Blown head gasket...how much do I invest? - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
1st & 2nd Generation (19831986 & 1987-1991) Toyota Camry Discussion for years: 1983-1986 & 1987-1991. Topics of discussion range from fuel economy, safety, modifications, performance all involving America's favorite family car, the Toyota Camry.

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#1 Old 12-15-2010, 09:52 AM
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Blown head gasket...how much do I invest?

Purchased an '88 LE (3sfe motor) earlier this fall with 240K miles as a school driver for our teenage boys. What was advertised as just a bad wheel bearing turned out to also have bad struts and blown head gasket...a gift that keeps on giving just in time for holidays! I have no confidence of the shape of the low end of the engine or tranny at this point...

For what it's worth, it does start well and drives fine.

Here is my dilemma that I want your opinions on. As I see it, we've got three options:

1. Minimal - Replace head gasket and timing belt/water pump. Pass on the head rebuild. Figure I'm out $200'ish. If it blows up, we're not out that much.

2. Medium - Replace head gasket, timing belt/water pump, buy reconditioned/have head rebuilt. Guessing we are close to $500 at this point.

3. Buy used Japanese engine and muddle through the conversion to get it to fit the car. Don't know what all that involves but have read a bit regarding some parts not fitting the US version of the car. Figure we'll be into that about $700.

Our goal was to have a daily in town driver for the boys. Nothing they'll take out on the freeway for long trips in or anything. Thought it would also be a good opportunity for them to learn how to wrench on something and learn about engines. Anyhow, would appreciate any/all opinions. Anything I'm missing or wrong assumptions?

Thanks in advance for you thoughts.
Rick
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#2 Old 12-15-2010, 01:08 PM
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We got a JDM engine for ours. Opted not to muck through the conversion ourselves and it ended up costing nearly $2k all done, but it was completely turnkey with free maintenance for a year.

I'd go headgasket/waterpump/timing stuff and if it dies, oh well. If I were to do ours again, I would have rebuilt the engine. Not too far off the cost of buying a JDM one and I could have built it to give us better power. Nothing teaches quick like a rebuild!
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#3 Old 12-15-2010, 01:40 PM
3s-gte in a Camry?!?
 
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How was the engine running before the head gasket went?

There shouldn't be a whole lot of conversion with the Japanese engine. There is a chance that it will have the wrong crank bolt pattern (you have an early 8-bolt, there are later 6-bolt ones). If the motor comes with the flex plate, there is no problem there. You will also have to deal with the lack of EGR, but as long as your car is not a CA emissions car, there is nothing to worry about there - unless you have to pass a CA smog check, that is.

Whatever way you go, if you are doing the work yourself, it isn't going to be very expensive.

-Charlie

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89 Camry Alltrac LE 3S-GTE 5spd
88 Camry Alltrac LE 5spd - blown motor
Previous: 90 Camry 3S-GTE, 90 Camry DX
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#4 Old 12-15-2010, 05:15 PM
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The motor runs fine, even now. Just a little bit of steam out the tailpipe and bubbling in the radiator. But starts up and runs fine.
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#5 Old 12-15-2010, 05:16 PM
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Oh, and no CA. I live in Washington State.
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#6 Old 12-15-2010, 06:25 PM
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Sounds like your minimal would be fine. From your description, you have a break between the cylinder and coolant jacket. Your minimal list will most likely be enough to get you going again. If you want you can check or have your head checked for warping. If you are a DIY'er and have the tools and reference materials then you can deffinetly do it. the bottom end has miles so you may compromise the bottom end by restoring compression, but then again it may never be a problem. I'de say go for it.


List:
  1. Gates timing belt kit w/water pump, idler, and tensioner (High quality and cost effective)
  2. cam seal
  3. crank seal
  4. oil pump oring/seal
  5. Head gasket / exhaust gasket / intake gasket
  6. coolant
  7. oil
  8. filter
  9. Accessory belts
  10. rags, catch pan oil, catch pan coolant
Just an idea, others can add and subtract from their experiences. Thankfully, I have only had to do timing belt.
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#7 Old 12-15-2010, 08:01 PM
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Both my 88 Camry and 66 Mustang had small head gasket leaks. I put in about a 1/4 bottle of radiator stop leak and went for a long drive. It worked. The thought was to use as little as possible so the cooling system doesn't get gummed up.
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#8 Old 12-15-2010, 11:05 PM
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Hmm...all great feedback. Thank you. The stop leak sounds interesting however I'll probably go for replacing the gasket & timing belt and use it to school the boys on combustion engines. Thx scarny1988 for the parts list!
We'll see if we can get this baby running by the New Year...
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#9 Old 12-16-2010, 06:32 PM
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I recently had the head gasket go bad. I had the head machined and gasket replaced. New timing belt. With labor it was about $1100. I would love to do it myself but have never gone that deep into an engine. If you could take pictures and post those that would be great! I noticed a small engine oil leak yesterday from the lower left side of the timing belt cover. I am thinking that an oil pump seal or something was damaged during the head gasket replacement. So I may attempt to fix that myself if I can get the nerve up. Anyway, pictures of the kind of work your going to do would be valuable information.

For what it is worth, I grew up on a farm working on farm equipment, but for some reason never did engine mechanical work. It is a skill that I am very dissappointed that I didn't acquire. If you can teach your kids now about this stuff, with them not having to rely solely on this vehicle for work or income. It will pay dividends down the road! I am almost 40 and trying to play mechanical knowlegde catch-up.
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#10 Old 12-16-2010, 07:15 PM
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No problem on the pics. We are diving in this weekend so will post what we get through. Stay tuned.
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#11 Old 12-18-2010, 11:19 PM
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Day 1

Created a blog on Blogger to chronicle the boys adventure on their first car project replacing the head gasket. See following link for pic's from first day: http://88camry.blogspot.com/
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#12 Old 12-19-2010, 12:55 PM
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Shoot me an email and i'll send you the toyota repair manual information for removing the head. Should be more than enough. Obviously you'll have to ignore removal of some of the things cause you do not want to totally dissasemble the head. Good luck.

SCarney1988@hotmail.com
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#13 Old 12-19-2010, 03:31 PM
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Check your email.
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#14 Old 12-22-2010, 02:48 PM
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Latest results & pic's on the excavation from Day 2...http://88camry.blogspot.com/
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#15 Old 12-22-2010, 04:36 PM
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nice job recording the job for anyone else who might need it in the future

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