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VG30 1994 PF Just Died - Head Gasket?


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1994 Nissan Pathfinder has been running kinda rough and looked to be burning a little bit of oil and possibly some coolant on startup.
Not too surprising with 416,880 miles

I recently replaced the fuel pump and sending unit (yay! my fuel gauge works again!), and my truck is no longer stalling out on hard right turns or hard stops. So that's fixed two issues.
However it was still running rough. Of course a cheap move is changing out the sparkplugs, which I did. Some of them look more oily then I'm comfortable with.

Even after making sure that we have good fuel and good spark now, my truck has still been running pretty rough. Over the weeks it's been loosing power and seemingly it's spitting out what looks like water from the exhaust. Now she won't start. 

I'm pretty sure it's the headgasket that's done for. As long as I'm going to have to get a new head gasket, what else should I get? Head Bolts? Probably new piston rings? 
Anyone know of full kits? Where to get parts? etc?

Edited by AaronHorrocks
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400k Miles, very nice. Start with a compression and leakdown test to confirm the problem. At that mileage she may need a full rebuild but if the bottom end is fine you may get by with a top end rebuild. I did mine with parts from rockauto almost entirely except for a few gaskets I got from nissan. Also would suggest having your injectors cleaned, I used Injector Specialists in Colorado . Great service and good price compared to new or reman.   

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I replaced all of my injectors 3 years ago. My truck was barely running, even though I was using additives, and had them cleaned. Once I replaced them, VROOM, back to full power!

What does a "top end rebuild" mean?

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If you're going to pull the motor to do this, You might want to consider swapping over to a VG33. There are threads on this.

 

I literally just went through the heads on my VG30, new head gaskets, intake, valve lapping. Blah Blah blah... I have a few lessons learned....

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21 hours ago, AaronHorrocks said:

What does a "top end rebuild" mean?

 

Just Rebuilding everything from the headgaskets up. 

 

2 hours ago, gamellott said:

If you're going to pull the motor to do this, You might want to consider swapping over to a VG33.

+1 or swap in a low mile vg30

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One thing I noticed when I pulled the heads off of mine was that 3 out of the 6 cylinders had cracked lip seals on the gasket. Only one was seeping water into the cylinder, it was also pressurizing the water shortly after heating up to the point of vomiting the coolant out if you took the radiator cap off while it was hot.

 

If you're just going to do a top end rebuild, better do it now before you actually overheat and possibly damage the heads. I was fortunate enough to have noticed the issue before it did. The heads were relatively flat, and the machinist only took out .006" Overall cost was for the whole repair was about $600 and it's now running better and smother than it ever has in the 6 years that I have owned it. I suspect it'll run even better once I get a fresh tank of gas into it. It's about a year old and likely varnished 😝

 

Tip: I didn't actually purchase the gaskets and parts required until I got the heads back, not knowing if they were good. If they were bad, I would have gone another route, possibly the VG33 route. I also piecemealed the gaskets because Rock Auto was selling the individual gaskets significantly cheaper than they were selling the whole head set, which I didn't need all of the gaskets in that set anyway. I just used Permatex where OEM was silicone anyway.

 

 

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I retired my 94 with similar mileage due to frame rot (that I repaired many times over the years), it never had any coolant issues but it did start to use oil when driving in hilly terrain. No smoke.

 

I'd do some tests (compression and leak down) to verify where the problem is. With that mileage it's probably not worth just throwing head gaskets on it. I would swap in a low mileage VG33 or VG30 from a wrecked one. If you insist on keeping your block/heads/etc, you should do a full rebuild including bearings/rings/honing the walls etc. And get the heads redone as well.

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"Do a compression test" 

Yeah, okay, but if I already plan on a head gasket and piston ring replacement, that should solve that problem anyhow, right? 

Like if you get a flat tire, and go to the tire shop and tell them that the tires are old and worn down, so just replace the tires and put new tires on... and then the tire guys says that they want to inflate the tire and find where the leak is.... and I'm just like... Um, just replace the tires?

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If you're going for the VG30, you can piecemeal the gasket set from Rock Auto a lot cheaper (Fel-pro) and where they sell/use the paper gaskets, simply use silicone like they did OEM. But if you want to go for the $43 head gasket, go ahead 😜 I'm not judging 😝

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