How Can Apple Automotive Charge Only $1,500 for a Head Gasket Replacement?

 

This is a question I get asked all the time by prospective new customers after they have been quoted twice that much,

the highest quote I have heard was $4,200!

Here are 4 answers:

 

Low Overhead.

My home shop is free to work out of, all my tools and equipment are paid for,

I have no employees to deal with so I do not pay workers comp, insurance, benefits, etc.

 

I do not do unnecessary work or replace parts that are not needed.

Most other shops will do two other procedures that I do not do and may suggest that I am cutting corners.

To read about these two things, see below.

 

Lower Shop Labor Rate

Most shops and dealers are in the neighborhood of $120+ per hour.

The labor estimating guide states that most Subaru (non-turbo) head gaskets require

10 hours of labor. This puts the labor charge at or near $1,200. My labor rate is $75.00 per hour.

 

I Care

Facing a $2,000 repair bill for an older car in this economy usually makes the owner question if they should even keep their car.

I would like to see every Subaru owner keep their car, and of course keep them as customers,

so I take less profit now on this common repair to have you as a lifelong customer.

 

 

Most other shops will do two other procedures that I do not do and may claim that I am cutting corners.

 

Here are the two things and my explanation.

 

#1. Replacing Head Bolts. This adds about $200 to the bill. My research found that the Subaru engineers say it is ok to torque head bolts 4 times.

They are torqued twice from the factory, leaving two more times to re-use the same bolts. I do replace them if there is surface rust or fatigued threads.

 

Experience: While working at Toyota in the late ‘90’s I was involved in their 3.0 liter head gasket recall. I did two trucks a day (4 hours each) for over a year.

This was over 300 head gasket jobs for one man in one dealer. Toyota never replaced their head bolts and we never saw a failure from head bolts.

These were the same type of  bolts on aluminum engines as Subaru. I also have been doing Subaru only for years and have had no gasket failures.

I may be wrong, but I think the only people recommending head bolt replacement are the parts stores, which makes perfect sense! 

 

#2. Machining The Heads. This will add $250-350 to the bill. Back in the day it was left up to the technician to decide if a head needed surfacing.

Again, during the Toyota recall I personally never surfaced heads and neither did any other technicians unless there was just cause.

I have worked in several shops since the ‘80s and have always measured and inspected the sealing surface to see if a head needs surfacing.

It has only been in the last few years that most shops surface every head, every time; just because. They say it is to “cover their butts,” translation, “cover my rent.”  

 

My current price is $1,500. This includes all new gaskets, seals, water pump, timing belt and components, resealing the oil pump,

new oil, and new coolant. Surfacing, if needed is $120 for the set.