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Valve Cover Nightmare & Dodgy Dealerships

 
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Old 16 Jul 2016, 09:23 pm
917K's Avatar
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Angry Valve Cover Nightmare & Dodgy Dealerships

Hey guys, I'm going to start with a story and then ask the question. Skip the story if you want.

I had the valve cover gasket and plug seals done about 6700km/4k miles ago at the dealership. According to the service I just had with them, it needs to be repaired. Sure enough, they showed me the oil leaking from the side of the cylinder head and in the plug holes. Apparently I never noticed.

Long story short, they refused to take responsibility for it, but got very, VERY nervous. I was perfectly calm and the smug service manager looked like he was about to plug his ears and go Lalalalalala. He told me there is strictly NO warranty on gaskets anyway, which is a lie. According to MOPAR, services done with their parts are 24 months, unfortunately for some inexplicable reason, gaskets are for 12 months.

Unfortunately, it was done nearly two years ago. Yes I don't drive my car far, which is partly why I never noticed. That and it does NOT drip. The oil level barely changed (I check every week) and the oil light never came on.

Regardless, according to our laws in Australia, the warranty is irrelevant. The warranty is voluntary and does not override consumer guaruntees which state, the repair must be fit for service and SAFE. The technician noted what a fire hazard it is. I have the right to a 'remedy' of my choosing, either a repair or refund. When I told him all this, he said "We'll have to agree to disagree" - WHAT!? Are you joking? The repair has failed prematurely, a valve cover should NOT fail in 6600km. I assume it was not done at all. Assholes. It should last 10 YEARS for gods sake and it's SUCH AN EASY JOB.

So I contacted the other dealership who originally did the job, and after a painfully long email chain, he agreed to do it as 'Goodwill'. I don't want these cowboys touching my car EVER again. The lying, cheating and downright malice is astounding. I've decided to take it to a claims tribunal.

FCA have a terribly track record in Australia for customer service and the statistics say they are the most complained about carmaker over here. I can concur.


OKAY! so:
  • How urgent is this? Should I be worried about oil getting into the cylinder head? Should I be worried about a fire? All sides of the cylinder head seem to be coated in oil, all the way down to the bottom of the engine block.
  • Is it possible, if it was done at all, that they incorrectly torqued or sequenced the valve cover and warped it OR the cylinder head? How do I determine this? And could that cause this leak?
  • If it wasn't ever done, I've been driving around for nearly two years with a significant oil leak and oil in the plug holes. Is there any damage from it I might be unaware of?
  • Do I need to discontinue driving it NOW until I fix it myself? If so why.
  • Anything else I should know.

Thanks guys, you're legends Had they said immediately, I'm terribly sorry that was clearly not done properly, we'll fix it, I would have let them do it and been grateful. But the fact that they'd behave like this over such a tiny and easy repair makes me VERY concerned about letting them do my timing system and mounts (Hint: I Won't).
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Last edited by 917K; 16 Jul 2016 at 09:36 pm.
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Old 17 Jul 2016, 08:52 am
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Default Re: Valve Cover Nightmare & Dodgy Dealerships

I have to call BS on the FCA statement they claim. The PT is NOT an FCA car at all. A car is a car, an engine is an engine and a competent mechanic can work on any of them. Hell, I'm not a mechanic by trade and I've worked on a LOT of different brands with successful results. Using cheap parts and having a half-assed, improperly trained "tech" is probably what happened to you. Like you said, even if they actually performed the job to start with. It's cool you have a dealership that's willing to do the job right for you. Stay with them and stay the hell away from the other one. Let us know how things go with the tribunal.
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Old 17 Jul 2016, 09:15 am
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Default Re: Valve Cover Nightmare & Dodgy Dealerships

Cheers bud I appreciate the support. I'm not confident about letting them fix it, that's why I'm going to the tribunal to seek compensation. As this is classified as a 'major failure' (i.e. not fit for service, unsafe), I should be able to choose the remedy, either repair or compensation. But I doubt they'll voluntarily return my money. So the tribunal will decide.

The reason I asked the questions is mainly because I'm concerned for my car, but I also need to decide the amount I'm seeking. I'd be happy if I just got back the parts and labour, let alone a little extra for new spark plugs and wires. But if I need a new valve cover, or worse, and it can be determined due to their error, this becomes a much bigger issue.
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Old 17 Jul 2016, 09:45 am
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Default Re: Valve Cover Nightmare & Dodgy Dealerships

Quote:
Originally Posted by 917K View Post
[*] How urgent is this? Should I be worried about oil getting into the cylinder head? Should I be worried about a fire? All sides of the cylinder head seem to be coated in oil, all the way down to the bottom of the engine block.
If this is the same 2.4L engine used in US PT's, then there is little risk of oil getting in the cylinders. If the spark plugs are properly torqued, they provide a good seal even if the spark plug wells are partially filled with oil. Also, this is EXTREMELY common on this engines. The factory valve cover gaskets are thin and often fail. The last three 2.4L engines I've owned all needed valve cover gaskets and I imagine the one I have now does too. This likely only become an immediate substantial fire risk if the valve cover is leaking onto the exhaust. I've seen very greasy 2.4L engines that look like they ran for years that way. Of course, any oil leak increases risk to some degree.

Quote:
[*] Is it possible, if it was done at all, that they incorrectly torqued or sequenced the valve cover and warped it OR the cylinder head? How do I determine this? And could that cause this leak?
Warping the cylinder head seems very unlikely. But improperly torqued, the valve cover might be too loose or too tight and squeezing the gasket out of shape.

Quote:
[*] If it wasn't ever done, I've been driving around for nearly two years with a significant oil leak and oil in the plug holes. Is there any damage from it I might be unaware of?
It's unlikely. Like I said above, this is a very common issue with these engines. Once repaired correctly with good gaskets, the engine can likely be cleaned and will most likely be okay.

Quote:
[*] Do I need to discontinue driving it NOW until I fix it myself? If so why.
This all depends on the rate of the oil leaks. If it's just a slow seepage, I would just wash the engine and drive until I could get it repaired. If there was a steady drip and/or loss of oil, I'd likely park the car until I could repair it.


Quote:
[*] Anything else I should know.
Yes. As I said above, the original gaskets seem thin and inadequate. Good quality gaskets like "Felpro" brand will often cure this issue and it will not return. Also, almost any gasket can dry out and leak over time if the engine is not run very much. The fact that you don't drive your PT much may weigh into the reasons you now have leaks. Again, better quality gaskets may help prevent this.

Reading through your case, it's really unclear where the problem lies. Based on my low opinion of OEM valve cover gaskets for these cars, and when including the fact that the car it's driven much, I'm not sure this is indeed a case of poor workmanship. It may instead be a case of suspect quality OEM replacement gaskets. Either way, if it was me I would likely just go buy some good quality gaskets and the replace them myself. Having repairs done by a dealership becomes increasingly problematic the older the car becomes. Dealer service techs are trained and setup to work on new cars, not older PT Cruisers.
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Old 17 Jul 2016, 09:52 am
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Default Re: Valve Cover Nightmare & Dodgy Dealerships

IMO, you would have better luck having it fixed elsewhere, and presenting the bill to the original dealership and/or tribunal. Right now, you don't really know what is wrong, and any repairs are just speculation. It would be very difficult for you to get another shop to put anything in writing about what might be wrong as shops don't particularly want to put down another shop. But if you have it repaired, which is what will need to be done, then the paid bill is your proof of damages. Does Australia have something similar to the Better Business Bureau? If so, you may try that first as many businesses will resolve issues through them. Good luck.
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Old 17 Jul 2016, 06:41 pm
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Default Re: Valve Cover Nightmare & Dodgy Dealerships

Shops have a warranty for a reason, and even though the job should have probably lasted longer, you are technically out of warranty. Perhaps if you had driven the vehicle more, perhaps the current leaks would have shown up sooner, while it was still under warranty. The valve cover gasket, on my PT, was replaced 5 years and 60,000 miles ago by a dealership using OEM parts, and covered under my extended warranty and it is still holding strong. Since you are technically out of warranty, probably the best you could expect is to split the repairs with the original shop.
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Old 17 Jul 2016, 09:47 pm
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Default Re: Valve Cover Nightmare & Dodgy Dealerships

Cheers guys, all great perspectives, appreciate the ideas

So if the OEM gaskets are indeed poor, I guess that's why they have a short warranty (or none ). I feel it's very dishonest to treat parts and labour as different things in a circumstance where they're integral to each other. According to MOPAR's documents, my repair WOULD still be under warranty, except for the fact that the gaskets are no longer. That's a great way to make A LOT of different repairs and engine work null and void faster and escape responsibility.

The fact still stands, though. A new car does not need a valve cover gasket every couple thousand miles or every year. Otherwise they'd have so many people coming in with their 5 year new car warranties making claims, they'd go mental. No, it's pretty obvious they just didn't do it at all.

Where can I find a Felpro valve cover/plug seal gasket set for a 2006 2.4L, Handy? Plenty of eBay that say 2001, are they compatible?

Thanks again guys, very grateful
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Old 18 Jul 2016, 08:04 am
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Default Re: Valve Cover Nightmare & Dodgy Dealerships

Just go to your local auto parts store. I don't know about in Australia, but here in the States, I'd speculate that 99% of them carry the Fel-Pro gasket in stock. If not, they can usually get it overnight. Fel-Pro is HUGE here in the States.
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Old 18 Jul 2016, 08:39 am
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Default Re: Valve Cover Nightmare & Dodgy Dealerships

Quote:
Originally Posted by 917K View Post
Cheers guys, all great perspectives, appreciate the ideas

So if the OEM gaskets are indeed poor, I guess that's why they have a short warranty (or none ). I feel it's very dishonest to treat parts and labour as different things in a circumstance where they're integral to each other. According to MOPAR's documents, my repair WOULD still be under warranty, except for the fact that the gaskets are no longer. That's a great way to make A LOT of different repairs and engine work null and void faster and escape responsibility.

The fact still stands, though. A new car does not need a valve cover gasket every couple thousand miles or every year. Otherwise they'd have so many people coming in with their 5 year new car warranties making claims, they'd go mental. No, it's pretty obvious they just didn't do it at all.

Where can I find a Felpro valve cover/plug seal gasket set for a 2006 2.4L, Handy? Plenty of eBay that say 2001, are they compatible?

Thanks again guys, very grateful

First, in my post above I indicate that it might just be the gasket. You could well find the techs didn't do the job right or you may find something else wrong.

According to RockAuto, the Felpro gaskets for a 2006 PT Cruiser with a "B" engine code in the VIN are VS50518R for the valve cover with seals and MS93220 for the upper intake manifold. Valve cover gasket is around $30 USD and the intake gasket (rubber rings) are around $2 USD. But you will need to look those up for yourself or let the place you buy them from verify these numbers. I'm only guessing you have a "B" code engine and there may be other variables as well.

Beside these gaskets, you will needs a small tube a RTV to dab in the hard corners where the valve cover gasket sits. The directions with the valve cover gasket should specify this and there's lots of writes ups and videos online to demonstrate if you haven't done it before.

If you find good quality gaskets are readily available where you live, you may want to remove the valve cover first to make sure what the problem is before you purchase stuff. Sometimes things are very different than we suspect once we dig in.
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Last edited by Handy_Cruiser; 18 Jul 2016 at 08:42 am.
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Old 13 Jul 2017, 08:24 am
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Default Re: Valve Cover Nightmare & Dodgy Dealerships

Another unfinished story !
A valve cover gasket is 90% labour and quality there of ..
We DO have ''butcher mechanics", who may know nothing of lubricants, sequence, or torque .. and this is not well taught either ..
Fire hazard ? IMO, so slight that it is not worthy of discussion .. but what a stink and the smoke .. when the oil hits the exhaust manifold ! The reason why I am doing mine ..
I am having one hell of a time fitting the new ( brand X - Magnum - from Rock Auto Parts) ..
The gasket groove MUST be clean and dry, NOT lubricated ..
A smidgeon of GE silastic high temp sealant at the sharp corners ..
AND the mounting screws must be perfect and torqued in sequence .. and I hope that the valve cover has not been warped and distorted by some previous mechanic ..
More to come .. this one will come to an end .. a good end !
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