Well, I believe my engine is shot - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums

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post #1 of 45 (permalink) Old 04-12-2017, 03:49 PM Thread Starter
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Well, I believe my engine is shot



So yesterday I drove for 40mins to see a friend and to check if changing out the cold start valve changed anything; I've been suspecting that it was the cause of an overly rich condition and and when I got to my destination 45 mins away, the idle was really bad. On the way back home I saw smoke in the rear view and could smell oil burning. Not good! I also saw my oil pressure dip.

I made it home and found the dipstick had popped up, and oil all over that side of the engine and on the hood. I researched this on the BB and found that sometimes the OVS can be the problem. I just pulled it, and it wasn't clogged. I had cleaned it good in 2015...but the restrictor in the ovs line to the plastic intake runner was cocked in the line. Something was pressurizing the crank case. Mood is darkening.

Compression was taken a few weeks ago, and I'm 150-160-145-150 across, but I had forgotten to hold the throttle open, so I thought I'd do another compression test. The car started right up but still ran like crap, not the smooth idle I had a few days ago. I warmed it up until it died on its own. Also, I saw puffs of vapor coming out of the dipstick tube when pulling the dipstick. I pulled the oil cap and saw lots more vapor puffing out, and while revving I could feel a nice breeze coming out of the oil fill. Mood darkening further.

I pulled the plugs, and here's how they look.



So, I do my compression with throttle open and get 190-180-40-175. Crap. I then pour a little oil in #3 and #3 comes up to 175psi. Note that in Sept. 2015 I had 200, 205-160-193 just after the new head gasket started leaking compression into the cooling system between 3 and 4....so #3 has been an issue for a while.

So, sounds like my engine is shot, eh? Rings in #3? I put fresh plugs in and that didn't help anything as far as smooth running. This sucks...
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post #2 of 45 (permalink) Old 04-12-2017, 04:29 PM
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Something is certainly up with #3 but based on the above, I wouldn't say the engine is "shot". Solutions range from replacing only the critical parts to finding a good, used engine to some variation of a full rebuild.
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post #3 of 45 (permalink) Old 04-12-2017, 05:19 PM
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The symptoms may point to a failed head gasket. Pull the head.

Good luck!
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post #4 of 45 (permalink) Old 04-12-2017, 06:15 PM
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\ I saw puffs of vapor coming out of the dipstick tube when pulling the dipstick. I pulled the oil cap and saw lots more vapor puffing out
Some smoke coming out of the dipstick tube / oil filler cap is not uncommon on a worn engine; that alone doesn't say "rebuild time".

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Rings in #3?
I like David Rishar's theory of a bad head gasket better. Yes, adding oil to a cylinder with bad rings usually brings up the compression reading. But generally, all four sets of rings will wear evenly, while your compression readings are quite un-even. You spoke of running too rich; that will cause rings to wear out prematurely, as the cylinder walls lose lubrication due to excess gas washing it off. So unless only cylinder #3 was running rich, rings wouldn't be my first suspect.

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Last edited by Alfajay; 04-12-2017 at 06:17 PM.
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post #5 of 45 (permalink) Old 04-12-2017, 07:00 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Alfajay View Post
Some smoke coming out of the dipstick tube / oil filler cap is not uncommon on a worn engine; that alone doesn't say "rebuild time".


So why is #3 so low, and why is there a huge breeze when I take the oil cap off? Remember, the darn dipstick popped up and oil was blown all over.

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post #6 of 45 (permalink) Old 04-12-2017, 07:27 PM
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I would do a leakdown test to confirm that you most likely have a piston/ring problem - you will hear the leaking air in the dipstick tube. You will hear it in the tailpipe if it is an exhaust valve and in the air intake if it is an inlet valve.
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post #7 of 45 (permalink) Old 04-12-2017, 07:28 PM
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Buy, borrow or steal a leak down tester. Basically, you position the cylinder being tested at TDC with the valves closed then apply air pressure and measure how well the cylinder will hold the pressure. The best part is that while pressurized you can listen for the sound of escaping air - in an adjacent cylinder, out the intake or exhaust, from the sump, etc. This will help pinpoint the weakness before you take anything apart (often the head gasket will be damaged when you pull the head so you may not know if that was the problem or not).
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post #8 of 45 (permalink) Old 04-12-2017, 08:00 PM
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So why is #3 so low, and why is there a huge breeze when I take the oil cap off? Remember, the darn dipstick popped up and oil was blown all over.
I assumed you concluded that the pressurization had to do with "the restrictor in the ovs line to the plastic intake runner was cocked in the line". But honestly, I really didn't understand that sentence.

Crankcase pressurization could also be caused by a failed head gasket allowing compression to leak into the oil drainage passages.

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post #9 of 45 (permalink) Old 04-12-2017, 09:27 PM
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I have rebuilt more than ten Alfa engines over the years and your engine needs new pistons and liners. I believe that you have a cracked piston ring and that is why you have low compression. I would probably rebuild the engine and do not buy a used engine.
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post #10 of 45 (permalink) Old 04-12-2017, 09:53 PM Thread Starter
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I have rebuilt more than ten Alfa engines over the years and your engine needs new pistons and liners. I believe that you have a cracked piston ring and that is why you have low compression. I would probably rebuild the engine and do not buy a used engine.
Same advice for most engines of my past; I agree. I want to rent a leak down tester though, or pick one up from Harbor Fright It is strange how after I put oil in the cylinder, it held pressure until I released it.

If #3 is dead due to rings, I guess I'll wrestle with the plan of just replacing that liner, and maybe hone the others if possible and put in new rings on all, or buy all new pistons if possible and up the compression.

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post #11 of 45 (permalink) Old 04-13-2017, 01:42 AM
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if the leak down test does point to a cracked ring, you could just replace those rings using the method outlined here w/o pulling the engine?

http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/spid...ngine-out.html

not sure why the oil pressure would dip though.....how low did it drop?

the compression figures on the other 3 cylinders are decent (I presume engine was hot when you took those?)

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post #12 of 45 (permalink) Old 04-13-2017, 06:30 AM
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In my experience head gasket failure usually results in coolant getting into the cylinders or the oil, so I would say that in this case it is much less likely than a piston ring problem.

Ed Prytherch
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post #13 of 45 (permalink) Old 04-13-2017, 07:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Rishar View Post
The symptoms may point to a failed head gasket. Pull the head.

Good luck!
What ever caused the pressure in the crank case pull the head to see what's wrong in there.
Normally cracked rings will pressure the crank case. If the head gasket is blown you'll have water in the oil and/or oil in the water. Do you have any idea what the mileage of the engine have since a main repair?
Good luck finding the cause and repairing the engine.
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post #14 of 45 (permalink) Old 04-13-2017, 08:17 AM
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I told a friend that you never replace worn out or broken rings because the piston wears out and you can never reseat the rings. He replaced the rings and his car burned so much oil that made driving impossible. I know that engines wear out and your engine probably needs to be rebuilt.
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post #15 of 45 (permalink) Old 04-13-2017, 08:44 AM
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Sounds like you have mixed data. ..especially confusing is the low oil pressure.. Are you sure or was it always like that and you just noticed it?

Causes and observations:

1) Pressurized oil sump.. caused by restriction in the road draft tube or other ventilation for the motor if too modern for the tube...or from a rodent or wasp nest ( seen it happen) or broken piston rings usually from over revving and worn piston lands out of spec which vibrates the rings and cracks them..you will see smoke chugging from the oil cap and/ or dip stick tube and exhaust.. known as "blow by" .. If it is only one piston the smoke will chug out like e choo choo train as it is 1 out of 4 firing. Worn out pistons or ill-fitted rings happen but usually don't happen in the course of 40 minutes unless you caused the rings to break...vroom vroom cold. Been there done that. 8000RPM was fun for a very short while for me. Pistons ring clearances were .020" instead of .002"... silly mechanic couldn't read a mike or a feeler gage. not me. Engine sumps need t be vented. They are not hermetically sealed.

2. Head gasket--highly unlikely from what you said.. They hardly blow on the oil side of the gasket unless it is the rear of #4 or the front of #1.

3. None of the above have anything to do with lost oil pressure unless you have a huge blow out in one of the 6 small oil passages where the little O-rings are in the gasket. If that happened, the oil would be blowing out of the gasket on the outside of the engine or somehow migrating into the cooling system turning your coolant to mayonnaise and that would NOT pressurize the sump.

4. I vote for a blockage or broken piston ring or both and an over reaction to the pressure reading when terror strikes. Car should get you to where you are going except 25% less power.

Last edited by divotandtralee; 04-13-2017 at 09:04 AM.
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