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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello Everybody,
I just bought my first Trooper...and '88 with the 2.6l 4-cyl engine. Luckily, I didn't pay much for it because after 3 days the head gasket blew. Or maybe the head is cracked or warped. In any event, I'm not even going to mess around with it, I'm just going to get the new AMC head from aluminumheads.com. Can anybody offer any suggestions regarding installation (i.e., can a regular guy do it in his garage, is $900 too much to pay a mechanic, what else should I consider doing at the same time, etc.)
Keep on troopin',
Phil
 

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i've done mine twice now (long story, and yes it was done right the first time), no i'm not an ase mech or a qualified auto mech for that reason, if i was gonna do it for someone i would charge 900 becuase it's not the easiest job, but no i would not pay some one $900 to do the job
i would suggest taking your head to a machine shop and having them check the head and just deck it if ok $40 to $80, alot cheaper than a rebuilt head, spend the extra money on a reground cam, at least build some power
 

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If you go with a different cam take the rocker arms to a machine shop and have them ground (~5$ each) or your begging for premature wear on the cam. I guess the key is to take the head to a machine shop and have it checked to see if you can even use it. If it's warped, you'll need one of the new ones.

My .02
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
update:
i replaced the head with a new AMC head (and valves) from aluminumheads.com. from what i've gathered, the original heads are garbage and not even worth sending to a machine shop. i also took advantage of this opportunity to replace the timing belt and water pump...the camshaft, rocker arm assembly, and timing belt sprockets were already "newish" (kinda like a previous owner had perhaps busted the timing belt and had this stuff replaced?), so I left them. After I got everything back together, I was reminded of the little exhaust leak it had when I bought it. The threads in the exhaust manifold were jacked where the egr pipe goes into it. So another $350 and a couple hours later, I had a new exhaust manifold, egr pipe, and oxygen sensor (for extra credit).
 

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that's weird the 88 might have a different head, for aluminum my 90 head is near about bulletproof (or so i like to believe), i've over heated the eng several times as my cooling system was always having problems, blown two gaskets and still haven't warped the head

i'm glad to hear you got yours back on the road though (or off road for that matter)
just curious but how much do you think you put into the head swap, so others could have an idea (as it seems to be a pretty common problem)
 

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foytiX said:
that's weird the 88 might have a different head, for aluminum my 90 head is near about bulletproof (or so i like to believe), i've over heated the eng several times as my cooling system was always having problems, blown two gaskets and still haven't warped the head
The head problems were mostly on the '88 and '89, and usually the early casting numbers at that. The casting number is imprinted on the back of the head, near the firewall. I know some also had a yellow dot, which usually meant trouble down the road. Mine had a yellow dot, and developed 2 cracks, was welded, then cracked again. I replaced it the a new AMC, and no problems, even with a couple of overheats.

HTH,
Adam
 

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If memory serves me correctly, the older heads on the 2.6 engine were much more trouble than the newer ones. The head castings were numbered, 1 through 4. The best of the bunch were casting 4.

The casting number is located on the rear of the head, driver's side. Its very obvious, very easy to read if the head is removed. If the head is in place on the block its almost impossible. The engine is snuggled up to the firewall, and the heater hose is in the way.

I've found that the best way to read the number is by feel. Feel around, locate the number, clean your hand, press a finger against the number, and read the dirty imprint off your finger.

How's that for a high tech solution?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
foytiX said:
just curious but how much do you think you put into the head swap, so others could have an idea (as it seems to be a pretty common problem)
great idea...lemme see if i can retrace my steps and see where the bills went. i'll leave out the prices of the little things because i don't remember, and i replaced more than necessary just because.
AMC head: $560 (including shipping and core charge of $50)
radiator hoses*
thermostat and gasket
timing belt*: 60
water pump*: 55
head gasket set: 80
intake plenum gaskets (2)
exhaust flange gasket
real hose clamps* to replace all those goofy clips
exhaust manifold* (threads for EGR pipe were jacked): 160
egr pipe*: 50
Oxygen sensor*: 50
new head bolts: 66
antifreeze
oil/filter
piles of rags
cheap Taiwanese tools
good torque wrench: 60
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i guess that's about it. if you feel like replacing the starter for prophylactic purposes, this presents a great opportunity because there will be wide-open access to it. new fuel injector o-rings are also a good idea, maybe even a set of rebuilt injectors.
by the way, my casting number was 4. i've heard that this is supposed to be a "good" head. maybe it is. maybe i replaced a perfectly good head. i don't care. now i know i have a better one.
* these items do not necessarily need to be replaced.
 

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I blew a head gasket on an 88 trooper 4EZ1 and ordered the head from AMC before I started the job. Got the old head off and saw it was an AMC! They were great, gave me a full refund on the return.
Had it checked and machined for $100. Everybody said to use the Isuzu gasket set. It is markedly different. Has an almost liquid feel to it.
Be sure to take your time and mark everything and CLEAN everything. That was obviously the problem with the head gasket on mine. Someone didn't do the prep work before. The head bolt holes were full of rusty crap. Took a long time to clean them. I should have used new head bolts, but just chased the threads. Wasn't thinking clearly at that point. It runs great. Sold it, bought an 83 Porsche 944 project, but I miss the Trooper! Might have to pick up another one. Saw one with all the goodies, a 2.6, auto, rack, stainless steel bottom trim, electric windows and other goodies. Didn't exhibit any of the problems I know of, need to check the back of the head for ID if I can.
If you haven't already done the work, you can. It is a little tedious, but relatively simple. Just mark all those crazy hoses. And if you have a digital camera, close ups of all the connections are helpful.
Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
yeah, labeling and photographing everything is essential. i recently saw a trooper on ebay that some dude had just replaced the head gasket on and couldn't figure out how to hook everything back up, so he was selling it cheap. ha!
 
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