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Old 03-28-2020, 09:13 AM   #1
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Question Just got gasket kit and head studs, any headgasket replacement tips?

Got my gasket kit and head studs today, any tips for head gaskets on these ka24e's?

Planning on getting the head resurfaced on monday.

Tips and tricks on removing and reinstalling the distributor, and not letting timing slip are what I'm a lil worried bout

Thanks guys!

Red 1991 d21 ka24e 5spd.
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Old 03-28-2020, 09:44 AM   #2
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*Old School Advice Only:*

Tighten head bolts back down in stages, a pound or two at a time. You only get one chance at this, so be patient.

Make sure engine is at absolute TDC when doing anything like this. I stick my finger into the number one spark plug hole and bring the crank bolt around until compressed air forces my finger loose. Then I take a skinny screwdriver and lay it in the hole and move the crank bolt a little bit back and forth. After a bit, you can tell by feel when the piston has reached absolute top dead center. After you reach this point, don't move the crank bolt or the truck.

Pulling the distributor and oil pump is easy. Hard part is getting the oil pump back up the engine's wazoo without the matchmarks on the oil pump spindle moving around on you. It's good to have an assistant up top looking down the hole where the distributor goes. Engine must be at TDC first, of course. (Compression stroke, number one piston) You line up the marks on the oil pump, shove it up the wazoo and hold it up there. Assistant looks down the distributor hole and tells you if the end of the oil pump shaft is where it is supposed to be at TDC on the number one piston. If it is off, drop the pump and line up the marks again...try again. It can be a bitch but you will get it right eventually. Assistant really helps here, otherwise you have to stick a bolt in the oil pump to hold it in place...crawl off the ground...go and look. This becomes tiresome REAL fast lol. Oil pump goes in FIRST...THEN the distributor last.

If the shaft is off even one tooth...you will be off time 20 degrees. See the factory service manual on what it is supposed to look like. Pictures below.


Consider the idea of switching out the timing chain, tensioner, water pump, and chain guides and their associated gaskets while you have everything apart anyway.

Oh, yeah. One more BIG DEAL THING. The front cover on these trucks are cast aluminum. After thousands of heat-ups, (starting and running engine) and the same number of cool-offs, (engine sitting cold) they become really brittle. Do NOT be tempted to overtighten front cover bolts. You will crack the cover easy. I put an old blanket down on the ground, too. If you drop that front cover onto pavement, it will crack or shatter almost as easy as glass. Watch out. Overtightening, especially on a CORNER bolt will do the same thing. Let the gasket and the sealer do the job, not so much the wrench. Easy does it. I think factory on those cover bolts is ten pounds, but that number was set when the truck was new. I wouldn't go much above eight pounds, and if doesn't leak you are fine. My personal recommendation on sealer is the old fashioned Permatex brown, in a bottle with the brush. Lots of folks use silicone. Sure it is easier to get off silicone later, but if you use the Permatex right, you won't get a leak anyway.

1997 King Cab XE, 5-sp, canopy, AC/PS, KA24E, 125,000 miles. Need a technical manual? Drop me a message. Chilton's for amateurs.

Last edited by XoXSciFiGuy; 03-28-2020 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 03-28-2020, 10:05 AM   #3
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I've never done a headgasket on a car but I did do the timing chain on my truck, so I did the distributor drive spindle...

In this very nice and helpful video he advises buying some spare gaskets (part number 15066-21001) and I was happy I followed his advice because it's isn't difficult to do, but it's difficult to feel confident it is in the right place. So, take lots of pictures before removing so you have a little evidence for yourself that it's right.

One thing I would like to add is that there are unscrumpulous sellers on Amazon, this person is selling gaskets for $4.38 piece!

Nissan Parts Deal sells them for $0.39 a piece.

Last edited by stevechristmas; 03-28-2020 at 10:20 AM.
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Old 03-28-2020, 10:06 AM   #4
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Thank you I appreciate your input for real!
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Old 03-28-2020, 01:52 PM   #5
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Watch mr. jim's youtube videos about the timing chain to find the size to make the wedge. Zip tie the chain to the cam sprocket. And clean, clean, and clean some more.
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Old 03-29-2020, 03:26 AM   #6
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Replace the intake bolts if it is a v6. Wouldnt hurt to do so in the 4 banger either.
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Old 03-29-2020, 03:38 AM   #7
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Before you remove the distributor put the engine at TDC then take the cap off and mark the rotor and distributor body. That way you'll know what position it needs to be in going back together

Double check the torque specs. Head studs with nuts often have different specs than the stock head bolts do.

Also, going back together... lay the EGR pipe in place before the head goes back on. Much easier than trying to wrestle it into place after the fact.

Last edited by SBJ; 03-29-2020 at 03:48 AM.
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Old 03-29-2020, 06:14 AM   #8
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I would go crazy searching on here, and YouTube. It will take a few hours of your time but you will learn a lot.
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Old 03-29-2020, 09:33 AM   #9
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In the past I removed the head with the intake manifold attached, some engines you can leave exhaust manifold on too.
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