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I am looking for a new head for a 95' escort.

I have done many things with many cars, but have never used a machine shop or purchased a machine shop product (heads, valves, blocks, sleves, etc...).

What's more - prices vary dramatically from shop to shop. I've found heads ranging from $150 with valves to $2000 without (!?!?!?!). I'm not even looking at performance heads (at least I don't think I am). Also, all the shops/rebuilders have the same line: "... handled by only the most skilled hands in the world, using the most precise instruments, bla... bla...

Why the price discrepancy? Is there a difference between a $150.00 head and a $350.00 head? Is it a case of "you get what you pay for?". How can a head cost $2000 without valves!?

What do I need to look out for? Are all shops the same? Any opinions about China vs. US vs. European?

Any input would help ... thanks!
 

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I cant imagine a head would need to cost more than $500, at least not a rebuilt head. Maybe the higher price is for a brand new head, that is one that is a new casting.
The typical price I would expect would be in the $275-$350 range. That would be a head that was milled (if it needed to be), had either new valves or new lifters or both, a good cam in it, and the valves had been lapped into the seats. Any such purchase is a sort of gamble, until you have dealt with them successfully on subsequent occasions.
When you choose a stop to deal with, be sure to ask them about the Escort heads having problems with the inlet valve seats failing. Its a known problem, and I would not care to deal with a machinist that didnt know about it.
 

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The valve seats came out and damaged the head and two pistons so I bought a head a the auto wreckers for $50 and had it rebuilt for $150 which included all new seats and check for cracks. The wrecking yard head came from a car with 135000 miles on it and had thrown a rod from lac of oil. The head rebuilder showed me the new seats he would use which were better than original higher grade of steel he did a demo of the seat by droping it on the cement floor you could hear the ting, the old seats went thump so he must have know what he was doing. that was 1 year ago and the car runs perfect
 
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