Is there an uncomplicated way to tell if my Cruiser’s headgasket has been replaced/if the head has been rebuilt? (1 Viewer)

Jul 17, 2016
Portland, OR / SW WA
Hi, all!

Let me preface this by saying I am a total newbie when it comes to handy stuff and wrenching. I am learning how to do a few things… But at this point I have my LC mechanic do most of the work on my Cruiser.

Question: Is there an easy/uncomplicated way for my mechanic to check to see if my headgasket has been replaced and or if the head has been rebuilt?

My 1994 LC has 232k on her. I’m unsure if the previous owners did the headgasket job. I always have the slight fear that she’s ‘gonna blow one of these days while I’m driving and cause me to break down on the side of the road.

I am taking my Cruiser into my LC mechanic in early June to have some work done on it. I was wondering if there’s an uncomplicated way for my mechanic to check my headgasket’s status without having to tear too much apart. (I don’t want to pay a bunch of money for this).
I know there’s that Blackstone (I think that’s what they’re called) company that you can send an oil sample to for analysis. But I wanted to see if there’s a physical in-person way to check if the HG’s bad.
There’s been no coolant leaks in my rig or any milky substance in the oil. (I just changed my oil 2k miles ago).

Thanks in advance for the help!
Feb 28, 2012
N. Phx
The easiest way would be to pour through prior service records looking for the parts purchase, and second to that checking the VIN theough your local dealership to see if Toyota performed any of the work.

Beyond that, unless someone here knows a super-secret-squirrel method (*and I wouldn't put it past theses guys...), your best bet is to put in a new Head Gasket and at 200k+ miles, to have the head rebuilt with new seals and O-rings for the valve guides. If your LandCruiser is consuming any oil, this is a likely place it's going.

Be aware, this is about $1800-2000 job using OEM gasket kit and taking care of other stuff that's more easily accessible while the intake manifolds and head are removed. If you've not done any other maintenance in the engine bay, the cost could balloon up quickly based on what your mechanic finds while in there.

For more information, there was a thread here on "average mileage to Head Gasket failure" (*or similar language) that might be useful to read through. I had Toyota do the Head Gasket on my 96 at 190k miles, and then it was done earlier this year at 245k miles due to an overheat problem. They last a good long while.

It's not a routine maintenance item, but for you, it would baseline that the important stuff has been done if you choose to bite that bullet and do it as PM.
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Sep 24, 2017
Blackstone is cheaper than you mechanic poking around and gives alot more valuable information. Also those exhaust fluid reactive kits seem to work for some. And the harbor freight compression test kit will allow you to further check engine condition without tearing into it too much. It's a long shot but if the fipg on the half-moon seals is grey(and a little sloppy looking), then that could indicate that it's the factory seal, which means the head has never been removed. But if it's not grey that could just mean they were re-sealed at some point. which is more than likely.

Irish Reiver

Oct 24, 2015
Orlando, Florida
I think oil consumption is probably the best indicator.. The valve stem oil seals work well at stopping oil burn but after 200k miles they are hard and less efficient. If you are topping off your oil between changes and you don't have any obvious leaks then it is a good indicator that the oil seals are shot and therefore your head gasket has probably not been changed.


Supporting Vendor
Sep 9, 2004
Boise - Idaho
Original heads have a tag/plate front LHS with the vin number of the truck on it.

Replacement heads don't have this tag.



Mar 15, 2014
The tag on the head is not on OBD I engines and I’ve gotten heads back from the machine shop with the tag still on it, so those are out.

Pics of the engine? The half moons on the front of the head, or at least one of them, are removed when the head comes off the block so looking at those can provide insight. Unfortunately I’ve also seen a few people pull these when they do a valve cover gasket, so no way to use them as a smoking gun with complete certainty.

That said, if the truck is running fine and doesn’t have a blown head gasket, I wouldn’t waste a bunch of time wondering and worrying. It’s either going to happen, or the valve stem seals will eventually leak enough that the smoking bothers you into pulling the head anyway. Drive it and put your focus elsewhere.
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