blown head gasket 2.8 - what to do? -

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Old 09-07-2006, 08:33 PM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 3
Default blown head gasket 2.8 - what to do?

My son has a 98 A6 Quattro wagon with 150K -- the head gasket apparently had some leaks for some time and then let loose and he had lots of smoke and heat.

He has what I think is a quality mechanic who says he will tear down the engine for $600 and diagnose if it can be rebuilt (for another $900) or if the engine block or heads warped, which means an engine swap for $2500 plus the $600 spent on the tear down of the old one.

1. How prone are the 2.8 V6 heads to warping if they got hot? What about the block cracking?
2. Is it true you cant buy heads - you have to buy the whole engine?
3. What would you do if it was yours? go for the rebuild and chance it , or just go for the swap and try to get a lower mileage engne?

the rest of the car is in nice shape.....


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Old 09-08-2006, 02:01 AM
gpz gpz is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 52
Default RE: blown head gasket 2.8 - what to do?

If the car never overheated, then I would highly doubt that the heads warped. I have yet to see a cracked block from warped heads, but I have seen a cracked block from an overheated car. Often a leaking head gasket will drip oil all over the exhaust header and cause smoke, and in that case it lookes worse than it is.

Often warped and even cracked heads can be repaired by a quality machine shop, but then it all depends on how warped, or where its cracked.

If it was me, I would personally tear down the motor and do the inspection and repair, but then when I was a kid my parents rule was that if I wanted to drive my own car, I was 100% responsible for all of the maintenance (and gas and insurance). By tear down, I only mean removing the heads at this time. But even before that I would a compression test and leak down test all of the cylinders, which should tell you if you have a cracked head or case.

Was there any oil in the coolant or vice / versa? That can also be an indication of a cracked head, block, or bad head gasket...

You could look into the cost of getting a motor from a wrecking yard. You could tell how many miles the motor has on it when the car was totaled, and lower milage motors are usually pretty good, and the cost of labor switching one motor for another would be cheaper than doing a rebuild.

Personally, if it was my kid I would purchase the Bently manual and a nice set of Craftsman tools and have him work on it himself. I started helping my father work on the family cars when I was just a kid, and today I'm a mechanical engineer. My daughter is 9 and I'm starting to have her help me with the vehicle maintenance.

Good luck.
'98, bone stock, blue 2.8L A6
Also drive: '91 Arctic white 300E
But mostly ride: Black 1996 GPZ1100
Mechanical Engineer at a nuclear power plant
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Old 09-09-2006, 04:16 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 2,646
Default RE: blown head gasket 2.8 - what to do?

1. Not very at all. Dont think ive ever seen a warped head that the bottom end of the engine wasnt completly wasted. As state above, the oil on the exhaust can create smkoke that makes it look worse than it is. Does the engine still run? If it does and it isnt noisy as hell its probably ok.
2. Heads can be purchased serperatly.
3. Id really have to know what happened to decide that. Start from he was driving down the road and the car was driving just fine and then...... How long was the car driven overheating? Did it just die out or was it still running when brought to the shop?
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Old 09-09-2006, 05:33 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2006
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Default RE: blown head gasket 2.8 - what to do?

I seconf dankhound's advice. Did your son overheat the car and drive it that way for many miles? Did he overheat it several times? The 2.8 from that era is a resiliant engine and assuming your son didn't do either of these, I'd say a head gasket, best case, and the gasket and a used or remanufactured head, worst case. The car, running and not overheating, is probably woth about $3700 tops, so keep that in mind.
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Old 09-09-2006, 09:28 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 34
Default RE: blown head gasket 2.8 - what to do?

I don't know where you are, but I'd probably find a good used engine if the heads are junk and plop it in. I get my parts from Chris Semple at He has new and used stuff and always treats me right.
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Old 09-10-2006, 12:54 PM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 3
Default RE: blown head gasket 2.8 - what to do?

thanks to all for the comments....

there was no indication of overheating (red light or gauge). His girlfriend was driving the car and reported all of a sudden there was smoke (she is not clear about the heat part) so maybe it was just as said, the oil hitting the manifolds....

a local garage said the 12v head (he has an early 1998) is pretty solid.... so he is going to go ahead and have it torn down.....

I will let you all know what happens...

thanks again
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Old 09-10-2006, 02:19 PM
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Default RE: blown head gasket 2.8 - what to do?

Sounds like all its gonna need is a new head gasket.
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Old 09-18-2006, 05:31 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1
Default RE: blown head gasket 2.8 - what to do?

I just had both head gaskets replaced on our 96 and it cost $1400.00 the shop took the heads off and resurfaced them because they warped, my sister inlaw was driving at the time they gave and she overheated it pretty severely, according to the mechanic, all said and done it seems to run fine, but it now has a small mis but he said i should put on new ign wires.
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Old 09-18-2006, 05:43 PM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 12,826
Default RE: blown head gasket 2.8 - what to do?

does heat come into the car via the blower?? where does the temp gauge stand?? are the coolant fans working??.

you might need to change the thermostat and coolant
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