Preparing to replace head gasket... What do I need? Where do I start?

Joined
Apr 13, 2019
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Tennessee
Bought my 96 FZJ80 about a year ago for 4k. I have thoroughly enjoyed it as a daily driver and adventuremobil. Now I need to give it the TLC it needs. I have considered paying someone to replace the head gasket. But I want it done with care and detail, which it seems like the area I live in may be lacking. I am now considering doing the job myself, but I have never ventured into mechanics. I do like to figure things out, but don't want to get in too far over my head. I currently am blowing smoke when I turn the truck on. I am also burning/losing oil between oil changes. The oil light stays on. Always has... Looking for advice on where to start? I would probably get parts from wits end, unless someone else has a suggestion. I would also like to replace other maintenance parts while I'm in there. Looking for experienced advice on what you would start with. I want to keep the 80 running. I am located in Johnson City TN and am willing to drive to a mechanic who knows what he/she is doing.

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Joined
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Do you have a garage that you can park it in for a long period of time?
Do you have something else to drive while you work on it?
What is your willingness to learn and get dirty?
Do you consider yourself mechanical at all?

I have talked some folks through procedure that they never had considered before. I have taught a couple locals that had never turned wrenches and they ended up rebuilding their own front axle and doing valve cover gasket replacement as well as distributor O-Ring.

You can do this if you have the willingness to try it. You will make mistakes.

When you're done on the first round, you will have spent almost as much as if you took it to a mechanic, but, you will have a nice set of tools and a tool box and bench to work on and the bragging rights to say "I did this!"

How are you at project planning?
Researching?
Video Watching?
Following instructions?

If any of the above scares you or makes you say no, take it to a mechanic. If yes, start planning and dive in.
 

flintknapper

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If you aren't already 'tooled up' for this job and have a lot of patience, I highly recommend you take it to a good mechanic. I suspect you/they will find quite a bit of 'while you are in there' things that need to be done, or things to do simply because its easier to reach at this point.
 
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SweetTNFJ80 I'd like to recommend a few items to have on hand before you even start this head gasket replacement. First is a HIGH limit credit card that your wife has given you her blessing to use as needed. Second is AAA towing to get your unfinished head gasket project to a repair shop. I've got a feeling you just might need both before this project is done. :)
 
Joined
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Tennessee
SweetTNFJ80 I'd like to recommend a few items to have on hand before you even start this head gasket replacement. First is a HIGH limit credit card that your wife has given you her blessing to use as needed. Second is AAA towing to get your unfinished head gasket project to a repair shop. I've got a feeling you just might need both before this project is done. :)
😂😂😂 appreciate the advice. It’s hard to have a nice cruiser if your not able to work on it yourself though. One of these days I’m going to have to dive in. I’m not sure this is the project to start with though.
 
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Tennessee
You could drive it up to @OTRAMM and leave it with him. Guarantee you'll get top notch repairs.
Sent a message to them for a quote. Also found a shop that specializes in engine repair. I am probably in deep on this cruiser... I think it may need some front end work as well. Wanting it to be worth the hassle for sure.
 

davidp14

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@OTRAMM is your guy for both a mechanic who can do it for you or show you how to do it via his detailed you tube videos. Consider making a donation to his work if you go the diy route.

His shop would be about a 5hr drive for you and as mentioned you may not save a ton of money diy ing if you don't already have most of the tools. Although you would have a nicely outfitted shop and some great experience when you were done.
 
Joined
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Chattanooga, TN
@SweetTNFJ80 where in TN are you? If you are near Chattanooga I may be able to refer you to a good, local mech. I've also done this job before if you decide to diy and need help or local resources.

There's tons of relevant information on this topic via search of this site as well. If you are considering the DIY route then reading through related threads could help you get a sense of the work involved and if it could make sense for you. Drop this into Google for example:

head gasket replace 1fzfe fzj80 site:forum.ih8mud.com​
You can make the search more specific as you explore different aspects of the job like "while you are in there" or "parts list", etc.
 
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Joined
Nov 18, 2008
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North GA mtns
 
 
Having just finished mine, I can add a little info. You're going to need the head gasket kit with all of the gaskets for the head, intake and exhaust, plus a few extra gaskets for the timing cover. I think I paid around 350 for the head gasket kit You'll need fipg for the oil pans and timing cover. You'll need to take the head to a shop to resurface it and do the valve work and install the valve seals and set the valve gaps. This ran me $450. You'll need a breaker bar to remove the crank pulley bolt and a torque wrench to reinstall it. Thatll run around 150 minimum. You may as well replace the timing chain, gears and guides, and the water pump and fuel filter. You'll need a water bypass gasket that isn't in the hg kit. You'll need another torque wrench to read in the lower range of 10 to 50 pounds as most of the bolts in the water pump and timing cover area are 15 ft, lbs and the camshaft journal bolts are 12ftlbs. You'll need a metric socket set and a hex head socket for the ps side timing chain guide bolt. Also a pesky heater hose kit is a must while you're in there.

You'll need a bunch of ziplocks and a marker to label bolts and nuts.

You need to know where you're taking the head before you start because if you can't secure the shop and take all of the stuff off, nobody wants to finish the work you started.

This was the first major engine disassembly I did and all done, it wasnt hard work but if you're not pulling the engine, you're going to lose a lot of skin and will look like you had a good fight with a big mean tomcat. My arms were beat up reaching down around the block to reattach everything.
 
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Howard705

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Probably Don't NEED HG. May WANT. Unless it's drinking coolant. HG replacement is to repair (or prevent future repair) of Coolant loss through the cylinders. It will give you valve guide seals to stop puffing smoke on starts if you replace the guide seals (or have head fully rebuilt) while the head is off. BIG oil loss most likely leaks. Maybe start on those. Plenty of threads on oil leak repairs. OIL light on isn't related unless you don't add oil.
 
Joined
Nov 18, 2008
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North GA mtns
 
 
Probably Don't NEED HG. May WANT. Unless it's drinking coolant. HG replacement is to repair (or prevent future repair) of Coolant loss through the cylinders. It will give you valve guide seals to stop puffing smoke on starts if you replace the guide seals (or have head fully rebuilt) while the head is off. BIG oil loss most likely leaks. Maybe start on those. Plenty of threads on oil leak repairs. OIL light on isn't related unless you don't add oil.

The thing is, if he removes the head to have the valve seals done, he's already so deep that he may as well have the valve job (3 angle job) done, and have the valve clearance set, and you don't want to put that money into the head without dropping it back on a new head gasket. By the time you invest that much time and effort, you should fix the small things while you're in there.
 
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Jacksonville, NC
I just did the HG on my '94. It cost me $1,211.89 in parts (including $120 in machine work - head cleaned, checked for straightness, and skimmed). I am mechanically inclined (my daily for 10 years was a 1972 BMW that I never took to a shop - learned as I went, and it has paid off). It took me two weeks working on it at night after work, including two full weekends. Then again, I am very meticulous about how everything goes together, spent a lot of time cleaning parts, and did a lot of extra "while you're in there" stuff. If you want a breakdown of what parts I bought by part number, where I bought from, and how much it cost, PM me. I have it in an excel sheet I can send you.

I skipped the valve job and clearancing to avoid $400 in labor and having the head at the machine shop for an extra week or more. I don't lose sleep over it.

Watch the OTRAMM videos, then decide if you want to tackle it yourself. He follows the FSM procedure and gives good tips.
 

Howard705

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The thing is, if he removes the head to have the valve seals done, he's already so deep that he may as well have the valve job (3 angle job) done, and have the valve clearance set, and you don't want to put that money into the head without dropping it back on a new head gasket. By the time you invest that much time and effort, you should fix the small things while you're in there.
CAN'T REUSE IT. BUT- can let the valve guide seals ride and drive indefinitely. Fix all other oil leaks and likely stop a large percentage of oil Consumption. . Don't even know consumption rate.
 
Joined
Jul 2, 2014
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Edmonton, AB
 
I am doing this right now and its not that bad. I have the FSM, all the tools and watch the OTRAMM videos. Not my first HG either. My truck is on 37's with lift and I can tell you pulling the head off without a engine hoist is a nightmare while in the truck. Its only about 80 lbs but awkward as Fu$k!. I am a strong guy and its just not easy to maneuver.
 
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Olathe, KS, USA
 
I am doing this right now and its not that bad. I have the FSM, all the tools and watch the OTRAMM videos. Not my first HG either. My truck is on 37's with lift and I can tell you pulling the head off without a engine hoist is a nightmare while in the truck. Its only about 80 lbs but awkward as Fu$k!. I am a strong guy and its just not easy to maneuver.
One possibility to make it easier is to remove the front wheels and set the font axle on very low blocks. I laughed the first time I saw this, but it made a HUGE difference for only a little time investment.
 
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One possibility to make it easier is to remove the front wheels and set the font axle on very low blocks. I laughed the first time I saw this, but it made a HUGE difference for only a little time investment.
Makes too much sense lol. Still leaning over will be hard on the back.
 
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