FJ62 3F-E 1989 Land Cruiser - Knocking, loss of power post rebuild (1 Viewer)

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Sep 14, 2020
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cali
Well, I had hoped to post more fun stuff like a head unit install and sound deadening but looks like I’m in trouble mechanically.

the Story:

PO said the engine would peg into the red on highway trips / on grades. Engine had 312,000 miles so he opted for a top and bottom end engine rebuild - new OEM gaskets all the way around (head, rear main seal, side, and oil) new cylinder machined head (old one was cracked) new cooler thermostat (not sure if this was the way to go but hey, it’s there), new aluminum radiator, new electric fan, new temp sender, new green coolant, and a new starter.

Test drove on some little hills and held temp fine. Sold it me a few days later (I insisted on a warranty for the work completed from the shop and got it for 12k/12 months).

I drive 360 miles home and engine runs fine and cool the whole way except over the Grapevine on I5 (5-6% grade for miles). When it got hot (top line, not red) I pulled over to let it cool before starting up again. No other issues before making it home except some excess pressure at the fuel tank during the first fill up. Been fine since then on subsequent fill ups.

One day after getting home I go on a short errand trip with the a/c on and the engine pegs almost to the red. I’m stumped.

I spend the next few days burping the system of what seems like a lot of air. I wonder if the overheating could be caused by a crusty heater core (one of my trips revealed when the engine was at its hottest it would only blow lukewarm air via defrost even though when everything is normal I get nice hot air).

Continuous burping seems to be helping and I no longer run hot around town - just up a steep grade. I make a plan to have the water pump (only thing in the cooling system not new) replaced, new Toyota red coolant, and swap the “cooler” thermostat with an OEM 190 degree one. I’m also going to get the valves adjusted at or before the 1,000 post-rebuild mileage

I replace the muffler since the old one was rotted. The head pipes look good. I make a note to check the catalytic converts and o2 sensors soon. I notice a small oil leak near the rear main seal. I'm annoyed since it's a recent rebuild (maybe a week old at this point) but plan to clean the engine and see if maybe the slow leak was residual oil and not a new leak. I'll check again in a week.

I ordered some windshield wipers, a couple bushings, a hood rod clip holder, and four new OEM oil filters from Cruiser Corps. It would be a few days before I get the oil filters but I wanted to get some fresh oil in the Cruiser post-rebuild since I was at about 600-650 miles in.

I usually change my own oil but figure I'll have a shop do it now rather than wait for the oil filters to arrive in the mail. Covid's been delaying the post and I'm impatient. I go to a name brand shop and they do an oil change, top off fluid, check tire pressure, etc. They mention the oil leak and say to come back in a week and see how much oil I burn off in that time. They say I was a little low when I came in but not crazy. Odd.

I go home and park the car. Thirty minutes later I go back out to the car for some reason and hear a strange...gurgling sound? From the rear of the car.

Over the next day, I keep burping the system and add about a half gallon of distilled water to the system since I plan on getting red soon anyway. I just want to see if I can get the temp down via burping before the new parts and fluid.

Using an overfill funnel I see the fluid looks a little...brown. I was only using distilled water and the coolant looks green in the tank so this light brown color is off and unsettling.

I notice white smoke the first five minutes after I start the engine and then as it gets warmer, the white smoke disappears. Could be normal.

I turn the engine off after 20-30 minutes and let the it cool. While waiting, I replace the shift gear bushings. The old ones look like they completely disintegrated. I replace, button everything up and shifter is nice and tight. I take it for a short test drive and everything checks out.

Then I think, why not see if the latest burp session cleared the suspected air bubble? I decide to take up a steep grade and the temperature holds. I then experience a loss on power and the engine starts violently knocking. I immediately pull over and I start to put the car in park it shuts off and the CEL pops up.

I hop out and see oil dripping from under the car, what looks like oil on the rear drivetrain and inside of the rear passenger tire. I check the oil dip stick and it seems...dry? Not sure - it was dark and I was distracted. I didn't pay attention to the oil pressure gauge on the drive. I was more focused on seeing if the engine temp would stay low post-the-final-burp.

Long story but the night had suspicions cops, road closures and freak snowstorms about to roll in. In the end I got a flat bed row to a near-by shop who I'm hoping can take a look at it. It's not a Cruiser specific shop but I know them a little and they have an open parking lot that I knew I could park the Cruiser and leave the key in a drop box.

So, friends, any ideas? Those are the facts and I have some ideas but hoping for your thoughts. I'm posting some videos over the last few days - you can see them here (pardon the language in a couple...) There are a handful of vids but they're pretty short.

 

OSS

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Something blew. Bummer story. It's at a shop now. They should be able to diagnose what the hell happened
 
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Ohio
Search "Galley Plug" here. It's on the right side of the head. If it hadn't been properly fixed it can blow out unexpectedly and dump your oil pretty quick. In any event that sucks.
 
Joined
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cali
It’s at the shop now and I’ll know tomorrow. Unfortunately, it’s not a Cruiser specific shop since I had limited options on a late Sunday night but they have decent reviews. I told them the engine is under warranty and not to work on but just give me an idea of what happened to the best of their ability. I need to justify a 400 mile tow back to the rebuilder for a warranty claim.

sigh.
 
Joined
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cali
Exactly how well do you know and trust the PO?
I trust him on this. We’ve been in contact through the rebuild and he provided tons of pictures, videos, and receipts for work done.
He may have chosen the wrong guy for a rebuild but I think it was an honest mistake.
 

g-man

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I need to justify a 400 mile tow back to the rebuilder for a warranty claim.
The fact that it lost power, has a knock and is leaking oil profusely should be reason enough. You don't have to be mechanic to understand the engine failed. You you shouldn't have to explain to them what happened internally.
 
Joined
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Houston, the lower bowel of TX
Overheating: have you verified the electric fans are working? Most people that try electric fans go back to the original mechanical fan and fan clutch. The cooling/heating system in these trucks works fine when in good tune, even for v8 swaps.

Oil dump: I like the suggestion of checking the oil galley plug in the head, especially since you mentioned the passenger side was covered in oil. It’s a small plug near the 4 or 5 (?) spark plugs. Mine blew...it happens.

Keep us updated, interesting events.
 
Joined
Sep 14, 2020
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cali
Welp, the shop said something internal blew and they can’t verify what it is without opening it up so back to the rebuilder - just about 400 miles away. I really wish he were local...

I have a 200 mile tow available through AAA. Any other tow ideas that aren’t going to cost me what it would cost for the rebuild itself?

Going from LA to Sacramento.
 
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Vermont
Welp, the shop said something internal blew and they can’t verify what it is without opening it up so back to the rebuilder - just about 400 miles away. I really wish he were local...

I have a 200 mile tow available through AAA. Any other tow ideas that aren’t going to cost me what it would cost for the rebuild itself?

Going from LA to Sacramento.

rebuild yourself could still run $2k to $4k depending on how much needs to be replaced and assuming no new machining is needed
 

John McVicker

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Big Pine, CA
Everyone will have an opinion...and in your situation there is more than one way to get to your end goal. But here is my thoughts:

No way in heck would I take it up To Sac to try to get the builder to warranty his work. A) he’s the one that might have screwed it up to begin with and B) he’s likely to pull every trick he knows to blame something other than his work.

You’re in LA. with some of the very best Cruiser mechanics anywhere. If you can afford it at all, I would suck it up and at least get a proper diagnosis from someone that knows these engines.

If you can do any of the work yourself after the diagnosis, you can save a bunch $$. And if that is not a option for you...you are in the best location to choose from some of the best.
 

g-man

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^^^ this is true. If they machined too much off the head or a multitude of other things then it's just going to keep failing. And the builder will just keep scratching his head.

tell the seller he sold you a lemon, and that he needs to buy it back. Then he can get his warranty work done.
 

2mbb

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WC, CA
^^^I like g-man's point. you may have some claim against the seller. Otherwise, maybe talk to the shop that gave you the warranty. Does their policy include towing? How do they recommend you get the vehicle to them. Maybe they can sponsor a shop in your area to do some more investigation work. I wouldn't walk away from the original shop without trying to get something out of them.

Just for reference, this past summer I shipped an X5 from Tillamook, OR to SF Bay area for $1000 on an open transporter with other vehicles. LA to SAC is much shorter, but your truck will need to be winched on/off.
 
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Plano texas
Hi, Most good shops will trust the opinion of shops in other towns and pay that shop to do the repairs. Talk to the shop that did the work, it’s not realistic to have to haul it 400 miles. Most good shops have insurance against this type of thing. Mike
 

cwwfj60

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San Antonio, Tx
Good points, this shop could easily make this a nightmare after you pay for the tow. I’d get some clarification before incurring more expenses.

This shop it’s currently at can’t tell you where the oil is leaking from? At the very least I’d expect that so you could make an educated decision.
 
Joined
Sep 14, 2020
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cali
you’ve all given very good advice. Unfortunately, I don’t have the resources available for a local Cruiser shop to do the rebuild and I don’t have the space (or even a driveway) available to re-build it myself.

I found a car transporter service to take it back to the Sacramento re-build guy. Fingers crossed he’s able to come through. Thank God for warranties.
 

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