Fixing My 4×4: The Battle of the Bent Valves

If you know me at all, you know I’m a car guy. I’m pretty green as far as hardcore wrenching skills go, but I like to tackle problems with my vehicles myself – I like to learn by doing. What follows is the story of how I learned a few hard lessons when my faithful ride died slowly and painfully in my arms over the final months of 2016.

For context, my beast of a machine was a 1992 Daihatsu Feroza. It’s a 4WD with a 1.6 litre fuel injected four-cylinder engine. It had served me faithfully for over a year and was reading around 295,000 kilometers on the odometer. But I was moving house and needed to pull a trailer with all my possessions on an 800 km journey. I didn’t want to put the stress on the car but I didn’t have a whole lot of choice if I wanted to keep my bed and my prized Ricoh photocopier. I did my best to prepare the car, topping up the oil which had gotten perilously low and fitting new tyres. I’d had a hell of a time over the winter aquaplaning all over the place and wasn’t in the mood for a big ugly crash on the highway.

In the end, the journey was tough on the car but we made it. Foot to the floor in fourth gear, screaming along in the vicinity of 3500 rpm,  pulling 600 kg of trailer uphill at 70 km/h was never going to be a cakewalk. I dropped off the trailer and drove home, and everything seemed alright. But the next day, poor old Ferozi (her pet name) was suffering.

Initially, I wasn’t worried. The car was bogging down under acceleration – it felt just like running on an almost-empty tank of petrol. “Probably just a clogged fuel filter!” I thought. There’s plenty of dodgy fuel between Victoria and South Australia. I put off a repair for a couple of weeks as I’d just started a new job and the car was still getting me to and from work. This was a mistake.

Very Dead

After two weeks, the next time I went to start the car, it was very dead. The starter was engaging the motor, everything was spinning up – but it simply wouldn’t start. But if you’ve ever tried to start a sick automobile, you’ll know you’ve only got three or four good shots before the battery dies. For some reason, I was able to crank away endlessly without problem. Why? Well, it’s a little thing called compression.

The reason you can only crank over your engine for a short period before your battery dies is because of compression. In a properly functioning internal combustion engine, the pistons moving up and down inside the cylinders go through a compression stroke, which increases the pressure of the incoming air-fuel mixture. Compressing this mixture takes a great deal of energy, which has to come from somewhere – during starting, this comes from your car’s battery. There’s only enough in the average car battery for four or five starting attempts – we’ve all heard that sad, groaning sound as the starter motor gets slower as the battery runs out of juice.

Why then, was my battery soldiering on? I had very little to no compression, thus, my starter motor simply needed to spin around a few kilograms of rotating masses. This takes very little power in comparison and places a much smaller load on the battery. This was very bad – compression is vital in an internal combustion engine to generate power. We had to figure out where it had gone.

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Grimy photos like this one helped me immensely when it came time to put everything back together. It’s a great way to make sure you get all your vacuum lines routed correctly during reassembly. Also great when working on drum brakes.

There’s a few ways you can lose compression in an engine. One of the most common on an old engine is a failed head gasket. But there’s other symptoms of this – oil in the coolant, coolant in the oil, overheating – my car was suffering from none of these. I ruled it out and instead suspected the timing belt. The timing belt is responsible for synchronizing the valvegear with the pistons. If they’re not properly synced up, your piston will be moving up on the compression stroke while the valves are open, pushing the air back out the intake instead of compressing it in the cylinder. The previous owner had assured me they’d swapped the timing belt recently but who can you really trust these days? I decided to check it out and started disassembling the engine.

Taking off the timing belt cover, I was disappointed. The timing belt was still there! That meant it hadn’t broken, so that wasn’t the problem. There was a chance it had slipped a tooth though, leading to a loss of proper synchronisation. After much arguing with my friendly mechanically minded assistant, and referring to the service manual which outlined the proper timing belt install process, we determined that while the timing belt was installed properly, things still weren’t right. As we tried to crank over the engine by hand, we could hear and feel the valves impacting the pistons. This was getting worse by the hour.

The next step was to remove the head. This would allow us a better look at what was going on with the valves and also tell us if our head gasket was junk. It sounds easy but it was a four-hour job of swearing, cuts and bruises. One of the problems of being a DIYer is that you’re often lacking in tools. A stuck bolt that would be easy to reach with a $500 socket wrench set is only just barely possible with a mashup of every extension you and your friends can lay your hands on. Rust and cross-threaded fasteners are also far too common when you’re working on a car over 20 years old.

For us, it was a single nut seized onto an exhaust manifold stud that caused us two hours of pain. Just one nut! Besides that, it was then a process of figuring out how best to remove everything else to lift the head. The key here, especially in a car with electronic fuel injection, is to take a lot of photos. Take more than you think you’ll need! This will help you massively when it comes time to reassemble – an EFI engine will not easily run if you misplace the wrong vacuum line or forget to plug in a certain sensor. Having a few photos that show where everything went will help you out no end.

Bent Valves

carbonbuildup
Where the valves struck the piston.

With the head off, my worst fears were confirmed. Clearly visible were marks where the valves had hit the pistons – this is never supposed to happen. This led to the valves bending, and thus they no longer sealed with the head. This is why we had no compression! How did it happen? I still suspected something to do with the timing belt. Perhaps it skipped a tooth, and then skipped back. It didn’t seem to be as tight as it should, anyway. The plan then became to get the head reconditioned with 16 new valves, refit it, and go from there.

No dice. The workshop rang me back a little too soon after I’d dropped it off – the head was toast. The camshaft had seized in the head, almost certainly due to low oil pressure. This is what caused the valves to hit the pistons and bend. This was not what I wanted to hear, but I put it down to the fact I’d driven the car very hard with the trailer attached, and that it had low oil in the week before the trip.

pistonhit
Where the piston hit the valves- these gouges were over 0.5mm deep!

Thankfully, the workshop didn’t charge me anything, and I instead went to a wrecking yard for parts. It’s hard to find Feroza parts out here, so instead I had to do my research. The Daihatsu Applause is a small hatchback that uses the same engine as the Feroza, but in a front-wheel-drive layout. The head is the same between the two cars, so after just two hours wrenching we were able to liberate one and take it home for the sum of just $99.

A new set of gaskets was a further $187 and a timing belt kit was another $80. All in all I was $400 in the hole, but it would mean the difference between selling the car for parts for $500. or having a working vehicle worth closer to $2000.

It was a straightforward enough job to refit the head. There were a few snags – we’d done the traditional amateur mechanic trick of dumping all the bolts in a big tub. It was fairly difficult then to find the right fastener when we needed it. Nevertheless, we got the thing assembled, and much to my surprise – it fired. IT ACTUALLY FIRED. It was running awfully, but we realised we hadn’t hooked up the vacuum lines to the MAP sensor. With this done… it still ran poorly.

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A close-up of the damage to the camshaft bearing surface. Likely cause – low oil pressure.

It was blowing huge amounts of smoke because we’d filled the cylinders with oil to check the piston rings were okay. It was loud as hell because we didn’t have the tools to properly tighten up the exhaust manifold studs. And finally, it was throwing a check engine light which a diagnostic test showed was to do with the coolant temperature sensor. But it ran!

An Honest Mechanic

This car had never run well in its whole life. One big cause of this was that its timing was always off. I was too cheap to buy a timing light, which my father had always supported because I would never use it again. It’s funny – he’s said that the last six times I’ve needed a timing light. Good bloke though. I was spent and tired of working on it at this point, so I took it to a local mechanic I’d heard good things about. They were able to easily cinch up the exhaust, having a far wider range of tools to choose from. They found out the coolant temperature sensor was simply unplugged. And for an experienced mechanic, it was a simple 5 minute job to set the timing properly too. They charged me $40, but I handed over a $50 because I was incredibly happy with the service and the fact that they were happy to have a frank and up front discussion about what I needed done with the car.

The car was now running beautifully – better than it ever had, in fact. I was ecstatic, except for one thing – while at the mechanic, the car had developed a new problem. The starter motor wasn’t firing sometimes, and needed a swift tap with a blunt object to free it up and engage. Thankfully, this turned out to be my own dumb fault – I hadn’t tightened up the battery terminals properly during the reassembly and it wasn’t getting enough current. Finally, after a long and arduous three weeks, I had my own car back, and I loved it. I was so, so happy. I was independent again and no longer had to rely on others for rides.

I’d gotten the car back on Thursday evening, and shot the final parts of the YouTube video embedded below on the Friday night. The video went up the next day. Sunday rolled around and I was excited – I was going out to grab fried chicken with a friend across town which is easily my favourite thing in the world. It was the day before Christmas. I woke up in a great mood, had a lovely breakfast, and kissed my girlfriend goodbye at midday before hopping in the car. As I drove off I called my father, who had been my wrenching companion throughout the journey.

“You won’t believe it – it’s running so great! It’s awesome! It hasn’t run this well since I’ve had it!” He was as pleased as I was to hear the mighty Feroza was back out, tearing up the streets. I made it another kilometer down the road before it happened.

The light ahead of me turned green and I let out the clutch to start moving. The car coughed heavily and I lurched to a stop. I didn’t think anything of it – just a stall, I thought. I tried to restart the car and was immediately filled with dread. The starter was freely turning the engine again. No compression. Surely not. But it wasn’t an ideal time to perform complicated diagnostics. With the help of a fellow concerned motorist, I managed to reverse my way off the three-lane arterial road into a side street, coasting downhill. Australians are generally a friendly people but you won’t find many willing to push a heavy four wheel drive uphill on a 40 degree day. Celsius.

I called my girlfriend to break the news. Besides, I needed a lift home. I wanted to believe it was a coincidence. Maybe the summer heat had killed the ignition module, and I’d just be out another $100 and an easy swap. By this point I was emotionally and physically drained and needed a second opinion –  a mobile mechanic confirmed what I didn’t want to believe. No compression. Back to square one. Game over.

The Root of the Problem

It seems that I’d been all too eager to replace the head and didn’t consider the root cause of the problem – low oil pressure causing the camshaft to seize. The fact that I’d been running on low oil prior to the problem first occurring made me think that was the cause, and if I simply swapped out the parts I’d be fine. But it wasn’t to be. The issue grows even more complex, however – during the repair, we’d found a disconnected wire going to the oil pressure sender. This lights a warning light on the dash when your oil pressure is low. That system did not throw a warning during the time of the second failure. It’s a bit of a mystery.

ferozaWhat I believe to have happened is that either the oil pump is old and dying (entirely believable on a car that’s done almost 300,000 km) or there’s some kind of blockage in the oil channels feeding the head (especially believable because plenty of carbon buildup was scraped off and entered the oil during the head swap). This led to the camshaft seizing once again, bending the valves and killing the engine. The rule here is to always fix the root cause of a problem. If you haven’t identified the root cause, it’s pure dumb luck if you actually solve the problem. I should have paid more attention during reassembly and inspected the oil flow. I should have also changed the oil when the repair was complete. Either way, I’m now once again lumped with a dead car that I once loved.

What next? Well, to purchase another head and swap the oil pump to a new unit is prohibitively expensive and there’s still every chance that it won’t fix the problem. Alternatively, I can harvest an engine from a wrecked Applause or Feroza for just $200. The major things preventing me from doing an engine swap are the lack of an engine crane, experience, and a car big enough to transport the engine home. But the cheers of my friends who want to see the beast roll again is deafening; I do miss rolling on the beach with the top off, screaming with my pals as the salt water sprays over the bonnet. It’s pretty damn fun. Tell me what I should do in the comments. Or sell me a good engine for cheap. You’d be doing me a solid.

161 thoughts on “Fixing My 4×4: The Battle of the Bent Valves

        1. I’ve heard of plenty of kits for swapping in VW diesel engines in Hilux’s

          The old Bosch mechanical or electromechanical pump ones are tough bastards barring overheating and water in the fuel.

        2. Current laws dictate a 25 years waiting period to bring vehicles into the US that were not originally sold new in the US, but rumor is some are working to reduce that to 10 years. I nearly brought a diesel LandCruiser in from Canada, but the seller started acting weird at the very end and we backed out of the deal, but I learned that it’s much easier to bring a vehicle from Canada to the US vs bringing on into Canada.

          The 25 year wait rule does not apply to “half cuts” where the vehicle floor is cut under the front seats and the windshield posts are cut at the base of the windshield, and the front wheels are removed. Half-cuts are commonly imported from Japan, and customs does not treat them as vehicles since they are not drivable. This is typically a very good option to get almost all the parts needed for a diesel swap (the diesel fuel filler neck is lost when the back of the half-cut is scrapped).

          2 good options for diesels are the Isuzu 4BD1T 4 cylinder (small box trucks) and the Cummins 4BT 4 cylinder (bread trucks/food trucks). http://www.4btswaps.com

          Laws regarding swaps involving fuel type changes (from gasoline to diesel) vary by state.

          1. How does that run against California ARB rules?

            Since that went into affect, a shit ton of diesels were exported out of state, generally somewhere towards Texas. Now, owners are getting caught with their pants down tryi g to bring them back into California.

        1. Not sure about in Australia, but the 3VZ used electronic ignition for a lot of its production run in the US. The trouble is that it was computer controlled and generally requires transplanting the whole EFI system with it – or using a MegaSquirt or similar control unit to run the distributor.

      1. And 90’s SAABs are some of the quirkiest cars to work on, not as bad as the earlier models where they put the engine in the wrong way, witch is a good thing when working on the clutch, but a bad thing if you ever want to replace the timing chain (witch you never do)

        But SAAB’s in general has a lot of ingenious tecnical thinking, as long as you stay away from the (GM) V6 (talk about a belt from hell) and the tiptronic gearboxes, most of it works just fine.

        I just love the OG 900 and earlyer models, I think I have worked on all of them from the 92 twostroke and forward, and on the 91 and 105 airplanes as well as the JA37…

        I used to race with a 96 V4.

        1. Yeah, there’s a reason the V6 900’s and 9000’s are obscenely rare now, with V6 9-5’s quickly following suit. Whoever at GM told Valmet to stop working on the H-engine V8 and replace it with that shit lump from Opel needs a good suckerpunch or two.

          You can pry my H engines from my cold, dead hands.

        2. I did have to replace the timing chain on an ’84 900. It was one long Saab story. In the process I broke the stupid gear on the oil pump, so after getting it all back together, I had no oil pressure and didn’t know why. I got it as a basket case, though; and got far enough back together that a mechanic was willing to work on it. They almost never will accept a basket case, and if they do, it’ll cost an arm and leg.

    1. So much this. An attentive person with gauges might have noticed the low pressure issue before it got bad enough to kill something.
      Also, check your fluids. I usually do whenever I leave home.

      1. Furthermore, a faulty gauge will seldom read a normal value – it will usually peg to one end of the scale or the other, or show pressure when the engine isn’t even running. Contrarily, since the normal value for an idiot light is “off”, it is quite easy for a faulty idiot light to give a false negative. As in this case.

        1. You’re all very correct. I see similar issues with people who end up overheating their car – the idiot light and temperature gauge never showed a thing because with no coolant in the system, the temperature sensor was just sitting in air and not reading engine temperature at all.

      2. Be careful relying on gauges without some research first though, not all of them are as they seem. On many vehicles (my ’06 F150 in particular) the oil gauge functions like an idiot light. If you have enough pressure the needle is in the middle and doesn’t fluctuate. The only time it would move is if you have no pressure, then it bottoms out, there is no in-between or fluctuation in the needle.

          1. But that would make the installation of extra sensors necessary, including drilling holes in the block or at least extra plumbing. And if you install extra sensors they can also be electronic – a cable is normally more easily to install and connect than a capillary tube.

          2. @[Martin] every engine I have seen has at least half a dozen sealed off threaded holes in the oils and water jackets.

            The mechanical oil sensor works when the ignition is off, when the car is inverted or submerged! There’s not a time when it doesn’t work.

          3. @Martin. I tried to count the number of times I have installed these types gauges over the years in various cars, and I have actually lost count. I do remember I’ve had more issues mounting the cluster where I can see it comfortably in the cab more than I have attaching them to the engine and routing the lines.

        1. True, on some models, modifying the circuit board behind the gauge can fix this though, on 91-97 Toyota LandCruisers you can swap out a few components to change an idiot gauge to a regular functioning gauge.

          1. On Ford Rangers (early 90s, I think) you unthreaded the oil pressure switch, threaded on an oil pressure sender from a Mustang, and jumpered over a resistor in the dash behind the gauge. Perhaps the same on the F150?

          2. So they did not even install a proper sensor? I know in my car (Skoda, Volkswagen type) you can have read out of the oil temperature on the multi display (where you see fuel consumption, etc.) but the water temp gauge has this useless behavior which does not give you more information than a warning light. In this case a light would be the better solution in my opinion as it would attract more attention.

        2. Unfortunately they did the same with the temperature instrument in Skoda (Volkswagen platform) cars too. After some warm up the needle slowly moves to the center and stays there, probably until the engine nearly explodes. According to the mechanic this is “to avoid confusion of the driver” ! and can not be reprogrammed. Only way to get the correct temp reading is to use an ODB adapter like an ELM327 type bluetooth device and use your mobile phone or tablet.

    2. Oh joy, oil pressure sensors…

      My dad uses to own a Nissan Bluebird, and one summer we where supposed to go on a 1000Km trek with it. The day before he’d noticed it leaked a wee bit of oil so he asked us to check the oil. And on the first ferry (50Km into the trip) I opened the hood and was greeted with a completed CARNAGE, the entire engine bay was sprayed with oil!

      Turns out that the oil pressure sensor had failed, and when it did, it opened a hole straight through it. It stopped working, the light didn’t turn on (because the design apparently wasn’t fail safe), and the said sensor that was supposed to warn about low oil pressure was now leaking all the oil onto the drive shaft (spreading it around the entire engine bay).

      With some luck we found a local garage that had a replacement (this wasn’t unheard of), refilled the engine and drove on.

      A couple of years later the same thing happened again. The sensor has now been replaced by a bolt.

      1. Yep… but not many Harbor Freight outlets between South Australia and Victoria I suspect. You might be lucky at Bunnings or SuperCheap Auto… you could buy something that maybe will withstand the strain of picking up a dozen feathers multiple times but develop stress fractures at the joints the moment you try to use it for anything heavier.

        1. Anyplace you can rent a crane? If you have the replacement engine ready to go in and get the dead one all ready to pull, you should only need the crane for an hour or less to do the switch. Then return the crane before you install any bolts or connect anything to minimize the rental charge.

          Being a 4×4 you’ll have some ‘fun’. You’ll want to remove the transfer case from the back of the transmission, which is almost always possible on 4×4 vehicles that are rear drive in their 2WD version. Then take out engine and transmission together.

          Depending on the vehicle it may be possible to remove the engine from the transmission, leaving it supported on a jack. Then you won’t have to take the transfer case off the transmission.

          If you can rent an engine tilter along with the crane, the job will go MUCH easier. https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/313VA7FH65L.jpg

          1. Just do what any good American “shade tree mechanic” would do – find a good sturdy tree with a good sturdy branch that you can roll her under and buy a cheap “come-a-long” winch. This is a 1.6L…I’ve seen people pull 350c.i. V8’s with that set-up! Or 5 sturdy pipes set up like a cheap, kids swing set, or hell, a real swing set! With the pipes, you just lash it all together with log chains. Anything goes. You don’t need fancy tools to work on cars. the 60’s 70’s and 80’s should be proof of that!

      2. Ever cheaper solution: Acquire a hydraulic bedside lift used to move bedridden people. Typically covered by health insurance then discarded when the person recovers/passes.

        With minimal modification makes a perfect engine crane for 4-cylinder units.

      1. Came here to say this. Highly recommend the chain hoist over a comealong — we’ve changed out large truck engines using this method. Still don’t own an engine crane, though now we use the tractor most of the time.

  1. Ever since my first engine rebuild, I make it a firm rule: If I crack open any oil seals, the oil pan is coming out and getting a wipe down. WAY too big a chance of some gunk, a piece of gasket, or carbon getting loose and heading for the oil pickup screen.

    Also, this may be a ‘Murica! thing, but I won’t ever trust an engine with a timing belt. Timing chains for me please.

    1. Timing belts are not that bad. Many heavy duty race cars use them reliably. Every Audi Quattro rally car used a timing belt, and timing belts have gotten so strong that now I’m seeing belts that last 150k+ miles due to using things like teflon and other high strength flexible materials.

      It makes it easy to maintain the motor too: Doing timing chains on Mercedes Diesels was a PAIN IN THE ARSE. But if I had my why, I’d preffer everything had timing gears.

      1. Just don’t buy a cheap chinese timing belt off of eBay. I did and it snapped 13K miles after I installed it!
        Fortunately (?) I hadn’t adjusted the valve lash before, so there was enough slack that the valves didn’t bend.
        I will only buy Gates belts from now on…

        1. Find out if your engine is interference or not and then you can decide how much you want to spend on a timing belt.
          Bargains galore to be had from buying snapped timing belt cars off ebay having done the research to find out if the engine is non-interference.

      2. Heavy duty race cars have a team of mechanics who manage their engines, and are taken apart fairly regularly… I would hesitate to make that comparison to a normal road vehicle. 150k+? Good for them. I’ve got 300,0000 miles on my 2.4L Honda K24 with a timing chain. Sure, it’s a massive pain in the ass to do work with the head and or replace, but the service interval is extended way beyond the standard life of a belt. I could see the argument that when a chain goes, it’s unlikely the engine would survive it…. But, I’d still take the chain any day.

      3. Most timing belt maintenance intervals are check every 20,000km and replace at 40,000km.

        The maintenance interval for a timing chain is like 500,000km so you end up replacing the car first.

        1. Seriously, replace the timing belt every 40,000 km (24,000 miles)?! My Honda’s replacement interval is 144,000 km (90,000 miles) or every 9 years, and that’s on a J30 V6.

      4. Heavy duty race cars get torn down regularly, unlike our daily drivers we depend on day in/day out. Timing belts are indeed getting better, but I’m glad my old Toyota (’98 Corolla) has a chain.

      1. Respectfully not even close. A typical timing chain lasts close to a million KM in an american car. A timing belt ages weather you use your vehicle or not. No matter the miles, swap it out every 5 years unless you want your valves to develop the bends. My beater vehicle has about 400K miles ~ 650k kilometers on it for non yank guys, its a gasser. It may have some problems but a timing belt is not one of its issues. A drinking problem it has, leaking valve cover gaskets that make the vehicle smell yes. The same lump in my beater has been known to hit 700K+ miles, 1.1million kilometers to the rest of the civilized planet and even those cars still mostly had the original chain.

        1. What is wild, and what a 20+ year Toyota mechanic told me should NOT happen, was when my 1991 Toyota 4×4 with the 22R engine decided to lose its timing CHAIN.. This was on a truck with only ~80K miles on it.. I bought the truck in 1997 with 77K miles on it.. The day this happened, I just so happened to be sitting in the line waiting for the local Toyota dealers service dept to open. Since I had about 10 min to wait, I turned the engine off.. When service opened, I turned the key to start the engine, and KERBANG! With a sound like THAT, I didn’t try again to start it, I just went and got a service adviser to come out and help me push it in the service bay. They wrote it up and said they’d call me.. Call me they did.. Bottom line: the timing chain chose that time to break.. Fortuately, after all was said and done, the bill came to over $1400.. They said be thankful it let go when you were cranking, rather than going down the road at 60 miles/hr.. In THAT case, you’d have needed a complete new engine.. Of course, I found out later, I could have gotten it fixed for around a grand elsewhere, but what are you gonna do when the engine blows right AT the dealer?? Seriously weird…

      2. I replace chains due to wear and belts due to service intervals, i recon the ratio os about 2:1 chains lately have became really poor quality. This is in the uk where pushrod engines dont exist most on straight 6 or straight 4 engines. Bmw , vauxhall(gm) and nissan being the worst

    2. Timing belts are fine. Just stick to non-interference engines. The part about not changing oil or cleaning out the pan on a head swap is pure lack of advice from experienced wrenchers, or reading a description of the proceedure. He is working way over his head, which is never easy.

      1. Right on with non-interference engines! My 2000 Camry has a non-interference V6. If/when the belt brakes, I just pull to the side of the road, get it towed and replace it. And I am way overdue to replace it (gonna do it any day real soon now). So no long road trips, no problem driving around town though.

        1. Same situation in my 01 ES300. Got it 20k miles ago. Timing belt is either 30k or 140k miles old, out of the 90K recommended interval. Not concerned. Funnily enough, the guy who sold it to me thought it was an interference engine, as some sites mistakenly list the VVTi version of the 1MZ-FE as interference.

        2. All three of my cars with timing belts have been non-interference (’80 Fairmont, ’90 Corolla, ’98 Quest). Two of the three suffered timing belt failure. Neither broke the engine in the process.

    3. And still, Muricans trust belts between the gearbox and the rear wheel of a 2cylinder V-twin with unregular power-pulses… (alright, the Milwaukee-mopeds mostly turn gas into noice, and a little power as a side effect)

      The cambelts are just fine, they should be changed at the correct interval, but on non interfering models you could just take the gamble (usually they last twice the interval)

      I used to race cars, and has been mechanic on multiple rally cars with timing belts, and only once a belt gave up on us, probably from damage made by taking it on and off a few times (a tight fit on that model) and it was an expensive rebuild, or should I say replacement, it was all gone.

      With all that said, I also prefer chain, since they last longer then the rest of the engine in most cases.

    4. Yeah, really wishing I’d done that. I scraped a lot of carbon buildup off the pistons that probably ended up in the oil too, making things worse. Definitely should have dumped the oil and taken a look in the sump.

      1. If you go for repair again, get some brake parts cleaner and flood it down the holes where oil comes up through the block to the head. Then after you’ve installed a new oil pump and have the pan clean, get it set up to be crankable without the head on. Fill the pan with the correct amount of oil then crank it some until oil comes out the holes in the top of the block, hopefully along with any crud that may be blocking the passages.

        If you don’t get oil coming out all the places it should be, then you’re going to have to take it apart further in order to get the oil passages cleaned out.

        If you decide to swap in a good running engine, install a new oil pump. Also pull the valve cover and cam bearing caps to look for evidence of poor oil supply.

        If you *really like* the truck, and it does look damn nice for its age, go bigger. Take out the crankshaft so you can install new rod and main bearings and new crankshaft seals. New seals and gaskets everywhere. Make certain every oil passage is clean. Be sure to use assembly lube on the bearings and seals.

        Keep it under 60Kph for the first 1,000 KM to get the bearings broken in. If the crankshaft bearing journals are smooth, no need to touch it. Put some bits of rubber hose over the connecting rod bolts when sliding them back onto their throws so you don’t ding the bearing journals.

        Don’t push the pistons out of their bores, do that and you get to learn how to use a piston ring compressor. But for more of a full rebuild you’ll want to install new piston rings. To do that you need to check for a ridge around the tops of the cylinders. Scrape off any carbon around the top and feel for a ridge. If you can’t catch a fingernail on it you should be able to get the pistons out without having to use a ridge reamer.

        Unless the cylinders are really worn (in which case it wouldn’t be a good runner) you do not need to have the cylinders bored. Some people say you *always* have to bore the cylinders at least 0.010″ but that’s bull. Bore the cylinders and you have to get oversized pistons.

        If the cylinders are in decent shape you just need a glaze breaker and a 1/2″ electric drill. https://dccf75d8gej24.cloudfront.net/images/products/04/040210259/99176FDE-249C-4595-97FD-5924B457BBF9-large.jpg

        The purpose of it is to roughen up the cylinders so new rings will wear in to the cylinders so they’ll seal.

        Whatever you use for oil, do not put any friction modifying additives in for the first 1,000 KM. Not even STP. Do that and the new rings and bearings won’t break in.

        What it all comes down to is do you want to “bullet proof” it or just patch it up again and likely have the same problem yet again with the camshaft seizing, jumping the timing belt and bending the valves?

  2. You can rent both the engine crane and a vehicle to transport the engine home. And experience just comes from doing. Although I’d strongly recommend picking up a service manual, which may help you make sure you hook everything up right on the next go-around. Oh, and change the oil.

    If you want to try the cheap route, you can also just do the head again, and reuse the gaskets and belt that you’ve recently installed. What’s the worst that can happen?

      1. I’ve carried engines in a two door “sports cars” after removing the passenger seat and covering the floor of the car in an old blanket.
        Gearbox into the boot, same.
        You don’t need an engine crane, Drop the engine out of the bottom / lift the car over the top.

        Think out the box. People in undeveloped countries do these things at the side of the road. :)

    1. Did something very similar to an old range rover ten years back… it survived two inlet manifold swaps with the same gasket. Dodgy is the go… I’ve replaced pistons with an interference gudgeon pin fit & pressed them in with a hydraulic press with metal shavings coming out the hole… and the engine ran fine. Smacked a big mark into a crankshaft journal – 24 volts on the starter to get it past that first turn, and it then ran just fine for years. I haven’t done, but I’ve seen heads replaced using the same gasket, a nice thick layer of spray-on hylomar, and it worked a treat!

      1. I had a supercharged 4AGZE engined import Corolla Levin that I rebuilt the head on but just reused the stock headgasket.
        Gained a noticeable boost in power after I used a brass wire brush attachment in my battery drill to clean the carbon out of the ports in the head.
        I may or may not have used some hylomar spray, hard to remember.
        It ran 11PSI and loved it for years afterwards.

        I ended up selling the engine which got rebuilt and worked and stuck in a Nissan Datsun Ute.

    1. +1 to this. Once you experience an oil pressure drop, chances are there are many questions unanswered that are better left to rest.

      At least a: New Head, New Pistons, New Rings, New Crankshaft, and new bearings all the way around. But I’d probably also take the block itself to a machine shop and have them verify that everything is still within tolerances before trusting the motor again.

    2. same here, swapping that motor is a good idea.

      Those gouges in the piston are not going to lead down a good road. Gouges like that tend to get disproportionately hot during combustion, detempering the piston, and could lead to a crack.

      and at that point, replacing the pistons means new rings, resurfacing the cylinders, and for the cost of either tools/ machine shop to do it for you, a new engine makes alot of sense.

      the scrap yard route is a worthwhile cause, if you carefully evaluate the motor before taking it home with you. ( compression test is good if you can do it, if you can’t at least make sure you can crank it over with a wrench on the crank/harmonic balancer) pulling an engine that has its original rings that are already lapped to the dimensions of its cylinder means alot less rebuild to do. maybe freshen up some of the oil gaskets, new head gasket, make sure the valves are in good condition.

      did this with my crown vic, continued to run for many years.

      of course the “farmer” route is to just throw a new set of rings in there yourself without rehoning or re surfacing the cylinders, but there is a good chance you are going to blow the rings after 1000 miles or so.

      1. The salvage yard I used to haunt had grease pencil marks on the cars they had checked upon arrival, BM meant Bad Motor, BT meant Bad Transmission, NT meant No Title, they would crayon the psi above each piston if the motor was “good”. So, ask what their codes mean if you see any on the car.

  3. “The rule here is to always fix the root cause of a problem. If you haven’t identified the root cause, it’s pure dumb luck if you actually solve the problem”
    That’s why I a bit of stuck record on the concept that learning by failure is the best way to learn. Sure you will eventually learn, but the lesson can get expensive. So I will always fall on the side of learning how things are supposed to work. Although trouble shooting was employed at first, but failed when the lubrication problem wasn’t fully investigated. With the internet available generally simple find how common a failure is and the cause is. BTW it generally hard to find a citizen to help push a vehicle up the hill in most counties, but someone willing to use their vehicle to tow it up the hill is easier to come by.

    1. The LSx engines may be hard to find in Australia – they are plentiful and cheap in North America, and so when I had an engine in a ’72 Chevy pickup develop a cracked block, I managed to transplant in an engine out of a 2007 Chevy moving van with some adapter plates made on a drill press and a wiring harness of my own design (and a lot of other little things, including a throttle cable made out of a bicycle brake cable). Not sure what is available locally that is an easy transplant. I’m guessing a Ford Barra Six or a Nissan RB25DET out of a Skyline is going to be just a bit too long. Maybe a Toyota 3RZ-FE or other somewhat larger four cylinder truck engine would be a good engine swap option here..

    2. We do have LS engines here, primarily in the Holden Commodore sedans. Not really an appropriate swap here, though – packaging wise it wouldn’t easily work with the 4WD drive train and I don’t want to go RWD. A straight swap for the same engine as original is what I’m looking at, as there aren’t other easy options and I’m not a welder yet. It’s not like sports cars where there’s an LS swap kit for whatever you’ve got.

  4. Ideal time for an engine swap. I have a modern 16v engine in my classic mini (turbocharged and megasquirt ofcourse) im sure there must be something more potent that shares a common bellhousing. For what its worth your failure point is likely a carboned/sludged up oil pickup. Oil pumps in modern 4 cylinder engines are generally robust carbon blocking the pickup is the cause of many a ruined engine i see. (I own a garage, and sadly do this for a living)

    1. Now that’s good info. I will investigate this!

      As for a better engine that’s a drop in swap, unfortunately nothing I’ve heard. But HD-Es are easy enough to come by so I’ll probably stay same-same.

  5. I work on my cars as well, and keep them running till I’ve wrung every last mile out of them. I vote for the engine swap – and while you’re in there – do the clutch! You’ll be good to go for another 200,000km easy… I’m not equipped for that in my driveway, but I have friends with the tools. Anyone you know that has an engine lift and an extra set of hands for a day?

  6. When the cam stops spinning all sorts of interesting things can happen.

    I’m intrigued though that the cam had seized yet the engine turned over easily. I would have thought there would have been some nasty noise to go along with the timing belt skipping teeth.

    I’ve had a cam shaft snap on a 77 vw Kombi on the highway just out of Goulburn that occurred with out a noise just suddenly no power . New cam new rings and then drove to Perth and back.

    1. Yeah it’s a mystery to me too – the timing belt never appeared to skip any teeth. I think the cam seizes, the valves bend, and then somehow it… magically… unseizes… due to temperature changes or something? It’s doing my head in.

    2. I’ve had a cam seize on me before in almost the same way – lack of oil pressure due to a blocked pickup tube due to factory paint inside of the oil pan. And yes, the idiot light was off the entire time.

      Anyway, cam seized up, heard a loud whine, then engine stopped. After investigating, there is a key that connects the cam shaft to the gear/pulley. That had sheared off so the timing gear was free spinning on the cam shaft.

      Took the engine to the machine shop and had just bent a few valves. Pistons, head and cam shafts were salvaged. They just polished the journals. This was my first experience rebuilding an engine. Ever since, any car I have gets an oil pressure gauge.

      1. Similar experience. Woodruff key gets destroyed and the camgear keeps spinning. Cam was quite bad so it was undersized on one journal and then the head was “metal sprayed” to build it up and cut back to match. Then head fully stripped and cleaned.
        Would have just junked the head if it was standard but had been ported and other stuff so worth spending about $300 to save it.

  7. I’m in the fix the car camp (whether it’s replacing the head again and oil pump or finding a compatible engine). I love the write up, was quite an interesting read! I’m only do tiny bits of maintenance currently (replacing a burnt bulb in the head light and accidentally finding out how low the oil can go before the oil light will flash on for less than a second once a trip) but eventually when I have my own garage, I’ll be doing more maintenance than I am now.

  8. Just make the swap, you could make a simple engine hoist from 2×4″s and a manual winch/pulley.

    Or just park the car under a sturdy tree and use a branch.

    But also, buy a proper engine hoist, once you got one, you will have a houndred uses for it, just be aware that most models are made for cars, and doesnt lift high enough for a 4×4, not even a mighty feroza :D
    And the mighty Feroza engine weighs about the same as the waterpump on an american V8 :)
    (running lifted jeep wrangler myself)

      1. You could always do the cheap trick, put the Feroza on rims without tires while swappin engine.

        But as mighty as the Feroza is, it is not much taller then a Mazda Miata, so do a dry run first to see if the hoist will do :D

  9. Former owner of a ’94 Feroza II. I too loved that car, but it was entering the last stage of the bath tub curve and I didn’t have the skills/space/tools/time to work on it myself.

    Good luck with the engine replacement.

  10. Yep, sadly you discovered what a lot of us have in pretty much the same hard way. if you open the engine for work, you replace the oil pump and anything else that is a wear item. I always replace them with high volume oil pumps that pretty much peg the oil pressure gauge.

    to this day I refuse to own a car that does not have a real oil pressure gauge as well as a full set of gauges on the dash. spotting this saves engines.

        1. So this, If you’re going to do it and put the time in, do it right and make it new again. It takes the same time and consumables to swap in an engine that has been 100% rebuilt to spec as it does to swap in a halfway done one, and it will keep you running much much longer. I know it sucks to put in more time and effort, but that little extra now pays back huge dividends.

          Also, going back to where this message started, keeping the vehicle floored for any appreciable amount of time is not a good practice! move over, downshift and slow down next time. Might be the difference between making it at all or being broken down on the side of the road.

          But welcome to the brotherhood now that you’ve been baptized in vehicle fluids! There’s nothing better than being able to tell people that you did it yourself and the knowledge that will protect you from a mechanic trying to pull a fast one on you.

        2. Exactly!

          My dream is to one day have two engines for my vehicles. While one is in use I rebuild the other. Then I pack it away in a crate until it is needed.

          Of course.. by the time I achieve this… I’ll probably be ready to switch to electric.

  11. My suggestion: Get the $200 junkyard engine (quite a bargain) and rent an engine crane.
    Either that or pay a trustworthy mechanic to do the engine swap. As long as the car isn’t a rustbucket and is in generally decent condition, it’s worth saving IMHO.

  12. I removed a engine from a car once with a large length of stout wood and a low wall the other side to pivot the top of it. Got about 3:1 leverage ration which was enough for me to heft it up myself. Certainly not idea and for what you can hire a engine crane or buy a cheap one nowadays, I’d just do that.
    Be fairly careful, we tried the same trick with a heavier engine and a friend helping and his shoulder gave way and it dropped. I’ve lifted engines out with some pretty ropey contraptions over the years. The gold rule is don’t get underneath the load…
    I also had the chain snap on my mitsubishi shogun inline 6 petrol that driven the oil pump + balancer shaft on that model, and that wrecked the entire engine pretty quick. Symptoms of that weren’t low compression, it was the oil pressure light illuminating and a few milliseconds later the engine locking solid at 120km/h on the autoroute. I needed new underwear after that… I’m quite happy with engines driven by cambelts. Just change them at the recommended intervals.
    .
    I’ve been a car+bike guy all my life, I build rods and 4×4’s and bikes for fun which is my shop’s main raison d’etre. For all the madness I’ve done and driven over the years the only time I’ve been seriously hurt was in a accident in my completely stock landrover 101fc when the block cracked and the radiator overpressured suddenly and exploded into the cab and I got 44% steam burns before driving into a drainage dyke blinded. I’m slowly getting back to normal after that, the 5 large skin grafts are just evidence of hard earned experience. Life’s rich tapestry and all that :)

  13. @Lewin Day – Giday mite! I’m a seppo but I am familiar with your ute dilemma. The Daihatsu 1992 1.6L engines like the ROCKY are interference engines. You don’t actually have to break the timing belt to ruin your engine. You could just loose some teeth on the gear. Loose timing and invariably the valves will crash into the pistons. American Dodge’s have the same problem back in the 1990’s. It’s a bloody shame this happened to your ute. Maybe if you changed the timing belt at the recommended interval? I dunno’… Not sure it’s worth rebuilding the engine. I would go to your local wrecker and get a gently used rebuild. I would NOT put in in myself. Get a fair dinkum mechanic who owes you a favor or your brother-in-law (etc.). MAYBE he won’t gouge you (no guarantees there). :-)

    Here in Seppo-land a rebuild and swapping might cost you around $2,500 USD out of pocket. Doing it yourself might be more if you don’t have a hoist and the other required stuff to do this – like experience. Good onya, mate!

  14. Do the engine swap.

    My dad passed away nearly a year ago, and my mom gave me his 1988 Ford Bronco II with a similar issue: Dead engine, otherwise solid vehicle. I found a low-mileage replacement engine for only a few hundred dollars, and despite that I’d never done an engine swap before, I set out to do it by myself. Four months, $500 worth of tools and parts later (not counting the engine cost), and I have a great running truck and a ton of experience I didn’t have before. I got lucky that a family friend sold me his engine crane and two engine stands for $140, and gave me pointers along the way, but I did all of the work myself and I am thankful for the experience.

    I know my dad would be proud to see his little 4×4 on the road again if he were still with us.

    1. Awesome to hear you were able to tackle the project and come out on top, especially when so many project cars sit rusting for 10 years before being sent to the crusher. That’s great encouragement. I think a swap has to happen.

  15. TK, you located in SA or VIC? I’m currently in VIC right now. If you need a hand, let me know.

    Every time I make the trip from Victoria to SA, I service my VS Commodore (V8) for this very reason hahaha.

    I’ve got a ’92 VP Commodore I swapped the V6 out with a V8 a few years back. The car is still in SA (originally from there). It’s amazing how much you can learn by doing it yourself. I highly recommend doing an engine swap, but take my advise, on the new engine drop the sump, clean out everything, and then replace the oil pump while you’re there. Might as well!

    Good to see a fellow Aussie on here! Can’t wait to see more of Ferozi!

      1. Hmm, well if it was more easily accessible, I’d lend you my engine hoist haha that’s in Osborne at the moment.

        Oh I’ve been reading HaD for 10+ years, we Aussies need all the HaD-style tips we can get, in case a Mad Max scenario occurs, right? ;)

  16. are you near Melbourne? If so I can lend you (or drive it for you) a trailer that can easily pick up an engine, and I can also lend you a 3 ton block and tackle – it isn’t hard to find something to attach it to so you can lift the engine out….

  17. and this my friends is why you NEVER EVER replace fuse first and go on with your life. Always find the source of the problem. That fried mosfet is not the source, its the symptom of something shorted behind it, or bad driver.

  18. I have the sedan version Daihatsu Applause with the same motor. It’s been a good car but it’s at the end of it’s life soon.

    I bought it at about 150,000km and did the factory recommended maintenance until about 250,000 km (when the head cracked) and then maintenance as required (repairs only) until now and it’s about 300,000km.

    The motor only had two issues. One was dirty injectors that the *put it in the fuel tank* stuff didn’t fix so I made a cleaner that consisted of pressurised can of throttle body cleaner and connectors, a switch and clips for the car battery. I removed and cleaned the injectors and it has been good since.

    The cracked head was partially resolved by keeping the thematic fan on and frequently releasing the gas build-up and replacing water in the radiator. It is only good for short trips like shopping.

    Anyway, in my opinion, modern cars are only good for 200,000km to 250,000km and anything after that is a bonus.

    So if you are fixing/replacing a motor at 300,000km then you need to factor in that the cost of maintenance on the rest of the vehicle is going to increase as the time climbs up the far end of the bath tub curve.

    Have a good look over everything else and look for rust, worn brake calliper guide pins (an issue with mine), control arm end play and broken dust boots etc. In mine the coils spring suspension and struts are integrated so it is too expensive ($1000) to repair the suspension. You can’t just buy replacement struts.

    It might be worth it for ute but my sedan has a mushroomed suspension strut from a bad repair before I bought it so I am just waiting for it to die or to finish rebuilding a ute to replace it.

    The most interesting about the Feroza motor is that it has electronic fuel injection (EFI) and transistor assisted ignition (TAI) so it has both injectors and a distributor cap and standard coil. Looks weird when you first see it.

  19. I feel your pain! I just finished rebuilding a 2000 Subaru Outback twice for my friend. He too, seized one of the cams due to low oil pressure (really, he just never checked his oil…). I repaired that with a rebuilt head on one side. He came in about a month later with the engine seized again! Turns out the oil pickup tube o-ring cracked and trashed the crank and block (heads were fine). My gawd! It took three different engines (including parts from the original) to get that piece back on the road.

    Knock on wood, 10,000 miles and purring so far. I NEVER want to see that car (or any Boxer engine) again!

  20. To put it in perspective, fixing your ‘lil 4×4 is nothing compared to what this guy is doing on a rare Mercedes AMG R63.
    500 horsepower. 6.2 liter DOHC V8. All Wheel Drive. 155MPH limited top speed. 5,300 pound – MINIVAN. Only 180 R63s were built, all for the 2007 model year.

    He bought it used, drove it 13K miles and it broke. AMG used some crappy head bolts where the heads tend to break off. His only popped one and so far the damage has been non-fatal to the engine that Mercedes wanted $57K to replace.

    https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/r63-amg-the-unicorn-of-my-destruction/110824/page1/

    So if a stay at home dad with 4 kids can repair an exotic vehicle in his garage (he did invest in a twin post hydraulic lift and money isn’t a prob due to his car nut wife who works on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico) then you should be able to repair your truck. :)

  21. It was mentioned before. Check the oil pump pickup. That’s the most common pump problem. Generally oil pumps themselves are pretty reliable apart from a foreign object getting into them. If parts are available and you want a project just rebuild the engine. It’s not that hard. Find a good machine shop to machine the head and bore it and clean the crank. At that mileage you are due for a size up in bearings and a crank journal regrind, rod bearings, Pistons and rings and cam bearings if it uses them. Many of those little aluminum head motors actually don’t have cam bearings if it’s an over head cam. They use a hard plating and if that’s gone the head is toast anyways. I am assuming this is an iron block if it’s from 92. Magneflux it.

    Otherwise just go but another engine or vehicle.

  22. Had a head gasket failure on a Fiat, those are nasty. Hint: if the expander tank cracks, something bad will happen soon.
    Ended up selling it on and they (apparently) swapped the engine from a scrapper as my radiator, clutch etc were fine.

    For future reference, if the fan fails to come on do not cheap out and cable tie a high CFPM fan from a PC wired into the existing power with a kludged switch. Probably didn’t help matters but it provided just enough cooling to stop the engine frying itself at least in the short term.
    Its a “get you home in an emergency” fix only, would not recommend it for long term use.

  23. I recall someone having an issue with an exploding viscous fan which promptly sent the car right to Grethor.
    This time the problem *might* have been a bad belt but the aftermath was horrible, ruptured radiator and debris everywhere mere months after a very expen$ive turbo swap.
    Wonder if they got it going again, the rest of the engine looked in fair shape and it actually did run so there could still be hope for it.

  24. The root causes of broken timing chains are multiple. In the last years
    the following candidates caused the nightmares to engines

    What can be read about is that manufacturers of the chain stamped their (logo) in one side of the chain (usually done). So the chain has less strength on one side. Long oilchange intervals,and also modern emission treatment make the oil degrade quickly.
    In German i heart off “Wasserstoffversprödung”, which describes the process happening in the chains steel lashes itself.”
    Furthermore bad VVT Control can cause the VVT “Flügelzellensteller” to bump on their endpoints in some operatingpoints. More the resonances of low order which occur in engine starting/stoping phase cause the chain to shake.

    Last, the high transients in engine RPM which can occur from aggressive throttle derivative,
    cause the chain to break. In conclusion an less aggresive control strategy of the electronic throttle Actuator will make the chains happy for decades.

  25. i will likely be doing something like this to my favorite vehicle platform soon; the ’00-’04 ford focus zx3. getting a “rolling shell” that needs a new everything under the hood.

  26. I am proud to see the rebuild reuse mentality. As a proud American I can say regardless of timing chain, belt or interference gearing I would rebuild the engine after swapping in a salvage engine. I have a Dodge neon I refuse to get rid of because of its simplicity and robustness….. Sentiment notwithstanding.

  27. You should do an oil / air service on your car at least once a year, how ever old and cheap it maybe. You may be surprised how much longer the engine lasts and how well it starts in the morning.

  28. Both times I’ve banged valves it’s meant a replacement block. Never figured out exactly why, but that’s the only way I got plugs to stop oiling-up on the rundown. – And by only, I mean I’ve planed blocks, changed heads, pistons, done crack testing, etc, etc. Totally mystery…you bang valves, and the block (and obviously a bunch of other stuff) goes mysteriously south.

    1. It’s almost pointless to break open a regular production automotive engine and expect it to go back together without major problems. They just aren’t made to be overhauled and there are several reasons for this from the materials that they are made of, to the manufacturing practices by which the components are made, worked to dimension and assembled. Even if you are initially successful with a rebuild, it is never going to last as long as a new unit. Furthermore, it is never going to be as cost-effective as replacing it with a used one. Sure a few people will get lucky, (or tell great stories) but in the end refurb on this class of ICE a risk that is almost always a losing proposition.

      1. Yep, if they had of been just run around motors, then scrapping the whole show, and going for low kilometre Japanese import replacements would have been much less hassle, and far cheaper. Urgh…rally rat motors that got big ends every 3-weeks, and fresh bottom halves every 6. One became quite financially and emotionally invested in ‘chasing the weak link’. Utter madness in retrospect!

  29. Oil Pickup assembly, whether tube or screen type, is your sticky (see what I did there?) widget. I had an Oldsmobile Omega from 1977 that developed a nasty valve tap. Fortunately the place I purchased the car from knew I had recently had to replace the timing gears and chain (the crappy metal they used in the stock gears was shredded to hell and back). They had a guy that would do the repair for $300 (at the time a fortune to me).

    Got it done and it ran for another 40K miles before I sold it. The shredded metal from the gears got into the oil pan. The pickup screen did its job and protected the oil channels from debris infiltration, but at a cost of oil pressure.

    I added a gauge kit to the old girl shortly thereafter. I wanted to know the real temperature via analog bulb, the real oil pressure via calibrated sending unit, and the real system voltage. If you keep the car, invest in the analog gauge kit, you’ll know far ahead of any issues you’re going to have with the car just by reading the numbers.

    Idiot lights (and that’s really what they are) are for idiots. if you can get real engine data from the data bus, do that too.

    Good luck.

  30. Fun write up–I definitely appreciate reading the story, mostly because I’ve been there too!

    When I saw you had the seized camshaft and that you weren’t touching the bottom end of the motor I had a bad feeling I knew where this story was going. I was thinking your best case was just a few thousand km, sad you didn’t even get that.

    I had an 80s Lincoln which used the Ford 302, had an issue that required new heads but we didn’t touch the bottom end at the time, I think we got about 30K miles more, but within a few thousand miles of the fix the oil light was flickering hard at idle and cold starts sounded like someone dropping a bunch of heavy pots down a flight of stairs.

    If you love the car I’d try to find a replacement engine. If you have the space hang on to the old one–you may need parts later, or you might even end up rebuilding it.

    …if you thought it was tough to convince your dad about the need for a timing light, good luck with the engine hoist! ;)

  31. Loved the Plymouth Slant-6 225cu in. with “3 on the tree”. An engine you can’t kill by anything less than total oil starvation. Owned several over the years. Easy to maintain, but maintain is all you do. Trip to grandma’s always includes a 20 minute wayside stop to adjust the dwell and timing. Painted lines on the driveway so could do the front end alignment seeing as one good bump was all it took to knock it way out due to the weakly held eccentric cam adjustment system. But on the other hand ratchet and socket is all you need to align it in 20 minutes flat.

    Engine hoists? Why buy one? Then you gotta store it. Renting far better and you get better equipment. Where I lived though we just took down 3 small trees and made a tripod, used a chain winch to hoist the nose of the car up in the air till the rear bumper touched the ground, then easily yanked the transmission out to replace the clutch. Remember working into the night and stopping to watch skylab looking like a beer can, tumbling, the last few nights prior to re-entry.

    Largest pieced of automotive equipment I’ve owned are a pair of car ramps, and a tire bubble balancer. Big stuff isn’t worth the room it takes.

    Biggest trouble on those cars were the tailight bulbs always failing. Seems the bulbs could rattle in the holders a little bit on bumps, and this stressed the filament. Bulbs lasted just a couple months at best and just a few weeks was common. The fix was to FILL the bulb socket with thick dielectric grease which ended the rattling and allowed bulbs to have a full normal life.

    Never have considered replacing an engine. Up here the salt rusts the bodywork out so much that it’s not worth it to put a good engine in a rustbucket. Now… if it were a truck with a descent frame, that would be a different matter and likely worth putting an engine in. Most of the 225’s went to the junkyard when I noted the torsion bar mounts to the frame were twisting due to rusting frame… can’t be reasonably fixed.

    Nowadays my pick is a particularly reliable Nissan engine they dropped in 2002. The engine design is based on an aircraft engine… another “you can’t kill it”.

    The greatest improvement in automotive design in the last 25 yrs? Undoubtedly the stainless steel exhaust system! No more rust in your eyes every couple years!

  32. Don’t want to come across as an ass, but since when do substandard automotive repairs count as a “hack”. This reads like a bog-standard case of incompetent driver destroys engine, then doesn’t bother to fix it correctly and destroys it again. Any competent mechanic whether professional or a home-gamer would have known to at least check the oil pressures and probably to tear down the entire bottom end to replace the oil pump and at least check the bearing clearances.

    Sure, cool that it was known what head swapped onto an import car, but thats not really all that special.

  33. I’d buy a reliable car for my main use and keep this one as a ‘project’ car. Have the reliable car serviced professionally, even though even there it’s hit and miss.
    Reliable is a tough word – I’d buy a VW in EU but not in US. The availability of parts and servicing knowledge is what makes a car great.
    Meanwhile, I have the opposite problem: my old bike has such a high compression that it kills new batteries each year. Yes, I’ve checked the valve clearances, starter motor and everything. It’s kind of a known problem and some people go to the extent of installing two batteries in parallel, at the expense of reduced storage space.

  34. You dont need a big car for engine transport. I saw somebody to transport 1,8l turbo VW engine in Daewoo Tico (Suzuki Alto). That is Kei car. Swaping engines without engine crane? You need just chain hoist. When you lift a car you will simply push a car away. I got small used electric crane on a roof of garage. Verry usefull tool. Engine swap in my Proton Satria. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9riNEPOjn6g

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