Head Gasket 3.9 with 130K miles - Defender Source
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  #1  
Old January 29th, 2014, 11:06 PM
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Peter Stolz
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Head Gasket 3.9 with 130K miles

The head gasket is gone on my '94 D90 which has 130,000 miles. Pressure test shows coolant running out. I could replace the gasket myself, but I'm having back surgery in a couple of weeks and don't have time to do it before and probably won't be in any shape to do it for a while after. Just wondering that with that many miles on it, if it would be smart to just have a buddy shove a new motor in it while I'm laid up. It's a good seven owner truck that I want to keep for a long time, and it's already got a new tcase and tranny (rebuilds) as of last summer.

I want to keep it stock with a 3.9 even though I know there are probably better options available. I'm thinking a long block is the best in this case (although a pantload of cash, I'm sure), but what is a good source? Feel free to tell me I'm an idiot (I'm used to it), but if you do, you must state your case and suggest a better course of action.
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  #2  
Old January 30th, 2014, 12:50 AM
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Brian Kandefer
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Not to be a jerk, but your an idiot why would you replace an engine for a head gasket? Unless your looking for a reason to put one of those LS motors in no but all seriousness it's truly not worth replacing the motor unless you have ulterior motives, and if you do then you should totally replace the motor bc of the head gasket
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  #3  
Old January 30th, 2014, 12:53 AM
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A motor would be 10x what the head gasket repair would cost. I would just do the HGs and make sure the cooling system was in good shape (fan clutch, water pump, thermostat, hoses, etc.).
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  #4  
Old January 30th, 2014, 12:57 AM
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If youve got a pantload of cash laying around, Id just throw in new long block from Atlantic British if you wanted to stick with the. 3.9. Do it now and not worry about it for another 200k miles.

But the best course of action is what the two seasoned Rover heads above are telling you. Or, go with a 4.6 or LS if you wear big pants.
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  #5  
Old January 30th, 2014, 02:07 AM
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If you wanted to ship the truck down to Florida, we can do any of the work here including a possible LS swap. PM me for details or shoot me an email to scott@gearedrestoration.com
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  #6  
Old January 30th, 2014, 06:27 AM
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Bill Adams
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Head gasket failure is a feature, not a bug. I may get heat for this, but if I were doing it, I'd pop for the ARP stud kit and metal head gaskets. Not a big fan of the strech bolts and composite gasket.
The most intimidating aspect of the job is the exhaust manifold nuts. They can be rust welded in place, and if the locking tabs are still in place, that doubles the nasty factor.
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  #7  
Old January 30th, 2014, 07:32 AM
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Jeff B
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I agree with Brian and Bill.
Why replace the motor just for head gaskets?
Do your head gaskets and it will likely go another 130K and 20 more years.

And studs seem to be the way to go these days.
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  #8  
Old January 30th, 2014, 08:24 AM
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Those exhuast manifold bolts are the most terrifying part of the project. have the heads reconditioned, might as well do a new timing set, front cover gasket and water pump while you are at it.. The composite vs metal gasket is debatable, ARP studs are an improvement when installed correctly. A new cam can breath a get a little more umph out of the 3.9.

These trucks make my back hurt
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  #9  
Old January 30th, 2014, 09:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by o2batsea View Post
Head gasket failure is a feature, not a bug. I may get heat for this, but if I were doing it, I'd pop for the ARP stud kit and metal head gaskets. Not a big fan of the strech bolts and composite gasket. The most intimidating aspect of the job is the exhaust manifold nuts. They can be rust welded in place, and if the locking tabs are still in place, that doubles the nasty factor.
You can leave the manifolds on the heads when doing head gaskets. Then you only have to deal with the broken studs in the manifold to y pipe joint. If you do pull the manifolds, there is an updated bolt kit that, while expensive, is much better as it uses longer bolts and spacers.
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  #10  
Old January 30th, 2014, 09:43 AM
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Peter Stolz
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Thanks, guys. I was just wondering how much life these engines have left with this mileage. It seems to me every engine has a tipping point where it's not worth putting big repair money into it because of piston sleeves, or valves, or bearings, or whatever, and if it was worth all the pain in the ass to do a head gasket...especially since I can't do it myself right now.
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Old January 30th, 2014, 10:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peachyracer View Post
Thanks, guys. I was just wondering how much life these engines have left with this mileage.
I know of several 3.9's of this vintage over the 250K mark, some on their third head gaskets.

One of them, a 95 RRC 3.9, I was riding shotgun to SCC a few years back when it turned the big 250!
This RRC below was originally from TX so it didnt rust out before becoming a high miler!
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  #12  
Old January 30th, 2014, 10:27 AM
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Check the valve lift first and make sure the cam is not worn. Replace the timing chain and gears. Change the head gaskets and you are good for a long time. The truck is twenty years old.
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  #13  
Old January 30th, 2014, 12:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evilfij View Post
You can leave the manifolds on the heads when doing head gaskets. Then you only have to deal with the broken studs in the manifold to y pipe joint. If you do pull the manifolds, there is an updated bolt kit that, while expensive, is much better as it uses longer bolts and spacers.

How do you remove the lower four bolts on a V-belt 3.9l with the manifolds still installed?
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  #14  
Old January 30th, 2014, 01:19 PM
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How do you remove the lower four bolts on a V-belt 3.9l with the manifolds still installed?
The ones I did, did not have those bolts.
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  #15  
Old January 30th, 2014, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Jymmiejamz View Post
How do you remove the lower four bolts on a V-belt 3.9l with the manifolds still installed?
11,12,13,14 make it extra strong!
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  #16  
Old January 30th, 2014, 02:58 PM
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I had some work done to a 4.2 with similar mileage, it needed a complete rebuild.
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  #17  
Old February 3rd, 2015, 04:48 PM
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john
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I know this is an old thread but wanted to ask what you guys used to clean the block and heads of old gasket material. been told everything from roloc wheels to plastic razor blades. don't want to damage the aluminum surfaces but the old stuff doesnt want to go willingly.
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  #18  
Old February 3rd, 2015, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by phoenix37 View Post
I know this is an old thread but wanted to ask what you guys used to clean the block and heads of old gasket material. been told everything from roloc wheels to plastic razor blades. don't want to damage the aluminum surfaces but the old stuff doesnt want to go willingly.
Technically a plastic razor blade would be the best thing, but in practice, it really doesn't matter. As long as you don't gouge the block badly, you won't have any issues. Brake parts cleaner and a scotch-bright pad will get almost everything off, and a razor blade will get the rest. Make sure you use compressed air to clean out the head bolt holes.
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  #19  
Old February 3rd, 2015, 09:04 PM
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Since I'm just nudging on 120k miles on my 1994 D90 wondering approximately how much does a full head gasket replacement cost at a good solid shop?
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  #20  
Old February 3rd, 2015, 09:17 PM
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As was mentioned earlier in the post, I would also replace the timing set and the accessories on the front cover. When I rebuilt my 3.9, one on the most worn parts was the timing set. I replaced with a Cloyes double row set. Then, since the heads are off, i thought why not replace the cam too...and the oil pump...The next thing you know, I had a complete rebuild. Then while I had it out, the trans need some work too. It a sickness...

Seriously, consider changing the timing set, it is probably as bad as mine was at 139k.
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