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I am a owner of a 1992 es300, about 180k on the original engine, leather interior is perfect, got the car from the original owner, and i blew the head gasket on the motor. this car is in great shape but i dont know if i should pull the motor and drop in a junkyard engine, replace the head gasket on the engine or spend the money on a rebuilt one. i am very low on money and i need the opinion of lexus owners that have seen this issue with the head gaskets in these cars, i am concerned about replacing the engine with the junkyard one because it may blow a head gasket soon, it is hard to justify the cost of a rebuilt engine since i will never get my money out of the car when i sell it in a few years, any imput is helpful

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rustyshackelford,

You don't say whether the blown head gasket resulted in any engine damage. When the HG blows the engine can overheat and destroy a great deal of the internals. Likewise, coolant can find itself into the oil and do much the same. It really depends on whether the head gasket blew and the driver shut the engine off immediately, or whether the engine was overheated and that blew the HG.

Regardless, a 19 year old car with 180 000 miles on it doesn't qualify for a new motor. If all that needs doing is to replace the head gasket, get an independent service tech to give you a price. If there is more damage than just the HG, a used engine may be the way to go. Get a price from a wrecker to see what prices are like.

There is also a 3rd way to go. Source a JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) used engine. When a new car in Japan reaches the end of its 3rd year, almost all of them go to the wrecking yards, because the taxes on a 4 year old car in Japan make it cheaper to junk the car and buy a new one. Consequently, Japanese auto wreckers sell these used car parts all over the world. In most cases these engines, trannies, rear ends, etc., have no more than 30 000 miles on them. In your case, even a used Camry engine of the same generation as your ES will fit. And there are a lot of those out there.

If I were in your shoes, and the car was worth keeping and investing the money in, this the way I would go.

Check the state wide Auto Trader ads to find one of these import wreckers who source their parts from Japan (they'll say so in their ad). In most cases, they'll even swap out the engine for you for $500 or so (been a few years since I checked it out, and may be more today)

Any way, check out these choices and when you see what the costs are, you can make a better decision that works for you and your pocket book. I feel your pain. Good Luck!@

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I had a similar thing happen to our old 1995 ES300. We lost the engine (due to another problem) and our shop sourced a used, lower mileage long block for $400-$600... then it was just labor to take out the old one, put in the used long block, and then attach all our intake, exhaust, and peripherals. It wasn't that costly, and we had a car that ran like new after that! Rebuilding it would have cost more, taken more time, and then there'd be the chance the internals didn't get quite machined and assembled correctly, which could affect the life of the engine.

If I needed to do it again, I'd take the same option as last time: have a reputable shop source a good used long block (which is the assembly including the block, pistons, crank, oil pan, and heads... all the critical seals and gaskets don't get monkeyed with).

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I had a similar situation w/ my '94. Head gasket blew on a 10k old reman engine that the prior owner had paid like $1800 + install (saw the receipt.....). If you have some experience and good tools, its a moderately difficult job to replace gaskets. While the head is off you can inspect the valves for burn, and cylinders for injury and/or too much wear. Should replace the thermostat as well since this is one possibility why it might have overheated leading to blown gasket. I agree w/gb, though, could also be a blown gasket led to the overheating. Should also replace spark plugs and timing belt while you have the top end off. Takes several days if all goes perfectly. But at this age need to count on breaking a few bolts at least.

If you decide to wrench it yourself let us know.

If you have to pay someone to just replace the gaskets, you'd prolly do better swapping in a jdm. I've seen 3mz jdms on ebay for $700 plus shipping (another $500 usually), so I also agree better to find a local shop to find and install.

If you do it yourself, my guess is you're looking at $400 for parts, and countless hours of fun and discovery. Having someone else do the gaskets or swapping a jdm will range around $1500-$2000.

LL

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