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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited by Moderator)
8 Days ago, I agreed to work on my uncle Chevy S10. He's had it for 10 years. It's his baby. Well it's been neglected as far as Maintenance goes. Originally it was just head gaskets. This turned into a nightmare. But 8 days later about to go on the first test drive. 272,XXX Orginal miles.
I've only ever swapped out my buddies engine in his 98 blazer 4 years ago. That's was simple, easy, and even in the dirt with no electric tools, took me 4 days to swap it. So not much experience with the 4.3. Just plug and play experience lol. Well as of right now, needless to say I know this engine better then the *** I learned on "Hondas"
So I told him 700$ bucks in labor I will do the headgaskets. Pay me half now, and half when I'm done. So i start doing the thang on a hope and a prayer, im not the type to watch a video to see how to do it. I know what to do cause it鈥檚 all the same. Every engine. Air, fuel, spark and the right timing/ratio. .....im looking up is torque sequence and torque spec fir the head bolts...then if i run into something that stumps me, yes im pulling my phone out then researching it....well as I'm working... I do notice the cooling system was really rusted out. Like it was the worse I ever seen. I documented this whole shabang. I should have diagnosed it further when I noticed the rusty cooling system but I was trying to rush, cause I'm on probation. Not supposed to leave my county. ..trying to get my license back, ride a bicycle right now, ...just got out of jail, my lifes crazy but im trying. ... Anyway. Me trying to rush the job, I messed some ** up. I crushed the oil pressure switch by accident, it was just so fragile, I was fighting with the 3 exhaust flange bolts on each side, from never being touched in 27 years. Rusted, seized...(least I thought they were) so I cut the exhaust on the driver side underneath right before it crosses into the passenger side. I was just struggling trying to have access to the headbolts that were located on the outside of the head. I did manage to get the heads off with both exhaust manifolds still in the way. Just very time consuming, an aggravating. Eventually pulled the heads off tho, an my God when I did. My jaw dropped. The passages were the coolant flows thru was so gunked up, the ports looked blocked as if the coolant wasn't able to flow like it should. Made sense to me, like ok looks like original headgaskets, an the blockage caused headgasket failure...I thought that's what happened...Not only were both heads cracked, but after I finally put all the back together. .......Literally I can't help it but when I'm doing stuff like this I have bad ocd....everything was so disgusting, the worse case of corroded, gunk, I've ever seen. We should of just swapped his engine out. But he already paid 900$ for rebuilt heads from Napa. So the deal was done. I cleaned everything. The intake manifold, the fuel injectors, the brackets for the pulleys, the valve covers, the throttle body, etc...my goal was to get her to breathe again, to get the fuel flowing to the best I could, to have strong spark to the best I could. I was in the sun, in the dirt. Working with what I had, kinda regretting the situation like damn. I did so much extra . Like cleaning everything. I mean I could of easily put the nasty, gunked up rocker arms, the clogged push rods, the throttle body that had so much crud in it. Idek how it was functioning along with a lot of other . Like the crankshaft sensor. I will post pictures and videos if I'm allowed idk this is my first forum iv ever signed up on. An it's only because of this truck an some information I was needing. But, the dirtiest iv ever had to do. To me as a man, and my name on the truck. No way I'm putting grimy, nasty parts into those fresh heads. Can't do it. Wouldn't be able to sleep at night. Now yeah I cut the exhaust, oil the sending unit up and also up both dip sticks. Bent them, an now its a * to check the fluids. Again that was due to me using a prybar as leverage while having access to the outside head bolts. I'm gonna try an fix them tomorrow but we will see. I did all this work, put everything together, an the last step...that I like to do is add ccoolant.Well I added water first obviously cause I'm testing **. Not trying to waste money on coolant for it to leak out been there done that. Learned so much thus far working on vehicles. Anyway so I add the water and I heard water pissing out. I couldn't believe wtf I was seeing tho, cause I'm unfamiliar with v6 and v8 engines. I love Fwd, familiar with fwd vehicles. Used to be scared to work on anything else but fwd. Nowadays I ain't scared to work on anything. Cause it's all the same.. So I'm looking an really was like wtf is going on here? I didn't know ...but at the same time... I did know....... that this job was far from over. I found out why...the drivers side freeze plug underneath the motor mount was leaking. Iv never changed one but always heard it was hard af...this specific scenario was the worse of the worse. I wanted to give up so many times, but I didn't. I pushed thru thick and thin. I learned so much an now I can say I really do love these engines. The design, "except the location of freeze plugs lol, the durability, and the simplicity of the valvetrain, first time doing headgaskets, valve adjustment and freeze plug on this truck. More so v6 or v8 engines. I have fallen in love with this truck. Not gonna lie has. Has me starstruck, only because of how much work I did, an just the satisfaction of hearing the engine run so smoothly compared to before. I brought her back to life. I'm proud of myself, grateful for the learning experience and have a new profound love for the 4.3L.
To me, My 2 favorite Brands are Hondas and chevys. They are top Dawgs lol. Much love to everyone in the s10 gang.
I got off track lmao but what would yal charge him for the extra work I did, as far as cleaning everything and the freeze plug job. Be mindful of the exhaust I cut, the sensor I broke, a the dip sticks I**** up. Turns out my uncle had a 1/2 drive Dewalt I could of used to get the exhaust flange bolts out but didn't realize that until it was too late. Doing the freeze plug job I took the same exhaust I was having trouble with off with that Dewalt. An it was so easy it made me sick to my stomach. He likes the way it sounds tho lmao he tried saying he wants glass packs on her 馃ぃ
Any advice on what I should charge him lmk cause I'm lost. I'm not good with pricing, I always lowball myself, I have a good heart an it me over in situations ike this. Please someone, anyone, if you took the time to read all this I appreciate you an would love some input. 1st resr drive in the morning, after I put the control arm and **** back together, but during that first test drive, I already know he's gonna be smiling ear to ear. An after that drive he's gonna hit me with how much. 馃 God Bless and thank you.
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Premium Member
2003 Sonoma SLS ext. cab 4.3L / 4x4
2,699 Posts
Well, that's certainly quite the tedious narrative. You'd be far better off if you consolidated all of the multiple posts about this project into one thread. It will benefit you and the members that are responding. It's tough to keep up with what you are asking/ doing when the information is spread out over many posts (4 so far, and counting). And some of the photos/ information/ inquiries are duplicate/ repetitive which only compounds the confusion. And based on the photo of the lower portion of the engine, it appears that there has been some substantial oil leaking for quite a while. FWIW, it looks like that engine needs a lot more attention than what has been done so far - like a thorough top to bottom evaluation, especially in light of the stated mileage.

Also, I would challenge the statement that everything is 'the same'. Granted, the basics of a drive train are pretty much the same, but every vehicle's drive train/ engine has it's specifics (good and bad) and should be addressed accordingly. A FSM (Factory Service Manual) is really a golden resource to have (for any vehicle), and if referenced before undertaking a project that can make the work easier, rather than 'hindsight' research. I found out long long ago that a "hope and a prayer" approach often times resulted in additional (and preventable) complications to resolving a problem/ situation. This perspective is offered as an observation, that might help to reduce future surprises, headaches, frustrations, and potentially unnecessary additional expense.

4,437 Posts
Any advice on what I should charge him
well did you tell him you were going to do the extra work?
well A A Ron you done messed up.
tell the guy to buy you dinner and move on..lessened learned

253 Posts
BurgerKing2Life hit the nail on the head, BUT it won't hurt to ask for what's fair. $1500? I price everything individually and see if stacking the jobs together made it easier, if so, you can discount what is fair for the convenience. Also, if you're working all day on something, choose a minimum of what you need paid per day. Say 400. You are skilled and have tools to pay for. Then add up how many days it took you, say 3 days. That's at least 1200. 400 per day X 3 days = 1200. If he makes a fuss, before he can get riled up I'd say "don't worry about it" real quick, and he'll understand. You did something excessive and that's not his fault. Had you asked and gotten permission, it's not excessive. Without asking, you'll never know what his plans were, financially, and for the long term goal of the truck. Some people think you can neglect and abuse things, that never works out, whether your uncle can be convinced of the reasoning behind your thoroughness, only you know.

In the future, you ask a person's budget, and or whether they want a warranty, and what price is the cutoff for complications where you need to call them. "If needed, I can do very affordable work cutting corners, but in that case I can't offer a warranty" and that covers your butt and allows you to understand what is expected of you. I refuse to do sloppy work on other people's vehicles without them explicitly requesting it. Seized fasteners that add hours to the job? If they said they want to call the shots on every added step, call them up. They might not be able to afford that couple hundred extra for fighting with the broken fasteners. Better to have them pay you for what you did so far and save up to resume later, than not be paid at all or paid less than what you deserve. Never feel bad for asking for what you deserve (and likely NEED). The case varies for my family and friends, some people need the full blow because I know I've never seen their help and never will, and other people I love and will love within my abilities. Good work, and I hope things work out for you

10,868 Posts
A casual observation... Your uncle was spiked paying $900 for a set of heads.

AND - these are Vortec heads...

As far as pricing goes, call a local mechanic(s) and ask for an estimate to do a valve job on an S10 4.3.
Most mechanics use a "flat rate" estimating guide which (nowadays) is a computer program that gives you an hourly estimate to do jobs like this.
It takes into account problems you may encounter, includes cleaning time and disassembly/ assembly time.

Take into consideration: You spent a lot of extra time because you didn't have the best tools for the job, you were working in the dark (sometimes) and groveling in the dirt. Not exactly ideal conditions. I'm sure you know how many hours this would add to a job like this.
If you had a shop and all the power tools you needed, it would take about 2 hours to remove the heads, an hour or 2 to clean everything, and (maybe) 4 hours to reinstall the heads.
So, in an 8 hour day, barring any problems, you could have completed the job. Even then add 2 more hours for broken bolts and flushing the cooling system.
So, in 2 days, job completed.
This does not take into account cracked heads. That would add the extra time to locate and buy a set.

The freeze plug is a separate job.
Also, if you look at the rubber expansion plug it specifically says "DO NOT use sealant on this plug"

Not trying to be a d*ck, but looking "in" from what you posted, this is what you asked for(?)

Premium Member
2,698 Posts
Cut exhaust, bent dipstick tubes, broken oil pressure sensor, that's all on you.
Leaking freeze plugs, you should of called him to before touching it to let him know there was gonna be extra work involved and that was a good chance that caused the overheating and cracked heads.
Cleaning all the parts, yes some is gonna come with the job but most shops will put them in the parts washer and be done. Some extra cost involved.
As far as the $1200-1500 recommendation from above, no way. Book time is around 10.5 hours for a head gasket job. You can't add $500 to a job for stuff you want to charge for. If you were a shop and did this, good chance you would be eating the cost if you did not let the customer know when the problems/extra work arose.
Next time, try and keep the engine covered up when not working on it. Regardless if you changed the oil afterwards, still getting some dirt in there.

8/31/1897 - 4/29/2004
9,907 Posts
lmao these are the kinda trucks I buy for $300 and dismantle 馃槀 I got a buddy with a trailer gimme a holler. I鈥檒l come get it and stab a $250 blazer motor from pull a part down in it in a day.
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