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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
About a year ago, every now and then (once every 3 months) when I would start my car it would run HORRIBLE. Seemed like it was firing on one cylinder at best...terrible vibrations, but no CEL. To fix it, I would turn off the car and restart it until it started smoothly. Once it started smoothly, it would run/drive just fine...never had a problem after it was started.

About two weeks ago, this phenomenon started happening more and more often. And it took more tries to get it to start normally, but still once it was started smoothly, it ran great, drove home fine.

Then this past saturday it happened really bad, I kept re-starting the car...but after a few times of starting and running rough...I couldn't even get it to start at all, it would just crank over...but then after about a dozen tries...sure enough started right up, drove home no problem.

The last time was Sunday, came out of the store..tried starting it ran rough, shut it off and tried again....and I couldn't get it start...and one of the times I was turning it over...there was a "clunk" and then it would NOT turn over any more. It sound like there is some type of interference :eek: ...the battery is really strong and when I turn the key there is instantly a heavy clunk from the engine and it won't turn.

This is NOT the little click you get when your battery is dead...this sound like a piston is running into something.

What happened???...I find the facts that there was never a check engine light, and the fact it would seem to "work itself" out in the past to be very intriguing. Not too many options...could a valve have somehow fallen down into a cylinder? I've heard of valve seats falling out...but would that intefere to the point of jamming the engine?
 

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oh yes, thats most likely the issue. don't even try to start the motor anymore, have the head pulled and check for damage.
 

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Sounds like a valve seat drop almost certainly. The missfire every now and then was the seat, or a portion of the seat, falling and keeping the valve open. Then the valve was able to reseat the valve seat and all is fine for awhile. Finally yours probably fell into the cylinder and it can fracture the piston. Ask me how I know. Like the other post stated it sounds like that is what happened.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Oh good point...so that would explain the "fixing itself"...the valve seat would re-seat....hmmm...fun! New project time...

One problem...this is my main transportation :(

So I've replaced the timing belt myself, but that is as far as I've ripped into this engine. How much more of a pain is it to get the head off?
Remove manifold and intake? and then head bolts?
 

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The last time I removed the head on my car, I left the manifolds on, it made the head a bit easier to lift off the block.

Casey
 

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Hi folks,

I am newb here. My experience is almost identical to the originator of this thread. My mechanic said that it was most likely that it threw a rod and recommended replacing the engine with a used one. This isn't cheap! I have a 2001 sedan automatic. Any thoughts? I'm not sure I even know where to start at this point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So, I took the head off over the weekend. Yep...intake valve seat slipped, exhaust valve hooked the intake, piston came up and "SLAMO!" broke it off. 8O I love the car, but not worth the headache of finding a good used engine when I can get a running diplicate car for $1500.


 

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wow, thats the first I've seen the valve broken like that.
 

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Big6ft6 said:
So, I took the head off over the weekend. Yep...intake valve seat slipped, exhaust valve hooked the intake, piston came up and "SLAMO!" broke it off. 8O I love the car, but not worth the headache of finding a good used engine when I can get a running diplicate car for $1500.


I am not sure exactly of what I am looking at here...Sorry, the learning curve is kind of steep for me. Are there any online tutorials that you could recommend? I definitely need to improve and understand the jargon.
 

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the first picture is straight down onto the piston, which is still in the block. there is part of the valve on it, broken in pieces.

the second picture is the head, missing the valve that broke off when the valve seat fell out.

you may be able to find some basic engine info on howstuffworks.com
 

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pextor said:
the first picture is straight down onto the piston, which is still in the block. there is part of the valve on it, broken in pieces.

the second picture is the head, missing the valve that broke off when the valve seat fell out.

you may be able to find some basic engine info on howstuffworks.com
Thank you pextor. I appreciate the explanation and the tip!
Now I'm off to do a little (or a lot) of research!
 

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That is actually one of the least damaging valve seat drops I have seen on the forum. How bad are the gouges on the piston? You could probably get away with just putting a reman head on the engine. You can get them for about $300 on ebay. You could probably buy the head an all the tools and gaskets needed to install it for under $500.
 

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have any pictures of that piston without all the valve pieces laying on it? you can probably get away with just throwing another head on it

yeah #3 cylinder has a lot of oil in there, did the car smoke or burn oil previously?

looks like you got lucky, damage is minimal
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The reason the damage isn't too bad is becuase it happened while I was cranking the engine..not while the engine was running.

Also notice the head bolt that broke off in the block while I was removing the head.

No the engine wasn't smoking at all or consuming oil prior to this. What is in #3 is mostly coolant from removing the head (just looks dark in photo)

So I need two opinions from everyone..
1) Can I get the stuck head bolt out?
2) Does the damage to the piston below look bad enough to scrap the engine? Or light enough to just replace the head?

 

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It looks like the head bolt is sticking up a little on the most recent pic. Soak it with some PB-blaster and let it sit for several hours or more. Then grab it with some vice grips and try to remove it. If you can't get a grip on it then use a screw extractor.

I think you could probably get away with cleaning the piston up with a dremel. Another thing to check is to spin the motor over and see if the piston still moves up and down. One guy had minimal damage but the rod broke off the piston.
 

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Be careful. I have a 97 that dropped a valve seat and had much more damage than yours. I slapped a head on it and it has been fine for almost 2 years. One month ago I picked up a 98 Sport with a dropped valve seat, (for 200 bucks). I tore it apart and the piston had only minor damage. I rotated the engine, checked the cylinder walls, and everything seemed fine. Well to make a long story short it ran for about 1 minute then started knocking, lightly at first then it got real bad so I shut it off. I thought maybe I had a stray piece of valve seat that I had left in the intake manifold. I was picking at a loose fragment on piston 4 and it fell down into the cylinder.I dropped the pan and was greeted by a bent connecting rod, a scored cylinder wall, and tons of pieces of piston 4. Goes to show that you never can tell. Make sure you take the time to inspect the piston very carefully before you put it back together. :mad:
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Forddrive; Yeah, that was what mine was doing towards the end too...don't keep running it. The ticking noise means the valve seat has re-seated improperly and with compbustion, it has been "press-fit" by cylinder pressure in the wrong position (see my second pic).

The ticking wasn't quite as loud on mine but I could definitly hear it. before I knew what it was, I put a mechanics stethescope on the head trying to pinpoint the noise, but it was impossible, in fact it didn't even sound like it was coming from the head.

But now that it failed, and I have the engine apart, it is clear that valve seat was making the "ticking" noise. Without using a stethescope I was able to tell it was coming from the intake side of the head on the driver's end.

I'd print this thread and show your mechanic. Ask him how much he'd charge to pull the head to verify. If it is just the valve seat order a head off e-bay ($350 with all gaskets etc) and aks him to put it on. It would be cheaper than a new engine. (labor should be similar but parts cheaper)
 
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