PART IV - Fri, 20 Jun 2008
A brief re-cap. After finding your third listing for the car, I began talking to you about it. My wife and I test drove the car, and I began to do research.
1) I found a set of heads and other parts on eBay.
2) I found this website and began to do LOTS of reading… www.DodgeIntrepid.net
3) Found this thread… https://www.dodgeintrepid.net/forums/...ad.php?t=86321
4) Found his picture page… http://www.supermotors.net/vehicles/.../16817/56899-2
5) Bought the car and drove it home… had to put some gas and water in it.
6) Sourced and purchased the needed gaskets and parts to complete the head gasket repair.
7) Drove the car around town just to keep it moving, dug it out of the snow a few times, and then parked it in the garage
Then I rebuilt the top of the motor as described above and in my first e-mail. I found a bad bearing sound I didn’t like… sooooo
I bought (northernautoparts.com found via www.ebay.com
) and rebuilt the bearings on the bottom end of the motor. There are at this point only a few things left and you could call it a full overhaul… The oil light would still come on at this point, and the engine would die if I drove it for too long… BUT, it DOESN’T overheat! So, it got parked while I did some research.
Well, here we are. It took 2 weeks to find, afford, order, and receive the next batch of parts. When I ordered the bearings before, the sales person suggested a oil pressure sensor (to take care of the oil light) and he said he ALWAYS suggests an oil pump for them. Well, I took the cheap way out, and still had oil problems. So, I ordered a new oil pump kit, and found the specifications that the old pump should fall in. When I put the car up on ramps, it took the better part of an evening and an hour on the next morning (Saturday morning) to get the old oil pump out. I found that I needed to rent a hand full of tools to get the job done, as there is a special puller used to remove one of the pulleys.
When I finally pulled out the parts to measure and compare to the specs, I find that the old pump is IN SPEC! Then WHY is there an oil pressure problem!?!?!?!? I double checked all measurements, and even checked the new pump… all parts matched to with in 0.001”… So, for academics sake, I replaced all old parts with new parts, and then looked in the box the pump came in. I found three more parts… a little plunger, a spring, and a cap… “Oh, where do these go?” Turns out they are the pressure regulator, and this spring is supposed to be 1.95” long by spec. I found how to remove the spring that was in the car, and measured it. It came out to 1.843”!!! That’s more than a 1/10 of an inch! No wonder it never built pressure! See, this spring holds the plunger up, and when the oil pressure gets too high, it pushes back on the spring and releases the excess back into the oil pan… with no (or very little) spring pressure on the plunger, NO oil flowed into the engine! Most likely, the repeated engine over heating caused the metal to loose strength and “springiness”, thus causing the drop in oil pressure. As the engine would warm up, and the oil would naturally thin out, this weak spring would simply fail. For good measure, when I installed the new spring, I slipped a .800” thick washer under the spring for a little added pressure.
I had the car re-assembled on Sunday afternoon (June 1st, I think), and back on the ground. I added oil, had to re-fill antifreeze at the same time (to do the oil pump, everything has to be drained). When re-starting a car that has been taken apart like that you have to crank the engine over with out letting it start (by disabling either the fuel or spark) to build oil pressure… the last two times I started it like this the oil pressure took FOR EVER to build (more than 5 minutes worth of cranking). This time it was less than 45 seconds. A GREAT sign! It started up, and sounded soooo much better. It still had a minor tick, but over all wasn’t too bad. I checked the AC to find that it was low, but not out of Freon. This means it has a slow leak and would do o.k. to charge. As soon as I added one can of R-134a, the AC worked like a charm. The Freon I added contained a stop leak and seal conditioner, to help out where ever it could.
We loaded up the kids and took off to buy gas. We drove it around to confirm that the oil light would stay out, and it did. Pulled into the little town of Norway to buy petrol, and the engine died and we coasted to a stop, right at the pump. I filled it with gas, and we figured that may be why it died, it was very low… no luck on re-starting… I poked around and checked out some things, did a diagnostic on the coil pack over the phone with Autozone, made various testing equipment using light bulbs and bits of wire scavenged from the trunk, hood light, and the trash at the gas station. Determined that the coil pack must be bad, probably temperature related, finicky about being hot. So, I got some ice from the soda fountain and placed it around and on the coil pack. 5 minutes later it popped right over and ran! Back came the AC, and down the road we flew. It died pulling from 30 up onto 380, about half way up the curve. Called my dad, he brought me some ice water to try and cool down the coil pack… no luck. So, he brought me to Autozone, and I bought a coil pack, then back to the car we went. Hopped in the front seat, it fired right up, so I drove it back to Autozone incase I needed more parts, and so I wasn’t working on one of the busiest stretches of concrete in Cedar Rapids.
At Autozone, I pulled in and it died, as expected. I hopped out, and swapped the coil packs. DID NOT START… *scratches head* Well, um…
I swapped my old coil pack back on went in the store. I returned the coil pack for a camshaft position sensor… one of two ‘position’ sensors on the engine. I put on the new sensor, and it still didn’t start… I pulled the new sensor back off, and installed my old sensor again… IT STARTED! By this time, it has been sunny, rainy, and HUMID all at once, and my two boys are getting hot, hungry, and cranky. My wife’s been putting up with the fuss for now, but I can tell she’s wearing thin too. Back home we went…
It died just short of the crest of a hill that would have let me coast home… so a quick tug with a rope and another car, and it went into the driveway. Doing more research on www.DodgeIntrepid.net
revealed LOTS of similar problems, but only ONE was exactly my problem… and for the life of me, I can NOT find that post now (I wish I could find that link again and give the proper credit)… it fit the symptoms perfectly, and was a simple explanation that no one else had gotten into and given bad advice. It was a Crankshaft Position Sensor, the sensor I didn’t get to change because of the car suddenly starting just fine for me! So the next day after work I acquired the sensor, and installed it. Loaded the family back up, and went for a drive. We followed the same path and same driving time as when it died at the gas station, and to my great relief, it worked perfectly!
We began the next day to drive it daily to work. We both work for the same company, and carpool to save on gas. The AC is cold, the seats are comfy, the ride is fantastic. It doesn’t suck fuel down as fast as our minivan either!
Well, after work the day I began to write this chapter, the AC stopped working for me. Back to www.DodgeIntrepid.com
I went, to find this article https://www.dodgeintrepid.net/forums/...ad.php?t=21466
. Sounds like I’m going to be getting an AC Pressure Transducer after work and plugging it in… I took the old one off for the fun of it, and while the AC slowly leaked I tried to clean and dislodge the ball that is makes it work. I sprayed brake clean in the opening, then shook and rattled around the sensor, then blew it dry and re-installed it. Still didn’t work. It’s got the symptom of the AC not engaging, but the cooling fans kicking on high as soon as I start the car, even when the engine is cold like it was first thing this morning. I’ve got a new sensor on order, it should be in on Saturday. I’ll talk to the guy on the phone to make sure it’s the right sensor, then I’ll install it and should have cold AC again!
The passenger side rear tire loses air still. It was flat when we test drove it back at the end of last year, and then it kept going flat through the winter, and now looses air a little faster since we drive it. I’m going to jack it up and plug what ever hole I find with my trusty tire plug tool kit I keep at work.
One last thing that has been kinda holding on… And I don’t know what I’m going to do about it yet… the engine has a really bad tick… back on the www.DodgeIntrepid.com
forum there is a lot of talk about various knocks… I’ve got new bearings in it, new heads, and new oil pump… I’ve done as much as I can with the engine short of a crank kit or full overhaul… I did notice ONE little thing when I took the engine apart on the top side… the rear most cylinder on the drivers side showed indication that the top of the piston and the valves in the head have made contact at one point. I thought about removing a bur I saw at the top of the piston, but ended up not doing so (awkward angle, and I figured it wouldn’t harm anything to leave it alone…). I’m wondering if I’ve got a little contact going on there. The other idea that I’ve got is that the wrist pin at the top of that connecting rod is loose in the piston itself (the piston is a softer aluminum or magnesium, the wrist pin is hardened steel). The wrist pin bearing in the piston could have easily worn due to overheating, and lack of oil from the bad pressure spring. For now, I’m going to leave it. I can always rip the motor out and rebuild it or just drive it till it dies… I monitor the sounds the car makes and I know when it gets worse…
So for now, I think the repairs are done after I get the AC up and the tire fixed. Sounds like it could use brakes, especially in the rear, by the end of summer… I also want to replace the plastic panels behind the rear doors, between the rear doors and the rear window… the paint is just fading there, if it gets much worse, it will look really bad… just minor things now really…
I hope you enjoyed the story. I know this one is a little long, but I wanted to get it finished up in one post. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.