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5S-FE Head Gasket DIY?


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So my 2000 2.2L Camry's got a leaky head gasket, according to my mechanic, after 313,000km and overheating due to a dead water pump last month.

Trade in/private sale price around $300 - $500...

Both my father-in-law and brother-in-law are telling me I should just replace the gasket myself... and/or do a complete engine swap. Now, I'm not totally useless mechanically, having performed what I would ultimately call "simple" repairs on my old Nissan 280zx - replace radiator/hoses/thermostat, power steering pump, alternator, wiper motor re-wire, handbrake cable...

But this isn't a simple job...! If my mechanic wanted 2-3 days, then I picture it taking me at least a week's work! We have however bought a new car (2002 Holden Zafira), so I will have the potential to take a few weeks to get the job done... and my f-i-l has offered to loan me his torque wrench etc etc etc...

So lay it out for me... What costs am I up for? (head gasket replacement) Just how hard is it? What's the likelihood of breaking a bolt, and needing to drill it out?

Thanks everyone,


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If you are serious about doing this, shell out the money(Approx. $50) for a Haynes or Gregorys manual and research it. It will tell you how to do it, step by step.

Once a head gasket goes, you really should have the head and block checked for any distortion to prevent it from leaking again.

I would guess at minimum, a few hundred dollars for gaskets(do not re-use the old ones) and coolant, plus any consumables used during the process.


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Thanks Mr Nice Guy :)

My father-in-law's latest advice, just buy a reconditioned head, and toss the old one. Which certainly avoids the question of whether the existing head is warped/cracked/etc...

I have an... online version of the Factory Service Manual, so last time I just put my iPad in a plastic snaplock bag, and used that as my guide. Worked pretty well.

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