Toyota head gaskets

Well, for the second time in three years, a head gasket has blown on my 1990 Toyota Corolla. This shouldn’t happen again, should it? Could there be an underlying problem that is causing this to happen? (I was wondering at one point if the engine was overheating, since it seemed to be ticking a bit after it was shut off, but the temperature gauge never indicated any excess heat). Should I fix it? The car only has 163 000 kms., but I don’t want to fix it yet again (for $1500-2500), only to have it blow again. Is there some prevention that can be taken? Help me, who knows nothing about cars.

Ticking sound after shutting off a hot engine is from expansion/contraction in exhaust components. It’s normal.

Head gasket failure in three years is much sooner than average. I’m not aware of any special concerns on your engine, and the repair price mentioned suggests a thorough job.*

If you compare selling the car as is to fixing it and then either selling it running or using it, you’ll probably find that it’s worth fixing. Prevention of head gasket failure essentially amounts to doing the repair properly and not letting it overheat.

If the head was resurfaced last time, this time it might be necessary to replace the head, which will add significantly to the expense.


*That’s assuming the price mentioned was just for head gasket repair, not head gasket and five other things done on the same invoice.

Should I go back to the shop who did the first repair? Would this failure be due to an inadequate job being done last time?

It could be, but that’s not the only possibility. If it’s still under warranty from that repair, it makes sense to take it back, but I gathered that it’s not.

It’s hard to make a judgment without some detailed technical info - what was the known or suspected cause of the previous failure? was the head tested for cracks? was it resurfaced? is it indeed a blown head gasket now, rather than a cracked head? does the design use torque-to-yield bolts, and if so were they replaced? etc. etc. Even knowing such things it’s not a sure bet that anyone could definitely assign a cause to the current failure.

The best thing you can do is make sure you’re dealing with a competent, honorable shop. They may or may not be able to determine any relationship between the previous repair and the current situation, but they should be able to effect a repair that will last longer than the previous one.

Thanks for all the help Gary T. I’ll check and see if my invoice mentions a warranty or not