Head Gasket Warranty Advice


Looking for advice on dealing with mechanic/NAPA.

We had our truck in for repair last year, it was a head-gasket. Truck was at the shop for over month, a day or so after we received it we lost acceleration control and had to pull over on the highway. Turns out one of the fittings was wrong or something.

Fast forward a year later and our car broke down a state away. We had to be in work the next day so we had to leave the car at a shop and rent a car home. Turns out it’s the head gasket again, a year later with only a few thousand miles on it.

Turns out NAPA doesn’t cover “internal engine parts,” which makes our mechanics “warranty” a bit of an issue. I’m trying to be very very cordial and nice right now since we have virtually zero power with our car far away and a $400 towing charge to get it back in town.

This has been going on for a couple months now. Any advice? Should I turn mean or am I screwed?

A year later? You probably don’t have a leg to stand on. Most workmanship warranties are for 90 days and the parts worked for a year so not likely a material defect.

So if our mechanic says, “he’s trying to figure this warranty discrepancy out with NAPA” but says if we can get it down here he’ll take care of us… I shouldn’t press him to cover towing costs? He hasn’t expressly said this yet, more of danced around it, but I just want to be prepared with a proper response if he does commit to that.

I guess any engine can blow a head gasket but I have never seen an S-10 blow one on any of the engines ever offered on those trucks.

If the local shop that repaired the truck a years ago will look at it and possibly make the repair under warranty I would suggest taking them up on the offer if you want to keep the truck but how old is it and how much is it worth on the market and to you personally?

And which engine is in the truck?

Most products do not include shipping costs in warranty settlements. This is how I would view the towing expense, especially if they are going above and beyond to help out. It’s on my dime to get it there and they cover the rest…if the issue had been a direct result of their negligence, then I would take a different stance…

This is very helpful. Thank you.

It’s a 2003 Chevy S-10 extended cab in fair condition. Not worth much. Trade-in value is $550-$850.

But it’s never been driven hard. Only 5k+/- on it a year, secondary “pick stuff up” vehicle.

The invoice says “12,000 mile/12-month” NAPA warranty, but doesn’t give the “internal engine parts” clause. Our mechanic didn’t know about this clause either, which is why he’s been “investigating” the issue for so long. He hasn’t told us to shove it yet, but under what’s written on our invoice, it appears we should still be covered. But even then, towing typically isn’t covered?

Intersting to hear your take, Rod! Crazy ours blew twice… :-/

A head gasket replacement is a major job, with dozens of things that could go wrong, so try looking at this from NAPA’s perspective as I play devil’s advocate.

How do you know this was caused by a defective part? It could have been a defective installation or an error in the planing of the head. Might the engine have overheated, even a little bit, causing this new head gasket failure or the head to warp?

If what you need is a new head gasket, my advice is:

-Determine what made the head gasket fail before you attempt another repair, because you’ll be throwing money away if you don’t address what caused the failure.

-Once the cause of the failure has been addressed, bite the bullet and pay for a new head gasket kit. It’s price is relatively small compared to the cost of labor on this job.

Thanks for the advice, Whitey! Yea, the other issue is, the shop that is currently sitting at can’t tell “what caused what” without opening the engine up, and that instantly adds up to hefty labor costs just for a diagnosis. And if they have it open it would be silly to close it up, ship it here to have it covered under warranty. But the other option is to pay for the tow/ship to here, and have them open it up only to disagree with the original diagnosis! But that’s beyond the scope of any advice and just a gamble… I know.

When we had it repaired last year, it ended up being $1,700… so for it to only last 5k miles before going bad is a HUGE drag…

That and the fact that the disclaimer for “internal engine parts” was never communicated to me, vocally or on the invoice, makes it something I don’t feel I should be responsible for. But I try and see it from all sides just in case I’m missing something.

Can you clarify, is this the repair warranty offered by a NAPA authorized repair center?
Or just the part warranty for the head gasket?

This is a screen cap of their “warrant policy” on their website, and the invoice says:

“12 Month / 12,000 Mile Nationwide peace of mind warranty - 1-800-LETNAPA”

56 PM

The shop is NAPA authorized, I believe/

That’s a standard workmanship warranty. If within a year a failure occurs that is determined to be caused by the workmanship involved in the headgasket change, they’ll replace the headgasket again without a labor charge.

You’re driving a fifteen year old S-10 that’s already suffered a blown headgasket. Stuff is going to begin to happen now. Unless it’s determined that the current failure is specifically caused by the headgasket replacement workmanship, you have no leg to stand on. And even if it is, the year has passed and it’s beyond the warranty anyway. Your choices now are to accept the cost of another repair, replace the current engine with a bone yard engine, use a rebuilt engine, or go shopping for a replacement truck.

Sincere best.

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Can I assume that NAPA’s warranty would allow the OP to carry the failed head gasket and receipt to a NAPA store where they would hand over a new gasket in return? That should give motorists a great deal of reassurance when they pay the bill for a repair.

The odds of a repeat head gasket failure being caused by a faulty NAPA head gasket are zero in my opinion.

There’s dozens of reasons why it could have failed. Warped engine block, warped cylinder head, mating surfaces of block and head not thoroughly cleaned. improper torque of head bolts, inoperative cooling fan, bad thermostat, you name it.

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Could it be that this is a “center head” problem? As in “intake manifold”

Old mechanics in my neck of the woods still call the intake on V engines “center heads.” and Chevrolet has had a long history of problems with V-6 and V-8 intakes.


I agree @Rod_Knox. I also think the part, the gasket, might be warranteed, but only that NAPA will replace it if it was faulty. The part itself isn’t the expensive item here, it’s the labor and the other consequences of the failure - the towing cost, for example. Unless the mechanic has some sort of long term warranty there’s really not much chance to stick them with replacing the gasket for free and paying for the towing in court. What did they do wrong? It’s not clear they did anything wrong, yet.

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Guys, this is a NAPA authorized repair center that has a NAPA backed nationwide warranty on repairs. It’s not parts bought from a NAPA store. These are repair shops aligned with NAPA.

OP, everything I find says the warranty is for 24 months/24k miles- http://www.napaautocare.com/warranty.aspx

So not sure where you saw that 12m/12k warranty.

If I read the terms and conditions, there are definitely exclusions. The tough part comes in their interpretation. For example:

This Warranty does not cover repair(s) or replacement(s) except as listed in the section, “What is Covered by this Warranty,” even though the Facility may offer other
services. Specifically excluded are any repairs involving replacement or removal of internally lubricated parts and other such repairs as listed below. Automotive
repairs excluded from the Nationwide Limited Warranty include:

I. ENGINE (excluding external engine seals and gaskets)
A. Any internal repairs or replacement of internal components, or
replacement of engine assembly

Is a head gasket considered an “external seal”? Arguments for either case can be made IMHO.
Talk about convoluted- an exclusion in the exclusion section…

One thing is clear. Like most other warranties, it does not cover consequential damages. So if their work resulted in a failed engine, they would only have to reimburse you for the original cost of the repair they did or fix it on their dime if they choose to do so. But you would be unlikely to get a free new engine as a result unless they deemed it goodwill.


Eeesh, I’m glad I’m not the only one confused by it. It’s tough if my shop piggy-backs off of the NAPA warranty for their customer satisfaction.

It’s hard to know what to do since the “cause” can only be discovered with a heavy amount of labor. I know something was mounted wrong initially that the shop had to correct (wrong sized fitting of some sort), but I don’t remember the exact part.

Obviously it’s an old car and you have to throw in the towel sometime, I just thought a $1,700 repair on the engine would have amounted to a handful more years in service of the engine, at least that part of the engine! But I know there are lots of things that can go wrong in a connected system.

TwinTurbo, thanks so much for finding that byline. I’m looking at an old invoice, so they may have updated it. The actual repair invoice is in the vehicle in Michigan :unamused:

Yes, tough situation.

Regarding your original question, I don’t believe getting mean will help and more likely hurt your cause. You have very little leverage at this point so they could just stop being cooperative at all. They may be more inclined to go above and beyond if you’re nice and convey the financial situation this puts you in (gain sympathy for your situation).

One avenue is to work with them on costs. Can they do the work at their cost? This splits the costs and is better than nothing. It also keeps them incentivized to keep working with NAPA on the warranty to get their money back (and yours as well).

Be aware you could be throwing good money after bad. Overheating almost always results in damage. Even surfacing the head to restore it is no guarantee it will result in a lasting repair as one example. The entire financial picture needs to be evaluated and only you can do that effectively.

Good luck!

Thanks again… yea my initial instinct is always to give the benefit of the doubt, and with the car in Michigan I have virtually zero leverage outside of good faith! I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t being a pushover if the general consensus was “this should have been figured out two months ago!”

But this helps a lot. The wife and her dad feel like we should be adamantly making demands, and I have no problem doing that when we’ve been wronged, but it seems there’s too many variables at play to confidently point fingers!

Thanks for all the input, it’s very nice to get all of the different perspectives.

If anyone here has some leverage at NAPA… your authorized repair center didn’t even know about this byline.

Why not try to contact someone at NAPA corporate offices (use your search skills to find a way in) and see if they will authorize a NAPA affiliated shop in Michigan take a look at the truck to see if they can cast some light on the problem. If NAPA is going to make some contribution toward repairs, perhaps they would be willing to do so in Michigan, where the truck is, rather than insist you drag it back home.

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