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Refurbish heads

What is the process for having a machine shop go thru alum cyl heads due to a headgaskets issue? do they tear them down, check valves/ guides? Flatness, cracks, resurface? Or do u just source rebuilt heads and be done with it? 03 vue, V6 3.0 not the Honda v6. It’s Opel


The mystery vehicle.


My guess, there’s various options on what you can have done. The minimalist would just have the bottom surface skimmed (milled) to insure it is perfectly flat. That would help insure the replacement head gasket wouldn’t spring a leak. The maximalist, in add’n to that, would have all the valves replaced or resurfaced, the valve seats replaced or reconditioned, the valve springs replaced, and the valve stem seals replaced. They might have all the camshaft bearings replaced too. Maybe even new camshafts. Who knows? It just depends on what’s broken and what needs to be done to fix it.

Why not ask the machine shop what they normally do? They may have several levels of repair.

They will take it as far as you want them to. It could be a simple surfacing or valve job clean up through the installation of new guides, new valves if needed or requested, or crack inspection.

The only time I’ve had it done, they check for warps, magnaflux to check for cracks, and re-seat the valves but that was on cast iron. I don’t see how you do any less than that since they are off but still not cheap.

If time is a factor, get rebuilt heads. Your will take a few days or more depending on the shop’s backup. If it is a quality shop, it isn’t likely they will be cheaper than rebuilt. Rebuilders do a bunch of the same parts at a time so they save on setup and labor. Hard for a quality local shop to beat that.

Now if you want a performance rebuild with a little porting work and a 5 angle valve job the local shop would be best. But I seriously doubt this is what you want.

Volvo made an excellent point. Ask the shop.
People often write here asking us questions that would be better asked of the shop they’re hoping to use, or an agency that regulates the subject of their question. If after asking the shop you have any questions about what they tell you and they can’t answer them to your satisfaction, then would be the time to post here for help.

My engine shops will do . . . what we ask them to !
So . . . . you could start with asking them . . to diagnose what it needs first. . . then let you know what a grand total would be if it’s repairable.
Compare that to the cost of a new or reman head. ( ex; Auto Zone $320 no cam / $500-600 with cam depending on source )

The one time I did this it was a full top end job. The heads were milled flat and all springs and valves replaced. Of course, it was an Austin America and Brits did a top end job on all British Leyland vehicles at 5000 miles. My car had over 7500 miles, so it was way overdue.

Asking a shop is a good idea. But I think it is entirely appropriate to ask here for advice first. That way the OP has an idea beforehand what to ask at the shop. OP is just using common sense is all.

Seller wanted 200 for vue with blown headgaskets. Talked last nite. Went to get it this morning and I got beat out.

200 dollars? euros? pounds? Whatever the currency, considering to buy a car with blown head-gaskets – now that’s someone who’s going to have some interesting stories to tell their grandkids. Good for you. Sorry this deal didn’t work out, but I’m thinking there’s probably a lot of cars out there with blown head-gaskets just waiting for your appraisal. Best of luck.

Nothing wrong with a $200 DIY fixer-upper, if that’s one’s fancy; and the rest of the vehicle looks in great shape.
Back in the day I considered doing that with an '81 Accord, also $200 with a failed timing belt.
I knew the guy who bought it about a year earlier. It was pristine and garage kept by the first owner.

I hope it’s just the head gaskets that are bad. Who knows?

My Parts Place catalog for VW parts cautions against milling a warped head with OHC. Aprox .003 max cut to mill flat should be ok but if more is needed, then the head is warped and needs to be heated and then pushed back to flat in a press before a final cleanup cut to flat. The catalog states that some machine shops overlook this for an OHC head. For OHV heads, milling does not matter as it does for OHC. If an OHC head is warped too much, then the cam bearings are not in alignment and the cam misalignment force will wear out the cam bearings. If your Saturn heads are similar, then you may need rebuilt or new heads, not just milled to flat.

He had removed heads. Were arraigned neatly on work bench, intake, valve covers, he was losing coolant and never overheated. Were heads warped? Don’t know.