Originally Posted by Grrrr....
So I've got a 98 Mustang GT that I bought 6 months ago for 2800. The interior is great and it drives straight as hell but I think it needs a new ball joint. After replacing a ton of sensors and the fuel pump, filter, and IAC valve, I did a cylinder compress test today and found cylinders 2 and 4 have low compression (about 80 psi low, and it misfires and idle surges and dies). I've only put about 300 into it, and I'm not dumb when it comes to fixing cars. I'm just wondering if it's worth it to replace the head gasket. The car still runs, and no smoke out the exhaust, just a lot of fumes. I have seen coolant on a spark plug. My thought was to replace it before it gets bad, or sell it to some poor bastard for what I bought it for. I need to know how much it would realistically cost with basic garage tools and if the effort is worth it. My budget is about 200-300 bucks. I wanted to do PI heads, but not really willing to fork up that kinda cash. Thanks for your time guys, any input is welcome.
If the head gasket is your whole problem, it's well worth your time and effort to fix it. RockAuto has head gasket sets for less than $135. You definitely want to do both heads. Now, once you tear into it, you may find that you need other things like timing chain, tensioner, and things of that nature.
Your heads aren't necessarily warped because you've blown a head gasket. After time and miles, head gaskets wear out. Once the heads are removed, you can check the surface with a straight edge to see if they need to be taken to a machine shop. I've done many head gaskets without needing the heads shaved. Vehicles still running strong after many years.
If you need special tools like torque wrenches and pullers, you can rent them for free at local auto part stores. Basically you give them a deposit and get your money back when you bring the tool back.
Here is what your looking at for costs, best case scenario:
Head gasket set - $130
Oil and filter - $30
Coolant - $15
Head bolts - $60
Vehicle manual - $15