Calling all mechanics!: An engine seizure story.

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by soco, Aug 17, 2011.

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What should I do?

  1. Drive easy, but it's fine.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. Drive easy, but eventually replace the motor.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. Drive easy, but eventually replace the crank.

    1 vote(s)
    16.7%
  4. Get off the road! Totally unsafe!

    4 vote(s)
    66.7%
  5. Drive like normal, driving easy won't help.

    1 vote(s)
    16.7%
  1. soco macrumors 68030

    soco

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Location:
    Yardley, PA
    #1
    Oh woe is me. Here's what happened.

    I have a 1998 Ford Ranger Sport, 2-wheel drive with 98,600 miles on it. It was in need of an oil change but only late by ~2 months. Still, not good.

    I was leaving work Friday and suddenly my oil pressure dropped out completely. The steering wheel basically locked up and I barely managed to get to the side of the road. I called a family member who does side work as a mechanic and he said get off the parkway and to a gas station right away. This, as I've learned, was a mistake. I should have stayed where I was for a tow. But what's done is done.

    So I started the engine back up, and with the engine running and no oil pressure, I drove it ~1 mile to a gas station where I got a tow. The engine sounded like a machine gun the whole way.

    My father (also a mechanic) took a look and determined the synchronizer needed to be replaced as the grooves in the bottom piece of it had been chewed up somehow. He said he's never even seen that before. So he replaced it and the oil pressure returned, but the terrible noise of a machine gun remains to this day.

    My landlord (also a mechanic! geez you'd think I'd have a better grasp on this...) listened to the noise and said it was on the underside of the motor and apparently that's a good thing. He said if I baby the motor and drive like a grandma at no more than 55 mph in the right lane for the rest of the truck's life, I might be ok.

    tl;dr: I caused what seems to be minor damage to my engine by driving a short distance without oil. The engine now makes noise on the underside of the motor and I'm afraid I need a new engine.

    I was told if I replace the "crank" I'll be ok. Any alternative suggestions? Agree with that one? Think I should scrap the whole vehicle?

    P.S. I'm broke, so I'd rather not follow any expensive advice, but I understand if it's the only way to go, I'll figure it out.
     
  2. fireshot91 macrumors 601

    fireshot91

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2008
    Location:
    Northern VA
    #2
    How much is the vehicle worth?


    How much are all the repairs going to cost you?



    Depending on that, either fix, or get a new car, or just sell and use public transportation depending on your needs/location.
     
  3. zioxide macrumors 603

    zioxide

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    #3
    eeeekkk.. that doesn't sound good.

    I know it's hard to put together the money for a new car (i'm in the same boat), but it seems like repairs on this would be $$$$$$$$. a new car would probably be your best bet if you can swing it.
     
  4. LimeiBook86 macrumors 604

    LimeiBook86

    Joined:
    May 4, 2002
    Location:
    Go Vegan
    #4
    I'm no mechanic. But if several of them say you can baby it and play it safe then maybe they're right. If you can't afford the repair or a new car then take this time to start saving up for a replacement car or a repair. I don't know if I would put too much money into replacing the parts or repairing the car. It may be worth it to get a cheap used car and sell this one for parts (if it's in really bad shape).

    Then again I know next to nothing about cars... drive safe! :)
     
  5. tjb1 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2010
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    #5
    Sounds like it might have seized a crank bearing or rod, if it did then its not going to last probably more than a couple hours of running without doing more serious damage. Should be pretty easy to diagnose just by pulling the oil pan down because you should be able to see the whole crank then.
     
  6. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    #6
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8J2 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Lack of oil pressure results I the top end not getting oil! Which in turn results in everything else not gettig oil! If you do a compression test you'll find your down by a fair amount too as the lack of oil would have killed the cylinder wall as well as your big/small end barrings!

    If you want to save the engine get it fixed now the more you run it the more it'll distroy itself!
     
  7. soco thread starter macrumors 68030

    soco

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Location:
    Yardley, PA
    #7
    Excuse my ignorance, but what is a compression test? When you say I'll find I'm down by a fair amount, what do you mean?

    I've been driving ~25 miles to work Tuesday and today so that's ~50 miles a day and it hasn't sounded worse, but are you suggesting that even though oil is not flowing like normal, I'm still damaging the engine by driving?

    It's worth (in good repair) ~$3,700. So in this state, maybe $2,000. I'm totally guesstimating.

    All repairs would cost ~$1,000 since the mechanics in my family would do the work without charging for labor. They've quoted me about a thousand for an engine replacement.

    Unfortunately, public transportation is not an option as my job requires me to drive to different law offices and the like every day. I can't use public transportation for that for time-sensitive reasons.
     
  8. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Location:
    5045 feet above sea level
    #8
    A compression test is to see the pressure change due to the stroke of the cylinder. If the cylinder wall/seals were damaged, it won't be able to generate the compression it was designed for under normal operation
     
  9. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #9
    Maybe I'm asking a really silly question, but if this is a 1998 truck, it's new enough to have an ECM (a central controlling computer). Is the check engine light coming on? The 1998 hardware probably doesn't store as much data as the newer hardware, but this tells you the basics of whether the cylinders are firing correctly (because if they're skipping, etc, it should trigger a check engine light).

    If this "machine gun" sound is really loud and you get it all the time, I am kind of suspicious of the idea that something isn't undergoing a lot of strain while that engine is running, and that something is going to break at some point.
     
  10. imaketouchtheme macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    #10
    Check the oil dipstick for a shiny substance/metal. Report back what you see.
     
  11. fireshot91 macrumors 601

    fireshot91

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2008
    Location:
    Northern VA
    #11
    If it's only about a $1000 fix, I would get it repaired.


    $1000 isn't that much (compared to a new/used car), plus then you'll get more use out of your vehicle.
     
  12. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Location:
    Communard de Londres
    #12
    If it's big end or main bearing damage and it sounds like it is baby it and do something about it at the first opportunity. I don't know much about modernish yank cars (nothing after the seventies) but on most cars it should be possible to drop off the sump and change the mains and/or big ends,there may well be damage to the crank as well but changing the bearings should give you at least a few thousand miles.You seem to know a few mechanics and if they are old school they might agree to do it for you, the cost of the bearings should be minimal.Youngish mechanics will probably tell you the motor needs to come out ,crank ground,blah blah so someone who knows how to make do and mend.I'd suggest the real old school method of finding the damaged bearing and replacing it with leather but that kind of stuff is only for being stuck in the outback a thousand miles from anywhere.
     
  13. JetBlack7 macrumors 68020

    JetBlack7

    Joined:
    May 14, 2011
    Location:
    Portugal
    #13
    No oil means screwing up the engine, so it could be anything. Try looking at the crankshaft, timing belt or the cams. Could be anything by the sound of things...
     
  14. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2008
    Location:
    Always a day away
    #14
    Journal bearings on the crankshaft might be the culprit. If these ran without oil for a time, they could have been damaged (that is, gone from smooth to very rough or chewed up). If you're keeping enough oil in it now, you might not be making it worse, although it'll never get better. The way to repair it would be to replace the crankshaft and possibly the piston rods - it would be rather expensive.

    In any event, my advice is to start saving your money for a replacement vehicle. Even if you get this engine repaired, you still have a truck with close to 100k miles on it, and the time to replace it will be coming.
     
  15. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    #15
    One can only hope you don't ride your new girlfriend in the same manner. :0
     
  16. Sankersizzle macrumors 6502a

    Sankersizzle

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2010
    Location:
    Canadadada
    #16
    Tomorrow is right, I think! And driving a car without oil pressure is pretty much the worst thing you can do to it.

    But the machine gun sound could be a multitude of things really... What would really help us would be a video/audio of the noise... There is still a chance that you could be damaging the engine more and more as your run it, but since that's our best option right now, you might as well make the video!
     
  17. RITZFit macrumors 65816

    RITZFit

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Location:
    In my Corner
    #17
    $1,000 for a replacement motor (presumably one in good nick) sounds pretty descent, especially if your family is absorbing the labor. Honestly, it sounds like that motor you have now is a ticking time bomb. Like others have said, its hard to pin point exactly what parts were effected with an oil starved motor (may be cheaper to replace than tear the whole thing apart).

    Whatever you decide on, make sure you keep an eye on those oil levels from now on! My car burns a bit of oil in-between changes so I check it atleast once a week. Good luck!
     
  18. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2008
    Location:
    On tenterhooks
    #18
    And if there is a next time, post from the side of the road. ;)
     
  19. codymac macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    #19
    If you're certain there was no oil pressure....

    Lack of oil pressure means the crank journals weren't seeing oil pressure. This means there was no film on the bearings and nothing to keep the crank from contacting a bearing. Since the oil flows, through the crank, from the crank journals to the rod journals, it also means the rod big ends suffered.

    Your bottom end is almost certainly gone, and that's likely the noise you're hearing. The rod big end bearings usually suffer first and worst, quickly wearing away the Babbitt layer and allowing the harder bearing layers to touch the journal, causing more wear and more slop. The same thing happens to the crank journal bearings.

    If you drive it in that condition, you'll turn a potentially repairable engine into a completely unusable mess.

    If cranks and bearings are cheap for the engine and you can do it yourself, you might be OK rebuilding the engine. If they're not, the most economical route is an ebay/junkyard engine. You should be able to easily swap the engines out in a day.

    IMHO, don't get the crank or bearings anywhere but the manufacturer/dealer. Firsthand, I've seen too many out-of-tolerance parts from third parties when we're talking a simple rebuild.

    That is, if you indeed ran the engine with no oil pressure. For all I know from where I sit you've just got a faulty oil light and a fan blade hitting a shroud. No way to tell from here.
     
  20. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2008
    Location:
    On tenterhooks
    #20
    I believe that has been ruled-out. His oil pump failed.

     
  21. cantthinkofone macrumors 65816

    cantthinkofone

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2004
    Location:
    Missouri, USA
    #21
    $1 says you fried your crank bearings and the sound you are hearing are the piston rods hitting the crank. Time for a new motor my friend.
     
  22. eljanitor macrumors 6502

    eljanitor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    #22
    $1000.00 for a replacement motor sounds like a good deal to me. Who knows what you did to the motor until they drop the oil pan and take a look. I wouldn't drive it if it's making the "machine gun" noise you say it is, as you will just do more damage. It could be an end cap on one of the connecting rods, that would make a loud banging noise close to what you're describing.

    Oil pressure drops, get off the road and shut off the car period. One mile is enough to damage a motor with no oil pressure. Sorry about your luck.
     
  23. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #23
    Spend the $1000 and get the rebuilt engine put in. As it is, your truck is worth very little if you needed to sell it for a new vehicle. With a new/rebuilt engine in it your truck is good for several more years, and then when you go to sell it or trade it in it will at least be worth something towards the newer the vehicle.

    I had a 1969 Malibu rag-top that I ended up transplanting two engines (over many years of driving) into. It's no big deal for people who know what they are doing. I finally wore out the frame of the car. Everything else had been replaced at least once.... I loved that car.......
     
  24. soco thread starter macrumors 68030

    soco

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Location:
    Yardley, PA
    #24
    Sorry I've been away from the computer and now that I've returned I see I have no good news to read lol

    As sad as it is to read, I guess I'll be going the replacement engine route. Time to start saving, somehow.

    As I said, I don't have a choice but to drive it until I have the money for this job. At least now I know what I've got to do though.

    For funsies, I'm going to take a short video tomorrow of the noise. I'll post it to YouTube and link it here. I really appreciate all of the thought and insight guys. Thanks :)
     
  25. Sankersizzle macrumors 6502a

    Sankersizzle

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2010
    Location:
    Canadadada
    #25
    I'm sure once you post the video you'll get much more specific help, good luck!
     

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