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So a little back ground on my truck: bought it with 116k miles truck was a fantastic runner, great condition, very happy with my purchase. Fast forward to a 40 degree day at 117.7k miles i get a low coolant warning but not overheating so i finish what im doing go home let it cool off and top it off with coolant thinking i burped a bubble through. Fast forward to next day an hour into driving coolant light comes on again, check oil good, and notice the surge side of the tank is fullish. Finish my trip with the warning coming on when turned on or off after driving a while. Thats what its doing. Videos below. Truck is a 15.5 ccsb 3500 srw.


What is the best most proven way to determine a bad headgasket or egr cooler? Also debating bringing it to a shop to have it diagnosed. Went to the local gm dealer to ask them about that and any active recalls on my truck and dude couldnt figure out the picture on my phone had the vin on it(door jamb). He said its 110 an hour and should take an hour, does that sound right? Is the stealership even the best place to go?

Links to what its doing
 

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Get the vehicle back to burping coolant, then do the following;

Take the two nuts off the EGR cooler studs that connect the up-pipe to the EGR cooler (near the fire wall, don't burn yourself!). Stick a screw driver between them so there is a gap (don't harm the metal gasket). You shouldn't drive it like this (you're basically robbing the turbo of exhaust pressure), but if it's still burping at idle and there's no coolant dripping from the EGR cooler (where the screw driver is) then it's head gaskets.

9/10 times this is a head gasket, and the relatively firm hose at night helps confirm that. You should be able to pinch the hose shut with two fingers when cold.

Dealerships will always be the most expensive option, and not necessarily the best. Highly dependent on each individual dealer. This is a job you can do yourself if you have a good set of tools, space, and time. Probably for under $1000 depending on what else you replace while everything is apart. Most shops will charge $5-7k. It's about 50 hours of work for first time. No matter who does the work, replace the head bolts with ARP studs instead, or you will have this problem again at some point later.
 

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Its head gaskets. The hard hose in the AM is pretty definitive. Mine only bubbled after being heat soaked and while towing. Several tests for combustion air in the overflow showed negative even though both gaskets were blown.
The EGR cooler is a long shot but is worth a quick check just because its cheap and easy. I have a perfectly good used one that was EGR blocked almost since new, I tried replacing it before I finally bit the bullet and replaced the HG's

As stated above, it would be a good time to have the injectors cleaned and tested as well as replace any bad glow plugs. I had a new water pump put in mine since they didnt charge labor for it since the motor was already torn down. Studs are a good investment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Your guys answer just kind proved what i figured, but i could never get a straight answer. Appreciate some honesty on that, especially from others who have dealt with it.

Already planned on ordering a kit with head studs, as i figure only wanna do it once and the general consensus is the torque to yield head studs is partially the problem with the headgasket failures.

Now is there a recommended how to on changing head gaskets on a duramax? Or what manual covers the best way to do it? Mostly looking for a list of torque specs. Also as far as the Heads go, how likely are they to end up needing some machine work? Trying to make this process go as smoothly as possible, and would like to have a machinest planned out if i need one.
 

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Now is there a recommended how to on changing head gaskets on a duramax? Or what manual covers the best way to do it? Mostly looking for a list of torque specs. Also as far as the Heads go, how likely are they to end up needing some machine work? Trying to make this process go as smoothly as possible, and would like to have a machinest planned out if i need one.
About 6 paragraphs down will answer your question about having your heads checked.
https://www.littlepowershop.com/how...duramax-head-gaskets-and-what-to-do-about-it/

Torque specs for non OEM studs are different like ARP studs. Follow torque specs of your kit.
http://www.dieselplace.com/forum/63...iesel-engine/417856-arp-head-stud-torque.html

OEM Torque Specs
http://www.dieselplace.com/forum/63...11-2016-lml/426142-fastener-torque-specs.html
 

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Also searching if you don't pull the cab the trans has to come out. Its to gain access to the EGR/cooler mounting bracket for removal and remove the turbo down pipe (well relocate) and EGR exhaust intakes and a coolant pipe to the back of the engine.
 

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Also searching if you don't pull the cab the trans has to come out. Its to gain access to the EGR/cooler mounting bracket for removal and remove the turbo down pipe (well relocate) and EGR exhaust intakes and a coolant pipe to the back of the engine.
I know the LML's a little different compared to the earlier LMM and older, but I don't think I've ever heard anyone say the transmission needs to come out to do head gaskets.

According to sinister diesel's how-to for egr cooler removal, they did everything with cab on, trans in. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct...EGRD-LML.pdf&usg=AOvVaw2QUPKA7JdelJ_jgCVOZOBT

Empire087 said:
Now is there a recommended how to on changing head gaskets on a duramax? Or what manual covers the best way to do it? Mostly looking for a list of torque specs.
There's a lot of how to on almost every duramax forum, a lot don't have pictures anymore since photobucket changed their policies.

This post has a subset of tools you'll need; http://www.dieselplace.com/forum/63...d-gasket-shopping-list-tools-tips-tricks.html

Here's a complete tear down video of an LBZ, but a majority of it will be the same.

You don't have to remove the cab or fenders, or even the turbo. A lot of people choose to though. I replaced mine with all of that still in/attached.

Take lots of pictures of each part before removing! You will be referencing them at some point when putting them back together.

Empire087 said:
Also as far as the Heads go, how likely are they to end up needing some machine work? Trying to make this process go as smoothly as possible, and would like to have a machinest planned out if i need one
YOU WILL NEED TO MACHINE THE HEADS! Do not skip this step! When changing mine, the machinist said he has yet to see a duramax head that was not warped. A lot of people will say "only take off 0.005 otherwise the valves need to be re-cut". DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM. It works for a lot of people, and for the unlucky few it means you do the job twice. Have the machinist take off enough to get the head flat, and re-cut valves if necessary. Prices vary wildly by shop. I was quoted between $400 and $2500. In the end I paid $500 for resurfacing, pressure testing, valve cutting, spring shimming, and valve guide seal replacement on both heads.

Edit: forgot to mention, if you plan on removing the glow plugs yourself instead of letting the machine shop do it, buy one of these https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008M23A5U/ref=twister_B00HWMEZ1Y?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1
It makes removing the glow plugs a breeze and won't snap them off.
 

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Google "Duramax Can a LML head gasket be done in frame? You choose Cab or trans.
http://www.dieselplace.com/forum/63...ion-2011-2016-lml/475689-lml-headgaskets.html
If you know how to use Google there's a lot more on other sites.
First hit on "Duramax Can a LML head gasket be done in frame?", third post.
Can a LML head gasket be done in frame ? - Chevy and GMC Duramax Diesel Forum

I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm saying the cab/trans doesn't appear to need to be touched, although I can see how it'd make the job a lot easier. Down side is almost no one has the ability to remove either of those things in their garage.

Also, this post (from the same google search) is exactly what you posted above, and what I replied to saying Sinister Diesel was able to remove the EGR cooler without touching the cab or trans. So I have to wonder, did the person in that post really need to remove the trans, or was there other factors at play such as lack of tools, big hands/arms not allowing reach, not enough of something? Image 17 of the PDF I linked and you can see the cooler is out and the up-pipe EGR connection is exposed.

I've heard people say the transmission rear mount needs to be removed/loosened to get the transfer case out due to the one bottom bolt. Yet somehow I was able to R/R my case without touching anything but the T-case mounting bolts. I've been told "you need XYZ" way too many times to assume this is true in all cases.

Head gasket jobs are not fun/easy/quick no matter what generation duramax it is. I'm going to research the LML head gasket R/R process a little more. If I find the definite answer of cab/trans removal I'll post it up.
 

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Duramax cab removal in a (well equipped) farm shop.
 

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I usually remove the cab. Takes me around 2.5 to 3 hrs. Nice thing about taking the cab off is the cooling stack goes up and out of the way also. Usually remove the bumper also. It's so much easier on the back. I have done numerous head gaskets on Duramaxes and have yet to have my machine shop tell me the heads need anything more then surfaced and pressure tested. My machine shop expenses for Duramax heads usually end up around $225. The guy could do heads in his sleep and I totally trust him. Always go back with studs. As to the glow plugs...I usually spray with penetrating oil and let them set for a bit then hit them gently with a small Milwaukee 3/8 drive impact and I've never had one break off. I've changed a boatload of them. Usually put dielectric grease on the threads when going back in.
 
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I too am in the middle of this blown HG issue. I had LOW COOLANT message on DIC and bit of what I deemed to be HG material etc in the coolant. The AM hard upper rad hose when cold was also a symptom. It took three trips to the dealer to convince them it was head gaskets.

I don't know much about the work itself but I did just return from the dealer this afternoon and they had both the bumper off and the cab raised in the air. Its like a bomb went off. Parts everywhere. The tech advised me that the injection lines (excuse the term) also have to be replaced when doing this as some plastic part is torque to yield inside and must be replaced.

I asked about the crappy bunch of head gaskets and how does one know if they are getting a good set of replacements?

- The answer was GM doesn't know what ones exactly were bad so I could be getting the same batch put in. Really????????

willydmax - Do you know part numbers for known GOOD head gaskets or info to assist the OP and myself? I mentioned ARP head studs to them but they insisted that nothing was wrong with the GM head bolts....
 

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According to Kennedy diesel the LML head gaskets are a cheaper design and the LBZ,LMM riveted style are better gaskets. I don't know part numbers but you could email or call John Kennedy at kennedydiesel.com and ask his opinion. That's where I usually get my head gasket kits. Good luck:thumb:
 

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The thing "wrong" with gm head bolts is they're torque to yield and have a lesser final torque than arp head studs. They have excellent clamping force when torqued properly, but arp studs are reusable and set to a higher torque. This helps stop the gasket from fatiguing and letting cylinder gasses squeeze by the gasket material.

This is all anecdotal and I have no proof, but I think most people's opinion is using gm bolts is asking to have the problem again down the road. Arp head studs don't have nearly the negative track record stock head bolts do.
 

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I too am in the middle of this blown HG issue. I had LOW COOLANT message on DIC and bit of what I deemed to be HG material etc in the coolant. The AM hard upper rad hose when cold was also a symptom. It took three trips to the dealer to convince them it was head gaskets.

I don't know much about the work itself but I did just return from the dealer this afternoon and they had both the bumper off and the cab raised in the air. Its like a bomb went off. Parts everywhere. The tech advised me that the injection lines (excuse the term) also have to be replaced when doing this as some plastic part is torque to yield inside and must be replaced.

I asked about the crappy bunch of head gaskets and how does one know if they are getting a good set of replacements?

- The answer was GM doesn't know what ones exactly were bad so I could be getting the same batch put in. Really????????

willydmax - Do you know part numbers for known GOOD head gaskets or info to assist the OP and myself? I mentioned ARP head studs to them but they insisted that nothing was wrong with the GM head bolts....
If its being done under warranty they probably won't agree to use studs. If you are paying for it, I would absolutely, definitely, 100% insist on studs. Tell them you are happy to bring them a set, all they have to do is put them in. I would also insist on sending the heads to the machine shop for surfacing.

I had a chevy dealer do my head gaskets several years ago. According to them, no machining needed and the OEM bolts are fine. Guess what....... 2 years later I blew another head gasket. Did them right 2 years ago. Machining and studs. I tow heavier now and also have a hotter tune, and no more head gasket issues since......
 
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From what I understand the LLY HG issue was due to a weakness in the ring at the cylinder edge. Both of mine were blown in exactly the same place, a mirror image of each other when put together, that could not be a coincidence. Supposedly the gaskets were changed late in the 2005 run of LLY, too late for me. Whatever third world sweatshop they sourced them from probably saved them $2 each.
 

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With cab off installing studs will not cost the tech much extra time vs head bolts. I don't like regular head bolts because of the sequence you have to go through to install them. Studs are much simpler. You could give him a $100 cash for the extra hassle.
 

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I tried Kennedydiesel.com and she don't exist!

Any other info on him?

Really concerned here that any of us needing this fix will just end up with another crappy set of HG. Or is it the head bolts? Who really knows the issue? My dealer couldn't say for sure...I was just met with a 'it has to be going' somewhere' response. Couldn't say for sure it was the HG.
 

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Sorry...scratch that...first time didn't work...said 'under construction'. Found the site this time!
 

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I'm definitely dealing the truck now. Just ordered a 2018. Yes, under warranty they will prob not agree to studs....the response I got was 'theres nothing wrong with the GM head bolts'.

I can't hold on to it and trust that it will be okay - I will always be questioning it. Not to mention the fact that all that 'other' stuff taken apart will lean me towards suspicion of further issues down the road....
 
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