Rav 4 head gasket nightmare !

Hi folks,

 Thought I would share my woes with you all - fixing blown head gaket on a 1995 Toyato RAV4 2.0l petrol (grey import) reg 2000 in uk. Engine type 3S-FE

I have done about 4 head gaskets in my 40+ years of driving, so when my local garage quoted me £900+ (on a car that cost me £1200) I thought no way I will do it myself.

Parts costed out at about £100 , local machine shop available (Maynards engineering Stroud) skimming £30 + vat.

Haynes manual at the ready - figured about 3- 4 days tops.

4 days later -still had not got the head off !

What a “B” the access to this is - transverse - a lot of corroded seized bolts, load more ancillaries to remove than I first thought.

The designers seem to have made everything as difficult as possible on purpose !

I have lost severeal  several bolts down the back of the engine behind the inlet manifold.

Any way it is now about day 6 (honestly I have lost count) but the head is skimmed, valves lapped, head re-built with new valve stem oil seals and is back in the car & torqued down. All I have to do now is put back all the ancillaries, new timing belt, re-install camshafts , set valve timing etc etc.

I have never done this on a MX5 but I reckon I could have done 3 of them by now. Haynes manual has large omissions /skimpy details.

Beginning to wish I had sold it as spares on ebay- do you detect a note of despondncy ?

Maybe would have been easier to fit another engine. Always the dilemma is it not.
Reads like you are over point of no return and would be daft not to continue now.
Been there!

Spoke to a chap recently who changed his own clutch on a Maser Quattroporte.

That was after both the engine, transmission, front loom…(and…wait for it)…the front removeable floor-pans & firewall were unbolted, entire front braking system…which you had to do before you could remove the transmission!

Took 3 weeks it seems but it would have been £3k plus for  a specialist to do it!

I think he installed an upgraded twin plate in the hope he does not have to do it again!



Sounds like changing the timing belt on a Mk4 Golf - I asked around and the average was £400 so I thought I`d do it myself as I am fairly expert (for a hobby car owner) having built a few track cars in my time and after a day on it I asked Golf experts on the web  if I was making a meal of it and was told it was one of the worst to change - two days for me - never again!

Paul, Ed China would find a way in 3 minutes with a screwdriver & a cuppa. Wot were you playing at?Tongue Out

( I jest!)


To be honest mate I have found the modern day Haynes Manuals to be pretty poor.

I have the MX5 one which in no way covers all the bits/variations on my particular car.  I also have the Ford Focus one which shows a way of removing the brake drums which is just not possible on my car (no holes).

In short Haynes Manuals aren’t what they used to be.