Isuzu SUV Forum banner

Advice and direction for 3.2 sohc

1118 Views 17 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Eric B
Noob question. New to this forum but not to cars, engines and forums in general. Just picked up a new to me 97 3.2 trooper. Shows all the signs of a blown head gasket (white smoke, losing coolant, misfire). Will do a compression test and pressurize the cooling system when I pick it up Friday with the truck and trailer. Comes withe a junkyard 110k mile engine with a noisy valvetrail-presumably rockers and shafts. Broadly speaking the fork in the road will most likely be a head gasket (hope heads aren't cracked) in the car or a rocker arm job on the junkyard engine and swap them... Before the question is asked-- It's worth spending a bit of money on, I got it super cheap, rust free, manual, 4wd is good, rest of drivetrain is good, body and interior are very good. Which direction? All suggestions appreciated.
1 - 11 of 18 Posts
I'm sort of leaning toward doing it myself. I am fairly mechanically inclined, never done a head gasket on an isuzu or a v- engine at all before. Looks pretty daunting to do with the motor in the bay. I may pull the good heads from the junkyard engine and swap them in just to be on the safe side as I don't know how long it may have run hot if at all. What is the general consensus, do y'all usually pull the motor to do head work? Add'l info- The motor currently in the trooper, the one with the bad head gasket has 150k miles, and has a quiet valvetrain, sounds and runs good, oil on dipstick looked like chocolate milk, though.
Ended up taking the trooper to a shop just up the street, a guy who has done work on some of my other trucks in the past when I dont have time. He didn't mind taking on the job, he's done plenty of head gaskets. He started tearing into it last week, and got under the valve covers ,and saw just how much of the milky oil was all over everything, and got to thinking about all the milky oil in the pan too. I stopped by the shop and we had a long chat, I don't think either one of us is comfortable with all the milky water diluted oil that has been washing all over the bottom end bearings for who knows how long with the previous owner. He was pushing for finding a good junkyard motor and swapping instead, and I'm now leaning that way, whats everybodys thoughts? How much water in the oil can the bearings take and for how long after a blown head gasket? Anybody got a line on a good 96-97 3,2? tia
So we got the heads off, sorry for lack of pics, been busy. Found that the cylinder liner was scored and cracked on one cylinder. The engine is junk. So here's where we're at. My mechanic is tearing into the spare 3.2 we have that had noisy valvetrain/lifters, and were going to put our good newly resurfaced heads on it along with all new seals and gaskets along the way and in the process check pistons, cylinders, and install new timing belt and water pump. Crossing our fingers this engine is good. This spare is a 130k mile "running when removed" engine. Oil was black with no water in it and we turned it over to make sure it wasn't seized. This rabbit hole has gotten deep. This trooper is probably headed to the junkyard if this engine is no good.
cracked cylinder wall. Not too sure on these open deck designs.


See less See more
Elvis , sorry to hear about your woes. Shawn Anthony on this forum will have parts for you , good guy. Good luck.
I spoke to him at length a couple weeks ago. Nice guy. Gave me some very helpful advice. I think I've got a pretty good game plan, I don't give up easily. We've gotten my spare 110k mile junkyard engine torn down which had nice clean cylinders, no cracks, no blown headgaskets. We're going to slap the newly resurfaced heads from the original engine on it, as it had a good quiet tight rockers/valvetrain. The head that came off the junkyard engine had worn out rockers. Going to do lots of new seals, timing belt water pump and a clutch before we reinstall. Only issue is one head bolt broke off, and looks like the junkyard engine had dexcool and green coolant mixed at one point, so, got to clean all that orange gunk out.


See less See more
I didn't realize Isuzu used open deck blocks. I thought that was a Honda thing. Not that I know that much about engine building.
They definitely employed some significant cost cutting maneuvers engineering this engine. Open deck blocks, timing belt instead of chain (at least it is non-interference), questionable valvetrain/rockers/tappets, serviceability also looks like a pita on a number of things--sensors, coolant pipes, etc. Mate that engine to the notoriously bad 4l30 auto, and it starts to make more sense why there are so many low mile parts vehicles at junkyards. People probably didn't realize the quirks of these engines and how to maintain them.
Making slow but steady progress. Got the good heads from the blown engine on the junkyard engine that had bad heads. Doing a rear main seal, a new clutch, and drop this baby in, in maybe the next week or so.
Motor vehicle Automotive design Toy Engineering Machine
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Still plugging along on this project. This trooper engine has been a real pita. Got the motor back in with tons of new parts, to the point it was ready to start. Now chasing down an electrical issue. We have no spark. Have been working at it for about 2 weeks and cant find the issue. Have checked and rechecked all grounds, sensors, coils, wire harness, fuses. Nothing. No spark at any coil pack/plug.
Check the crank sensor on the side of the block ? Installed and plugged in ?
Yes. New crank sensor installed and plugged in. Starting to consider we may have damaged the wire harness when we pulled the motor or ecu gone bad randomly? Really got us stumped.
1 - 11 of 18 Posts