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//gwailo-
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828 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
No longer just a BHG issue..

**Update on page 2, post #28**

Was driving just outside of town for work and broke down on the freeway. Car started sounding a bit weird then my idiot lights started going on and off at pretty steady intervals (/!\ + check engine + TRAC OFF + o/d off blinking), then I lost power, started over heating, plume of white smoke from under the hood and then luckily in a very generous off ramp on the freeway, the car gave up as I was pulling to the side.

Overflow tank was bubbling and shooting steam. Let it cool down for about 45 minutes and started it up (idled very low between death and 200rpm) very carefully drove it to the Toyota dealer that I could see from the freeway off ramp it died on.

They said I was about a gallon.5 low on coolant. One of the coolant lines was leaking. They said 20 something dollars for the part, I said fine, since I wasn't at home and it wasn't expensive. Got the part put on and they came back saying it didn't fix the problem, just the leak. They are now saying BHG.

170k ish mile 95 turbo auto bpu+fmic. Never dragged/raced or abused so I'm a little surprised that the supposedly indestructible MKIV HG is a reality.

I'm trying to do research but as you may expect, am only coming up with MKIII articles. I'm even "site:" searching on google and having a hard time finding info since it seem to be so rare for this to be an MKIV problem.

I've called my local shop to get another price quote but both Toyota and my shop are quoting roughly $3,000 to replace (along with sending the head to the machine shop and things like the water pump and stuff, coolant flushes, blah blah)

Since I'm not a mechanic, I don't know what all really needs to be done aside from the $300 gasket itself and resurfacing the head. I hear it's a several hour job so is this all labor? 3k sounds like a lot but I will not be doing the work myself, so is this just how it will be. If so, I can make peace with it because this is my baby and, not being much of a DIY'er I know my repair bills are bigger than they sometimes need to be.

Sorry for the long and somewhat unfocused topic about ANOTHER bhg issue. I did stumble across I think a sticky bhg thread or at least a multi page thread but I can't seem to find it.

I'm not sure what I'm really asking here but maybe someone could chime in.

Thanks a lot guys. I've owned this car for almost 16 years and been (not so actively) a part of this forum for a really long time. Love this community, even if I don't know many people personally.

Justin-
 

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Mind if I do a J?
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3,367 Posts
Well did they do a compression test? If so what are the numbers? If it's a BHG you'll have the cost of the head gasket plus any machining costs to deck the head and/or block if necessary and any hose that breaks during the process since they're all 20 years old at this point and very brittle and not easy to remove without damaging. $3k is ridiculous in my opinion if that's what they quoted you but it is the dealership so I'm not surprised. If you can't do it yourself then take it to an independent Toyota specialist.
 

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//gwailo-
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828 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for the quick reply. I have not had a chance to follow up with the dealership it is sitting at and today being my only day off, the service department (along with my local shop who is usually much more reasonable than everywhere else is also closed for the weekend - but they were quoting the same price as Toyota (even a $150 more) when I talked to them on Friday)

If the dealership has NOT done a compression test, is there still merit to their claim of it being a bhg? I don't like to question integrity or assume I'm being hustled due to my lack of knowledge, I just want to make sure I take care of my car correctly.
 

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Mind if I do a J?
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I mean a compression test is how you diagnose a BHG so being a dealership where certain procedures have to take place I can't imagine them not doing a compression test and instead just diagnosing the car based on the symptoms but who knows.

Fly me out to Washington and I'll do it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a few beers.
 

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Registered
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9,670 Posts
Actually they should be able to test the coolant and see if there are hydrocarbons in it, quickest way to check for bhg. Gallon and a half of low fluid is a ton....are you not doing periodic checks on the coolant/oil?
 

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//gwailo-
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828 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
I check the oil all the time. I have an rx 8 as well so I'm crazy about checking oil. I admittedly do not check coolant levels religiously but I just had the car serviced (and they checked all of my fluid levels) a few month ago and they said everything was good.

Like I mentioned, I don't mind paying for the repair, because I want to make sure I keep my car in good shape. I value the car more than the money I put into it. Just, with the bhg being virtually (but not entirely) unheard of for this engine, I wanted to check things out here while I am waiting on more info.

Thank you guys so much so far :)
 

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I wanna go fast!
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865 Posts
Compression test and leak down will tell you what's going on. Do you have arp head studs installed? Mine had them with the small washers and I was leaking bad from cylinder 3 to 2 (washers galled into head, head lifted).

Also with the overheat there's no knowing what damage was done. It's possible the gasket is shot as a result.
 

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//gwailo-
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828 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Update:

Both Toyota and my local shop are quoting me 17.5 hrs of labor for the job.

Toyota did not do a leak down test or compression test. His reasoning for "confidently assuring me with over 22 years of experience as a Toyota tech that it is a bhg" is the guy tried burping the system for over an hour and air bubbles were persistent. He claimed it should have been free of air bubbles easily after 30 minutes.

When I asked him if bubbles could be being caused from a leak somewhere else he said there was nothing else causing it.

Their estimate is $2,658 <-- this includes them charging the same price as elmhurst for the gasket kit

Any thoughts?

When asked if it would be worth it to confirm with a compression test the service rep said he trusted the techs inspection that it would just be more money (about $150).

I'm a bit conflicted. Valve stem seals need to be replaced anyway and they do that at the machine shop while the head is there anyway so...

But again, thoughts?
 

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I wanna go fast!
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865 Posts
I still say check compression. Blown head gaskets are not common on these. Even mine was not "blown". The leak was due to head lift from loss of clamping force on the head studs. The gasket itself was fully intact. Even when I knew I was losing compression at the gasket the Toyota master tech I was working with told me to perform dry and wet compression as well as leakdown before taking anything apart. The reasoning was that once it's apart, you have no way to diagnose your issues. I doubt the dealership is lying to you outright but it definitely seems like they are shortcutting the process to a large job.

Furthermore it takes me multiple heat cycles to fully burp my coolant system. That's just the nature of the design. The heater core inlets are so high that it takes forever to get the core and cylinder head air free. Unless the tech has 22 years working on the Supra specifically I'm skeptical. It's much cheaper to get valve stem seals with the head still on than having the complete HG service.
 

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22 years, but how many Supras has he worked on? Also when they bled the coolant system did they raise the front to properly release air from the system? A leak down test is a must in my opinion, he's assuming it's a bhg which is thousands of dollars and hours and hours of work. If it really is a bhg in which you'd pay all that money that you were quoted, why not shell out the other $150 for the leak down test to be certain?
 

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Captain Hammer
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2,020 Posts
Perform a block test, takes 10 minutes and will 100% confirm if there are hydrocarbons in the coolant. They can only get there from a failed gasket, or from a cracked head.
 

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I wanna go fast!
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865 Posts
Perform a block test, takes 10 minutes and will 100% confirm if there are hydrocarbons in the coolant. They can only get there from a failed gasket, or from a cracked head.
There is a possibility that an older gasket could be seeping though. Considering the coolant just had to be replaced it's still probably a valid test but nothing beats compression and leak down.
 

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//gwailo-
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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you guys so much for discussing this with me. So if I have them run a compression test and it is NOT a bhg. What could it be?

I may have them run a compression test just for peace of mind. It'll cancel out the money I'd save on the gasket kit but hey adding $150 to a $2700 bill isn't much of a difference and if it turns out to save me that $2700, all the better, right?

But again, what else could I be looking at as an issue with everything that is going on?
 

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if you can get it down to the Portland area i have friends there who can do the HG job (if it is one) for way less than what a dealer or shop wants. they do MK4 supras all the time there, own them, etc.
 

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I Can Has EBT?
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3k for head gasket is ridiculous. I am not a mechanic, but I did managed to replace it on MKIII years ago.

Find a independent shop that can still work on older cars, or ever better find a performance shop near you. I bet Toyota is charging you $120 + per hour on the labor, and so called Mechanic was still in diapers when you car was made. They dont know how to work on these cars. Post in your local subforum and ask for a 3rd party recommendation.

Moreover, except the bill to increase, on a 20 year old car a lot of connectors, plugs, fittings will fall apart as soon as they are removed.

If another shop is going to redo the head, have them change valve stems, and do your 60k service while they are there. All gaskets, water pump, thermostat, belts.

Good luck.
 

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I wanna go fast!
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865 Posts
Thank you guys so much for discussing this with me. So if I have them run a compression test and it is NOT a bhg. What could it be?

I may have them run a compression test just for peace of mind. It'll cancel out the money I'd save on the gasket kit but hey adding $150 to a $2700 bill isn't much of a difference and if it turns out to save me that $2700, all the better, right?

But again, what else could I be looking at as an issue with everything that is going on?
The compression/leak down will tell you where the gases are leaking into the cooling system (head gasket or not). If done properly you will know whether or not something is cracked or if it's the head gasket or if it's something else entirely. Basically if you're not leaking externally but compression sucks, you have combustion gases leaking into the cooling system which means the head has to come off regardless. At that point it's either a gasket or a crack in the head as mentioned above.

Good luck and please post the results so everyone who helped can either pat themselves on the back or kick themselves for being wrong. It helps to know for next time and what the resolution was so we can all become better internet troubleshooters!
 

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Registered
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Thank you guys so much for discussing this with me. So if I have them run a compression test and it is NOT a bhg. What could it be?

I may have them run a compression test just for peace of mind. It'll cancel out the money I'd save on the gasket kit but hey adding $150 to a $2700 bill isn't much of a difference and if it turns out to save me that $2700, all the better, right?

But again, what else could I be looking at as an issue with everything that is going on?
The leak down test will likely pinpoint your issue. If you hear air leaking from the intake manifold or throttle, it could the intake valves. If you hear air from the oil cap for example it can mean you are losing compression through the rings. If you hear the air leaking through the exhaust pipe or exhaust manifold it can mean your exhaust valves are maybe not sealing so there's your issue. If it's inconclusive than that would make me lean more toward a bhg, keep in mind the leak down test is done with the piston at top dead center so the valves are closed but those "mechanics" should know this.

Also wanted to add maybe if you post locally you can find someone with a leak down tester to perform the test for you. If you lived in Utah I would do it for a 6 pack of beer.
 

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Although the head gaskets aren't common to go in these cars, it's certainly possibly and more likely if you drove the car for a period with a coolant leak. I'm guessing it got quite hot. Yes, the head is relatively accessible which is nice but the factory twins aren't super easy to take off. I'm sure they aren't charging you more than what the computer says for time but the labour rate must be quite high to come up to that estimate, that or they are marking the shit out of the machine shop work. About $400 in parts including coolant. Likely $300 at the machine shop, leaves 1958 in labour divided by 17.5 is 112 an hour. Which seems high for a toyota dealer.

Not to throw a wrench into it, but I'd be concerned that you ruined more than the head gasket because you drove it that way till it died. There must be someone in the area that knows Supras that can help you out.
 

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//gwailo-
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Discussion Starter #20
The Toyota dealership is $114/hr.

My local shop used to be much cheaper with their bench fee but they have now surpassed them (by $1) to $115/hr.

I have towing on my ins. but it only covers a certain range so towing it anywhere that I would want to take it would cost another bit of money but when I get home from work I will post in my regional and see what comes of it I guess.

The car is about 2hrs from me at the moment.
 
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