Replacing Head Gaskets--How much labor?

bubba74bubba74 Member Posts: 2
edited March 2014 in Ford


  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    Depends on the year, make, model and engine.
    My crystal ball is in the shop, so you'll have to provide us that info.
  • bubba74bubba74 Member Posts: 2
    its a 91 ford ranger 3.0 just wondering if the time envolved or the money to pay someone would be worth having it fixed, the truck is in extremly good shape it just has a driver who was using the cell phone instead of watching the gauges. i bought the gasket set and was thinking about doing it myself i havent ever done it before so im kinda worried
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Member Posts: 872
    I'm not a Ford guy, so I'm not sure if that's a 4 or 6 cylinder. Either way, if you take extra time and care you can do most of the job yourself. Label all wires and hoses, take lots of pictures, especially if you have a digital camera. After you get the head(s) off of the motor. If it's a V6 DO BOTH HEAD GASKETS!!!!!! Take the head(s) into a machine shop and have them checked for warpage, or check around for a shop that exchanges heads for ones that have been checked and re-built ones.

    I can't stress enough the need for good documentation of the disassembly, every step. Another thing is to get a manual for your truck because you will need the torque specs for the head bolts and the torque sequence for the head bolts, also for the instructions on how to set valve lash or cam timing on an OHC motor. With a set of normal tools and a can of penetrating oil will get the job done, the only special tool you will need is a torque wrench.

    Most shops charge between $400 and $600 to do the head gasket alone if you need the have the heads milled or replaced the price goes up dramatically into the $1200 to $1500 range.

    Good Luck, and let us know how you fair.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Member Posts: 2,353
    fail to follow the steps covered by jgmilberg. They scrape some of the gasket material off, apply the new gasket(s) and torque the bolts down.

    Most heads have very slight warpage and it's a very good (mandatory, in my book) to at least have them cleaned up and checked out by a machine shop.

    While in DaimlerChrysler service, the Neon was famous for blown headgaskets - one mechanic was pleased with himself that he could do the job in under 2 hours - he even rigged up a ping-pong paddle handle onto a scraper so he could scrape without completely removing the head, then slide the new gasket in - his cars ALWAYS came back and he couldn't figure out why!
  • vidtechvidtech Member Posts: 212
    i hate to thinkwhere all the scraped off gunk wound up.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    before you scrape anything, you HAVE to fill the cylinders with shop rags, etc to divert as much of the gasket scrapings as possible. they will fall past the piston to the rings. some will get into the oil sump and mangle the far reaches of the engine, some will just break the rings.

    scrape with a copper or plastic tool only, iron on iron will take metal off the block. if it's a aluminum block, don't use a copper scraper (made from hammering down a piece of soft copper pipe.)

    use premium gaskets and sealants all the way, and don't goop on extra sealant or use too little... a good manual should say how wide a bead of sealant to lay down, and where. follow that advice carefully. clean your head bolts up nicely, and use the torque pattern and pressures recommended in the manual... it should be a two-stage process, tightening things down in a cross-X sort of pattern all the way around, starting perhaps at one particular mentioned bolt.

    it ain't rocket science, but it's not free-form art, either.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Member Posts: 2,353
    he was terminated and is now proud to work at Jiffy Lube or Pep Boys, I can't remember which.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    or did that just roll off his celebrating backside, too?
  • zueslewiszueslewis Member Posts: 2,353
    seemed like a neat trick - the customers actually saw him do it and commented about how cool it was.

    At that time (2000-2001), we were flooded with Neon headgasket jobs, mostly '98-99 cars, and we'd do 12-15 a week.

    That's no excuse for crappy work.
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Member Posts: 872
    I forgot all about these things, I'm not sure about the 3.0 but I do know on the Escort 4 cyl. it was mandatory to replace the head bolts because of bolt stretch. Some hacks just used to put washers under the bolt heads but that doesn't work because the bolt still can bottom put and give a false torque reading.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Most head bolts are torque-to-yield. When stretched, they won't bottom out but will not achieve correct clamp load because they've lost tensile strength. Torque-to-yield is preferred because it eliminates false torque readings due to thread bind. Washers are usually required under the bolt heads when installed on aluminum cylinder heads to spread the load evenly and prevent galling of the head.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,259
    ...was on an '88 LeBaron turbo coupe. Thankfully though, it was the ex-wife's at that time, and not my problem! I think it cost her about $700 for a new gasket and a used cylinder head. Then it cost another $75 for another shop to reattach all the vacuum hoses, wiring, etc under the hood the CORRECT way!

    In that car's defense though, it had over 100,000 miles on it when it blew. It had also been stolen several times, so it's anybody's guess as to how it was driven on those joyrides!

    Back in the days of iron blocks and iron heads, would the heads still warp?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Sure if it got hot enough. I have even seen rare cases where the iron heads warped so badly they were not fixable, the hood paint baked off, and hoses and wires melted to the block. Of course, this engine was no doubt toast inside as well.


    What caused the head gaskets to blow out? If you replace the head gaskets, are you only fixing the symptom and not the disease?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    Even if your driver had been watching the guages, the head gasket was still blown.

    My advise...not really a DIY job!
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    The root cause of head gasket failure with bi-metal engines is the difference in expansion rates between the cast iron block and aluminum head. During warmup and cooldown, the gasket has to allow the head to slide while still maintaining a positive seal.
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