How Important Is It To Have Your Cylinder Head Resurfaced When Replacing Your Head Gasket

I have a 1996 j-body sedan with a 2.2 engine. I have an external leak in my head gasket (leaking coolant), that apparently is not affecting compression and there is no coolant/oil mix. I narrowed down my choices to 2 main options for fixing it:

1. Have it fixed locally for about $1000 including gasket kit, resurfacing, labour and tax.

2. Have it fixed by a friend who is a Toyota tech for about $500 (parts/labour/tax). But I would need to drive the car for about 300 hwy kms, and would likely not be able to have the cylinder head resurfaced.

Any thoughts? Would also appreciate suggestions of other associated repairs/maintenance that I should consider (timing chain and tensioner were done 40,000km ago, coolant changed 10,000 km ago).

Thanks for the answers so far.. a few more points to clarify:

Car has never overheated, and is still running perfectly (just leaking coolant). The car also has 260,000 km, and the 2.2 engine is prone to head gasket problems.

As for cost: $228 (Canadian, tax incl) is parts cost for either option. I don’t have necessary tools, so if my friend does it, extra cost would be for the cost he’s saving me vs having it done at the mechanic.

Answers for The Question

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