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Thread: What broke?

  1. #1
    DonTom
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    What broke?

    Yesterday morning, my relief (to do the day shift) at my night sinecure here called in from his cell phone.

    "Car broke down--see if you can find somebody else to relieve you".

    If I don't, I will have to be here at "work" for up to 26 hours! I have not done such a "work" shift since my army days.

    Anyway, I asked for the details, and he said he was on the freeway, going downhill, and first heard a noise that went "click, click, click", but the car (1995 Ford Probe, 2.0L Mazda engine, 101,000 miles) still ran fine. 20 seconds later, it went "BANG! BANG!, BANG!" and loud! Then it sounded like something fell off the car onto the freeway. Obvious loss of power. He took the next exit and the engine died on the exit. It would not restart.

    When he got out of the car, he notice oil all over the road and engine. It was dark, so he couldn't get a good look at stuff such as what fell from the car. This all happened at around 0530 hours when it was still dark.

    Any guesses on what broke?

    Not that it matters, he said he will junk the car.

    -Don- (San Francisco)


  2. #2
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: What broke?

    The oil all over the road does not bode well... I suspect major bottom end damage. At first, I thought it sounded like a cambelt went - and that may still be it - if it's an interference engine.

    Another possibility - and this has happened to me with a brand new press car - is the oil drain plug worked loose and the engine ran dry until it seized up/grenaded... either way, not good.


  3. #3
    DonTom
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    Re: What broke?

    "is the oil drain plug worked loose and the engine ran dry until it seized up/grenaded... either way, not good."

    But how would that put oil all over the engine? I think he meant top of engine, but I will have to ask him next week to be sure.

    I won't see him again until next week. I am off until Sunday night and may go to the Reno home after a nap. But I see it's only 20 F there right now. So much warmer here in SF.

    I can E-mail him the link to here. Perhaps he (Lee) will join in!

    -Don-

  4. #4
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: What broke?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom
    "is the oil drain plug worked loose and the engine ran dry until it seized up/grenaded... either way, not good."

    But how would that put oil all over the engine? I think he meant top of engine, but I will have to ask him next week to be sure.

    I won't see him again until next week. I am off until Sunday night and may go to the Reno home after a nap. But I see it's only 20 F there right now. So much warmer here in SF.

    I can E-mail him the link to here. Perhaps he (Lee) will join in!

    -Don-
    Well, if the oil (pressurized) was released while the car was moving, the wind (and engine fan) would spray it all over the place. But it could be that something came loose/broke on top - or even blasted through the cam cover/timing cover... it sounds awful in any case.... I would not count on a good prognosis!

    Yes, please send your co-worker the link and invite him to join - we'd love to have him...!

  5. #5
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    Re: What broke?

    You know that is exactly what happened to me when I threw a rod in one of my cars. It went bang, bang, bang, - the engine cut off, and a cocktail of engine coolant and oil were all over the road. I would venture to guess it was internal damage - thrown rod, serious crank damage, etc. since it came up so fast and the oil dropped out so quickly. I would say the block probably is cracked. If you lost a drainplug or had a slow engine oil leak the check engine light will come on before you start hearing noises.

    If it's what I suspect it will be a minimum of $5K for a replacement engine plus labor at a local shop to get this car back on the road. I hope I am wrong.

  6. #6

    Re: What broke?

    sometimes I wish that would happen to my SRT4.. I just want to be less one car right now .. lol
    I live in a van... DOWN BY THE RIVER

  7. #7
    DonTom
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    Re: What broke?

    "I hope I am wrong."

    My guess is that you're 100% correct. I have also blown rods, had something break right out from the bottom of the oil pan, leaving a large hole and oil all over the road. Another hint is that it happened while he was going downhill.
    Seems to me rods always break when going downhill. Where you going downhill when your rod broke? How many miles on the engine and what type? I have blown three rods total, two in my RV (400 CID) and one on a 1984 3/4 (305 CID) ton van. ALL were GM small block engines.

    Anyway, Lee towed the car home and he does know a bit about cars, engines, etc., so I am sure he will take a better look before he junks it.

    I already E-mailed him the link to this thread, so I am sure he will read it, if not also join in.

    -Don-

  8. #8
    DonTom
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    Re: What broke?

    "I just want to be less one car right now"

    I know the feeling, but I only have four cars, plus one pick up truck, one SUV, four motorcycles (six if electric motorcycles count), two boats (four if electric boats count too) at this time.

    -Don-

  9. #9
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: What broke?

    Sounds like he tossed a rod to me.

  10. #10
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    Re: What broke?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom
    "I hope I am wrong."

    My guess is that you're 100% correct. I have also blown rods, had something break right out from the bottom of the oil pan, leaving a large hole and oil all over the road. Another hint is that it happened while he was going downhill.
    Seems to me rods always break when going downhill. Where you going downhill when your rod broke? How many miles on the engine and what type? I have blown three rods total, two in my RV (400 CID) and one on a 1984 3/4 (305 CID) ton van. ALL were GM small block engines.

    Anyway, Lee towed the car home and he does know a bit about cars, engines, etc., so I am sure he will take a better look before he junks it.

    I already E-mailed him the link to this thread, so I am sure he will read it, if not also join in.

    -Don-
    Don,

    Believe it or not I was going up a steep hill at 25 - 30 mph, when the rod decided to declare its liberty. The engine was a 1982 (LU5) 305 (Trans Am) with only about 55K miles. The engine had not been abused I put Mobil One in it since 1990 on a regular basis. The engine expert who looked it over said he could find no problems with the internals, he said everything else inside the motor looked good. He said he had seen this before on the early 1980s 305 V8s since they were a popular GM corporate engine used in many different makes/models during that time. He said they probably were sending them down the production line too fast to meet the high demand. His opinion was it was a factory flaw in the rod that got thrown which led to the final result. This all happened in 2002. Since then I have discovered that Mobil had removed ZDDP years ago from their Mobil One oils. I can't help and wonder if this may have caused it or contributed to the rod being thrown.

    After

  11. #11
    DonTom
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    Re: What broke?

    " Since then I have discovered that Mobil had removed ZDDP years ago from their Mobil One oils. "

    Or could it be that a 1982 vehicle just doesn't like synthetic oil? I've never used any synthetic engine oils yet. I will use it only when the owner's manual says there's an advantage to using such, and so far, none of mine have.

    However, it did say to use synthetic gear oil in the rear axle of the Jeep if it's ever used for towing. My Jeep has $60.00 worth of Mobil One Gear oil in the rear.

    What is that ZDDP supposed to do and why do you think they removed it?

    BTW, I used Lee's work E-mail address which means he won't see this thread until Friday, which is the next day he "works". I have a hard time saying "work" for that sinecure.

    But we have no chance of finding out what really happened until then.

    -Don- (in cold <+15 degrees F. or -9.5C> Cold Springs Valley, NV)


    .

  12. #12
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: What broke?

    "What is that ZDDP supposed to do and why do you think they removed it?"

    It's an additive that contains phosphorous, zinc and manganese - and was used as a friction modifier in engine oils. It has been removed (or concentrations greatly reduced) for emissions-related reasons; the additive is said to reduce the useful life of catalytic converters in particular - and federal law now mandates that catalytic converters and so on be effective for 120,000 miles. So the automakers lobbied the oil mfgrs to get the ZDDP out of engine oil.

    This is no problem for modern cars; however, older vehicles - esp. those with flat tappet camshafts - need the ZDDP. Accelerated wear of the camshaft (even serious failure, as Pete relates) has been associated with use of oils that have low ZDDP content.

    Did you catch the longer article I did on the subject? Here's a copy:

    Oil alert for older cars
    By Eric Peters


    If you own an older car, you might want to think twice about the oil you're using.

    In order to comply with federal requirements that key emissions control components on new cars such as catalytic converters last at least 120,000 miles (previously, it was 100,000 miles) automakers have been pushing for reductions in an oil additive known as zinc dialkyl dithio phosphate (ZDDP), which contains phosphorous (as well as zinc and manganese).

    The problem for late model emissions-controlled cars is that the phosphorous in ZDDP has been linked with premature catalytic converter failure - or at least, premature loss of converter efficiency.

    But the problem for older cars with flat tappet camshafts - which means pretty much all cars built before about the mid-1980s, when roller camshafts began to supplant the flat tappet design - is that oils with low ZDDP levels can cause rapid premature wear, even failure, of flat tappet camshafts. In a nutshell, the ZDDP cushions the high pressure point between the lifter crown and the camshaft lobe, acting as anti-friction, anti-wear barrier.

    Running without the ZDDP is almost like running without oil - and with the same results.

    Levels of ZDDP in commonly available mainstream motor oils - including big-name brands and high dollar synthetics - have been dropping since the new emissions longevity requirements became effective with the 2004 model year. Unfortunately, many hobbyists and owners of older cars with flat tappet camshafts are unaware of the changing formulations - and the threat low-ZDDP oils may represent.

    The situation is analogous to the days when lead began to disappear from gasoline. Engines that had been designed to burn leaded fuel (especially high-performance engines run at high RPMs) fell victim to premature valve recession caused by the use of unleaded fuel.

    What to do?

    The first thing is to determine whether your vehicle is equipped with a flat tappet camshaft. If it's an American-brand car older than model year 1980 and the engine is either original or has been rebuilt to original specifications, the odds are virtually 100 percent certain that you have a flat tappet camshaft. It's also very likely you have one if your car is early-mid 1980s. By the latter half of the '80s and into the 1990s, roller-style camshafts were becoming the norm - and you are probably safe. But it's important to be sure. You won't find information on the type of camshaft your vehicle has in your owner's manual. You'll need to consult a technical service manual - or simply ask someone who is knowledgeable. The service manager at a dealership for your make/model of car ought to know - or should be able to find out.

    What to use?

    There are still a few oils on the market that have adequate levels of ZDDP. These include Shell Rotella T - a conventional (mineral-based) oil that was originally formulated for diesel engines. Rotella T still contains 1,200 parts per million ZDDP, according to Shell - which is as much as five times the amount found in other oils. Don't sweat it that Rotella was/is "for diesels." It's also an excellent choice for older, non-emissions controlled engines with flat tappet cams that need their ZDDP. Rotella's also modestly priced and readily available at most any auto parts store. Shell also markets a synthetic version of Rotella that offers even more protection - as well as longevity and a 5W-40 viscosity for those who operate their vehicles in colder climates. Standard Rotella comes in a heavier 15W-40 blend.

    Another choice - in a full synthetic - is Amsoil (www.amsoil.com) which carries a line of oils with ZDDP in popular viscosities such as 10W-40 and heavier 20W-50. Redline oil (www.redlineoil.com) is also still fine for older engines with flat tappet cams. Unfortunately, both Amsoil and Redline can be hard to find at your local store; but if you plan ahead, you can order a case from any one of multiple suppliers online and just keep a stash on hand.

    Another option is additives. GM used to sell an over the counter Engine Oil Supplement (EOS) that was just what the doctor ordered - and for only about $12 per bottle. Unfortunately, GM stopped making the stuff and it's now very hard to find.

    Luckily, Competition Cams does offer something similar - its Engine Break-in Oil Additive. Comp cams used to recommend this for initial break-in but now recommends that it be added with the oil at every oil change. Here's the skinny from Tech Bulletin 225:

    "While this additive was originally developed specifically for break-in protection, subsequent testing has proven the durability benefits of its long term use. This special blend of additives promotes proper break-in and protects against premature cam and lifter failure by replacing some of the beneficial ingredients that the oil companies have been required to remove from off the shelf oil."

    Here's the link to Comp Cams and the page for the additive they sell: http://www.compperformancegroupstore...Category_Code=

    So there you have it.

    If you own an older vehicle, you'd be well-advised to give some thought to your next oil change - and what kind of oil you'll be pouring into the crankcase.

    END

  13. #13
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    Re: What broke?

    What broke?
    Simple answer: Something really expensive.

    ;D

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  14. #14
    DonTom
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    Re: What broke?

    "Did you catch the longer article I did on the subject? Here's a copy: "

    No, or perhaps it was too late for me to be concerned as the only older vehicles I have now would be my 1971 BMW and 1984 Venture bikes. And I never looked at the cams in either. I am not real sure if I have ever seen a "flat tappet camshaft" as I have never even heard the term before. Could the lack of ZDDP do harm to bikes too? And do motorcycle oils have the same problem? Don't some of the newer bikes have catalytic converters?


    But I wonder if ZDDP would have helped in my 1978 RV 400 CID to prevent the breakdown. I was using Castro 20W50 in it. I assume it didn't have the ZDDP , by your article. Another reason to have a much newer RV!

    -Don- (in 14 degrees F. Reno)



  15. #15
    DonTom
    Guest

    Re: What broke?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom
    "Did you catch the longer article I did on the subject? Here's a copy: "

    No, or perhaps it was too late for me to be concerned as the only older vehicles I have now would be my 1971 BMW and 1984 Venture bikes. And I never looked at the cams in either. I am not real sure if I have ever seen a "flat tappet camshaft" as I have never even heard the term before. Could the lack of ZDDP do harm to bikes too? And do motorcycle oils have the same problem? Don't some of the newer bikes have catalytic converters?


    But I wonder if ZDDP would have helped in my 1978 RV 400 CID to prevent the breakdown. I was using Castro 20W50 in it. I assume it didn't have the ZDDP , by your article. Another reason to have a much newer RV!

    -Don- (in 14 degrees F. Reno)



  16. #16
    DonTom
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    Re: What broke?

    Quote Originally Posted by chiph
    What broke?
    Simple answer: Something really expensive.
    ;D
    Chip H.
    I think Lee realized that at about the same time as the car went "Bang!, Bang!, Bang!". But what could have been the "click, click, click" he heard at the very first sign of the problem?

    -Don-

  17. #17
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    Re: What broke?

    If it was a rod, it's probably the early stages of it separating, and before it managed to get a good "hold" on the side of the block. It probably flopped around in there for a few moments until it was able to dig-in and break the casting.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  18. #18
    DonTom
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    Re: What broke?

    "If it was a rod, it's probably the early stages of it separating, and before it managed to get a good "hold" on the side of the block."

    Yep. I just remembered my 1984 GMC 3/4 ton Van (305 CID) did something like that. Make a light noise for about a mile or so before it really made a lot of noise when the rod broke. BTW, that van could still be driven up to about five MPH with the broken rod.

    -Don-


  19. #19
    MikeHalloran
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    Re: What broke?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom
    I am not real sure if I have ever seen a "flat tappet camshaft"
    Probably every one you've ever seen.

    'Flat' here refers to the face of the lifter that slides on the cam. I think the face is actually crowned a little, but it looks flat.

    Contrast that with a 'roller tappet' or 'roller lifter'.


  20. #20
    DonTom
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    Re: What broke?

    I just found out that Lee took some time off, perhaps to deal with his broken down car. I wonder if he will junk it or buy a new engine and install it with a few of his buddies. He has done such before in other vehicles.

    He won't be reading my E-mail (with the link to here) until he gets back to work and I don't know when that will be.

    -Don- (SSF)


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