I am facing a problem with little real consequence, just more looking for advice. We have a third vehicle, one that isn’t really used much and was purchased for $1400 a couple years ago to serve as a backup when/if one of our primary vehicles was out of service (A 2005 Pahtfinder with 130k miles and a 1998 Rodeo 4×4 with 235k miles). It’s a 1999 Isuzu Trooper 4×4 with about 190k miles on the clock. Other than burning oil there really wasn’t anything wrong with it. Everything worked and to be honest my wife liked driving it much more than her everyday car.
That being said, after changing some dry rotted belts and hoses I decided to take a look at the timing belt to make sure it looked ok. After pulling off the cover it was badly deteriorated. I employed my father in law to try to change the timing belt. Long story short, we were off on the timing and think the heads are now ruined.
I am considering replacing the heads (about $350 a piece online) but I have also seen longblocks on ebay for $1200 to $1400 as well with less miles than mine. What is the better way to go with this? A junk yard engine or just put some remanfuactured heads on the existing?
I know the heads are the easier fix, and this vehicle really isn’t anything we depend on, but it is nice having a third car. I also am weary of buying a junkyard motor as there’s no telling how long it’s been sitting. There is always the option of getting another craigslist car but I spent a lot of time finding a decent one and I don’t feel like scouring the dregs of Houston craigslist to find another decent deal. If I replace the heads I may consider doing an in-car rebuild to replace the piston rings as well. It’s basically just a weekend project car right now and my kids can learn a little while I work on it.
I wonder what people outside of Houston think about a three
car truck household. Such is the joy of living in the flyover states, in a gigantic cow town more diverse than New York City. A land where all people enjoy the Body-on-Frame lifestyle!
Or not…but I digress.
I think you are on the right track, replacing the heads is the cheapest fix. There’s (probably) nothing wrong with the short block after a timing belt fiasco: take a borescope (make sure it fits thru a spark plug hole, some cheaper models will not) and check the piston for cracks/holes. I suspect the valves are messed up and nothing more.
Once the replacement heads are in your garage, get a complete gasket set too. This is ensures everything is freshened from the head gaskets all the way up to the fuel injectors and throttle body! Why not make the motor 100% sorted if you’re going to all this trouble?
You seem to like this rig; it is a Trooper, after all. Go ahead and do it right this time.
As I mentioned on Monday, I am running low on reader-submitted questions. So start thinking of something fun and clever about your car, send it over…keeping in mind the information in the next paragraph.