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Old 03-20-2021, 09:40 AM   #1
Hoseman1958
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Default 93 D21 4x4 Head Gasket Advice

I noticed in late Summer last year that radiator was losing water. Couldn't figure out why I needed to add water each time I drove it (about once a week.)


Sometimes I would forget to top off radiator and truck would start to get hot. I would pull over, top off radiator and continue on.


Saw the white smoke and water in tailpipe back in January. Bought some Bar's Leaks and put a half-bottle in according to recommendations. The white smoke seemed to abate....so I changed the oil and about a quart of water poured out before emulsified oil. Drove the truck about 20 miles or so and checked water the following morning only to see some water missing.


Took the truck into a local shop and reported all that is mentioned above....including the oil change info. They got back to me the next day and said that they did a "chemical test" and that their professional opinion was that the head gasket was not blown....or had been repaired by the Bar's Leak.


I took the truck on a 300 mile round trip drive last week and it needed almost a full gallon of water to each way. I did not let it get close to overheating.


Took the truck back to the same shop. Heard nothing from them for a full week and decided to stop in yesterday. They sheepishly told me that they did a compression check and decided that the head gasket was blown.


Learned that they do no do work on "interference engines." I then called a place that was recommended to do the work and they said that they would not "touch it" because they would be afraid that restored compression would ruin an engine with 287,000 miles on it...and that the engine "bearings" might be bad. They felt that they could not warranty the repair.


I love this truck and it runs really well - despite the head gasket problem... but I live on a mountainside with gravel driveway and no garage. Head gasket repair is above my pay grade anyway.



If I were to be able to find a shop willing to do the repair....along with timing chain replacement, what should I expect to pay? Any other advice with how to proceed with solving this problem would be appreciated!
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Old 03-20-2021, 11:28 AM   #2
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Do you have the time, indoor-space, tools, and will to learn how to D-I-Y? If so, that's the way to go! Start by rebuliding a lawn mower engine though.


And it helps to have a friend who can oversee. And a good machine shop nearby.
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Old 03-20-2021, 11:55 AM   #3
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You have to research out local shops in your area that actually KNOW how to work on these rigs. It gets tougher all the time, but they are out there. Sometimes you have to talk to them in person and ask.

The last hardbody rolled off the USA assembly line twenty-four years ago. If it were 1970 right now, you would be looking at finding a shop that can work on a 1946 model. These shops are still out there, but you have to find them.
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Old 03-20-2021, 12:10 PM   #4
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While most people expect that coolant in the oil is the result of a blown head gasket, on the KA24E it’s more likely that the timing chain cut a hole in the timing cover coolant passage and is allowing coolant to spill into the crankcase. With the valve cover removed you should be able to verify if that is the problem in your case. If so you can just have the timing chain replaced and a new timing cover installed. This may not apply to your truck since they claim it failed the compression test, but I’m not sure if trust anything they say.

I’ve got to say, the shops in your area sound incompetent as hell. “Don’t work on interference engines” what a load of bull. A head gasket is a pretty straight forward task. I’m not sure what to expect to pay for it. It’s been quite a while since I’ve had one done, it was my wife’s truck and we needed it back quickly.
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Old 03-20-2021, 01:37 PM   #5
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Thank you A! That's good information. I drove by the shop several times during the week and could see that the vehicle was still in the original space where I parked it...during a time when they have lot's of cars there due to the stimulus checks. I have smelled gas after driving the vehicle and the "technician" told me that the gas leak problem was associated with the head gasket problem. Is it possible that the gas problem has something to do with the timing chain.....which on this vehicle has never been changed? It bears repeating that they told me they originally did a "chemical" test which they insisted was entirely dependable at diagnosing a bad head gasket.



I have a compression test kit but have never used it. I have a neighbor who I think would assist me with that. I think I saw something in one of the posts I read that says I should expect compression readings of @ 150 psi for each cylinder?



I will work on getting the valve cover removed so that I can try to start figuring this out. I'll post back when I learn more. Thank you again!
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Old 03-20-2021, 02:23 PM   #6
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I’m not sure how a gas leak could be associated with a head gasket problem. Unless the problem isn’t a gas leak, but some sort of issue with excess fuel being supplied by the ECM due to erroneous readings from the oxygen sensor because of contamination from the blown head gasket. But I would wait until the head gasket is either fixed or ruled out before addressing that issue. Unless of course there is an actual fuel leak which should be fixed ASAP for safety purposes.

With higher mileage you’re likely to see lower compression numbers. This alone would not necessarily be cause for concern as long as they are consistent across the board. So if you see 130 psi on all cylinders I wouldn’t worry about it. Yes, this will adversely affect performance but unless you’re wanting to rebuild the engine to regain slight power loss due to age, it’s not an immediate cause for concern.

What would indicate a blown head gasket is a substantially low reading from one or more cylinders, especially if those cylinders are adjacent. I think the most common failure I see reported online is the gasket blown between cylinders #2&3.

The area where the timing chain cuts the timing cover is on the driver side of the engine. There is usually not a easily visible open hole. There is usually a worn rectangular area, then one edge will finally get just a slim sliver of an opening that allows the coolant to escape. It’s pressurized so it only takes a little thin slice. The hole may not be visible but the worn area should be.
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Old 03-21-2021, 12:14 AM   #7
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Get on some social media site like Facebook, join a local group, and ask to hire someone who knows what they are doing. Tell them you need a head gasket and timing chain done on your old Nissan D21 truck.

You will be surprised by the number of people who respond.
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Old 03-26-2021, 03:20 PM   #8
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I've started into this project.



I can't get the crank bolt to crack. I've read in earlier threads that it might be possible to crack the crank bolt by putting the truck in 4th or 5th gear and hitting a breaker bar with a hammer. This isn't working.....there is still to much "give" to allow the bolt to crack. Does anyone have any other ideas?
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Old 03-26-2021, 03:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jp2code View Post
Get on some social media site like Facebook, join a local group, and ask to hire someone who knows what they are doing. Tell them you need a head gasket and timing chain done on your old Nissan D21 truck.

You will be surprised by the number of people who respond.
^^ I thought this was good advice.

You put the transmission in 5th gear. Have someone get in the truck and put their foot on the brake pedal while you break the crank bolt free. You can also chock the wheels. I'd put the engine at TDC before I broke it loose. Read up on replacing the HG procedure in detail before you start taking parts off.

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Old 03-26-2021, 03:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alabama_lowlife View Post
Iím not sure how a gas leak could be associated with a head gasket problem. Unless the problem isnít a gas leak, but some sort of issue with excess fuel being supplied by the ECM due to erroneous readings from the oxygen sensor because of contamination from the blown head gasket. But I would wait until the head gasket is either fixed or ruled out before addressing that issue. Unless of course there is an actual fuel leak which should be fixed ASAP for safety purposes.

With higher mileage youíre likely to see lower compression numbers. This alone would not necessarily be cause for concern as long as they are consistent across the board. So if you see 130 psi on all cylinders I wouldnít worry about it. Yes, this will adversely affect performance but unless youíre wanting to rebuild the engine to regain slight power loss due to age, itís not an immediate cause for concern.

What would indicate a blown head gasket is a substantially low reading from one or more cylinders, especially if those cylinders are adjacent. I think the most common failure I see reported online is the gasket blown between cylinders #2&3.

The area where the timing chain cuts the timing cover is on the driver side of the engine. There is usually not a easily visible open hole. There is usually a worn rectangular area, then one edge will finally get just a slim sliver of an opening that allows the coolant to escape. Itís pressurized so it only takes a little thin slice. The hole may not be visible but the worn area should be.

A - I have the valve cover off and can see that the chain guide on the driver's side is completely gone with a thin, but pronounced worn edge into the metal of the timing chain cover by the chain. I will replace the cover when I put the new chain and guides it.....but is there any way to know whether or not the head gasket is also blown without either removing the head....or putting everything back together and doing a compression test?
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