2003 Honda Civic head-gasket replacement

How much would you estimate a head-gasket replacement would cost, parts/labor for a 2003 Honda Civic ex 1.7L?

Thank you

Most of the cost (by far) is the labor, and that varies wildly depending on where you live and whether you have a good independent shop available. In my neck of the woods, at an independent shop, about $1200-$1400 assuming no complications. If the heads ends up being warped, that’s a complication. If there’s a gully eroded into the head surface due to the combustion gasses blowing through, that’s a complication. If there’s a gully eroded into the top surface of the block, that’s a BIG complication. You get the idea.

You might want to get some estimates in your area. But be certain that it’s actually a blown head gasket before having that work done. Any good shop will make sure of the diagnosis before proceeding anyway, but be sure you don’t put it in the hands of someone who won’t.

The only advice I can add is that you need to consider the reason why the head gasket has failed.
If the failure was due to severe overheating that can lead to problems with the piston rings and cylinder walls; meaning it may burn oil excessively after the head gasket is replaced.

If coolant has diluted engine oil there is also the possibility of lower end problems; bearing knocks, lowered oil pressure, etc.

I would recommend that both a dry and wet compression test be done on all cylinders first. This test won’t mean anything on any cylinder that has a head gasket breach. However, the odds of a breach on all cylinders would be extremely rare and if the test showed problems on non-breached cylinders it may be time to consider another engine.

Give this site a try, http://www.automd.com/repaircost/, it can give you a rough idea. This is a common thing for this vintage car. Also consider the water pump and timing belt replacement at the same time, both are due for replacement based on the age of the car. If the rest of the car is in good shape, the repairs are well worth it. The engine is very good and these repairs will give you several more years of service.

I have an '03 civic ex - had this done 6 months ago, $1,100. Agree with @stevecvt.

@SteveCBT I tried automd and it said dealer cost was $576, shop cost $479. Repairpal.com said $500-$800. Reading online forums it seems repairpal’s price is pretty fair and acceptable. And a 03’ Honda civic isn’t considered vintage, a car has to be something like 20-25 years old to be that.



I can’t imagine in what dealer in the USA it would only cost $576 to do a head gasket at a dealer

That seems way too low

The repairpal.com figure sounds more plausible, but figure the upper end of the price range

Food for thought . . . most shops charge about $100/per billed hour. Many dealerships have an even higher rate. And a head gasket replacement is several hours of labor

I can’t imagine a legitimate shop, even an independent, doing a head gasket job for about 500 dollars even here in OK where labor rates are generally cheaper than other parts of the country.

Fluids, parts, taxes, fees, any sublet machine work along with 5-6 hours of flat rate would sink that 500 in a minute.

@db4690 apparently there are shops associated with repairpal.com that uphold those prices. There are links after you find an estimate. I have yet to confirm if this is indeed true but will in the near future. A friend of mine knows a local mechanic who has a little city garage. Says he can do the job for $650 although my friend is no expert on the guys mechanical abilities. I am weary to throw $650 at it, sounds too good to be true.

When you say several hours are you talking like 4-5 or beyond that? I found the OEM head gasket on Ebay for about $50.

@ok4450 so generally somewhere between $500-$600 for labor +$36 tax. How much would you estimate those fluids and fee’s be? I can buy the OEM part for $50. So far that’s $686.

IMHO you have no good information until you get a quote from a shop…

@insightful that’s why I am going to shop around get a lot of different estimates and compare and contrast all the results to find the best one in my area.

There’s not a competent trustworthy shop in the country that could do a complete and proper head gasket replacement for the prices you state. The parts alone would cost that much. You say you found a head gasket, but you need much more. You can either buy a head gasket kit or buy parts individually. You need:
Head gasket
Valve cover gasket
Intake manifold gasket
Exhaust manifold gasket
Exhaust flange gasket
Camshaft seals
Head bolts if they show wear or corrosion
Engine oil and filter
Spark plugs
Timing belt and water pump (strongly recommended)
Any other coolant hoses that show wear or are damaged upon removal.
4 to 6 hours of labor time depending on the shop for the head gasket work, some additional labor to replace water pump and timing belt if done.

If the head shows any sign of warping simply resurfacing the head could be $40 to $80, much more if any damage is done.

Lowest I’ve seen was $900 for a Saturn by an independent garage. I would budget $1000 anyway to cover eventualities.

@asemaster I looked up the going prices for each and every part you listed.
Head gasket: $50
Valve cover gasket: $22
Intake manifold gasket: $12
Exhaust manifold gasket: $7
Exhaust flange gasket: $7
Camshaft seals: $6
Head bolts: $15
Thermostat I just got replaced
Coolant I have plenty of lol
Engine oil & filter just recently got that done
Spark plugs have recently been changed

The water pump and timing belt I really should get done that looks to be around $200 together

I’ve estimated without the water pump and timing belt it’s about $120-130.

What I’d like to know is if I buy all the parts myself (which I am totally fine with) will the overall prices be less? I’ve noticed a trend with the mechanics I’ve came across charging a lot more for the parts which I think I could say a lot by buying them individually online.

I recommend very strongly against buying the parts yourself unless you also plan on doing the work yourself. I’d be surprised if a shop even agreed to that plan. This is not a small job. Let the mechanic do it and he should warranty everything. Try having him put in your parts and you’re just exposing him to countless unknowns… and he’s unlikely to warranty the job.

@the same mountainbike Then maybe I should just see what the quotes are first and see his/her purchases and cross reference them with the prices I’ve found online. That way I know I am not getting screwed over…

If you’re heading down the path of debating the parts prices with the mechanic based on prices you find online, you’re heading down a path that I do not recommend. Let the mechanic be responsible for the entire job, including ordering the parts through his normal channels and getting his usual markup for the administration and handling of same. Expect the man to stand behind his work, but also let him make a fair profit. Do you really want to nickel & dime the guy who’s going to tear your engine open?

Mechanics often have different methodogies. As I mentioned earlier, my preference is to run compression tests because I’d at least like to have a vague idea as to whether that engine is going to smoke like a prairie fire after the job is done due to piston rings and/or whether low oil pressure and rapping rod bearings are going to be an issue.

With high miles engines I often recommend a valve job at the same time and at a minimum recommend replacing the valve seals while the head is off while checking for valve/valve seat leakage.

As to parts I never replace a head gasket only. The manifold gaskets get changed, valve seals as mentioned (they’re part of the head set), etc, etc. I always install a new thermostat and change the engine oil/filter.

There’s also the issue of surfacing the head if warped; and it doesn’t take much to put a head out of spec. With most heads anything over .002 of an inch per foot means it needs to be surfaced.
That can run 50-80 dollars; all depending. Around .002 or less will flatten out with head bolt tightening.
If the engine block is warped then you run into a real problem.

A head gasket set alone from AutoZone is over 150 bucks. Factor in oil, filter, coolant, maybe spark plugs, thermostat, etc, etc and the total can really climb.
That doesn’t even get into the possibility of a new timing belt as one would not want to sink that kind of money into a head gasket job only to have the belt break the following week and wipe out everything that was just done. :frowning:

To each their own but that’s the way I’ve always done it.

That way I know I am not getting screwed over…

You will be getting “screwed over” in that no shop is going to sell you parts anywhere near to what the prices you’re finding online. Shops are there to make money, not friends. If I buy something for $50 I’m going to sell it to you for $85. So in round numbers, take the price of the parts you found and double them, since I probably can’t buy the parts as cheap as you found. And as for the t-stat, oil, spark plugs, etc., unless they were documented as being replaced here less than 30 days ago I won’t consider reusing them.

Depending on the mileage and age of the car I may refuse to do the head gasket without doing the timing belt concurrently.

There’s no way I can offer a 12month/12,000mile warranty on something that I did not provide, that just doesn’t make any sense for either the customer or the shop. So I think in this case I wouldn’t do the job with customer supplied parts. There’s too much at stake.

That’s not to say I never use customer’s parts. Perhaps you want a brand of filter I don’t carry. Perhaps you tried to replace your starter over the weekend and just couldn’t get to that upper bolt. Perhaps you have spare parts for your Land Rover already. But for a major engine undertaking like a head gasket, no way. And with labor rates hovering around $100/hour, I would think you wouldn’t want there to be any chances of something not lasting either.