Timing chain failure?

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Moitz, Jan 18, 2004.

  1. Moitz

    Moitz Guest

    '92 SL1, 162,000 mi, timing chain (complete engine, actually) replaced
    at 72,000.

    Wednesday night, my wife said her car was making "noise." I had her
    check the oil, it was fine. I figured it was an exhaust leak (been
    about 3 years since we last did the exhaust), so told her just keep
    driving, but drive gently.

    It sat outside overnight (low of 13 F), then when she left for work in
    the morning, she got about two blocks from our apartment, and said she
    heard a loud "snap," "something hitting something else", and the car
    died and wouldn't restart. I looked at it just to check that it wasn't
    the serpentine belt (fine), tried to start it, and when it turns over it
    sounds odd (like I'm not getting compression in all cylinders) and
    there's a rattling noise from her valves. This is the end of the
    diagnostics I've done on it.

    Is it worth my time to pull the valve cover and see if the chain broke,
    or from the description can someone verify this?

    Moitz, Jan 18, 2004
  2. Moitz

    Joe Dufu Guest

    Sounds like you have guessed and the cause correctly already... Can't
    comment on the work involved though... Much success to you!


    Joe - V#8013 - '86 VN750 - joe @ yunx .com
    Ask me about "The Ride" on July 31, '04:

    I'm not a total idiot... I am after all, missing parts.
    Joe Dufu, Jan 18, 2004
  3. Moitz

    BANDIT2941 Guest

    It sat outside overnight (low of 13 F), then when she left for work in
    Does sound like the chain broke. Pull the valve cover and see if the cam is
    turning. The rattling noise is likely pistons hitting valves.
    BANDIT2941, Jan 18, 2004
  4. Moitz

    Moitz Guest

    Thus spake BANDIT2941 on 1/18/2004 7:41 AM:
    Well, I yanked the valve cover today...borken timing chain. The only
    work involved in this is towing it to a junkyard and buying a new car
    for her. With 162,000 on it, I really don't think it's worth slapping a
    new engine in it.

    I wasn't aware that back in '92 cars were made with interference engines
    using chains. I've got a '91 Accord which is also an interference
    engine, but it uses a belt. Seeing as my belt gets replaced every
    90,000 miles, and apparently the chain is supposed to be as well, is
    there really any advantage to a chain?

    Moitz, Jan 18, 2004
  5. ....I've read that sometimes a worn chain is noisy and a tech will hear it
    when it's in for service (oil change, etc).

    I've heard different lifespans for belts and Honda's - I like belts for
    their quietness, especially at higher rpm's. I guess in theory if you kept
    a car for 100k the chain system would still be original and the belt system
    would have cost you a replacement at 90k. The chain would be cheaper in
    that example.

    Congrats to your wife - a new car is a great way to start the new year!
    Jonnie Santos, Jan 18, 2004
  6. There's not really any scheduled replacement interval for a chain. 90,000
    seems early to have timing chain problems.. plus it seems like they usually
    make noise for a while before they break (which it sounds like it did here,
    at least for some length of time..)
    Robert Hancock, Jan 18, 2004
  7. ....90k was the replacement interval for the belt in a Honda the original
    poster was referring to. He had 162k on the Saturn.
    Jonnie Santos, Jan 18, 2004
  8. Moitz

    GoAwAy669 Guest

    If you want more reliability with performance, use those rubber belts to keep
    your pants up and stick with a timing chain. But then again, we're talking
    Satrun, here. Ain't much performace (stock) with those lawnmower engines...
    GoAwAy669, Jan 19, 2004
  9. Moitz

    Moitz Guest

    Thus spake Jonnie Santos on 1/18/2004 5:38 PM:
    Only 90,000ish on the chain though. Previous owner smoke a chain at
    72,000 so it had a new engine in it when we got it (compliments of her
    uncle who builds top-fuel engines for a living).

    Ah well. We needed a vehicle capable of towing a boat by spring anyhow,
    so this actually works out well-ish. Timing wasn't quite what I had
    hoped for, but hey...

    Moitz, Jan 19, 2004
  10. Moitz

    Moitz Guest

    Thus spake Moitz on 1/18/2004 11:44 PM:
    Hate replying to my own posts but a quick recount of miles leads me to
    about a ~120,000 figure...uncle used a boneyard engine out of a totaled
    car with ~20,000mi. So I guess I was pushing my luck.

    Moitz, Jan 19, 2004
  11. Moitz

    BANDIT2941 Guest

    Hate replying to my own posts but a quick recount of miles leads me to
    I've seen chains go much farther than that. When I rebuilt my motor at 157k my
    chain wasn't really all that stretched out(I replaced it because it was cheap
    and compared the old one to the new one).
    BANDIT2941, Jan 19, 2004
  12. Moitz

    ben@ Guest

    My SL2's chain was OK at 217,111 miles, but the exhaust sprocket was losing
    the tips of some of its teeth. And both cam sprockets where egging-out. And
    this was with Mobil 1. I think I'd rather change the belt every 60,000 to
    80,000 miles than pulling out the engine.
    ben@, Jan 20, 2004
  13. ....there used to be some posts about chains breaking more frequently than
    thought by a guy who saw a lot of Saturn's in his business. And then other
    posts that said low engine oil was terminal for the chain and guides - since
    some S series have a pretty good appetite for oil, it would be pretty easy
    to let the oil level to get too low between servicing...

    Any thoughts about the replacement vehicle? Do you like GM and what about
    the Colorado pickup?
    Jonnie Santos, Jan 20, 2004
  14. Moitz

    Moitz Guest

    Thus spake Jonnie Santos on 1/19/2004 9:37 PM:
    Yeah, it did have an appetite for oil, but we were always good about
    making sure it was never below the low mark (checked at every fill-up).
    I tried to use Castrol GTX High-Mileage when possible, Valvoline when
    not. 3000-5000 mile change intervals, always did filters. So not
    spectacular maintenance but probably quite a bit better than most people.
    Well, to be honest, I'm a Honda man when it comes to cars (her car was
    the gift that kept on giving me alternator repairs to do--last one was
    two weeks ago). I've always said I'd buy domestic trucks though and I'm
    sticking to that. Unfortunately, with starting college again, payments
    are pretty much out of the question. So we're going with a 1994
    mechanic-owned Jeep Cherokee a friend of ours is selling. Word on the
    street (and judging from my brother's 289,000 mile 1989 Cherokee) they
    last quite a long time.

    As far as the Colorado goes, I don't know...I haven't been a fan of GM's
    style department lately (not that Honda's been much better with their
    last round of redesigns *COUGH*Accord*COUGH*). Based purely on looks,
    I'd go for a Dakota over the Colorado. Based on reliability reputation
    though...Colorado all the way. I'm not so rich I can afford 3 or 4
    transmissions over the life of a vehicle. :)

    Moitz, Jan 20, 2004
  15. ....amazing what Honda can do. They're showing a pickup on their website -
    believe it's concept only.

    Congrats about college - I think it's one of the best things you can do for
    yourself regardless of what you chose to do for a living. I'm still plan on
    winning the lotto here in California... (grin)
    Jonnie Santos, Jan 20, 2004
  16. No specified interval for a chain replacement, but alas that does not mean
    the chain never needs to be replaced. 6th Planet, formerly Saturn Services,
    was recommending something like 75K miles, based on the large number of
    destroyed Saturn engines he saw due to timing chain failures.

    The advantage of a belt is that it's much less expensive to replace, and it
    isn't as dependent on other components (i.e. tensioners, guides, oil level),
    besides being quieter), which is why Saturns have timing chain problems.

    Read: http://cartalk.cars.com/Columns/Archive/1997/March/03.html
    But obviously they are referring to vehicles with non-interference engines
    when they
    say that you don't replace a chain until it breaks.
    Steven M. Scharf, Jan 22, 2004
  17. Moitz

    BANDIT2941 Guest

    Yeah, but in many cases it also drives the water pump. I'd much rather be
    dependent on guides and stuff then the water pump. If the pump locks up there
    goes the belt!

    Oh, and if the belt doesn't have some type of tensioner, how does it stay
    BANDIT2941, Jan 23, 2004
  18. This is true. They recommend water pump replacement when the belt is
    On Hondas the timing belt interval is now 105K miles, time for a new water
    pump anyway, as long as you're doing preventative maintenance.
    The tensioners are much simpler. Just a spring loader roller. Not like
    Saturn, where oil pressure is used to ratchet up the tension, and where a
    gummed up timing chain tensioner bore resulted in a loose chain.
    Steven M. Scharf, Jan 24, 2004
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