how painful to replace head gasket? What do I need to know? links?

Long story very short. Bought a ZX2 for my 16 year old…had a radiator issue was parked till they replaced it (both kids live with my ex). My 18yr old drove it, and blew a head gasket (I have been told…he said coolant in oil).

I am pretty mechanical when it comes to following directions and fixing something when I know what the problem is. I am trying to figure out if this is outside my skill set, or tool set…or if it is something that I can do with an internet write up and a chiltons manual.

Can anyone give me an idea on pain level, and also cost that I would be looking at? Thanks.

While the mechanical process of removal and installation of the Zetec cylinder head is not an overtly difficult task, there are several process requirements that are crucial to a successful repair. The two most important items are the cylinder head bolt torque process (new head bolts, everytime) and the camshaft timing belt installation procedure (note, special tool requirement, if you don’t have experience with timing this engine … use the tools! Many of the chain parts stores are now offering rental on this timing tool set). The cam gears on the Zetec are unique in that they do not use key or dowel locators. Instead, when you look at the opposite end of the cams, you will note a wide notch across the end of the cams. One of the tools from the timing tool set is a machined flat bar that engages these slots to hold the cams. Do not use the aligning bar to hold the cams when loosening or tightening the cam gear bolts…