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Old 03-23-2009, 06:16 AM   #1
jjsk8r85
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Default I think the saturn just retired itself.

I went to start my SC this morning, and the timing chain snapped as I cranked it. Cranked it once more for a few seconds after the fact to verify. I'm guessing the valves in the head are probably smoked.

Does anyone think the head might be salvage-able since the engine wasn't running? I'm hoping I can just get away with a timing kit, if not I might have a parts car for somebody.
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Old 03-23-2009, 09:22 PM   #2
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Default Re: I think the saturn just retired itself.

Do a compression test, I am guessing you probably bent a few valves.
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Old 03-23-2009, 09:23 PM   #3
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Default Re: I think the saturn just retired itself.

you mean after I replace the timing chain, right?
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Old 03-23-2009, 10:47 PM   #4
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Default Re: I think the saturn just retired itself.

No, do compression testing 1st before doing anything so that you don't have waste money if found bend valves or something.
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Old 03-23-2009, 10:55 PM   #5
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Default Re: I think the saturn just retired itself.

I was under the impression that a compression test couldn't be performed if the timing chain was broken, because there's always going to be a valve open somewhere....

on top of that, being that it's an interference motor, wouldn't cranking the bottom end just cause more damage to the valves?
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Old 03-23-2009, 10:56 PM   #6
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Default Re: I think the saturn just retired itself.

doing a compression test now is a waste of time the valve train needs to work for comp ,, new chain ,, comp test ,, if necessary pull head and rep valves or try and straighten them ... yes it can be done
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Old 03-24-2009, 01:50 AM   #7
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Default Re: I think the saturn just retired itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjsk8r85 View Post
I was under the impression that a compression test couldn't be performed if the timing chain was broken, because there's always going to be a valve open somewhere....

on top of that, being that it's an interference motor, wouldn't cranking the bottom end just cause more damage to the valves?
I suppose you could crank the cams around to do a compression test but...
that wouldn't be my first step.

I think you'll need to at least put a new timing set in and run the car.
I'll be upbeat and think that it's not a valve problem.
The chain was probably near breaking when you parked it last.
The car was running fine then, right?

Chains break. Yours broke.
Maybe you just lost a chain guide and that's what stressed your chain.
There's other stuff to consider before calling the valves snuffed and dumping an otherwise good car.
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Old 03-24-2009, 02:03 AM   #8
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Default Re: I think the saturn just retired itself.

On second thought.
Crank those Cams around and see if you have a valve locked up.

THEN be positive.
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Old 03-24-2009, 02:14 AM   #9
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Default Re: I think the saturn just retired itself.

It's an interference engine - it's almost certain that a broken chain will result in bent valves.
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Old 03-24-2009, 11:58 AM   #10
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Default Re: I think the saturn just retired itself.

Compression test? How on EARTH could you possibly co-ordinate TWO camshafts and a crankshaft by hand to get a compression test? Moreover, what would be the point? It's marginally conceivable that when the chain first broke, the pistons didn't travel far enough to damage the valves. Cranking the engine again afterward obviated that (worst way to diagnose a broken timing chain, BTW).

The only useful question here is -- how/why would a timing chain break spontaneously? Presuming proper oil maintenance, a timing chain breaking without significant audible warning in service is almost unimaginable. Esp. on start-up, with the engine turning just a few hundred RPM. About the only explanation I can find is that one of the camshafts locked up, which, again, is hard to imagine in a properly maintained engine.
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Old 04-08-2009, 02:38 PM   #11
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Default Re: I think the saturn just retired itself.

I can't really vouch for the few people that owned it before me, but for the last 75k I've had it, I've taken very good care of it. Both camshafts are still turning, and the valves (at least from the top) all seem to be moving. I'm going to go out and start tearing it apart today. Thank you all for the advice. It's hard for me to give up on this car, it's been so good to me. Funny thing is, I could sense something was going to give on it soon, which was a deciding factor in my decision to purchase another vehicle about three days before the saturn died.

By the way, upon further inspection, I realized that the chain is not broken. It appears as though it has jumped a tooth or two, but I can't be certain until I take the front cover off. The engine has ~240k on it, and as far as I can assume, It's never had the chain replaced.
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Old 04-08-2009, 02:55 PM   #12
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Default Re: I think the saturn just retired itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjsk8r85 View Post
By the way, upon further inspection, I realized that the chain is not broken. It appears as though it has jumped a tooth or two, but I can't be certain until I take the front cover off.
Yes you can. Remove the cam cover (oh, wait, it's off already, right?). Remove all the spark plugs and put a straw or the like into the #1 hole, to rest on the piston top. Grab a wrench (I found out the hard way that, even without compression, the rings are too tight to do this with your hands on the crank pulley) and turn the engine forward until the straw "peaks". That means #1 is at TDC. At that point, the letters "FRT" on the cam gears should both be exactly right-side-up or exactly upside-down. If so, no jump.

Even before doing that, if you see that the "FRT" isn't in the same position on the two cam gears, then one of the cams has jumped.

Quote:
The engine has ~240k on it, and as far as I can assume, It's never had the chain replaced.
Neither have the chains most of the engines that go 300,000-500,000 or more. Alas, it sounds like one of the previous owners was not as scrupulous as you about maintenance.

That the chain is still on is no surprise. It's exceedingly rare for them to simply break without giving weeks / hundreds of miles of audible warning (chain slop from worn guides / tensioner). Our counterparts driving belt-timed engines aren't so fortunate. For them, one moment it's harmonious synchrony, the next moment it's four-way-flasher time.

Even for it to jump with no audible warning is surprising. I wouldn't, pardon the pun, jump to any conclusions.
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Old 04-08-2009, 07:05 PM   #13
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Default Re: I think the saturn just retired itself.

okay, so looking at the old chain as it was on the engine, it did appear to jump one tooth on the crank gear. I had already bought a new timing kit, so I went ahead and replaced all three sprockets, chain, tensioner, and guides. Went to turn it over, and it sounds no different. Sounds like only one cylinder has any compression at all.

I should note that when I got the cover off, there was a piece of plastic down in the bottom of the timing "housing". Looks like a piece of the floating guide broke off, and the tensioner was extended all the way.

I guess now after the $100 in parts and five hours of cussing and swearing, I'm sort of obligated to replace the head as well. I can get a junkyard head for about $125. I can use a 92-96 head, correct?
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Old 04-08-2009, 08:11 PM   #14
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Default Re: I think the saturn just retired itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjsk8r85 View Post
...my decision to purchase another vehicle about three days before the saturn died.
That's the explanation for the odd way it broke. You gave up on it so it gave up on you.
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Old 04-08-2009, 08:14 PM   #15
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Default Re: I think the saturn just retired itself.

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That's the explanation for the odd way it broke. You gave up on it so it gave up on you.
yeah, especially since the other vehicle is a focus. bad credit, long story, got a focus. for now.
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