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Questions: head gasket and cracked exhaust manifold- 97 3RZ

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Old 06-03-2008, 08:49 PM   #1
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Questions: head gasket and cracked exhaust manifold- 97 3RZ

I just got a 97 4Runner with a 4Banger that has some problems and needs some work. I got it from my brother, so he has his take on it. The biggest thing is it looks like it needs the head gasket replaced. It leaks oil in the back and coolant seems to foul one of the spark plugs. He's got a check engine light, checked the code for it, and reset the check eng light. I think he said all he did otherwise was clean the offending cylinder's spark plug. He suspects the problem started after it was in a shop to adjust the valves.

Questions: Any thoughts on the head gasket problem? Is it common? Any better head gasket? How difficult of a job is it to change the head gasket? Autozone's online manual says the valve timing needs to be triple-checked, the distributor is removed, and the cams have to be removed and timed properly. Is this all pretty straightforward for a decent DIY mechanic?

The exhaust manifold is cracked and I'm thinking I'll replace it at the same time. My brother suspects the holes in the heat shield helped it crack. I saw a Dorman exh man available through Autozone.

Questions: Any thoughts on them cracking? Better replacement?

That's it for now.

Thanks,
Kurt
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Old 06-03-2008, 09:38 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sgtlethargic View Post
I just got a 97 4Runner with a 4Banger that has some problems and needs some work. I got it from my brother, so he has his take on it. The biggest thing is it looks like it needs the head gasket replaced. It leaks oil in the back and coolant seems to foul one of the spark plugs. He's got a check engine light, checked the code for it, and reset the check eng light. I think he said all he did otherwise was clean the offending cylinder's spark plug. He suspects the problem started after it was in a shop to adjust the valves.

Questions: Any thoughts on the head gasket problem? Is it common? Any better head gasket? How difficult of a job is it to change the head gasket? Autozone's online manual says the valve timing needs to be triple-checked, the distributor is removed, and the cams have to be removed and timed properly. Is this all pretty straightforward for a decent DIY mechanic?

The exhaust manifold is cracked and I'm thinking I'll replace it at the same time. My brother suspects the holes in the heat shield helped it crack. I saw a Dorman exh man available through Autozone.

Questions: Any thoughts on them cracking? Better replacement?

That's it for now.

Thanks,
Kurt
First, Welcome to TW!!!
The 2.7 is one of the easiest engines to work on. IMHO.
First, do a compression test. Its easy to do. I dont see how a valve adjustment could have caused a leaking head gasket. If, indeed, it is the head gasket, replace it with a genuine Toyota gasket. They are very well made. Better than what I have found anywhere else. Takeing the head off and replaceing it is not that difficult. Its just time consumeing, so dont get into a rush. And, yes, tripple check the timeing. There will be marks on the cams. Just follow the book and you'll be fine.
For the exhaust manifold, stay away from auto zone garbage. Get a quality header form Downey, NWOR, or the like. Not Pace setter. You will get more performance and better mpg. The leaking head gasket is not that common, but it has happened. The exhaust manifol is a very common problem, which is why I suggest gettting a quality header.
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Old 06-04-2008, 03:31 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris4x4 View Post
First, Welcome to TW!!!
The 2.7 is one of the easiest engines to work on. IMHO.
First, do a compression test. Its easy to do. I dont see how a valve adjustment could have caused a leaking head gasket. If, indeed, it is the head gasket, replace it with a genuine Toyota gasket. They are very well made. Better than what I have found anywhere else. Takeing the head off and replaceing it is not that difficult. Its just time consumeing, so dont get into a rush. And, yes, tripple check the timeing. There will be marks on the cams. Just follow the book and you'll be fine.
For the exhaust manifold, stay away from auto zone garbage. Get a quality header form Downey, NWOR, or the like. Not Pace setter. You will get more performance and better mpg. The leaking head gasket is not that common, but it has happened. The exhaust manifol is a very common problem, which is why I suggest gettting a quality header.
Thanks for the welcome.

On the cause of what seems to be the head gasket leaking, my brother suspects the shop may have loosened a head bolt, so he wants me to check their torque as they're coming out. He also thinks it's a small leak, possibly from corrosion, and that the cooling system pressure is what helps it leak. So I'm not sure if a compression check would show that. I will do one.

What's the problem with the Pacesetter header? It's <$200 on ebay, the Downey is ~$500 on their web site, and there's no price on the NWOR web site. With money being very tight, I'd rather go with cheaper as long as it fits the 4Runner and isn't known to crack or leak. Is that the deal with the Pacesetter header? Can anyone verify if the Pacesetter or NWOR header fits the 4Runner or not? Downey's web site says the 4Runner catalytic convertor is welded in, so there's cutting and welding involved with any header. I looked at mine and it's true. My brother will TIG weld it for me.

Okay, I'll get a Toyota head gasket unless others pipe in with other suggestions. Toyota or parts store torque-to-yield head bolts?

Thanks,
Kurt
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Old 06-04-2008, 03:36 PM   #4
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i think the first thing you may want to do is check all the head bolts and see if any are loose........may be your problem there. if not.....then go thru the rest of what chris said. it may turn out to be just a loose bolt...........then all you'd have to do is retorque it. not real sure why cooling is leaking on the spark plug though. let us know what happens man.

by the way.....welcome to tw!!
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Old 06-04-2008, 03:44 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tacomaman06 View Post
i think the first thing you may want to do is check all the head bolts and see if any are loose........may be your problem there. if not.....then go thru the rest of what chris said. it may turn out to be just a loose bolt...........then all you'd have to do is retorque it. not real sure why cooling is leaking on the spark plug though. let us know what happens man.

by the way.....welcome to tw!!
Thanks for the welcome.

That's a good idea. The thing that concerns me is the possibility of breaking a TTY bolt. Anybody have any thoughts on that?

Thanks,
Kurt
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Old 06-04-2008, 04:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sgtlethargic View Post
Thanks for the welcome.

That's a good idea. The thing that concerns me is the possibility of breaking a TTY bolt. Anybody have any thoughts on that?

Thanks,
Kurt
well, i wouldnt even use a torque wrench then if you are worried about a bolt possibly breaking. just use a ratchet and socket and that way you can see what the bolt feels like.
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Old 07-17-2011, 02:14 PM   #7
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Three years later, after sleeving the #3 cylinder and installing an aftermarket head, and it's burning water again. It might be my fault because I didn't change the coolant; do you think that's likely for the head gasket to have corroded and is leaking?
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Old 07-18-2011, 08:23 PM   #8
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Welp, the head gasket looks to be the culprit. I bought an engine gasket set from Japan Engine, and the head gasket is most probably not a genuine Toyota part. I'm getting the Toyota head gasket this time.
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Old 07-19-2011, 06:03 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by 08WhiteTaco View Post
If I were to replace a head gasket on ANY vehicle, I would use crush style multi layer steel head gasket.
Brand name and where to get 'em?
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Old 07-19-2011, 06:36 PM   #11
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Okay, $120 for an MLS head gasket here: http://www.toyotaperformance.com/21.htm Any better deals out there you know of?
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Old 07-20-2011, 08:51 AM   #13
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These MLS gaskets are for an over-bored block and mine is standard bore because I had the cracked cylinder sleeved and the others honed when rebuilt. The MLS gasket needs both the head and block deck resurfaced. This would mean what was planned to be a head gasket replacement now becomes a complete rebuild with oversize pistons if there is not a standard bore MLS gasket!

I've got someone on another forum telling me the life expectancy for a regular head gasket is 3 years. Anybody else hear of or think that?
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Old 07-20-2011, 09:16 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sgtlethargic View Post
These MLS gaskets are for an over-bored block and mine is standard bore because I had the cracked cylinder sleeved and the others honed when rebuilt. The MLS gasket needs both the head and block deck resurfaced. This would mean what was planned to be a head gasket replacement now becomes a complete rebuild with oversize pistons if there is not a standard bore MLS gasket!

I've got someone on another forum telling me the life expectancy for a regular head gasket is 3 years. Anybody else hear of or think that?
Sorry I just did a quick google search. Someone should make head gasket for OEM bore block. Give LC Engineering a call they make a LOT of performance parts for Tacomas!

If you overheat the block one month old head gasket can fail. Some head gaskets can last through the life of the engine...

I suggested MLS head gasket because the chance that MLS headgasket fails is minimal, unless you warp the head... The stock gasket with the rubbery material surrounding the cylinders is a poor design if you ask me.

Below is a picture of a stock 2004 head gasket for Nissan's 2.5L that gasket failed and leaked massive amounts of coolant between cylinders. Compare that to AJUSA MLS head gasket. Yes the AJUSA cost about $100 shipped, BUT the quality is superior to the OEM piece!

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Old 07-20-2011, 09:26 AM   #15
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I was also told to re-torque the head bolts after 1200 miles. ???
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Old 08-21-2011, 07:50 PM   #16
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I'm having the same problem water in the #3 cyl. I found that the head had a crack. Taking the old Toyota head gasket off I found that I needed to go with another head gasket. Checking around I found that I think could be the best replacement. That is a Cometic head gasket. I found one for $94 shipped. I just got the head back on and still getting back together. Also with this head gasket you won't need to re-torque it.

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Old 08-24-2011, 08:17 PM   #17
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To all running MLS head gaskets on undecked surfaces, you can blow those just as easy if the deck isn't perfectly flat. The factory ones will take a little more abuse to imperfections on the deck as they form to it vs a MLS has to sit perfectly flat. I bought a truck that blew a MLS one out because of this reason, just thought i would let you guys know.

Also food for thought pulled out original motor from 72 chevy pickup still running with 430k on the original motor never once blew a head gasket. It's my father's original brand new truck he bought in 72. So yes head gaskets can hold up for longer then 3 years. People also say the 22r series motors are prone to blowing head gaskets that's a myth it's all in how you matinenance your vehicle along with how the motor was put together. Most guys don't take the time to put a head gasket on the correct way they just slap a new one on. There's more to it then most relize, like torquing in sequence, oil the head bolts, blah blah blah.
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Old 08-24-2011, 11:59 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buggys3sgte View Post
To all running MLS head gaskets on undecked surfaces, you can blow those just as easy if the deck isn't perfectly flat. The factory ones will take a little more abuse to imperfections on the deck as they form to it vs a MLS has to sit perfectly flat.
Crap, I see how the Toyota head gasket could work better. I think I should of used the Toyota gasket now. I'm at the point it would be easy to start all over and bite the bullet and spend another $90. What to do?
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