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Old 01-27-2009, 07:27 PM   #1
Growser
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Default How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

I had a friend who broke down in Timbucktoo and the local garage he was towed to told him he needed a camshaft and quoted him a 4 figure estimate. This garage just gave him the creeps and he just said no. So he called me to pick him up (over 100 miles) and I used AAA to get the car home. My friend said he had been driving along and the car started running rough. He got to a stop sign and it quit. He got it started and went a little ways and it died again and wouldn't start.

Friend told me he was going to buy a new car anyway so being I paid for the tow (well kinda sorta) I could have the car for parts. So I have a 93 SC2 sitting in my drive way. Car has 135,000 miles on it with a previous engine replacement. So today was the first day in awhile it was above zero degrees when I had a chance to look at it. When I opened the hood I was surprised at what I saw. The battery was gone, the coils and module gone Looks like the garage owner got some spare parts. . So I took the valve cover off to take a look and I don't see a problem. Oil level at full, everything covered in oil, no broken parts, pieces of metal, or anything else out of the ordinary.


Take a look at my pictures and tell me if I'm missing something obvious. If a cam breaks it would be obvious, right?

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Old 01-27-2009, 08:54 PM   #2
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Default Re: How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

Cams look fine to me. Crank the engine over and if the entire shaft revolves then it is not broke either. Lobes look good. Do a compression test. I would file a complaint with the local cops against the ship for theft. Or actually have the former owner file the complaint. If the cops are not interested call the local prosecutor and the town mayor. There is a bit over 250.00 in parts gone there.

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Old 01-27-2009, 08:59 PM   #3
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Default Re: How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

Nice pictures!

Hmmm, a mystery.

For some reason the mechanic removed the cam cover. From this he determined there was something wrong with one of the camshafts?

From the pictures both cams look ok. A few of the lobes are obscured though. I certainly don’t see anything that would keep the engine from running

The exhaust cam and cam bearing on the left side of the engine (near the EGR valve) looks different in color. Could be something to do with the cold exposed parts. Probably nothing. I admit I’m not an expert on DOHC engines. (SOHC rule!)

Were you able to talk to the mechanic?

Sometimes information gets changed as it passes from person to person. Sort of like the old “telephone game” from grade school.

Perhaps the word “camshaft” was mentioned and your friend picked up on the word. The actual problem might have been the head is cracked and the camshafts should be replaced with the new head. I’m just guessing.

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Old 01-27-2009, 09:20 PM   #4
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Default Re: How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

Could be the light. There is oil under the lobe where it should be and no aluminum balls rolling around in there. Along with the missing parts I think the guy was taking advantage of someone in trouble. It happens a lot. If it actually looks like that in the flesh then it has been sprayed with cleaner.

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Old 01-27-2009, 10:37 PM   #5
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Default Re: How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

Lying and taking advantage of customers is one thing; it's, alas, all too common. Simply taking parts is theft. A property crime. You should report it AS A CRIME to the local constabulary of the location of the shop. Indicate the suspect and let the police investigate. Your friend should also be able to get an insurance settlement, just as if someone had stolen property from inside the passenger compartment.

Forget ANYTHING that "mechanic" said. Would you trust someone who stole the radio out of your car to advise you about how to dress up the interior, just because he happened to be in there?

Start from scratch: describe "broke down". Did the engine stall? Did it fail to start after being shut off normally? Did it happen when the car was moving? Were there any indicators of trouble on the dashboard (temp gauge high/low, warning light(s)). Were there noises? Did your friend try to start the car again? Did it crank?

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Old 01-27-2009, 10:59 PM   #6
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Default Re: How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

My friend called the garage and the owner "vaguely" remembered him. Stated everything was there, but was loose and just laying there and that we must have lost it when towing (I was born at night, but not last night). Problem is it was before Christmas, and two tows since braking down, and today was the first time I opened the hood to take a look. Knowing it and proving the theft in court are two different things. This place was in the middle of nowhere and would be a good set for a horror film to be filmed. A town of 100 people (looked like most of them related) with a one pump "fillin station" and 1 stall garage.

As far as when the car broke down it was running fine and all of a sudden started running rough when he slowed and stopped for a stop sign. It then stalled and he was able to restart it, go another mile or so down the road with it running rough, then it quit altogether. It would turn over, but not start.

Thanks for the advice. I have some coils and modules in my parts bin, so just a matter of pulling a battery to see. It's suppose to get up to 20 degrees by this weekend, so I'll let you all know how it goes.

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Old 01-27-2009, 11:07 PM   #7
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Default Re: How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

The shop's insurance should cover the loss, and issue you a check for the cost to replace the ig bits and battery. Or they could ship it all to you at their expense (they won't wanna pay to ship a battery).

The basics - check for spark, fuel. Check compression.

Were the early models different? Every other DOHC "topless picture" I remember shows cam gears with holes machined in them. Are those solid gears standard for that vintage?

20s, eh? Enjoy the heatwave !

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Old 01-27-2009, 11:29 PM   #8
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Default Re: How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

thats from an aftermarket timing chain kit i just installed one on mine that had the same solid gears i believe its a coyles but who knows

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Old 01-27-2009, 11:40 PM   #9
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Default Re: How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

Looking again, it looks like that exhaust cam is newer than the intake, doesn't it? And I wonder why the front part of the #4 exh cam bearing cap is so dry of oil.

Oh, looky that; the #1 and #2 injectors are unplugged. Did the "mechanic" do that too?

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Old 01-27-2009, 11:44 PM   #10
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Default Re: How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

Insurance? Surely you jest. I doubt this guy even has his vehicles insured.

...
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Old 01-27-2009, 11:47 PM   #11
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Default Re: How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

I hope if my camshafts go bad they go bad like yours. I'm no expert but there's nuthin' wrong with those things. With all that's been described, I'm of the opinion that the engine lost a crank position sensor (CPS). The spark test that madpogue suggests should either indicate spark (good cps) or no spark (failed cps). Just my 2-cents.

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Old 01-28-2009, 12:00 AM   #12
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Default Re: How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

Yes, the injectors were unplugged. too. Here are a couple close up photos.



The cam at the front of the car is a lighter color than the one in the back.
And the cam at the front driver side is a little drier than the rest, but the car has been sitting uphill in my driveway for over a month.

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Old 01-28-2009, 12:08 AM   #13
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Default Re: How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

Quote:
Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
Were the early models different? Every other DOHC "topless picture" I remember shows cam gears with holes machined in them. Are those solid gears standard for that vintage?

20s, eh? Enjoy the heatwave !
That engine has been rebuilt. Those are Cloyes sprockets.

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Old 01-28-2009, 12:56 AM   #14
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Default Re: How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
That engine has been rebuilt. Those are Cloyes sprockets.
Or it had the timing chain replaced.

From the original description, sounds like the alternator let go.

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Old 01-28-2009, 02:38 AM   #15
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Default Re: How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

It sounds to me like an ignition problem. My guess would be either the crank position sensor or the ignition module. If they're ok, maybe a bad coil pack?

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Old 01-28-2009, 07:33 AM   #16
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Default Re: How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

About lying.

I am attending college for Automotive.

There is an act called Public Act 300. Within this is states that shops are not allowed to lie about something or have intentions of cheating a customer. Otherwise the Bureau of Business may fine, shut down for a period of time, or permanently shut down the business.

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Old 01-28-2009, 08:51 AM   #17
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Default Re: How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

Quote:
It sounds to me like an ignition problem. My guess would be either the crank position sensor or the ignition module. If they're ok, maybe a bad coil pack?
+1
I bet the coil / module went bad and threw the "cam position sensor" code. So the "mechanic" went in trying to find the "cam position sensor". That would explain the missing coil (first guess) then the valve cover removal( after reading the code).

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Old 01-28-2009, 09:36 AM   #18
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Default Re: How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

Quote:
Originally Posted by laser3kw View Post
+1
I bet the coil / module went bad and threw the "cam position sensor" code. So the "mechanic" went in trying to find the "cam position sensor". That would explain the missing coil (first guess) then the valve cover removal( after reading the code).

It's a 93 and OBDI. No "cam position sensor" code to be thrown.

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Old 01-28-2009, 11:54 AM   #19
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Default Re: How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

Also, no report of SES light being on.

Hm, I doubt it's the alternator. If it ran so long on a bat alt, that the battery ran down to the point it stalled (couldn't run the PCM/ICM/coils), there's no way there'd be enough battery charge to start it up again, even once.

Quote:
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There is an act called Public Act 300. Within this is states that shops are not allowed to lie about something or have intentions of cheating a customer. Otherwise the Bureau of Business may fine, shut down for a period of time, or permanently shut down the business.
You realize you're talking about STATE statutes, and STATE agencies, right? There may be equivalents / counterparts in other states, but there is no "Bureau of Business" that applies to everyone who uses this site. And commerce laws in some states are VERY weak.

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Old 01-28-2009, 12:01 PM   #20
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Default Re: How to tell if a camshaft is bad?

Also did anyone notice the writing on the intake manifold? Its a junkyard engine.

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