head gasket 109K 1997 LX450

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Feb 27, 2006
Houston, TX
symptom: stopped at a light, engine missing. temp creeped up past middle.

light goes green, tentatively moved off, temp back to the middle.

next light, no missing, but temp crawling up.

heater on full blast HOT, air is cool coming out.

eased it back to the office, shut down, boiling coolant going into the overflow tank.

Once cool, rad checked...full of coolant. coolant looks clear.

Oil was clear, trans fluid clear.

had it towed to a trusted mechanic, praying it was the water pump. After a day of checkout, leakdown showed #6 cylinder was blowing exhaust into the coolant.

109K miles (ext warranty ended at 108K!!!! grrr).

Truck has had M1 5w30 since I bought it at 72K, gets 14mpg city & hwy. Had coolant flush, new plugs, wires, trans & diff fluids done at 100K. Nothing but routine maintenance until now.

Shop is pulling head now and will send it off to check for warp & resurface tomorrow. Will use new OE gasket if everything checks out.

bummer...truck had been flawless til now.
Textbook head gasket failure. Probably all it needs to be whole again.
cruiserdan said:
Textbook head gasket failure. Probably all it needs to be whole again.

I notice some threads regarding some "tough to access" coolant hose might ought to be done at the same time. Anyone got a part # that I can shoot over to my mechanic?

Also, I noticed something about updated timing chain...is this a "kit" from the dealer or just a new chain (i.e., does it need additional parts, like a tensioner or anything?)

Anything else to have done while it's open? I had/have visions of driving this truck for a long time.

thanks all,

It's the Pesky Heater Hose called PHH. You can find a write-up on it in the FAQ/Maintenance link.

You might want to have your head milled to increase horsepower while it's off. Also thread on that in same section.

Good Luck

BTW - You will save money on the OEM Headgasket parts buying form crusierdan here (Toyota Parts Manager). One of the beni's of Mud.
sheesh, another one...
sorry to hear that!

it's ironic/sad that just when you need it is when the heater stops working!
What is the cost to fix it?
Sorry to hear Steve. I'm getting paranoid now.....

Good luck.

Hey Robbie - How would you like to come skiing up in Vancouver area and bring your tools? ;)
e9999 said:
sheesh, another one...
sorry to hear that!

3 or 4 years ago we would have a flurry of HG activity in the late spring and summer. As more are in the 100k+ miles it seems like they're blowing the HG 12 months of the year. So much for the theory that overstressing the cooling system in the hot months being a key factor.

I haven't been keeping count but it seems like we've had 8 or 10 in the past 4 months. Maybe more, and many seem to be newbies. I'm wondering if guys are blowing the HG then searching the 'net to see if this is a common problem and if their mechanic is shooting straight with them?

Oh well.... If my plans turn out then late March or April will be HG PM time for me.

Beowulf said:
So much for the theory that overstressing the cooling system in the hot months being a key factor.

Oh well.... If my plans turn out then late March or April will be HG PM time for me.


-B-, I think a lot of guys wanted the HG failures to be something that was under their control and could PM away. Just that the general population is getting older and more prone to problems.

Glad your making the time for this as a PM, it would suck if it blew out on a weekend trip.
sorry to hear about it. I had the same experience 2 weeks ago and am in the middle of rectifying it. a tiny leak in a rad hose caused mine although the symptoms were identical to yours other than the fact I got hotter before i shut down.

they will have to pull the PHH when they pull the head. the trick is to get them to replace it with 5/8" silicone hose and constant tension clamps. You can get both from a heavy truck place like a kenworth dealer, or buy the kit for sale here with the banner ad running, or get "hosed" at NAPA.

while they are in there extra repairs to consider are new alternator brushes, new fuel filter, new hoses and cleaning the injectors. Dan can get you the parts for the first 3 quickly. The last one requires that they send the injectors out to a local shop for cleaning. Costs about $150 and well worth it imho.

I would also consider asking them to clean the throttle body thoroughly, check and blow clean all vacuum hoses and the steel vacuum line from the egr through the intake plenum, and replace the EGR VSV valve and EGR modulator as PM. The latter is an easy swap to do with everything apart, especially the VSV which is otherwise a dog to get at under the intake plenum. At 109k you are coming into the area where egr problems may be on the horizon.
Wow - lots of head gaskets. Since the land cruisers are supposed to be so reliable (not being sarcastic) - whats the best way to avoid this problem for a newbie with 106 on the clock? Changing the coolant? Redline water wetter? Flushing system annually?
177- being extra anal about cooling system maintenance may or may not help considering the stories we've heard, but I'd do it anyway just in case. Along these lines, also replace PHH and check fan clutch and flow through rad so you don't have overheating probs with may be associated with HG failure. These things may give you some extra protection. But it really seems to be a crap shoot. Even people who are anal about maintenance have had the problem (read: IdahoDoug). Best way to avoid it is to do the head gasket as "preventive maintenance". :frown:
hard to say how to avoid it. the best way to avoid it is replace it as pm with the new version. there are very few reports of the new one failing. Plus do the temp gauge mod so you will spot it right away if it happens.

Or you can wait a while and test your luck. i'm at 152k. I bought the truck at 122k and have done a full flush including heater core and block plug out twice since then. toyota red coolant. no gritty residue anywhere. I guess the rad leak got me (ironically it leaked at the heater hose point I used to flush the rad and I am sure my removing the hose at that point for flushing is what caused it to eventually fail and leak and blow my h/g!!)

this is the first time the truck has ever failed me in 30k of ownership which ain't bad for a car with that mileage especially given the use I make of it. It will cost me a fair bit to put it right but, provided all I did was blow the h/g, when I'm done I will have a shaved head (slightly increased power), clean injectors, new fuel filter, new alternator burshes, starter contacts, clean intake, and a fresh valve grind if it shows any sign of needing one. I figure I am good for another 150k unless I mess something up. Plus I now know a lot more than I did about how everything on the truck fits together.
if your in florida i'll will help ya throw wrench.
Romer said:
Robbie told me not to use the Redline wetter stuff in my rig. Can't remember why though.

Cause' it gums up after a while and cloggs the system up.
all: thanks for the suggestions & the thoughts!

semlin: thanks for the list of to-do's. the vsv went bad 15 miles after I got the truck (or was bad already). forgot that was the one non-routine thing I had to deal with. Shop blew out that EGR line pretty well at the same time.

I'll update when i hear from the machine shop on the head.

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