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Old 11-10-2010, 08:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default DIY head gasket replacement?

Well, my head gasket has finally let go. Bubbles in coolant, water in oil, white smoke out the back. Its been using a little coolant from time to time and now its finally crapped out. I'm thinking of tackling the HG replacement myself, even though I have never tried such a job. The PO had the HG replaced quite recently but I don't know who did the job or how long ago it was (I see that some silicone around the intake and such, so I know the head has been off.) My questions are: How much would a repair shop typically charge to have the HG done? There is a local Rover shop that looks pretty trustworthy and I'm getting a quote tomorrow. Does anyone have any advice in the replacement if I decide to do it myself? I'm pretty handy with the tools and I've done several automotive jobs myself but getting into the engine is something I've never done. The job looks pretty straightforward, just very time consuming. I think if I follow the directions in the manual and torque everything in order and correctly I should be good. Its a 94 classic with the 3.9 and I'm wondering if it currently has composite or steel gaskets. If its been replaced before I know that it could have either, but what was on the motor originally? Any advice from people that have replaced the HG before would greatly be appreciated. Thanks, Jason
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Old 11-10-2010, 10:17 PM   #2 (permalink)
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its a composite gasket. only the early ones used the steel gaskets.

Find your cause of overheating or you might be right back into the engine.

Label and mark all of your electrical connections.

Now is a good time to inspect and or replace your cam,lifters, timing chain and gear. Try to avoid mixing up pushrods and the like.
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Old 11-11-2010, 05:05 AM   #3 (permalink)
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The switch to composite gaskets supposedly took place in early '95, however, I have a '4 Disco in the shop with ten-bolt heads and my '94 RRC has 14-bolt heads.

Replace them with composite gaskets. I have the headsets for $175 with the bolts.

I charge a minimum of $2000 to do a headjob and that includes the head work and any minor things it needs in addition.
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Old 11-11-2010, 02:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I decided to let the shop do the work. He's gonna put reconditioned heads on it and new lifters. Reasonable price and its nearby. I'll update once its done.
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Old 11-11-2010, 03:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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So he's going to put new lifters in but not replace the cam? I don't see this working out too well.
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Old 11-11-2010, 03:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by swindler View Post
I decided to let the shop do the work. He's gonna put reconditioned heads on it and new lifters. Reasonable price and its nearby. I'll update once its done.
Go get that truck out of that shop and do the work yourself.

Anyone who sells you lifters without a cam is not qualified to work on your truck.
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Old 11-11-2010, 05:40 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Swindler I would sincerely reconsider this route if you can manage it

with the heads off is a GREAT opportunity to replace the cam, lifters and timing chain, etc..

at a minimum it would be wise to replace the cam and lifters at this point...how many miles are on the vehicle?
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Old 11-11-2010, 06:11 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I fully agree with PT on this. Go get your truck outta that shop. Doing lifters with out the cam is like pissing up a rope.

If your truck has over 100K I'd do the chain and gears at the least.

If you can read a diagram and a read a torque wrench you can do this. There are more than enough people on this forum that can help you. I'm sure there is a local in NC that could give you assistance as well. Even if not I wouldnt mind a nice road trip.
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Old 11-11-2010, 06:13 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Gosh you guys spooked me. I called the shop owner, turns out he will check the cam, lifters and such while he has them accessible. I've got 150k miles showing but there has been some work done to the motor before so I don't really know how much wear there might be inside but he will check. He actually told me tonight that if the lifters were changed and used with the older stuff that everything would be thrown out of whack. I'll see what kind of job he does and I'll decide if he is recommendable or not.
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Old 11-12-2010, 03:11 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Swindler,
This is really no too tough of a job- I was able to do it with advice from this forum. Even changed the piston rings while we had it apart. Must have gotten good advice from the forum because it has lasted 20,000 miles so far!

Rob
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Old 11-12-2010, 08:44 PM   #11 (permalink)
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If you have heads with holes for 14 head bolts (each head) they required metal head gaskets. Ignore what is currently in the motor as someone may have fitted the incorrect gaskets in the past.

If you use composite gaskets on 14 bolt heads you will drop the compression ratio by around 15%. This affects performance and general running of the motor.

If for some reason you really want to use composite gaskets, get the head machined down by 40 thou while they are doing any other work on it.

It is not uncommon or unusual to replace lifters without replacing the cam. If the cam is reasonable, I am not sure why you would replace it for the sake of it.

Finally, my advice to anyone replacing head gaskets on a Rover V8, use ARP studs rather than head bolts. They will seriously help prevent another gasket going.
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Old 12-01-2010, 08:16 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Got my truck back today. Good thing I let the shop do the work. Once they got it apart, it turns out the previous owner must have used a block sealant which had pretty much ruined the engine. There was evidence of a sealant throughout, which is probably why I had to replace my radiator a month after I bought it (it was clogged beyond belief). Looks like the sealer may have worked, although just long enough for me to buy it and drive it a few months then fail completely. Lucky me.

However, the shop I used totally rebuilt a different 3.9 for me. Rings, bearings, cam, lifters, rods, head gasket, reconditioned heads, oil pump kit, water pump are all brand new on this baby and it runs sweeeet. Now if I can just afford to put gas in it....
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Old 12-05-2010, 05:59 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Sounds like you made a great choice. You will be able to enjoy it for a long time!
Rob
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