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Old 11-11-2009, 06:11 PM   #1
droveavolvoonce
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Default Compression test results - looking for advice.

Hi, folks!

Just did a compression test (used a rented Autozone tester) today with the following results:

Cylinder 1/2/3/4, warm engine:
10 cranks/6 additional cranks

187/210
190/210
40/60
110/120

After adding 1tsp of fresh 10W30 to each:

197/214
195/210
70/90
130/135

ALSO : I have to add a quart every 350-400 miles or so.

ALSO ALSO:
Plug 1 was oily, almost up to the spark tip. Oil was dripping off, literally.
Plug 2 was less oily but about 1/3 of the way up the threads.
Plug 3 and 4 were pretty dry but had noticeable light-colored deposits on the spark tips. Probably from the oil burning?

This seems to indicate :

Cylinders 3 and 4 need work. Probably needs new rings seeing as it's consuming oil so much and possibly valve work too because the 1tsp of oil didn't change the numbers much.

Is this an accurate assessment?

Is this a situation that I can 'live with' until after this coming winter?
What kind of costs am I looking at to remedy the situation? Any lower-cost options? I'm not sure I'm ready for DIY on the internals of my engine...

Thanks in advance!
-daVo

P.S. Will try to put up some pics later of the plugs I pulled.
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Old 11-11-2009, 06:37 PM   #2
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Default Re: Compression test results - looking for advice.

Edit : plug photos are now up in my 'Work-in-Progress' folder.
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Old 11-11-2009, 06:52 PM   #3
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Default Re: Compression test results - looking for advice.

Compression rings are equally bad in all 4 cylinders. You have burned valves in #3 and #4. Based on oil consumption figures the oil control rings are jammed full of carbon.
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Old 11-11-2009, 06:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: Compression test results - looking for advice.

replacing piston rings is a big job, to do a valve job while one is "in" there, is equaly as big, if not bigger. you are looking at alot of labor time a valve job is 1.8-2 hrs, a valve grind is 10 hours, piston rings and related parts is 16.2hrs, this is according to Mitchell for a 93 SC-2. Relitively speaking, the PARTS are not the exspensive part of the job.
BTW- during a compression check, I was taught to remove all spark plugs, on a COLD engine, disable the fuel before hand, and crank the it over 4 times for each cylinder. 4 cranks is one full revolution of the engine. Look for how much the needle rises during the first and second crank, the greater the rise, the better- I was taught. on a cylinder with seemingly low compression, add a little oil, and repeat 4 crank test. If the numbers rise significantly, you may have sticking or failing piston rings. If no psi increase move on to the valves. At this point a cylinder leak down test is appropriate to determine if intake or exhaust valves are to blame.

On a car of that age an mileage, i would try"cleaning" the p-rings first. I have had pretty good luck with a product called Sea-Foam. Follow the instructions on the can meticulously. Try a few treatments before commiting to a job that may cost more than the car is worth. -good luck.
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Old 11-11-2009, 11:25 PM   #5
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Default Re: Compression test results - looking for advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
Compression rings are equally bad in all 4 cylinders. You have burned valves in #3 and #4. Based on oil consumption figures the oil control rings are jammed full of carbon.
You and I must have some sort of psychic connection. (My thoughts exactly) Wanna bet that they are exhaust valves?
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Old 11-11-2009, 11:39 PM   #6
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Default Re: Compression test results - looking for advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfman View Post
You and I must have some sort of psychic connection. (My thoughts exactly) Wanna bet that they are exhaust valves?
And that would contribute to a rebuild, right?
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Old 11-12-2009, 12:56 AM   #7
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Default Re: Compression test results - looking for advice.

I would certainly highly suspect its the exhaust valves. Have anything happen that results in a lean condition at high RPM or lower the effective octane rating of the fuel by diluting it with oil and the exhaust valves take a beating.

The fix for that engine is an overhaul or a new engine.
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Old 11-12-2009, 10:14 AM   #8
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Default Re: Compression test results - looking for advice.

Thanks for the advice so far.

Looks like the situation is a bit worse than I'd hoped.
I have a can of SeaFoam here already, I figure I'll give it a try and see if it helps.

Otherwise, I'm going to try to ride this out through the winter and make a decision in the spring, barring anything catastrophic.

If a rebuild or a swap are the only real options, the budget doesn't support that right now.

And, yes, either option may cost more than it's worth considering the value of the car, but it all depends on how you calculate such things. I've certainly spent over $1500 on the car over the past two-plus years but considering the expense of taxes, car payments and higher insurance rates, I'd say it's been worth it up to this point, anyway.

Best,
daVo
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Old 11-12-2009, 10:36 AM   #9
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Default Re: Compression test results - looking for advice.

The value of a good running Saturn is directly related to the price/gallon of gas. Gas is going up.

The engine should run with bad valves but it will eventually get to the point where it will not idle worth a darn. Total power will be down also. If you have time on your side, shop for a fresh wreck with a good engine.
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Old 11-12-2009, 10:53 AM   #10
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Default Re: Compression test results - looking for advice.

+1. Its cheaper to get a different engine than rebuild your current one.

car-part.com will help
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Old 11-12-2009, 12:46 PM   #11
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Default Re: Compression test results - looking for advice.

If I go in the direction of a replacement engine...what's the general advice for getting a good one and not getting burned?

I mean, it's not as simple as finding the closest engine with the lowest mileage at the least cost, ya? For example, there are two near me (both are listed as being from a 93):

107000 miles $299
62000 miles $500

Should I be suspicious of the one with miles that low for a 1993? Should I be looking for one with less than 100k miles? Any tips would be great!

Regards,
daVo
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Old 11-12-2009, 02:04 PM   #12
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Default Re: Compression test results - looking for advice.

Get the compression numbers on the engine if you are buying from a junkyard. The 107 k engine is a decent deal for around here.
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Old 11-12-2009, 02:57 PM   #13
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Default Re: Compression test results - looking for advice.

When you check compression on an engine that has been sitting for any period of time the exhaust valves that are held open by the cam will rust slightly and you will find low compression on those cylinders. The intakes usually do not do that. Take all the plugs out and squirt a good blast of WD-40 into each cylinder and then check the compression. Crank the engine on the starter. You really can not do a valid compression test on an engine that has been sitting. All you can do is verify that the valves are not burned out of it and that it does have reasonable compression. The 62,000 mile engine might be teh best one. You have to get a bit of history. If it was driven on short runs then it will have low mileage and you need to look for some oil change info in the glove compartment or door/window stickers. If the high mileage engine acquired all of those miles out on the intestate then it would be the better motor. Those are general statements and the actual maintenance has a major impact on that also.


Quote:
Originally Posted by droveavolvoonce View Post
If I go in the direction of a replacement engine...what's the general advice for getting a good one and not getting burned?

I mean, it's not as simple as finding the closest engine with the lowest mileage at the least cost, ya? For example, there are two near me (both are listed as being from a 93):

107000 miles $299
62000 miles $500

Should I be suspicious of the one with miles that low for a 1993? Should I be looking for one with less than 100k miles? Any tips would be great!

Regards,
daVo
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Old 11-12-2009, 05:23 PM   #14
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Default Re: Compression test results - looking for advice.

its a 93 so a 93 or 94 motor will work, just sticking that out there.
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Old 11-12-2009, 06:15 PM   #15
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Default Re: Compression test results - looking for advice.

Also when you pick your motor, be sure it has been wrecked in the side and/or in the back.

If you find a fresh all-in-one-piece car, there's a chance that motor was also dead.
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Old 11-16-2009, 07:02 PM   #16
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Default Re: Compression test results - looking for advice.

Hey folks...

I've decided to try a few lower-cost options in the interim.

1) A couple days ago I did a run of Seafoam (1/3 in PCV line, 1/3 in crankcase, remainder in gas tank), then drove about 100 miles over the past few days.

2) Changed the oil today from Autozone 10W30 to Autozone 5W30, added approximately 1/2 quart of Valvoline DEX/MERC I had from doing my recent ATF fluid/filter change. Switched from a Bosch to a Purolator filter.

I will be eyeballing the oil consumption to see if I notice anything different.

It looks like I have a similar situation to that mentioned in sdowney717's post "FIXED OIL BURNING with ATF in engine crankcase" so I figured I'd give it a shot!

Best,
daVo
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Old 11-16-2009, 07:45 PM   #17
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Default Re: Compression test results - looking for advice.

This might be the ONE case where ATF in the crankcase might be appropriate. If it saves you some money on oil loss, cool, and presuming you're just doing this so you can get thru the winter before doing an engine rebuild/replace, it really doesn't matter that ATF is totally unsuited to actually lubricating the engine.
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Old 11-16-2009, 07:59 PM   #18
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Default Re: Compression test results - looking for advice.

Hey there pogue, guess you're not onboard with the ATF cleaning-action-theory from that other thread?

I'm just figuring at this point if it may help free up the rings, why not?

-daVo
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Old 11-16-2009, 08:15 PM   #19
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Default Re: Compression test results - looking for advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by droveavolvoonce View Post
Hey there pogue, guess you're not onboard with the ATF cleaning-action-theory from that other thread?
I'm quite familiar with that thread. A bunch of people saving a few dollars on top-up oil and threatening the longevity of their engines by putting in a LOUSY lubricant (ATF). Throwing good money after bad. But as I said, with a "moribund" engine like yours (destined for a rebuild/replacement), it actually makes financial sense.
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Old 11-16-2009, 08:45 PM   #20
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Default Re: Compression test results - looking for advice.

Making the argument against ATF or other solvents in the engine oil is just like making the argument against blue tinted headlight bulbs.

Some people refuse to be confused by the facts.
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