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M380 (Unique Issues) If you have a unique issue with your M380 model coach and it can't be answered in one of the other forums here, then this is where you can list it.....list your M380 Parts here too.

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  #1  
Old 05-15-2012
cmillsap
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Default M380 Blown Head Gasket

M380 Blown Head Gasket

I do not have an issue with my engine’s head gasket but after reading about several members having blown head gaskets on the ISL 400 engine in their M380, I was concerned that this may be an inherent problem with that particular engine and someday I may have the same problem.

Although it defied logical thinking, my initial thoughts were that it may be prudent to go ahead and have the OEM head gasket replaced with a new one as a preventative measure. After conversations with Service Advisors at several Cummins Service Centers, I was convinced that was not the proper approach.

First off, the cost to replace a head gasket alone ran about $3000. Add another $2000 if the head needs to be replaced.

One particular conversation I had with the Service Advisor (Lon) at Cummins Rocky Mountain, Las Vegas location convinced me that I should not replace a perfectly good and working head gasket.

He stated that they service all of the 100s of vehicles that Las Vegas uses for their public services such as transit busses, utilities and trash trucks totaling 1000s of service intervals annually. Most are equipped with the Cummins ISL 400 engine. He stated that the instances of blown head gaskets on an ISL 400 would not be more than 2 or 3 in that same time frame and that would not be an unusual high number or out of line with other usual or needed repairs.

I think the best approach to preventing extreme costs associated with a blown head gasket is not to allow your engine to overheat and watch your coolant level and listen for any unusual noise such as a low tick coming from the engine when running. If you have to add coolant or your low coolant alarm comes on; check for coolant leakage on the engine around the head gasket and in your engine oil. Also if you find these symptoms of a blown head gasket; do not start the engine or drive it to a service center. Have your coach towed or hauled as this may prevent a more costly repair.

Chuck
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Old 05-15-2012
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Chuck,

Possibly an oil analysis may help with preventative maintenance & give a clue to a defective head gasket ???
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Old 05-15-2012
cmillsap
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Originally Posted by Bill Pape View Post
Chuck,

Possibly an oil analysis may help with preventative maintenance & give a clue to a defective head gasket ???
Right Bill,

A good time to do so is at each oil change. Many service centers have an on site oil analysis lab and can perform the service for you. Most Speedco locations have that service.

Chuck
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Old 05-15-2012
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Wow!! While I have never replaced a head gasket on a ISL 400, $3,000 seems a bit pricey to me. I would suggest keeping an eye on things like: the engine oil (color and level), engine sounds, engine operating temps, engine exhaust for unusual color or amount, and checking the coolant with the test strips periodically.

This could be like other engine issues on a variety of engines out there. Some will have the problem but others will not. You might be a "lucky" one and not ever see the issue.

That is all that comes to mind right now.

Good luck.
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Old 05-15-2012
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Originally Posted by cmillsap View Post
M380 Blown Head Gasket

If you have to add coolant or your low coolant alarm comes on; check for coolant leakage on the engine around the head gasket and in your engine oil.[/COLOR]

Chuck
Chuck- thoughtful, sound wisdom, IMHO. If you are losing coolant, it is not a "normal" event. Over the course of the past year- around 20K miles- my coolant has remained at the same level. This is as much a function of having a good pressure cap and tight hose clamps as it is a sound engine. Chuck makes a great point in that if you are losing coolant, it's best to find out how- and very soon! Oil testing is only around $15 and usually will show a seeping head gasket long before you've burned a hole in the head.

Here are two great labs for ordering kits- I've tried both and have been extremely pleased with the analysis and turnaround.

http://www.analaboratories.com/commonroot/default.aspx

http://www.blackstone-labs.com/?gcli...FQjf4Aodfi82jw
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Old 05-15-2012
Coach Driver Coach Driver is offline
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A lot of good information here, however, I'll try to fill in some of the blanks. I have the ISL 400 8.9L in my coach and just had the head gasket replaced.

First, the replacement was performed at a Cummins Service Center, costing $2,100. The head was inspected and found to be fine.

Second, there was no coolant found in the oil and none was leaking.

Third, there had been no indication of a problem when checking engine temp, oil pressure, sounds, etc.

The only indication I had a problem was a very small oil leak at the point where the head and block meet. At first, that was even difficult to determine where the oil was coming from. The issue that caught my eye was a couple of drops of oil which had dripped under the engine after an extended run.

After all the work, it was concluded that the cause of the problem was a headbolt not meeting torque specs.

I hope this helps those with this engine along with what has already been posted.

Doug
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Old 05-15-2012
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Originally Posted by bwinter1946 View Post
Wow!! While I have never replaced a head gasket on a ISL 400, $3,000 seems a bit pricey to me.
Good luck.
Hey Brad,

Great West Truck in Kingman, AZ quoted 20hrs labor @ $130/hr plus parts.
Since labor is the largest part of the cost, I guess the total price will depend on each mechanic's labor rate and how quickly they can finish the job.

Chuck
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Old 05-15-2012
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Here's a little more to what Coach Driver said. I have Road Relay and to the best of my knowledge and Road Relay's my engine has never overheated. There has never been any water in the oil, and l have never seen one drop of oil leaking from anywhere. But halfway home in Missouri one evening we noticed a popping sound in the back bedroom at 70mph down the interstate. Limped into a Cummins center 25 miles away (luckily). Two days and a couple grand later I'm on the road again. Point being, this thing isn't necessarily sending out 'notices of default'. With the radio going and some conversation you might not notice the 'popping' until there's a nice grove cut in the head or the block or both. $24,000.00
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Old 05-15-2012
cmillsap
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Originally Posted by hooverg View Post
Here's a little more to what Coach Driver said. I have Road Relay and to the best of my knowledge and Road Relay's my engine has never overheated. There has never been any water in the oil, and l have never seen one drop of oil leaking from anywhere. But halfway home in Missouri one evening we noticed a popping sound in the back bedroom at 70mph down the interstate. Limped into a Cummins center 25 miles away (luckily). Two days and a couple grand later I'm on the road again. Point being, this thing isn't necessarily sending out 'notices of default'. With the radio going and some conversation you might not notice the 'popping' until there's a nice grove cut in the head or the block or both. $24,000.00
Garry,

Did the mechanic mention that any of the head bolts were loose, cracked or not torqued to specifications? I am not a diesel mechanic but this happening so quickly would indicate to me that maybe the head lost it specified torque to the engine block? Did they install all new head bolts on your engine during the repair?

The point I am trying to make here is that this problem with blown head gaskets may not be due to a faulty OEM head gasket but could be caused by faulty head bolts or improper torqueing.

I'm going to find the torque specifications for the head bolts on an ISL 400 and re-torque them on my engine.

Chuck
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Old 05-15-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmillsap View Post
Great West Truck in Kingman, AZ quoted 20hrs labor @ $130/hr plus parts. Since labor is the largest part of the cost, I guess the total price will depend on each mechanic's labor rate and how quickly they can finish the job.
Many times these 'quotes' come from a "flat-rate shop manual" (or nowadays software). You're gonna pay the $2,600.00 even if the mechanic can finish the job in 4 hours. It's how they make a little extra profit for the Christmas bonus.
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