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Head gasket leak: Why you need to repair


  1. Introduction
  2. What is a head gasket leak?
  3. What are the warning signs of a head gasket leak?
  4. How much does head gasket repair cost?
  5. Is it worth repairing a head gasket?
  6. Is it possible to prevent a blown head gasket?
  7. Need help? Where to find head gasket repair


There are over 1.4 billion cars on the road. Millions of people depend on their vehicles to get around. If you have a problem with your car, it can disrupt your day and affect your ability to travel, work and run errands. When you own a car, it’s always beneficial to keep up with routine checks, services and maintenance and to seek advice if you suspect that there may be a problem. There are all kinds of things that can go wrong, including head gasket leaks. In this helpful guide, we’ll provide detailed information about head gasket leaks and offer advice to help you get back on the road. 

What is a head gasket leak?

The head gasket is the part that fits between the cylinder block and cylinder head in an internal combustion engine. This component plays a critical role in the engine combustion process, preventing coolant from leaking and mixing with engine oil. The head gasket is under constant stress when the car is running, as it works continuously to seal oil and coolant. When the head gasket functions normally, oil can circulate freely within the engine and coolant is directed to where it is required. 


A head gasket leak occurs when the seal is damaged or blown. This enables coolant to leak and it may result in overheating. If there is an issue with the head gasket, this will impact engine function and it could lead to long-term problems. If you are concerned about your vehicle, it’s always beneficial to seek professional advice. The sooner head gasket repairs are carried out, the better. 

What are the warning signs of a head gasket leak?

It’s important to be aware of the warning signs of a head gasket leak to prevent further damage to the engine. If you carry on driving and using your car once the head gasket has blown, there is a risk of overheating and long-term performance issues. The most common signs to watch out for include:


  • Puddles of coolant underneath the vehicle: if you spot puddles and spots of coolant underneath the vehicle, this is a sign that coolant is leaking from below the exhaust.


  • White, cloudy oil: white or cloudy, milky oil is a sign that oil and coolant are mixing. 


  • White exhaust smoke: white smoke billowing from the exhaust suggests that coolant is flowing into the combustion chamber. When the coolant evaporates, it produces white smoke. 


  • Acidic, sweet odors: head gasket leaks cause a distinctive odor, which is often described as a strong, sweet, acidic smell. When the car has been running and the engine is hot, you may be able to smell this odor through the vents. 


  • Low coolant levels: low coolant levels in the reservoirs indicate that coolant is leaking.


  • Overheating: one of the most significant effects of a head gasket leak is an increased risk of overheating. If coolant leaks, the engine can get too hot. 


  • Loss of power: if the head gasket is damaged, pressure in the combustion engine falls, resulting in a loss of power.


If you notice any of these signs, it’s beneficial to contact an auto repair shop immediately. 

How much does head gasket repair cost?

Every driver dreads having to take their car into the auto repair shop. It’s very common to have questions about the cost of repairs and how long it will take to get back on the road. Head gasket repair can be expensive. Typically, if you’re looking for head gasket repair services in the US, you can expect to pay around $1,500. The exact fee will vary, according to the auto repair shop you choose and the make and model you own. In some cases, prices may be higher or lower. 


In most cases, repairing a head gasket leak will work out cheaper than swapping your car. However, if you have an old vehicle, which isn’t worth much, or there is a risk of further problems, which will add to your running costs, it may make financial sense to buy a new car or explore finance options. A good mechanic will be able to discuss your options with you to help you decide what to do. 


Seeking advice early is beneficial for both the vehicle and its owner. Repairing a head gasket leak will reduce the risk of overheating and engine damage, which will save the owner money in the long run and reduce loss of value. 

Is it worth repairing a head gasket?

If you are worried about a head gasket leak, you may be wondering if it’s worth repairing your head gasket. There are multiple scenarios to consider when answering this question, including:


  • Detecting a leak early

If you detect a head gasket leak early, it’s usually worth getting the engine fixed as soon as possible. This will help to prevent further damage, which will save you money down the line. In the first instance, it may be beneficial to use head gasket sealers as a temporary measure before your car goes into an auto repair shop. 


  • Driving a car that is otherwise in good condition

If your car is in good condition and there are no major issues, apart from the head gasket leak, it’s beneficial to repair the head gasket. Once this problem has been remedied, you’ll be able to continue driving as normal. Faulty head gaskets are most common in older vehicles. If you have a new car, it’s unlikely that you would need to pay for head gasket repair. 


  • Comparing repair costs with replacing the car

If you drive an old car that is on its last legs, or you are forking out a lot of money for repairs on a regular basis, it’s wise to compare repair costs and quotes with the price of replacing the car. You could save money and enjoy peace of mind by swapping your car for a newer, more reliable vehicle. Buying or hiring a car may cost more in the short term, but it may save you money on repairs and running costs in the long term. 


  • Repairs for complex issues

Head gasket leaks can cause significant damage to the engine if they are left untreated. If you don’t know that you have a leak, and you’ve continued to drive, the cost of repairing the head gasket may increase substantially. A damaged head gasket can cause damage to other parts of the engine, which will affect the cost and the viability of the vehicle. If you’re looking at a repair bill of over $2,000, for example, you may want to explore other options depending on how much the vehicle is worth. 

Is it possible to prevent a blown head gasket?

It may not always be possible to prevent a head gasket leak or a blown head gasket. However, there are steps you can take to reduce risks and protect your vehicle. These include:


  • Check the coolant level frequently and keep coolant topped-up: this will lower the risk of overheating.


  • Keep up to date with basic maintenance and routine services: keeping up to date with maintenance and routine services will decrease the risk of engine problems and save you money.


  • Seek advice if you have concerns: if you spot warning signs of a head gasket leak, or you’re worried about how the car is running, seek advice. If you leave issues in the hope that they will subside, you run the risk of causing more damage, which is expensive to rectify.


  • Check the head gasket carefully: if you are buying a used car, check the head gasket carefully before you complete the purchase. The head gasket must be properly installed. 


  • Avoid driving if you spot warning signs: if you detect warning signs, such as coolant puddles underneath your car, avoid driving. Take your car to an auto repair shop as soon as possible. If you carry on driving and you have a head gasket leak, the engine may overheat and there is a risk of irreparable damage. 


  • Always choose a reputable auto repair shop: take your time to research businesses, compare quotes, ask people you know for recommendations and read reviews when searching for a company to carry out head gasket repairs. 

Need help? Where to find head gasket repair

If you have concerns about your vehicle, or you need advice about head gasket leaks or repairs, the friendly, experienced team at MEGA Gasket is here to help. We have been providing first-class auto parts in the aftermarket since 1979 and are 100% made in Taiwan, offering customers access to effective, affordable components. We use the finest quality components combined with expertise and advanced training to achieve incredible results. We are a leading gasket maker and have a proven track record. We work with clients all over the world. 


If you’d like to find out more about our services and products, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Simply fill in our online enquiry form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. 



Author: MEGA Gasket 

established since 1979,  granted ISO 9002 in 1999 and updated to ISO 9001:2015 in 2017, and the main production is for automobile and all kind of engine gaskets. MEGA have profuse experience and good reputation in Taiwan. Learn more about MEGA Gasket manufacturer and supplier.