioned.
  4. Misfiring or non-running engine. If the cylinder head, engine block, or both are no longer efficient, you can count on the engine to perform poorly. It could misfire or, worse, stop running. 

Head gasket replacement prices 

How much does a head gasket cost to replace? One of the biggest factors that affect the price is the vehicle’s make, model, and year. These three can influence part availability and prices. For example, if you’re driving an older model, changing its gaskets could be more expensive. The actual component might be more challenging to find, and not everyone knows how to fix it. 

You might need head gasket kits or sets for a detailed car service, like if the engine needs an overhaul. The costs are usually double that of a single seal. The good news is that often, materials are cheaper than labour. Here’s an overview of average head gasket replacement costs for some of the most popular vehicles in the UK:

Vehicle make/model

Average head gasket replacement cost (materials + labour)

Peugeot 207

£620

BMW3 series

£665

Corsa

£620

Ford Focus

£640

Range Rover

£900

Mercedes-Benz

£645

What affects head gasket replacement costs in the UK?

a mechanic holding a head gasket
Gasket type

Head gasket prices can also vary depending on the type:

Gasket type

Description

Average cost

Standard head gasket

This is the most basic type. Made of a single layer of steel, copper, or composite materials, it’s ideal for regular engine applications. You won’t find this in high-performance trucks and cars that require more speed, power, and agility. 

Standard head gaskets are usually the cheapest, ranging from £10 to £50.

However, some materials are more expensive than others. For example, a copper gasket could fetch over £100 because of its durability.

Multi-layer steel (MLS) head gasket

MLS head gaskets usually seal powerful engines. They feature several layers of steel, enabling the component to withstand some of the highest temperatures and pressures. 

Also, to make these gaskets more flexible, manufacturers combine steel with an elastomeric material, such as rubber. 

Because of the materials and features, these gaskets are worth £150 or more.

O-ring head gasket

If the leak is in the cylinder head, this might be the gasket you’re looking for. Its shape fits nicely into the engine component, preventing more leaks. Made of rubber, it might have metals such as steel or copper to resist high pressure and temperature levels.

You can find O-ring head gaskets sold for at least £100, depending on the size and material type and whether it needs resurfacing. 


Extent of the damage

The nature of the problem also heavily influences the cost of replacing a head gasket, especially:

  • Part availability 

  • Hours of repair needed

  • Additional repairs

Problem

Average cost

Engine overhaul 

If you should change the head gasket and the engine, prepare to spend over £5,000 for the parts alone. You might find a used engine in a salvage yard for around £650.

Coolant or oil replacement

Replacing contaminated oil or coolant could reach £200. 

Cylinder head repair

A cracked cylinder head could cost you an extra £600. 


Labour costs

Labour takes the bigger chunk of the average cost of head gasket replacement. Usually, a car repair technician spends over five hours removing and replacing the damaged part. If the problem has already spread to the rest of the engine system, it could take 10 hours or more.

The hourly rate for head gasket replacement in the UK is between £60 and £100. At least two factors help determine labour costs: location and the kind of repair specialist you hire. For instance, the typical price in London ranges over £800 because of the demand and high cost of living. Meanwhile, in Manchester, it’s about £680.

It also matters if you opt for a dealership, a repair shop, or a skilled mechanic. Usually, dealers charge the most because of the following:

  • Convenience (e.g., you can lease a car while your vehicle is under repair)

  • Original parts

  • Overhead costs, which they can pass on to you

  • Brand and reputation

Post a task for head gasket replacement

If you want to spend less on head gasket replacement, your next best choice is to look for a technician to help you. Airtasker makes this process easy for you. It connects you with car repair experts in your area, so you can get the service you need as soon as possible. All you have to do is to post a task by following these three simple steps:

1. Create a profile for free. 

2. Add a task or job description that includes the following details:

  • Problem (head gasket replacement, white smoke coming out of the exhaust, overheating engine, etc.)
  • Budget
  • General location
  • Preferred timeline repair
  • Whether the technician should buy the part
  • Brand and size of the head gasket
  • Other services, such as engine replacement or checkup

3. Wait for proposals from qualified technicians and then choose the best. Problem solved!

So how much is a head gasket in the UK? Most spend £600, but if you want more control over your budget, post a task today and get free quotes from nearby mechanics.  

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FAQs

No, head gaskets can be difficult to replace for many reasons. You must remove the broken seal from the cylinder head and the engine block, clean these components, and install a new gasket. Overall, it is a time-consuming process.

While you can, it’s not advisable. You might not be aware of the extent of the damage. Also, you might only cause more issues, such as stripped bolts or cracked cylinder heads. Head gasket replacement is better left to the professionals. 

It depends on many factors, such as the accessibility of the head gasket, the extent of the damage, and the mechanic’s experience. Usually, it takes five hours. If a car repair expert also has to inspect and change the engine, it might take 10 hours. For this reason, labour comprises a huge percentage of the head gasket replacement price.

Yes, because a blown head gasket can lead to severe and costlier problems, such as a damaged car engine. Head gasket replacement will help you maximise the service life of your vehicle.

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