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If I was to replace a headgasket, I would have the head gone over. New guides, exhaust valves, maybe even splurge on a better camshaft.

If I did remove the head, the pistons are too easy not to remove and install new rings/bearings. Although, most people would call this a rebuild, I would not.

Another good thing about doing a headgasket on your timeline, is that if/when it goes bad, it's rarely a good time.
 

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We are talking about engines that have been around the block a few times. It's hard pressed to believe the head would not need to be skimmed. Not because it's warped but because there are imperfections on the surface. There seems to always be some places of corrosion. At least, that is what I have experienced. Plus, cleaning the surface is so much easier after a freshly machined surface.

If you elect to remove the head, for whatever reason, I would look into the PG headgasket. Those all metal gaskets seem to be the best way to seal the head and they are certainly more of a lifetime gasket than the ones VW originally put on our engines.
 

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I'm not a machinist but as long as there is meat on the head, it can be machined. I do agree, why take off material if you do not have to. If the head is warped, so are the cam journals. The machine shop I use will try to straighten the head before it's machined flat again.

Again, I am not machinist but I do believe some heads can be milled more than once. It does matter how much the first person took off and what the engineers left when they designed it.

Many of today's engines are built with tolerances so tight they cannot be machined once, let alone again. Mostly because of valve timing but there are other reasons too. Basically, they are throw away. Which is ok because many of them last 300k or more so when they are worn out, they are worn out.
 
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