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Kat's Car


Johnno

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G'Day Everyone

So I'm looking to pick some brains out there on what to do. So here's a brief lead up to the situation...

I picked up this cheap car for kat 12 years ago. It was pretty rough inside and out, but it was cheap. Had to replace some engine mounts and a few other minor repairs. It is a Nissan Altima 1994, 4 cylinder 2.4 liter, 4-door sedan, automatic.

Now the story gets interesting. Not long ago she had to go to a meeting in Santa Monica and she said when she got there, the temperature was up. I said we need to check your oil and radiator and they seemed to be fine. She then went to the DMV and it wouldn't start. She had it towed back to the house by AAA.

I did a check list on possible problems and the starter motor was history. So I put it up on stands, went to Pep Boys, bought a new starter/selenoid $118 and set about installing. And of course placing it in the worst possible spot. While I had it up on the stand and taking a break, I noticed her coolant bottle was overfilled. I also noticed there was no water in the radiator.

When I checked the oil, it was way overfilled, but it was the normal color of a light honey.

So naturally I thought, "Ha, she's not keeping the fluids correctly" and I knew with that amount of oil, it was going to smoke when she started it up, which I knew I had to drain some out as soon as I had time. The starter was now installed, car was on the ground. I addressed the fluid situation with kat and she advised me she always keeps an eye on it. So I had no reason to doubt her.

That morning for the first time she started it up to head to work and I noticed she was leaving in a cloud of smoke. So I emailed her and told her we need to drain that oil when you get home tonight. When she arrived home, I noticed there was no water in the radiator. When I checked the oil level, it was now creamy white.

So that leaves either a blown head gasket, a cracked head or a breach in the cylinder. I really don't want to put more money into this vehicle. So before I lost my head, I decided to check the Blue Book to see where we were at. Low end as a trade-in in it's current condition, a whopping $322. As a private sale, if it was running, in it's current condition... $580

But to replace the vehicle is not an option at this time due to minimal work and general overhead.

So now until we get back on our feet, I might be forced to play grease monkey. But I'm not sure what I'm going to discover when I pull the head. I also know it's got some heavy tappet noise, she's also torn a boot and her rear tires are slicks with some canvas showing through. So as you can see there's more maintenance to do.

Now I know there is a product out there called Thermoseal which might do a patch and it's up past the $100 mark. The replacement gasket kit and bolts I might get for $50. As for the job, could take me a few days, I'm not set up for mechanical repairs. If it turns out that I have other problems, well I possibly could be looking at a new head or worse off a new motor. It's sitting in the driveway and I don't want to start it in case of hydrolock.

So to all you knowledgeable people out there.. what are your thoughts on how to approach this? Get rid of it, which is not an option at the moment or what?

Cheers

Johnno scratching his head.

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I'd do a dry and wet compression test. That will give you an idea of which cyl may have an issue.

When you pull the plugs for the test, look 'em over for any oil or "milk" on the electrodes. You may

not need to do a comp test after that since you will have found the prob area.

Bad valves will leak compression as will collapsed rings or a blown head gasket (possible warped head).

If you do end up pulling the head, inspect the gasket for any seepage. Once the head is cleaned, you

can use a straight edge to check for warpage on the surface that meets up with the block. Check side to side and end to end in several places.

Does the engine miss at all?

If not, you prob have a leak into/out of a water port, that'll be more than likely a bad head gasket.

Good luck!

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Johnno,

If I'm not mistaken that head on that car is aluminum, and you said...."Not long ago she had to go to a meeting in Santa Monica and she said when she got there, the temperature was up. I said we need to check your oil and radiator and they seemed to be fine. She then went to the DMV and it wouldn't start. She had it towed back to the house by AAA."

When you over heat a car with an aluminum head the head will most likely warp, which if the head did warp is the cause of the "blown head gasket" symptoms, I'm guessing that you'll need to replace the Head, and while you're at it you should go ahead and replace the timing chains (it has 2 if I'm not mistaken) timing chain tensioner, and possibly water pump, oil pump etc., especially if they have never been replaced, a timing chain kit for that car will run about $75+/-, around $120+/- with a water pump, and $240+/- with both pumps, depending on the brand of kits, I'm not sure as to the cost of another head, but it won't be cheap I'm afraid, unless you can find one at a salvage yard for a decent price.

Most of these prices I got off Ebay, you can pay a LOT more at some of the high price auto parts stores and original equipment replacements.

http://www.ebay.com/...HAIN KIT KA24DE

Also I would replace the thernostat, check the cooling fan and radiator as any of these could have caused the issue of the blown head gasket/warped head.

Here's a troubleshooting site

http://troubleshootm...ad_gasket_1.php

Another thought is to get a quote for used engine from one of the "Used Japanese Engines" websites, there're many of them online and you may save money in the long run by just replacing the engine, you may also find a use engine from a local salvage yard.

Sorry I don't have any less costly ideas, I hope you're lucky and the head gasket is the only problem and not a warped head, but I suspect depending on how hot the engine got that it maybe an issue.

Skip

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Ok guys. I pulled the plugs. All cylinders are dry and plugs are dry except cylinder #4. The plug was oily and an inspection look inside showed cylinder #4 with a pool of fluid. I used the dipstick to see what the fluid was, looks like clean water.

Already the family jewels are tight from just the thought of having to do this. I asked kat to show me where on the gauge she noticed the temperature rise and it seems like she was within range of not being blistering hot.

Another question which concerns me... should I drain everything asap? Because the sump basically contains the oil and most of the water from the radiator. It has emulsified into a mustard colored soup.

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Ya, drain the oil pan, you don't want the water sitting in there to damage bearings and such. Even though the crank and rod ends are not in the water, the moisture will cling to everything, specially since it has already mixed with your oil, that's the milky stuff.

A bit of bad news, sorry, but you may have to pull the engine in order to pull the oil pan to get inside and clean out all the gunk stuck to all the lower internals. It's a nasty dirty job.

Skip has a great idea about getting a used Japanese engine. They are pretty low milage.

Again, Good luck!

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I don't think pulling the pan will be necessary, draining the oil/water out now will get most of it out and if you can repair the issue changing the oil again after you get the engine up to operating temperature and then gain after a couple hundred miles should take care of any water in the oil system.

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There are lots of places to get a used engine and that is probably the best thing to do as far as economics are concerned. In the long run you are going to be money ahead if you replace what you have baked as long as the rest of the vehicle is sound. You can spend a pile nowdays replacing pieces and doing minimal machine work.

---That temp sensor must be in the water to read an accurate temp. As soon as an engine begins to overheat water turns to steam and that sensor will read "not too terribly hot" when things are turning red down low. A head gasket really bleeds off some water and makes puke out of your oil exasperating the problem. A good exchange might save some re-work after an overheat, you never can tell.----

Swapping one out is not all that bad (usually) and the only tricks are making sure all the pulleys and mounts and stuff match and you dont leave any stuff you need on the old engine when you turn it in for a core.

You can change the entire engine in about as much time as you can replace the head. You can generally get a low mileage engine from a local salvage yard that will last for years.

Something made the engine overheat. A blown head gasket could be the cause OR the symptom. You might have a water pump or thermostat problem, radiator problem or something else that caused the overheating to begin with. So don't be surprised when you get the new head or replacement engine in and it overheats right off the bat. Fixing the head may only be fixing the damage casued by another, yet unidentified problem.

Do you have a Hayne's manual for it? That is my best advice for anyone who has any vehicle. Get the specs and the operations and you will be miles ahead with anything you can do on that vehicle. It is worth its weight in gold for sure!

That is a popular car and there are lots of them wrecked and parts are always available. You should be able to find plenty of engines in the LA area, even if you have to buy a wreck at an auction to get what you need.

Hey, good luck on the Katmobile!

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G'Day Everyone

Thank you for all your advice. So there's really not a magic wand to wave and everything will be fixed? Seems like I've got a task ahead of me, some decisions to be made. darn, why are things so tough? But I've got to make a decision soon. Kat's been hoofing it to work, which is good exercise but now it's getting on to winter and the walk home is in the dark, not something I'm comfortable with

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Johnno,

Here's the cheapest thing you can do. Pull the head off. Get you a new head gasket and intake gasket. If it does have lifters, squirt a little transmission fluid down in each one of them. Install the gasket and head and borrow a torque wrench if you don't have one and find out the order in which you torque them down. DO NOT over torque. Install the intake gasket and intake. Find the order those bolts/nuts torque down. If you had to pull carb too, well you will need a new carb gasket to install. Drain the old oil and install new filter and oil. Leave the oil 1 quart short because you will need to add some lucas oil stabilizer. Follow the instructions for adding the stabilizer then check the dip stick to see if you need to add some more oil. Be sure and wipe out all the cylinders and then wipe them down with some motor oil. You need to do all of this ASAP because if you don't, there is a very high chance this engine is going to seize up since water has gotton into it.

When you pull the head look at the old gasket. You should see a bad place in line with the cylinder that had the wet plug. You might want to change plugs too.

The lucas I think gets rid of any of moisture left in the engine.

GL! And hope the head ain't warped.

Rim

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While this is not the greatest tip and the above posts are the way to go you really don't have much to save on that motor so try this tip: While cold leave the radiator cap open "one click" this makes it so no pressure can build up in the cooling system and hence will not pressure bleed down into your oil.......BUT you need to keep a gallon or two of water in the trunk and check the water level every night because the water will eventually evaporate out and need to be refilled (usually every two to three days) if your driving far like 25 miles plus i wouldn't trust it...... don't waste your money with any anti freeze and use just water...... I've already run like this for about a two year period.............be sure to change your oil one time to get the water out from when it was under pressure. this is also a great tip for when you get a pinhole leak in a good car to get yourself home to fix at a later date........ keep an eye on the gauge and only fill the radiator to one inch from the top so you don't get all steamy when you stop for a red light......... I know this sounds really back woods and it is but if the motors shot already you have nothing to lose.

If the head gasket is already blown this won't work and the water will just boil up real quick and shoot out the cap.....nothing you can do from that point.

If you have a good tranny, transaxle, steering and such a new motor is worth it in todays economy as that is a good car and has lots of use left in it.

Joe

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They have some stuff called water Glass, you can buy it in the drug store, its a silicate, clear colored, I know a guy that had your problem, he put that stuff in his radiator, nothing to lose, if the engine has to be replaced any way, . It turns to glass under engine heat, and will seal, head gaskets and even cracks in the head or block. But it is a last resort, if your think you have to replace the engine anyway. Might get you a few more month of driving. Grubstake

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Johnno,

Sorry to hear about Kat's engine. Everything I read is sound advice.

I really don't have anything better to add, but If Iived closer, we would already have that engine on the shop floor.

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Wife has a Dogde Intripid.

Water Pump went out and we was thinking it was just a few hundred bucks Parts and Labor.

WRONG!

The Stupid Water Pump in inside the Engine on those behind the Timing Chain.

Well they did that and it would not Oil the Upper end because of the Crap someone had put in it.

Looked like Graphite.

To Rebuild the Engine was 2000.00.

A new to you Engine from the Breaker Yard was only 250.00 with the clock showing only 40,000 miles.

Still in the shop at this time but it was a whole lot cheaper this way.

Should have it back in about two weeks.

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If you put the water glass in, know that you will need to replace or flush the living cap out of (if lucky) the radiator when you throw that engine in it.

Putting things in late model Japanese cooling systems is very dangerous. I would throw Bars Leak in an old 350 all day long, but nothing but coolant in a late jap car. They are too persnickety with clearances and tolerances.

I am of the same opinion as most here in that you would be dollars ahead sourcing a new motor from the scrap yards or rebuilders. There are a LOT around LA.

I also agree with Blake... if you lived within 200-300mi, that car would already have an empty engine bay.

You have a pick up truck, right? Look in the Phoenix area for an engine, too. Someone on here (even me) could grab it and meet ya at the state line or something.

To make the R&R easier, you might consider removing everything in front of the engine. they only thing that won't come off is the lower cross member as it is part of the unit body.

This sucks this kind of cap has happened to you two. Gotta find a way to catch a break, my friend.

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Thank you everyone, I can always count on every one of you. So I've come to the conclusion, I'm going to try and devain this bitch, add some new pipes and get kat up and running before she's molested in the dark coming home from work. I offered her my gun, but she said she didn't want to take it because I needed to piss.

So I've begun disrobing a very delicate lady, she has a lot of grease. I suppose that's because of a lot of adventurous nights, but she means well and I will try to clean her and get her back together again. Now I just have to figure out what the hell I'm doing. Pictures will be posted soon, only because I don't know what the hell which part goes with which part.

Glenn, breaks? They work fine but I'll check them anyway. I just hope I don't break my leg or break kat's head from trying to "help" me.

Now I just want to know is there a link between red-heads and blonds?? No, I won't go into that, I'll leave that for another day.

But who needs a break? I just carry on, it's not going to happen, I have the Cabassi name, it's clouded continually. I'm the only one that walks around Southern California with a storm cloud over my head. The rest of the layout is pristine, beautiful, sunshine and the best day you could ever imagine. So a warning to all of you out there, stay away from Cabassi's. :lol:

Love you all, thank you for your assistance and I will post the progress, but hell I wish I was at Quartzite just to chat with you guys, chew the fat and de-stress. For all those out there, have fun in Quartzite.

Cheers,

Johnno and ??

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Well the operation began, don't know where the hell I am. Discovering lots of rounded bolts from previous wanna be mechanics. Mind you, I'm working with bushman's tools. In fact, I think some of Don's mechanics in Brazil have better equipment, but it's the attitude that counts... just get 'er done.

I just can't believe this car has so much crap attached to it, not like the good old days where you can climb in the engine compartment and work on your straight 8. No, with this one you ain't getting in the engine compartment. Instead of going from A to B, you got to go from A to Z just to get back to B. Whoever designed this... oh let's just forget it. I might give myself some bad karma.

Anyway, I'm flying by the seat of my pants.

In the beginning...

DSC_5594.jpg

This is the crap

DSC_5604.jpg

What I have to work with

DSC_5603.jpg

Now I've got to the dual overhead cams

DSC_5610.jpg

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More crap I've got to weed through. Whatever happened to simple? Need to work on taking the distributor off, taking the cams out so I can get to the head bolts (what a joke)... Oh yeah, I've got to lose the inlet manifold and the exhaust manifold while I continue to support the engine with a jack because I had to remove one of the engine mountings.

The problem with that is, I've got to move the car every day into the middle of the driveway to work on it and then I've got to move it back so I can get my truck in behind it, because I don't want my catalytic converter stolen again. So kat pushes the car, I pull the jack. It either sounds like a venereal disease or I should be in Vegas playing the tables.

DSC_5605.jpg

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Aside from all the junk you have to get thru that engine looks pretty clean inside and the cam lobes look pretty good too with no sludge anywhere i can see.... you must have regularly changed the oil hopefully you get to the problem soon. I'm interested to see how it turns out.I too remember being able to sit in the engine compartment to work on an engine. You have to be a TV Technician to work on these things today.LOL

Joe

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Johnno,

... get a quote for used engine from one of the "Used Japanese Engines" websites, there're many of them online and you will save money in the long run by just replacing the engine, you may also find a use engine from a local salvage yard.

Skip

SKip JOhnson is right!
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Another option is to get another beater- at auction. UP in LA , Irvine, HB/ LB there're many to choose from. Seen many HOnda, TOyota, NIssan,Saturn etc drive across the auction block for cheap.

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