Q: My 1997 4x4 Toyota Tacoma's V-6 has water in the oil. I guess it has a blown head gasket. I would like to fix this myself by using a Haynes manual, but I'm a little confused about taking apart the front pulleys and timing. Is there something I should watch for?

A: I haven't seen a recent version of a Haynes manual, but I've never been a big fan. A lot of generic and multiple model year info gets mixed together. Alldata seems to be a better format, but the most detailed information--including specific removal and replacement procedures--comes from the genuine Toyota service manual. Coolant in the oil is never a good thing, and you also need to be sure this isn't just moisture accumulating at the fill cap or dipstick. That can be considered normal. It may be a coolant leak past a head gasket into an oil pressure passage or directly into the crankcase through an oil-return galley. There could even be coolant seeping by the intake gasket. The only problem is that it can also come from a crack in a cylinder head or the engine block. Normal pressure testing for a bad head gasket leaking coolant into the compression chamber does not apply in this situation. So it requires disassembly and a detailed inspection. If you pulled the heads and saw no visual sign of a gasket failure, and there were no cracks or excessive warpage found by a machine shop, I'd be worried about reassembly at that point. The fear of a cracked block would be in the back of my mind. The next step would be to remove and deliver the engine block to a machinist for testing.

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