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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

I've seen some other threads regarding this and have taken in what I can learn from them. I wanted to get some further thoughts regarding it.

I own a 2004 Dodge Dakota V8 Quad Cab. I've had it since 16K miles and it has 123K miles now. On a recent trip to UT, my Check Gauges light came on. The engine was overheating. I pulled over, let it cool down, then continued on the trip. It was a Sunday night and I couldn't find a mechanic anywhere. I ended up making it home after pulling over several times to let it cool down. I took it to the mechanic the next day. He said there was a heater hose leak and that my anti-freeze was empty. He replaced all the hoses and the truck ran fine for a couple weeks. Then, my check engine light came on. The code was for a cylinder 1 misfire. I took it back to the dealer, they diagnosed it, and said the head gasket is leaking. Obviously, not good news.

They laid out my options. They can replace the gaskets, serpentine belts, spark plugs, and timing chains for ~$2800. The problem with this is that it doesn't guarantee my rods aren't warped. It could turn out that I pay for this fix and there is more wrong with the engine, which would require an entire engine replace.

The other option is to put a remanufactured Jasper engine in the truck. This would entail the Jasper engine, an engine kit, and labor, which would add up to ~$5800. I would get a 3 yr / 100K mile warranty with the Jasper engine.

The other option is obviously to trade in the truck and get a different vehicle. I'm hesitant to do this as I've been looking at similar new trucks (Toyota Tacoma, etc.) that are ~$30,000. I've been quoted ~$4,000 for trade-in for my truck, but that is without them knowing there is a head gasket issue. Paying 1/5 of a new vehicle to get a remanufactured engine sounds appealing when comparing to that price point.

Over the past couple years, I've continued to keep the truck maintained by getting new wheel bearings, new suspension, and whatever else I've needed when my mechanic has suggested it (I trust the guy). It seems like a shame to just give up on the truck if I can get it back to good working condition and expect it to run a while longer.

The remanufactured engine idea sounds nice, but I'm not sure whether I"ll need to worry about other "big things" going wrong in the near future, which will just make it a money pit in the end. If it seems likely that I can get another ~100K or more out of the truck with a remanufactured engine, that doesn't sound too bad for ~$6K. Does anyone have experience with these Jasper remanufactured engines? Any experience with the warranty and whether or not I can actually expect things to be covered if something goes wrong? It sounds as if my mechanic has installed a lot of these engines. I would take it back to the same place to get it worked on. I plan to ask my mechanic these questions when I call him tomorrow, but wanted some unbiased opinions.

Thanks for any help that you can provide! I love my truck and it makes me sick to think of paying $30K for a new one that will just have fancy new features, but will still have the same exact practical use for me. To top it off, I'm in the market for my first house and it would be so much better to not have the additional debt of paying for a new vehicle on my hands.
 

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You don't say but I'm guessing the 4.7 since you say "chains."

It's unlikely that anything in the bottom end, rods, got damaged. Your overheat sounds fairly minor. Likely the head warped after you ran low on coolant due to the leak.

Pull the heads, get them resurfaced, and put it back together with a new, high quality, gasket. I'd replace the timing chains while I'm in there. You should be good to go, for a long while. Unless you have EVIDENCE of any other problems.

Your other option is a boneyard engine.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
You don't say but I'm guessing the 4.7 since you say "chains."

It's unlikely that anything in the bottom end, rods, got damaged. Your overheat sounds fairly minor. Likely the head warped after you ran low on coolant due to the leak.

Pull the heads, get them resurfaced, and put it back together with a new, high quality, gasket. I'd replace the timing chains while I'm in there. You should be good to go, for a long while. Unless you have EVIDENCE of any other problems.

Your other option is a boneyard engine.
You are correct that it is a 4.7. My mechanic also seemed to think that the bottom ends and rods were most likely fine. He said that he has recommended countless head gasket replacements and has never had one come back with damaged rods. Within the quote, he included:

- Head Gaskets
- Gasket / Head Bolt Set
- Belt F (35) / Serpentine Belt
- Spark Plugs
- Timing Chain Kit
- 2004-2002 DT, Jeep V6 3. / Timing Cover
- Sealer
- Coolant
- Labor - Cylinder Head Gasket - Remove and Replace - Includes Remove carbon, check surfaces for warpage, adjust valves and ignition timing, both sides

123K miles does seem a bit low to be getting rid of it. I've heard of others with similar model Dakotas getting 200K+ miles out of their engines and would love it if just replacing the head gaskets can get me there. It's also the most attractive price point. :)
 

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Ghetto Bomber
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I went the reman route because my truck had a history of overheating before I discovered that the #8 cylinder was full of coolant. I was quoted $3K+ for gaskets/heads with no guarantees (no idea if bottom end damage had been sustained in several overheating episodes, although oil pressure was still pretty good) or $5500 for a full reman from a reputable builder -- for the sake of the $2000-2500 difference, it seemed like an easy decision (would cost far more having to go into the engine twice!) but I guess I'll never know what would have happened if I'd only done the heads. That said, I have no regrets even though I didn't get as good a warranty as you're being offered.

Just my 2 cents ... by the bye, mine only has 89 K on it.
 

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American Rebel.
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Do you know how much he would charge to rebuild the motor? Only reason Im asking is because instead of a new motor, you can get the one in the truck rebuilt for possibly cheaper. How hot did the motor get? If it didnt extremely overheat then the heads will be fine. The rods wouldnt be the things that would get damaged, it would be that the heads got warped, but if it wasnt major, then they shouldnt have changed, but they can shave the heads and flatten them back out if they did warp. Replacing that list would ensure the motor went for a lot longer down the road.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I went the reman route because my truck had a history of overheating before I discovered that the #8 cylinder was full of coolant. I was quoted $3K+ for gaskets/heads with no guarantees (no idea if bottom end damage had been sustained in several overheating episodes, although oil pressure was still pretty good) or $5500 for a full reman from a reputable builder -- for the sake of the $2000-2500 difference, it seemed like an easy decision (would cost far more having to go into the engine twice!) but I guess I'll never know what would have happened if I'd only done the heads. That said, I have no regrets even though I didn't get as good a warranty as you're being offered.

Just my 2 cents ... by the bye, mine only has 89 K on it.
That's almost exactly what I've been quoted and told. What kind of engine did you get? You say you have 89K miles on the remanufactured engine? How many miles did your truck have before the engine replacement?

This was actually my truck's only overheating episode since I've owned it, but it did get above the "check gauges" threshold quite a few times on the trip home from UT. It never broke down from it though.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Do you know how much he would charge to rebuild the motor? Only reason Im asking is because instead of a new motor, you can get the one in the truck rebuilt for possibly cheaper. How hot did the motor get? If it didnt extremely overheat then the heads will be fine. The rods wouldnt be the things that would get damaged, it would be that the heads got warped, but if it wasnt major, then they shouldnt have changed, but they can shave the heads and flatten them back out if they did warp. Replacing that list would ensure the motor went for a lot longer down the road.
For head gasket remove and replace, they charge 1,344 for labor.

For long block remove and replace, they charge 1,833 for labor.

So there is ~500 difference. Is it very advantageous to rebuild it? I guess an advantage would be that they could look everything over as they're rebuilding it so that I could get them fixed while they're in there.
 

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Ghetto Bomber
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You don't say but I'm guessing the 4.7 since you say "chains."

It's unlikely that anything in the bottom end, rods, got damaged. Your overheat sounds fairly minor. Likely the head warped after you ran low on coolant due to the leak.

Pull the heads, get them resurfaced, and put it back together with a new, high quality, gasket. I'd replace the timing chains while I'm in there. You should be good to go, for a long while. Unless you have EVIDENCE of any other problems.

Your other option is a boneyard engine.
I would tend to stay away from a used engine. I've owned several 4.7s and in my experience, they're either very good or very bad. And the problems are often hidden -- even the one I replaced ran great as long as I kept slopping coolant into it. You don't want to pay for all the labor of installing an engine only to discover you got a bad one and then do it all over again.
 

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American Rebel.
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yea, I always suggest rebuilds at my shop because it will give you the from factory feel. Some motors over time start to get tired, thats when you rebuild. If the reman and install for the new one is 5800 or whatever you said, see how much they would charge to jump in and fix anything that needs it, and possibly rebuild the motor with new internals and such. Worth a looking into. I know you can get a block, with low end internals, i.e. pitsons and crank and stuff, for about 2500 and they can put everything from your old one on to the new one.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
How hot did the motor get? If it didnt extremely overheat then the heads will be fine. The rods wouldnt be the things that would get damaged, it would be that the heads got warped, but if it wasnt major, then they shouldnt have changed, but they can shave the heads and flatten them back out if they did warp. Replacing that list would ensure the motor went for a lot longer down the road.
We were ~2 hours from our destination when the check gauges light came on when the temperature reached the 3rd line of 4 on the gauge. Every time it approached the very top, I would pull over and wait until it went back down. On the interstate, was able to keep it just slightly over the 3rd line. Did drive around while in UT, but never even got to the check gauges threshold because the trips were short enough. We had to drive ~7 hours home a few days later. The check guages light came on a few times, but I did the same thing of pulling over and letting it cool. We made it all the way back without breaking down.
 

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Ghetto Bomber
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That's almost exactly what I've been quoted and told. What kind of engine did you get? You say you have 89K miles on the remanufactured engine? How many miles did your truck have before the engine replacement?

This was actually my truck's only overheating episode since I've owned it, but it did get above the "check gauges" threshold quite a few times on the trip home from UT. It never broke down from it though.
No, no, no! That's 89 K on the WHOLE TRUCK -- the engine's still brand-spankin' -- not even broken in yet. Sorry, should have been clearer. Anyway, I used a well-regarded local volume builder (Canada Engines) which probably doesn't help you any. Their labor costs are cheaper, I guess, because they remanufacture entire units in-house and sell/install them off the shelf. Maybe there's somebody who does something similar in your area.

My original engine's history of overheating dated from well before I owned it (as I found out later ...) so I had no idea of how far and how hot it had been driven -- contributed to the decision to get a whole new engine. How far did you drive and at what temp reading on the gauge?
 

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Ghetto Bomber
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Sorry, missed your prior post. IMO, that's probably far enough and hot enough to suggest the entire reman engine thing. You know, to be on the safe side. Were you topping up the coolant as you went?
 

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American Rebel.
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^ agreed with him. That would probably call for shaved heads or new heads if they are bad. Usually the cycles you gave it will screw the entire head
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Sorry, missed your prior post. IMO, that's probably far enough and hot enough to suggest the entire reman engine thing. You know, to be on the safe side. Were you topping up the coolant as you went?
I know this is dumb, but hoping for a temporary fix, I thought I was pouring water into the coolant reservoir, but if turns out it was actually the overflow chamber. Still, it seemed to help some of the time. So you think even though this was the only overheating experience, it could definitely have been enough to warp the heads?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
^ agreed with him. That would probably call for shaved heads or new heads if they are bad. Usually the cycles you gave it will screw the entire head
I guess that leads me back to getting a reman engine or trying to get my engine rebuilt on a different block?
 

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American Rebel.
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you dont have to get a reman. Its the heads that are the problem not the block. They can either shave the heads if they are in spec to being resurfaced and leveled or you can get all new heads for it
 

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you dont have to get a reman. Its the heads that are the problem not the block. They can either shave the heads if they are in spec to being resurfaced and leveled or you can get all new heads for it
Sorry I think I was confusing my terminology. As you can tell, I'm not too versed, but I'm learning! I was wondering if what I did is likely to have been enough to damage components in the bottom end to where just getting the head gaskets replaced will end up being pointless because there will be more serious damage further in. It sounds like you are saying that getting the head gaskets replaced will likely fix my problem and keep my truck going for a while longer. That's pretty much what my mechanic was saying too.
 

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Ghetto Bomber
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you dont have to get a reman. Its the heads that are the problem not the block. They can either shave the heads if they are in spec to being resurfaced and leveled or you can get all new heads for it
Only thing I worry about is damage done while running around with coolant in the oil. If you're going to keep the block/bottom end, change the oil ASAP and drive it as little as possible until you get the heads done. As my problem had likely been going on for years, I opted for the reman engine because of that plus reasons discussed above.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Only thing I worry about is damage done while running around with coolant in the oil. If you're going to keep the block/bottom end, change the oil ASAP and drive it as little as possible until you get the heads done. As my problem had likely been going on for years, I opted for the reman engine because of that plus reasons discussed above.
Ahh, I see. Luckily, my truck has not gone very far at all since this problem arose. I think that is why my mechanic really doubts there is any trouble in the bottom end.
 
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