Mechanic who has my 88 2.6L Trooper said it looked like a cracked head, but won't know for sure until he opens it up tomorrow.
Also said that most of the time when you put a new head on these old engines you may get an oil leak (as in a couple of quarts a day!). This makes me wonder if I should just rescue it before he gets into it? (But I also have home issues regarding trying/doing it myself; no garage and rain, and family demands (little time)).
There was no coolant on the dipstick, so I'm hopeful it's just a blown gasket.
Been checking options for worst-case. St Chas can deliver a complete bolt-on Isuzu head for $606 total and AMC can deliver me their top-line (Spain-cast) head for $555 total (after factoring in shipping costs for their head and my core return and the core rebate) but without cam and rocker arms.
Trying to weigh which way to go if needed. There will be a bit more labor cost with AMC for cam and rocker arms install. And I'd need give the rocker arm TSB (and other head installation specs to the mechanic) and wonder if he'd use it (many have acted like such info is unnecessary or unwelcome).
AMC says their head corrects the heat conducting deficiencies of the Isuzu design.
I generally like the quality of genuine Isuzu parts, but I know the heads are notorious. Anybody know if later castings fixed the heat problem, or were they just better castings?
The original head, a #2 casting, cracked 10 years ago and was replaced with an Isuzu #3, which lived through a poor reman "attempt" (bottom-end knocking after a year), and is the head on the Trooper now. Through searches in previous years, I have seen that 3 or higher is good; recently I've seen that 5 or higher is good. Any concenus on what number is good?
The $600 St Charles head is a great deal and the new castings are all good. The complete head makes the swap an easy job. Other people have had great luck with AMC. Either way watch out for the mechanic who claims "old engines you may get an oil leak (as in a couple of quarts a day!)". This guy is an idiot. Good Luck.
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