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Thread: 3.9L V8 Heads on 3.5L Block - Which Head Bolts to Use?

  1. #1
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    3.9L V8 Heads on 3.5L Block - Which Head Bolts to Use?

    Good evening all,

    I have a standard 3.5L V8 with coolant leaking from the ends of the head at number 2 and 8 cylinders, so a set of head gaskets are required. I have a set of refurbished 3.9L heads to go on. I will be using Permaseal composite gaskets.

    I have done a lot of research, but I am very confused. Should I use original style (non-stretch) head bolts, stretch head bolts, or ARP studs?

    Many thanks,

    Edward

  2. #2
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    I believe that those using ARP studs have fewer issues.
    2002 D2 V8 Auto SLS+2" ACE CDL Truetrac(F) Detroit(R) Nanocom

  3. #3
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    First question is are the 3.9 heads composite gasket type or steel gasket type as the deck of the composite type is higher ie the combustion chamber is smaller.
    Composite gasket on composite heads steel gasket on steel heads.
    I really don't know if it matters what type of bolts you use.
    I have used stock non stretch and also ARP studs.

    I had leaks at the ends using Ehlring gaskets and was told by "experts" to use their you beaut gaskets which is what I did and used ARP studs, and the bloke who bought it from me blew a head gasket.

    I personally like the ARP studs and I think if doing it again would use them again. (heaven forbid , I am sick of changing head gaskets) They are easy to get into the back as they have a hex hole in the top of the stud which you can put in after the head goes on.
    IMHO the cause of the leaking ends is that the blocks relax over time and heat /cool cycles and become a little convex. I rebuilt one in Saudi and had to get it line bored and decked , or the leaking ends will just come back after a while as it did with my 3.9 RRC.
    Regards Philip A

  4. #4
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    Been using Elring VRS kits for over a dozen years and not ever had one fail. Mind you, Mercedes don't make junk v8 engines.
    Roads?.. Where we're going, we don't need roads...

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    wow,, nothing like insulting half the site,,, nice one.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mercguy View Post
    Been using Elring VRS kits for over a dozen years and not ever had one fail. Mind you, Mercedes don't make junk v8 engines.
    No they have never made bad engines especially on their top line AMG models

    Mercedes-Benz AMG 6.2 M156 V8 engine facing lawsuit over possible defect | CarAdvice

    And they have never made a bad auto box (insert any number of my ZF auto failed Aulro threads here).

    Cheers

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozscott View Post
    No they have never made bad engines especially on their top line AMG models

    Mercedes-Benz AMG 6.2 M156 V8 engine facing lawsuit over possible defect | CarAdvice

    And they have never made a bad auto box (insert any number of my ZF auto failed Aulro threads here).

    Cheers
    Yes, the US litigation. Thou shalt not wosrhip false idols. Not here. and Car advice is such a reputable authority that we should all worship their reportage... not.
    As for ZF transmissions.... MB don't make them and don't use them in their vehicles... not sure what your point is.

    Here's the facts:
    There are 3 known issues on m156 engined vehicles which in australia have been subject to warranty repair or replacement since repair bulletins were issued 9 years ago.
    The engine sequence (serial number batches) are quoted in WIS/ASRA and any vehicle that comes into a dealer for service will have the Service bulletin update warnings as soon as the VIN is entered into the workshop job sheet (e-record)

    That means inspection notices for those issues at every service interval for every vehicle which the bulletin applies to, is available in WIS/ASRA. across the entire global dealer network. take your car to Khazakstan MB and if the VIN matches, the update bulletin applies. It's a checklist item. Cannot be ignored, as it applies to VIN sequence.

    Issues:
    1. headbolt stretch (replace defective supplier part)
    2. camshaft adjuster failure (replace defective supplier part (shared part with MB, BMW, VAG, Porsche, Renault)) inspect valvetrain and replace.
    3. Case hardening failure on camshafts in m156, (m278, m157). (there may be others sharing the supplier part (febi bilstein), I am not up to date on the status of this) replace defective parts.


    In fact all reports of the case hardening failure we've seen here directly coincide with failure to adhere to the scheduled service intervals (run thousands of km over), including top-up/add the oil as per dash warning when the sensor logs a 1L loss in the sump from full.
    These are codes logged by the ECU and are not eraseable, which is another telltale used to warn about the inspection bulletin and updates.

    As an example we had one owner who brought a vehicle in and the service interval was 14 months late and 18,000km OVER. Engine internals were fine. Adjusters replaced as per service bulletin (owner dodged a bullet for 14 months) and despite the oil looking pretty damn dark, all was well. Compression in spec, timing spot on and no serious ecu codes.
    So you tell me your rover 3.9 v8 would do that? I know for a fact mine wouldn't handle that kind of neglect and mine gets serious TLC. I've spent the last 5 years documenting it at every service interval (5000km).

    But in every instance where there have been m156 mechanical failures, e.g. head bolts, the head gaskets remained in tact. Yes, there have been coolant leaks, but the gaskets themselves did not fail and the fire rings were serviceable (i.e. there would have been no need to remove the head at all to effect a successful repair, just a new bolt, but that is not acceptable practice). All the m156 v8 block decks and heads have been well within spec and the hardness test performed on the head face passed in every repair I have performed. These tests must be preformed for warranty purposes, prior to replacement as every defective warranty part has a qr code and is logged and returned for failure analysis to R&D.

    the VRS kits for these engines, OE manufacturers are goetze, elring and vaico. All are a high quality. Elring and goetze, vaico, Febi Bilstein, kamax, koblenschmidt, mahle are OE for most of the german manufacturers engine parts, including the bmw powered Range Rover.

    Philip A was correct in that the underlying issue related to gasket failure is likely deck and head mating face issues - which are likely to continue if they are not checked for parallel/runout(warping) prior to rebuilding. Thermal expansion rates between the different materials and localized heating are always going to cause issues on an engine, especially when cooling is insufficient.

    What I took issue with was the claim that the VRS kit was to blame, when the issue itself is a well-known rover v8 issue and pertains to the localised overheating and thermal cycling, causing block warping, liner dropping and the head warping at different rates in different locations causing the gasket seal failure.

    And the rover v8 is a junk engine with its cobbled together afterthought ancillaries precariously mounted in all manner of silliness. I know. I have one. I still work on it. I enjoy the challenge. I'm okay with that. Doesn't mean it's any good.
    But if you want to get your back up that's fine. I'm calling it for what it is and what the industry regards it as.
    What the majority of indoctrinated owners fail to accept is that this 1956 design has ostensibly never changed and remained inefficient, still retaining design floors which were never corrected (and known about - i.e. slipping liners) and that is more the shame for Land Rover. It could have been a much better engine for the few extra production dollar cost, instead of the sows ear that it invariably is.

    Still, I suggest you research the topic you raised. There's always more than one side to the story and I am no way taking sides.
    I've seen these exact issues you quoted and repaired several quite bad ones where owners have clearly abused the vehicle. in every case where the mechanical part was found to be defective it was replaced under warranty here in Australia, with no issue or argument. These are service bulltein repairs effected years ago. It did not matter if the vehicle was under warranty or not. Service bulletins are performed at the scheduled service interval in addition to any regular schedule type (a/b/c/d/e service)

    In the USA... I have no idea and cannot speak for the practices in another country, just like it would be wrong to assume that dealers here weren't ignoring issues... Happens in every brand... Ford transmissions or fiesta head gaskets? Landrover td5 oil leaks, Range Rover transmission and transfer case failures, among others. Holden's Colorado fire hazard.... Ford's DPF issues (fire escape)... Toyota's landcruiser rear axle design issues. or how about the elephant in the room....takata airbags? these are all known issues that vehicle manufacturers initially tried to hide from the public which have a fundamental vehicle occupant safety issue. So perspective on 'avoidance' versus deliberate ignorance is also debatable in legal areas but nonetheless it still leaves the consumer hanging in the breeze regardless until a resolution is provided.. or forced by public reaction/govt regulatory authority.


    When a vehicle is out of warranty, then we as owners assume all responsibility for maintenance. The affected serial# m156 engined vehicles are out of warranty, most of them for 5 years. That is a point I hope is not lost. despite that age, most vehicles affected in australia have been rectified.

    Buy used, or ignorant and that is the lottery. Hopefully any issues you may experience are during the statutory warranty period.... and you can glean peace of mind from being covered... but what if you aren't?

    Or maybe you could buy a 3rd party warranty (yes you can, might be expensive for a landrover)... for example, if your 4 year 3-pointed swastika warranty is about to expire, you can literally roll up to the dealership the day before warranty is set to expire and pay a princely sum of approx $3500 (ballpark was less last time I checked) for an extra 2 years of full factory warranty cover including roadside assistance etc... sound like a lot? yep sure does ... until you price a pair of rear axle pneumatic struts and labour for your e63 warranty replacement (exceeds cost of warranty). So you can see that in some instances damned if you do and damned if you don't. That's the "gamble" we all take.

    Do you have the "right to complain" well that depends - on the timeframe. 6 months out of warranty? damn right I would. 4 years and 80,000km later? snowflakes chance in hell for mechanical - unless your service record is at a dealership (any brand, and then I'm betting there might be some hesitation, unless you're mates with the dealer principal).

    That can suck if you have really low mileage low use vehicle and suddenly experience a mechanical issue like an excessively worn camshaft, because that affects more than just the cam and a rather painful repair bill. but again, 12 months or 20,000km service intervals are default for those m156 engined vehicles, so they *should* have had the service bulletin inspection ticked off on the e-record job sheet. If it wasn't done, then the dealership has a lot of explaining to do with HQ.

    In the eyes of the ACCC an issue like this with a low-mileage vehicle still may fall within 'fit for purpose' argument, but it would need supporting evidence....

    Like the victorian woman who last year sued JLA over the repetitive mechanical failure of her Range Rover and was awarded the 300K-odd in settlement for the (multiple) dealerships failure to effect a satisfactory repair, and to have those repairs performed repeatedly more than twice at different dealers... (interestingly enough hubby was a holden dealer principal)

    So the car advice article jib is lost if you want to talk about deliberate ignorance from MB Head orifice in this country. Yet it is another great foreign country example of how poor dealership network and warranty support play a role in rectifying the numerous production defects and design flaws. It happens here too. Holden and ford got away with it for decades.

    If you're thinking about being one-eyed about it, I could pick holes in every manufacturer's engines - but the reality is the range rover v8 has a proven history of short lifespan, and more frequent occurrences of the same issues you intended to highlight, and then some. It is a junk engine. While it can be fixed, to do so costs $$$, which the OP would be better off putting into his superannuation.
    Roads?.. Where we're going, we don't need roads...

  8. #8
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    3.9L V8 Heads on 3.5L Block - Which Head Bolts to Use?3.9L V8 Heads on 3.5L Block - Which Head Bolts to Use?3.9L V8 Heads on 3.5L Block - Which Head Bolts to Use?3.9L V8 Heads on 3.5L Block - Which Head Bolts to Use?

  9. #9
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    Mate that was a passionate response. ZF box in D3 and D4....I know it's not MB but a good example of so called German Engineering excellence in action.

    Look I know Rover V8's have issues. But keep them from running at silly high temps for omissions and no dramas. I have a D1 3.9 with 380,000 and never touched the motor. Runs like.a.dream and still pulls well. My brother's 3.9 D1 500,000 when he sold it all original motor and ran smoothly but lost a little bit of punch but still quite acceptable. I replaced my head gaskets on my D2 and used ARP studs and inline thermostat. Runs cool and I expect the motor to behave like the cooler running D1s now.

    And, let's not forget how cheap it is to completely.reco a rover V8 should you wish to compared to twin OHC exotics.

    Cheers

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilipA View Post
    First question is are the 3.9 heads composite gasket type or steel gasket type as the deck of the composite type is higher ie the combustion chamber is smaller.
    Composite gasket on composite heads steel gasket on steel heads.
    I really don't know if it matters what type of bolts you use.
    I have used stock non stretch and also ARP studs.

    I had leaks at the ends using Ehlring gaskets and was told by "experts" to use their you beaut gaskets which is what I did and used ARP studs, and the bloke who bought it from me blew a head gasket.

    I personally like the ARP studs and I think if doing it again would use them again. (heaven forbid , I am sick of changing head gaskets) They are easy to get into the back as they have a hex hole in the top of the stud which you can put in after the head goes on.
    IMHO the cause of the leaking ends is that the blocks relax over time and heat /cool cycles and become a little convex. I rebuilt one in Saudi and had to get it line bored and decked , or the leaking ends will just come back after a while as it did with my 3.9 RRC.
    Regards Philip A
    G'day PhilipA,

    Thank you for your reply, and sorry for my late reply. The 3.9 heads are definitely suited to composite head gaskets. I don't have them on hand at the moment, but i remember comparing them to some early 3.5 heads and they were a lot thinner/had a visibly smaller combustion chamber. I can't remember how much thinner they were, but it could be measured using a ruler. From memory they are 10 bolt heads.

    The 3.5 failed head in question is from an early disco. I took them off that motor and put them into my car (1984 110 with original block). 45,000 km later it lost compression in cylinder 2. My engine was due for a rebuild, so i fully rebuilt the 3.5 disco motor that i had. I had a machinist install new cam bearings, line bore the bottom end, bore the cylinders 20 thou, and install new pistons on the conrods. I was hoping to put the 3.9 heads on the motor at that time, but they were not ready and time was critical, so i put the 3.5 heads back on. It is now 43,000 km later and it has started leaking coolant at the ends. Considering the work done on the block, and the head failing at the same mileage, i would assume it is the head that is warped.

    Thanks,

    Edward

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