Head gasket blew...now to figure out options

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Jan 26, 2017
Albuquerque, NM
I started my car on Friday at lunch and noticed it hesitating a bit. It was like I had an injector going out or something it initially felt like. I reved a little and it went away and I didnt have any weird sounds so I figured I would drive it home for lunch. All the gauges showed normal the whole way home, no overtemp, no CEL, nothing. When I finished lunch, I went back out to the car to see if I still had hesitation but this time, the starter turned the motor over almost one time and then it stopped. Ahh crap, I locked it up I initially thought. But then the wheels started to click in my head. I know I had oil pressure earlier and I know I have fresh oil in it from less than a week ago. I was guessing head gasket failure at this time, so I figured lets pull the dipstick and see if I have made some milk...to my surprise it looked clean. I had to get back to work so I grabbed my wifes van and took off. Saturday morning I come out, open the radiator cap and it is low...not surprised. Check the dipstick again and still no milk, but the level is MUCH higher than it was just 24 hours before. I was 99% sure head gasket now and figured I wasnt getting a milk color since I did not have coolant in the oil while it was actually running causing it to mix. I assume that the head gasket blew on my way to work Friday morning with just enough leaking to cause some coolant to flow in cause hesitation. On the drive back home, it opened up more causing the cylinder to fill with coolant while I was eating. To confirm this, I started pulling plugs...sure enough on cylinder #1, the plug was soaking wet. I pulled the ECU fuse so it wouldnt spark or inject and just tapped the key to see if it was free...sure enough turned right over and spit all the coolant right out the spark plug hole. So now what do I do...I have a motor that has 236k miles on it, the PO thought that his PO changed the head gasket at around 150-160k (I doubt that now) and many ways to think about getting this beast to turn its own tires again. Money is a factor here. I want to be able to get this thing back on the road again while watching my wallet, but also want to make sure I do it right so that it will holds it value and last a while again before I have to work on engine stuff again. I am not going to be super cheap and just replace the head gasket and slap it back together, I am going to do it right and at least do a full rebuild on the existing engine or....

I am trying to find real actual costs to these options, but for the life of me, cant seem to find a single thread that has actual total costs of conversions or rebuilds.

My initial thought was to go buy a rebuild kit, pull the motor, have all the normal machining done and what not and put it back together again. The rebuild kit, I can get for $679 and it includes all new gaskets, water pump, and pistons, etc, however it does not include top end things like valve springs or anything like that. However, I dont really know if or when I should change the valve springs anyway. After talking with a friend, he told me that machining costs could run me a grand or two depending on what it all looked like. So now I am somewhere near $3000 to rebuild the existing engine...all with the same (well maybe a few more) HP after all is said and done...and more than likely, not much increase in resale value (if I ever decide to sell it).

I could also turbo this while I am doing it which would make it much more drivable, but this could easily increase my costs by a grand or two.

I have a few people telling me to LS swap it and that it wont cost you much more if any than rebuilding the 1FZ. I am hesitant here because initially I was told that I could get a 5.3 motor for about $900 and get a Marks adapter to mate to the existing A343F for about $1000. But then I started reading threads and the small things started to pop up like making a new AC bracket for the OEM compressor, electric fans for the radiator, a custom exhaust, wiring, welding, etc. This started to look real expensive real quick, and unfortunately, I cant find a total cost of anyones conversions yet. (Maybe some of you could chime in and help me out here).

Can anyone out here, give me some better ball park figures of what the total costs would be for a rebuild vs v8 conversion?
I had about $2k $1500 in parts and another $600 for machine shop work. I also rolled a bunch of other stuff into that job that ended up costing another $1500 in parts. Did all of the tear down and assembly myself and it took about 60 hours of my time, but I also had to wire wheel everything as it came off and had to either paint, treat or replace with new, all of the fasteners and clamps.

Hope that helps. I know for sure it was cheaper and far less of a headache than swapping the motor.
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Why not replace the HG and do any PM while in there (seals/hoses/etc.) and then likely get another 100-200k miles out of it? Unless you have a problem beyond the HG there may not be much of a difference between your engine rebuilt vs just head serviced and general PM.

Regardless I'd get the current oil (water most importantly) out of the engine and fog the cylinders with wd40 (it's good at water displacement) etc. to avoid damage from the moisture while you decide. Others may have ideas for avoiding damage from the coolant and that seems your first priority if you haven't gotten to it yet.

Also, you may want to look at the cylinders with a borescope to get a visual sense of wear as it may help you decide how serviceable the block/lower end is.

Good luck getting it back on the road.
Just replace the head gasket. If it burns a ton of oil then have the head machined and get a valve job while you have it apart. If not burning a ton of oil then just replace the hg
Why not replace the HG and do any PM while in there (seals/hoses/etc.) and then likely get another 100-200k miles out of it? ...

If it was a solid running motor, this. ^^^
My LS conversion was 20K drive in drive out so you never get any of it back at re-sale time. Its something you do only because you want to and if you cant do it yourself it's not a cheap exercise. But 3 years on it still runs perfectly and has never missed a beat.
I’ve done both, here’s my answer: the HG rebuild is gonna be at least 5K. That’s you doing most of the work, some machine shop costs and some new parts plus the usual ‘while i’m in there’ stuff.

My LS2 swap was about 17K, inclu labor, with someone else doing the work.

Can you do both for less, yes of course, but I wouldn’t count on it. I feel these are both realistic budget numbers.

My only concern is that with 236k on it, is it not a smart idea to just do the rod/crank bearings, rings and front and rear main seals while I am at it? I suppose that the main benefit if just doing HG is that I dont have to pull the motor, which means I can do most of this in my garage. Not knowing this motor all that well, could I not do the bottom end and be fine for 100k+ more miles? I just dont want to go down this far and then have a lower end problem in 5k. Many of you know this motor way better than I do so if you guys say that the lower end should be able to last xxx,xxx miles before you have to worry about it, then I will just do the top end and save a ton of money. Please let me know your thoughts.
Bottom end is stout...do the HG and enjoy
If the overall health of the motor was good before the HG went, and money is a problem. I'd buy a Factory head gasket kit from Mud member beno, replace the head gasket, along with other items that may pop up while your in there, and button it up. Here's a few photos of all the parts that come in the factory engine gasket kit from Beno.

No one is going to know your motor better than you. Of course we can make some broad assumptions like yeah the 1FZ bottom end is usually good to 300k, but we don't know how long you have had it, how often you change the oil, if you get the engine up to operating temps or just do short trips, if the previous owner treated it well, etc.

There is really no great way to know how long your engine is going to last. You could borescope the cylinders and see how they look, you could even pop off the oil pan and rod caps and see how the bearings look.

I think your estimated costs are all a little low. Are you going to do all of the work?

What are you plans for this truck? Do you want to keep it 2 years? 3 years? 20 years? If the plan is to just get another 15-30k miles out of it. Just slap a headgasket in and whatever PM you can and drive it. If you want another 240,000 miles out of it, rebuild it, but be ready for the cost.
So much paranoia about these motors and the head gasket it's really not so bad. Best thing that happend to mine. Now I know my motor is solid from top down and if it goes again I'll slap another on. All the while you are in there's and the machine shop and all was under 3k.
Bottom end was amazingly good.
It was stated that doing the HG yourself will cost $5k. This is simply not the case. You can do it for under $1000 especially if, as also mentioned before, the engine has always been a solid runner that uses very little oil.

Or, you could easily spend over $2,000 if you have the head rebuilt, and go nuts on “while you are in there” refurbishments which will tempt you because, once the head is off, you will have much better access.

Don’t let this silly HG intimidate you. Get your hands on a FSM, start a HG replacement thread where you will have access to the Mud mind, reach out to Mud members in your locale and by all means, use a Toyota gasket set.

In this manner, you will have your 80 back in service as fast as your finances will allow. You will have saved copious amounts of money, gained knowledge, and be more confident in the work done.
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3500 bucks or so in parts from Toyota to do complete rebuild this was 2 years ago so price prob have gone up. Head gasket is the kit from Beno , machine work anywhere from 500 to 700 bucks plus gasket kit and your time, can pull in a day and back in, in a day
My recent HG replacement with head service (valve grind, valve adjust, valve seal install, surface, cleaning), fuel injector cleaning, toyota seals, a lot of while in theres etc. was around $1000. I wasn't trying to skimp but did shop for good prices and did all of the work myself except for the injector rebuild and head service.

Edit: I went and looked at my notes and it appears that I spent less than I thought when I first made this post (closer to $1k than $1.5k). I don't have every expense recorded but here are the bigger costs:

$150 - toyota head gasket and misc seals in a kit that may have been the "valve grind kit" I don't recall. Included intake, exhaust, crank, oil pump, oil cooler, valve cover and lots of other seals that I needed putting the head back on and most importantly the new head gasket. Didn't include the throttle body gasket and a few other seals I needed but my main point is you can get most of what you need for pretty cheap if you shop around. Got this on Ebay searching for a seal kit part number that I found on this forum, it shipped from a Toyota dealership.
$200 - injector service at a local shop, they used Denso parts and did a full service. There are probably cheaper options online but I wanted to spend locally.
$350 - Head work including valve job, lash set, surface, pressure check, clean (dover cylinder head in Chattanooga TN). This shop seemed to know their stuff and to do a lot of volume. I feel lucky to live somewhere with a place like this and these prices.

I'm pretty sure I spent $200-300 more on fluids, vacuum lines and while you are in there stuff. I rebuilt the power steering pump ($20 kit, easy task), put new brushes in the alternator, resealed the oil pump and front main seal, replaced all heater hoses on the firewall, replaced the heater valve, replaced fuel filter and all vacuum lines etc.

Anyway, I hope those numbers help. Should you go down this path there are plenty of other mud threads on HG jobs to help and lots of folks on here that have done the job, or had it done, to answer specific questions when/if you have them.
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It depends on what you are working with, motor condition, skills, etc. Other than coolant loss, the cold miss from the leak, mine ran well. Just did the basic head gasket job with valve stem seals and the needed hoses, plugs, etc, ~$400 in parts, did all of the work, runs great, drive/wheel it just about everywhere I go.:meh:
Sounds like the general consensus is that the lower end is built like a tank and should go for a long time. Looks like top end is what I am going to work on. Does the factory gasket kit come with valve stem seals? My ONLY oil leak right now is due to these little buggers. I burn a small amount of oil and this will solve that problem.
The Kit that I used did include valve stem seals. I used a Toyota gasket kit with an older part number 04111-66045 "ENGINE REBUILD GASKET KIT" but there should be a current equivalent available or you can purchase a "Valve Grind Kit" and add on the extra seals/gaskets that you need. Part numbers should be available via searching on mud or online.

For example, a Google search for:

1fzfe head gasket kit part number site:forum.ih8mud.com
One more HG thought regarding head bolts. There have been some opinions on mud supporting reuse of the head bolts 1 time (or similar) and many others that say to replace for every use. I reused my head bolts since they had only been used once (factory install) and measured in spec. I had one stretch on me during install and had to delay assembly while I ordered a replacement. After that experience I will/would replace all head bolts the next time I replace a 1fz head. The ARP replacements may also be worth considering though you can't go wrong with new OE.

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