Head gasket gone! Options??

Joined
Mar 17, 2012
Messages
14
Location
Bakersfield CA
The head gasket has loose on my 95' land cruiser. It made it just over 240000 miles. So............I've decided to keep a 1fzfe engine in it as stock. The question is do I attempt to rebuild the engine myself? Do I find a used engine to swap in? Or to I source a rebuilt engine to drop in?

I've built many chevy engines but never a toyota. If I had the proper manual I could do it.

If I get a used engine, how many miles is too many to consider?

As far as a rebuilt engine goes, who can I trust to buy from?

I'd like to hear some opinions from any who have been down this road.
 
Joined
Mar 17, 2006
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Location
Pacifica CA
Welcome to the blown head gasket club. Mine blew last week. I just ordered the headgasket kit plus the basic hoses and seals that should be done while you are in there along with a new radiator. I have a fsm that came with my Cruiser and the head gasket dvd by Doug is on the way. I will be "manning up" and doing this job myself. There is lots of info on mud about this. The parts I bought cost less than a thousand bucks. I am not sure how much machine work on the head will be. I am knocking on wood that the head is not warped. Do it yourself and you are out less than 1k. Have a shop do it and it will around 3k or more. If you get a used engine you are going to want to replace the head gasket anyways so you might as well use the one you have if it is otherwise OK.
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2007
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Scottsdale, AZ
Umm yeah, not so sure about that :hmm:

The operative word is shouldn't. In all my years owning an 80 and listening to endless OCD on this board, the incidence of lower end problems is very low. Unless you're OCD with lots of money to waste, I see little reason to replace a motor due to a blown HG.
 
Joined
Sep 27, 2006
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2,098
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Texas
I would say replace the head gasket and do a refresh on the head. 1FZFE bottom ends are the shizzle if proper maintenance has been performed over the years. Do a compression test.

This guy in Australia was running 26psi with 100hp shot of nitrous at about 1000 crank hp before his bone stock bottom end threw a rod. The only internal change he made to his 1FZFE was valve springs, head studs, and a cometic gasket.
 

ardentyota

Flexy
Joined
Aug 12, 2009
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Colorado Springs, CO
The problem isn't, the lower end (bearings), it's the block surface. If it's not completely flat, the gasket will blow again. I was originally going to only replace the head gasket but decided to pull the motor to have easier replacement of the oil pan seals. At that point, I decided to have the block check and it was off about .004" which would have caused the gasket to blow again. Maybe not right away, but it eventually it would have let go.

IMO, pull the whole motor. It will save your back and make EVERYTHING easier. Pulling it is not that hard, especially if you don't have 6 inches of lift...

It ran me about $2500 to rebuild mine. That includes:
All machine work (head and valve job, block rebore and surface) $600
Toyota Parts- $1500
Miscellaneous bits and pieces- $400

$2500 for a powered up motor that should easily last me another 250,000 miles is ok in my book...

Good luck with whatever you decide! Check out my thread for pics.
 
Joined
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The problem isn't, the lower end (bearings), it's the block surface. If it's not completely flat, the gasket will blow again. I was originally going to only replace the head gasket but decided to pull the motor to have easier replacement of the oil pan seals. At that point, I decided to have the block check and it was off about .004" which would have caused the gasket to blow again. Maybe not right away, but it eventually it would have let go.
It is true that you want the deck as flat as possible, but its an aluminum head on an iron block making it less likely that it would be a problem. Lots of folks have replaced head gaskets without resurfacing the block with the desired results (I haven't heard of anyone experiencing a failure after partial refresh, but maybe someone could chime in?). There is an acceptable amount of warpage. This source, this source, and this source say .006 length wise for a standard straight six. .004 is within that specification.

Head gasket $80, Arp studs $130, and performance valve job at $300 should get you back on your way for a long time, maybe longer the 2nd time around.

Edit: I'd include a few other things while you are in there like a new water pump, front seals, and timing chain guides.
 
Last edited:

ardentyota

Flexy
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Edit: I'd include a few other things while you are in there like a new water pump, front seals, and timing chain guides.

IMO, this is the problem though. Replacing the timing chain guides is a good recommendation, however, it requires the removal of the timing cover, upper oil pans, crank pulley etc which is a lot more work than it sounds. Especially with the engine in the bay. If you're going that far into it, pull the engine and do it all on a stand. At that point, you have ~30 more nuts to pull an you have the block completely disassembled and a machine shop will deck the surface for ~$50-100 or less.

A rebore and new pistons may not be necessary. How was compression before the HG blew?

I just think if you're going that far into it, you may as well do it only once. Then with the pans off, you can check the bearing clearances and ensure that you don't have a problem starting that will require redoing all of the work you did previously.

240,000 miles might not have caused any issues, but if you're going to have to tear into it in 50,000 miles to do things you could have done now, you're going to spend all this money again.

:steer::cheers:
 
Joined
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IMO, this is the problem though. Replacing the timing chain guides is a good recommendation, however, it requires the removal of the timing cover, upper oil pans, crank pulley etc which is a lot more work than it sounds. Especially with the engine in the bay. If you're going that far into it, pull the engine and do it all on a stand. At that point, you have ~30 more nuts to pull an you have the block completely disassembled and a machine shop will deck the surface for ~$50-100 or less.

A rebore and new pistons may not be necessary. How was compression before the HG blew?

I just think if you're going that far into it, you may as well do it only once. Then with the pans off, you can check the bearing clearances and ensure that you don't have a problem starting that will require redoing all of the work you did previously.

240,000 miles might not have caused any issues, but if you're going to have to tear into it in 50,000 miles to do things you could have done now, you're going to spend all this money again.

:steer::cheers:
If you are doing the work yourself thats one thing, but if you are paying for all the labor the cost will compound into thousands very quickly when you pull the motor.

IMO, you go as far as you have to which will likely be a partial refresh. If you are back into it 50K miles later then it is likely that an obvious problem was missed.

1FZFE bottom ends are super stout and they will probably will get you to the next refresh at 500K miles plus. But if you have the shop, the right tools, the extra vehicle, and the time then by all means go all the way. It won't cost you much more and you can treat it as your next big project. That would be the ultimate route and it does sound like that could be the OPs situation...

:wrench::wrench::wrench: :cheers:
 

NLXTACY

Wits' End
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I haven't heard of anyone experiencing a failure after partial refresh, but maybe someone could chime in?

I didn't do a partial refresh but everyone needs to understand that a warped block will absolutely cause or at least assist in a head gasket going South. I have a LOT of experience on this matter, trust me.

My block was warped as detailed in my build thread. There was no way in hell that I was going to go through all that and not, at the very least, deck the block. My decision to do a complete rebuild was based on a few things:

• I already had the S/C sitting in my garage for years
• The head gasket blew
• The block was warped
• I had 290k on the motor
 

NLXTACY

Wits' End
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IMO, you go as far as you have to which will likely be a partial refresh. If you are back into it 50K miles later then it is likely that an obvious problem was missed.

1FZFE bottom ends are super stout and they will probably will get you to the next refresh at 500K miles plus. But if you have the shop, the right tools, the extra vehicle, and the time then by all means go all the way. It won't cost you much more and you can treat it as your next big project. That would be the ultimate route and it does sound like that could be the OPs situation...

:wrench::wrench::wrench: :cheers:

Once the head is off, just get a NEW straight edge and lay it across the block diagonally. Grab a feeler gauge and use the thinnest to see if you can get the gauge under the straight edge. I'm sure there is a spec in the FSM.
 

geologic

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May 3, 2009
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I've had my 97 210k apart for 3-4 months now. No garage, no air tools, no FSM, just mud and my driveway. Don't have a lot of time either but it's a spare car. I thought the motor would need a lot of attention but it doesn't. The valve cover was leaking, the plugs looked original, the front main and oil pump were leaking, the water pump felt like a rock tumbler, the distributor o ring was blowing oil into the alternator, the harness over the EGR pipe was burning, thick carbon had clogged the EGR port and coated the intake system, the power steering pump/hose was leaking, all the belts and hoses needed replacement and the pcv/grommet were history.

BUT, when I opened up the valve cover, the valve train looked new, the timing chain guides looked great the timing chain looked new. Granted there was some carbon build up around the inside of the cover and front around the distributor opening. But I was amazed how nice everything was. My mechanical 80 friend Rob thought it was a <100k mile motor. I don't know. The radiator which was replaced at 90k was gummed up so I replaced it. Even though I thought I needed a head gasket as a PM type replacement, I decided that it was foolish. I had a number six cylinder miss code as well as EGR code before I tore it down. When I looked at the plugs they all looked severely burned down and were all whitish in color. They had simply not been replaced. There were no signs in the coolant or anywhere else that the hg was leaking so I stopped here. I'm glad because my desire to do maintenance on my truck was bigger than the reality of the time and resources I can alot. I just hope to get it running again by the end of summer.
 

geologic

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If I knew my gasket was gone, I would rent a puller and pull the motor and buy a cheap harbor freight stand, then I would wheel it somewhere undercover and completely disassemble it. I'd take parts to the machine shop as needed. Then I would put it all back myself just to know what I have.
 
Joined
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9,024
Just yank the head, bring it to a shop for a nice valve job (it deserves it after those miles), and while it's gone clean up the block surface and change out stuff you can easily access. Then new factory head gasket and reassemble. Nothing difficult or special tools, but factory manual is essential for confidence.

Doug
 

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