Head gasket won't cost much, and may as well buy a kit from Felpro (the best brand available). Get the Felpro Permatorque setup for your car. Also consider just buying a master gasket kit as it will be worthwhile long term since eventually all the gaskets you get with this, you will need at one point or another even if you don't change them all right now. Save you boatloads of cash as well since you are not buying one at a time and making all those trips to AZ for this one and that one.
Just make sure you do your research first on how to do the swap and remember the bolts need to be reinstalled back in their exact location they came from. The whole job may only cost you a few hundred or so, but you will learn a great deal about your car and feel much more confident when you tackle other projects on it later on. These are relatively simple cars, but learning a bit about them makes things much more enjoyable.
Changing a HG on these is not bad at all. I have changed them in less then an hour before. If you have a decent set of tools and even a basic Haynes repair manual this isn't too much of a task. The felpro shouldn't run you too much more then $40-$50 (US that is). I guess it all comes down to how much is the guy going to charge vs. do yuo want to tackle it yourself?
Well if you love it then...... yes fix it yourself. The experience will be good for you. Thats if you already have some mechanical knowledge. If not then yes have someone you TRUST do it. And of course help. And by help don't just keep tossing him beers.
you can take the head off with the lower part of the intake manifold still attached. Just be aware there is a bracket that goes from the behind block to the lower intake manifold that needs to be unbolted. I guess you could leave the upper intake plenum attached too if you wanted.
You would most likely have to removed the intake manifold after in case you need to get the head shaved a little if there is warpage. I would even changed the gaskets while you have it all apart anyway.
Its easier to take the intake manifold loose than it is to unhook all the vac. lines (and forget were they go), remove the throttle cables, unplug all the wiring, remove the egr line (this is easier to take loose at the intake rather than the exhaust btw)..yada yada yada you get the idea. Its allot easier to take 7 bolts loose, a egr line, and a bracket.
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