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Does anyone have any tips for getting a look at a '97 3.5 Engine ID number while the engine is still in the car? I have factory manual + Chilton + Haynes and can *see* the diagram which says the ID is "on the rear of the cylinder block, just below the cylinder head" -- so I have an idea where it's supposed to be.

Everything is off the top of the engine and the entire wiring harness is even out of it, but I still can't see anything (using a mirror) on the back of the block on either side. Any tricks would be greatly appreciated!

Engine has a spun rod bearing, and I am trying to decide whether to rebuild the bottom end or get a different engine. Car purportedly has 69,000 miles on the clock; if it's the original engine and it also only has 69,000 then I'd probably go for the rebuild. The trick is that there are many signs under the hood that this puppy has been worked on before, or maybe even replaced.

There are lots of rusty bolt heads & fasteners, but not just on the engine. The whole compartment looks like it was exposed to the weather -- even the secondary hood release and spring up top are way rusted.

The ***** of this all is, the engine was running perfectly before the rod bearing went, and it was very smooth and quiet. Only known problems were leaky valve covers, leaky front crank seal, and EGR code set (but with no symptoms).

Car was an ebay purchase, and we put 2,000 miles on her before the bearing problem. Carfax seems to confirm actual mileage is accurate at 69,000 -- but before we found her on ebay she apparently was passed thru several dealers over about a year with virtually no mileage during the entire time. Did she sit somewhere with no engine and the hood open to the weather? Did her original engine get toasted and replaced with a used one that had been sitting on somebody's lot in the weather?

That's why finding the engine ID number would be such a big help..!
 

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It's not actually on the back of the block I don't think. On the side, towards the rear. I don't remeber which side.

96-97 3.5Ls should be the exact same. 93-97 3.5Ls should "work". There was a compression change and few minor changes for OBD-II in 95-96.

I think that's the youngest death I've ever heard of, from a 3.5L.
 

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with all of that rust, I would wonder if that car was a flood damaged car. You did a car fax, but maybe it flooded out and the owners at the time just cut their losses and got rid of it.

That sucks on only getting 2000 miles before the engine went. You might think about getting a salvage yard engine for it, probably cheaper than a rebuild. You might even be able to get an engine w/ comparable mileage

As for the ID tag, you might be able to see it better by getting under the car and looking up at the block.


Good luck,

AJ
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I thought about the flood angle, but car was from upstate NY and doesn't show near as much rust & stuff from the firewall on back. Also doesn't seem to have any electrical or lighting issues. One of the hood supports was missing and the other had a bent rod, so one of my possible theories is that maybe the hood was stuck open at some point. That would've exposed its underside plus pretty much the whole engine compartment to the elements. Either that or the car was stuck nose-first in a pond??? Who knows, I'm sure weirder stuff has happened.

What I also find strange is that the main wiring harness looks like it was used as a schoolyard recess toy or something. All of the tape-like stuff wrapped around wires by connectors (like at the injectors) is either totally decayed-looking or missing, and I've found several connector wires that are scraped to the point of exposing bare copper. Even though nothing was malfunctioning, the main harness is so bad I went ahead and got another from Ebay -- and it's in way better condition. Now I just need a working engine to install it on!

I also picked up a pair of used heads (complete with cams) which are supposed to have been pulled from a working vehicle, so I'm sort of leaning towards rebuilding the bottom end or maybe buying a reman. short block. There's a rebuilding shop about 40 miles from here with good prices and a good reputation, so I'm gonna talk to them. Like I said, it theoretically should be significant to find out if it's the engine it was built with or a replacement of totally unknown history.

OTOH, some of the other engine compartment wiring and accessories (like the fuse/relay box, for example) look nearly brand new. I don't just mean clean, I mean *new*. How some of the other stuff has deteriorated looks so unusual I also wonder if maybe there was a fire or something. I could almost see that... maybe the first owner didn't do the fuel rail recall and had a fire. That would certainly disable the car, and after the fire was out maybe the hood was left open or one of the supports got damaged so the hood wouldn't close.

A car in that condition could sit for some time and get a lot of ..um... weathering. Maybe a succession of people looked at and said "hmmmm, only 66,xxx miles and the overall car is in good shape, it doesn't look like it would take much to get it running." Perhaps the 3rd or 4th dealer who handled it actually did the repairs and got it back on the road. Or maybe the original engine was completely toasted and that 3rd or 4th dealer happened to have a used one to drop in for cheap.

More oddities all over the front of the car suggest that either the engine has been out of it, or somebody did a lot of work for some reason. There are signs back by the firewall, and all the way up front. The timing belt is NAPA, the crankshaft pulley was two grooves too far onto the shaft, and somebody had tightened one of the tensioner bolts so much that it was bent. Since all of that obviously was done at least 40,xxx miles before the recommended timing belt replacement, one has to wonder. And of course nothing obvious explains the trashed rod bearing, but we wouldn't want anything to be easy, huh?

Keep in mind that I do have another 97 Trep that I bought new that now has 138,xxx. Plus my son has a 97 Concorde he bought with 107,xxx miles -- and both are 3.5s with normal looking engine compartments and no (knock on wood several times) blown rod bearings. At least if I forget how something is supposed to look when reassembled, I have live examples to look at!

So the mystery continues. Thanks for the hints on finding the engine ID; I'll get back out there and do more hunting; sounds like the exhaust manifold shields may need to come off for a better look. I'll provide updates as this whole thing plays out.

Oh, and here's a general helpful hint: NEVER buy a car on Ebay without several good pictures of the engine compartment, preferably some close-ups. Pics would have told me a lot. I might still have bid on it with the 66,xxx (at the time) miles but not as much as I did -- and therefore somebody else would've gotten it. To be fair, the seller DID give a partial refund that was generous and did pretty much cover the other issues that weren't apparent in the listing. But that was before the rod bearing, of course. Live and learn!!
 
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