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Misdiagnosed noise + smell + overheating

 
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 03 Apr 2009, 08:21 pm
Fresh Cruiser
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 6
Default Misdiagnosed noise + smell + overheating

Baseline details:

2001 PT LTD, 2.4L, 135K miles.
Short-ram intake, other mods not related to engine.

Symptons and info:

July of last year, I was in hawaii for military (and had been for a year), parents were keeping my cruiser at their farm in VA, driving it occasionally. My dad tells me that the car overheated and boiled over at idle while charging the battery. He did some research online, checked the fan relay, checked the pcm signals, checked the fan itself by applying 12v directly to both speeds. All checked out good. He refilled and bled off the coolant system.

October, I come home from hawaii, car runs fine, use it to make multiple trips back and forth between VA and upstate NY for househunting and whatnot, lots of miles no issues. Settle in to upstate NY.

November, car makes an unusual rumbling noise while on the highway, seems to come from front - middle to mid passenger side. Rumbling stops in the 2.5 seconds or so it takes me to turn down the stereo. About a week later, drive to VA, no issues, drive back from VA, somewhere around harrisburg PA, the rumbling noise starts again. I am able to determine that it's directly proportional to RPM, not affected by load or vehicle speed. Pull of to side, noise continues, probing as best I could (tight engine bay, side of road), noise seems to be coming from under the timing cover. Also noticed faint smell of unburnt vaporized coolant. I limp at 25 mph to next exit and first service station I see.

I explain the details of the noise, he says he's too backed up, reccomends a place right down the street. I start the cruiser, noise is still there. Drive to next service station, park car, go inside, talk to people, hand over keys. They pull the car into the bay, poke around for a little bit, come in and ask me to explain the noise. I tell them it's a loud rumble from the timing cover, you can't miss it. We walk out to the service bay and she's purring pretty like any other day - no noise. I look confused. We tried to to recreate the noise by turning off the car and back on several times, putting transients on the engine, street testing, all with no noise. Mechanic appologizes for not being able to do anything, I appologize for wasting his time, and go about my way. No noise for the rest of the trip.

A week later my "other" daily driver arrives from Hawaii, hits cold weather, and immediately pours oil out through every gasket and seal in the engine. I put it into the garage as OOC for the winter and hope to hell I can fix the cruiser.

Over the course of that week the noise was intermittent, and coolant level slowly, but consistantly dropping. Any time I'd drive would generate the smell of unburnt but vaporized coolant. I let the cruiser idle with a large sheet of white paper under the engine, and saw coolant forming below the timing cover area. Looked at all my info so far and declared water pump bearing failure. Ordered new pump, all belts, tensioner, thermostat, and themostat seal. Next day for work, started car, let it idle to warm up (Outdoor temp was about 0F). After 10 minutes or so, heard a "whoosh" sound, went outside and saw a large plume of coolant coming out from both wheelwells and the grill. Said to myself "Well, there goes the pump for good. I hope the head's okay." Killed the engine, scraped the ice off my corvette, and drove a suicide tobogan for the next three days - then I bought a truck.

Ran a compression check on the cruiser, all four cylinders look good. Breathed sigh of relief. Box of parts came day after 3 feet of snow. Decided to let cruiser sit for winter.

One week ago (late march), snow was finally low enough to dig out cruiser, play broken car tetris, get cruiser into garage and start disassembly. Here's where I start to get worried again:

Draining the system: opened drain cock on radiator - not a drop. Looked at overflow, not a drop.

Removing waterpump: dry as a bone until I crack the seal - then about 2 - 2.5 gallons of coolant (clean, no oil shimmer) comes pouring out. Which tells me that the pump was holding water and not the source of the leak.

At that point, I cleaned up, called it quits for the night, cracked open a beer, and began typing my tale of woe hoping that someone else might know where to look next in finding the source (or sources) of the symptoms. I refuse to take it to a dealer on the principle of not paying $1000 labor to replace a $45 part. Ugh.... this is why I like cars with hoods measured in acres, and everything bolted to the outside of the block so any part can be changed in 20 minutes or less.
__________________
'01 PT LTD w/ "minor tweaks"
'00 Ford F-350 Turbo Diesel (Something's gotta tow the projects)
'85 Jag XJ-6 w/ Chevy 350 Small Block
'78 Corvette L-82 (under restoration)


Wish I'd never sold:
'79 Corvette L-48
'73 Camaro LT w/ Edelbrock Crate 350 Dyno'd @ 402/440
'90 Toyota Camary w/ "minor tweaks" Documented at 132 mph courtesy of VA State Popo.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 04 Apr 2009, 10:45 am
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 27,744
Default Re: Misdiagnosed noise + smell + overheating

Hopefully one of the mechanics on the forum can try and help you out, meanwhile a couple of questions. You said you changed all the belts. That did include the timing belt, right? Your way past the time that should have been changed and the water pump should be changed at the same time so you didn't waste your money on the pump. Did you check the thermostat by any chance?
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  #3 (permalink)  
Old 04 Apr 2009, 11:04 am
Fresh Cruiser
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 6
Default Re: Misdiagnosed noise + smell + overheating

The serpentines had been changed out at about 70kand I'd periodically pulled the top timing cover back far enough to inspect the timing belt. As the majority of my miles have been highway miles, it has always looked good and has not been replaced. Even on close inspection after removal the other night (bending backwards and whatnot), it still looks brand new. (Although I do have an actual brand new one to replace it anyway).

I did check the thermostat, it was crusty but still popped when heat was applied to it from a lighter. I couldn't tell you the exact temp it popped at, though, so if the pop point just shifted too high, it could have effectively failed shut.
__________________
'01 PT LTD w/ "minor tweaks"
'00 Ford F-350 Turbo Diesel (Something's gotta tow the projects)
'85 Jag XJ-6 w/ Chevy 350 Small Block
'78 Corvette L-82 (under restoration)


Wish I'd never sold:
'79 Corvette L-48
'73 Camaro LT w/ Edelbrock Crate 350 Dyno'd @ 402/440
'90 Toyota Camary w/ "minor tweaks" Documented at 132 mph courtesy of VA State Popo.
Reply With Quote
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