I own a 1979 Datsun pick up that has 96,000 miles on it, has had lots of things replaced and is only used for light work around the farm (trips to dump, pick up feed…). Now it is leaking coolant fluid and the mechanic I consulted says it needs a new head gasket. They quote me around $800 to do this. It’s been a great little truck and everyone is surprised how good shape it is - BUT - is it worth repairing now or will this just be the beginning of more and more repairs?? thanks for any suggestions or help.
Did he do a cooling system pressure test, or a some other test, to determined that it has a cylinder head leak? The price seems high. You work on a farm; but you don’t work on machinery? With the Haynes, or Chilton’s repair manual, this job isn’t too difficult.
It’s impossible to tell from here. My guess is that for what you use it for it has a good many more years left. I agree with Kit that that’s a good DIY job if you’re so inclined. Just be sure you follow the manual step by step, clean the block and head surfaces thoroughly, check the head for flatness, and properly torque-and retorque the headbolts.
If you get the head off, find out it’s warped, and decide it isn’t worth machining you can return the gasket and you’ve lost nothing. If you find it’s warped and you decide to go for it anyway, the risk is extremely small. The gaskets themselves are cheap.
The problem with Datsun’s from this era were they rust out very very fast. If the truck isn’t showing signs of rust then it’s probably worth it. I wouldn’t put much money into a truck that’s rusting out.
Usually, that model is good for a lot more miles after the repairs. If it lasts six months, it will be worth it. You aren’t at a high level of risk. It is always possible that it will never run again, but most people would laugh at that possibility.
JMHO, but if it runs well it’s worth fixing. These trucks were pretty solid and 96k miles is not bad at all on a 20 year old truck.
Did they break this 800 down for you as to labor, parts, etc.?
Just offhand, it seems a bit high because head gaskets on these trucks are easy to do. Figure a flat rate time of 5 or 6 hours X the current shop flat rate. Add a top end gasket set, fluids, etc.
I agree with OK . . . the job shouldn’t be that hard . . . depends on the head really (warped or not). My friend had a diesel of this era, maybe 78 or 79 . . yours is a gasoline, right? A diesel would be more expensive, but either could be done fairly cheap. The big decision is of course, when you get it apart and have to decide what you want to replace, machine, and so forth on a truck built in 1979 . . . 29 years ago. You said that it has had lots of things replaced . . like what? Big stuff? Are you trying to get a return on their investment? If you just replaced, say . . all of the suspension components or bushings, or a new clutch, or big stuff . . this would enter into my thinking before junking the truck . . . so I could get my $$ back on the other stuff. Rocketman