2001 Chrysler Sebring

History and Repairs

2.7 Liter DOHC V-6 Engine

Table of Contents

Introduction

February 7, 2014        Snow

May 21, 2014                Clockspring

December 8, 2013        Post-Mortem

Old, Miscellaneous Repairs

January 12, 2006        Seat Covers

March 9, 2008                Remote Entry

May 3, 2008                Crater Protection

September 17, 2008        Cooling System

September 20, 2009        Blower Resistor

September 22, 2009        Blower Resistor, Part 2

September 23, 2009        Plastic Screw Threads

May 14, 2010                Car Alarm

May 18, 2010                Automobile Window Regulators

June 29, 2010                Water Inlet

First Repair Attempt

September 4, 2010        The Car Dun Blowed Up

September 20, 2010        Automobile Repair Dilemma

September 23, 2010        Automobile Body Repair

June 20, 2011                Auto Repair

June 21, 2011                Day 2: Lucille's

June 23, 2011                Day 4

June 30, 2011                Day 9

July 10, 2011                Day 19

July 13, 2011                Day 23

July 15, 2011                Day 25: The Puller & The Pulley

July 16, 2011                Day 24

July 19, 2011                Day 27

July 25, 2011                Day 33

August 16, 2011        Pictures

August 21, 2011        Engine Assembly Notes

August 31, 2011        Batteries Plus, Again

September 2, 2011        Retail Oil

September 3, 2011        Photos

September 7, 2011        Day N+1

September 13, 2011        Test Drive

September 14, 2011        Red versus Orange

September 16, 2011        The Mystery of the Anti-Freeze Jug Cap

November 2, 2011        Disaster

Second Repair Attempt

August 10, 2013        Sebring ABS Connector

October 21, 2013        Straight out of Carson

October 10, 2013        Restart Sebring Second Attempt

October 30, 2013        2.7 Liter V-6 engine head bolts

October 31, 2013        Repair Continues

November 9, 2013        Progress

Introduction

February 7, 2014        Snow

  

Yes, it's Chrysler Sebring, the infamous. Remind me to tell you the story of its miraculous resurrection.

May 21, 2014                Clockspring

DORMAN AIR BAG CLOCKSPRING

More bad news. It's beginning to look like I should have paid the shop to replace the engine in the beginning rather than try to fix it myself. OK, it might have been the smart thing to do, but shelling out $4500 all at once just wasn't something I was willing to suffer.

        My first attempt at repairing the engine ended up costing me about a grand, and we actually fixed the car. It ran fine for maybe a month before it cratered again. The second go round cost me another grand, and while the car started when we got done, it was obviously not going anywhere. That episode was a complete waste, other than the educational experience it provided my son. I'm sure he'll appreciate it. Some day. When I'm gone.

        So after two attempts at fixing it myself, I relented and turned it over to the shop. I found a used engine in Toronto and had it delivered for just under a grand. The shop charged $1200 to install it, plus $300 to fix the stuff that me and my gang had busted. So now we're up to $4500, the price Eric originally quoted me. Well, live and learn.

        I've been driving the car for a few months now and everything seems to be fine, except a few little minor things, like the cruise control doesn't work, and an air bag warning indicator is illuminated on the instrument panel. I took it in for an oil change the other day, and asked them to take a look at some of these niggling little problems.

        Come to find out that the clockspring is probably broken and it will cost $275 to replace it. What!?!?! What clockspring? It's a car, not a clock. What's a clock spring got to do with anything?

        Calm down lizard breath and I'll tell you. You might be familiar with rotating electrical connectors, where one part has a ring of copper, and the other part has a contact that rubs against this ring. One part rotates, and the other part is fixed. This way you can turn the steering wheel around and around and still maintain an electrical connection. That worked fine when all you had on the steering wheel was a horn button, but these days you can find a whole arsenal of buttons and gadgets on the steering wheel, and while it might be possible to build a multi-track rotating connector that could accommodate all 27 separate circuits, that's not the Detroit way.

         Some wise guy noticed that steering wheels do not turn endlessly, they only make three or four complete revolutions and that's as far as they go. So they took a bunch of wire and wrapped it up in box and it allows you to make those three or four turns of the steering will, and those 27 circuits all stay connected. They call this box with its mess of wires a 'clockspring', presumably because of the way the wires are structured.

        This 'clockspring' is dependent on the steering mechanism not making more than three or four complete revolutions. This is not a problem when the steering wheel is connected to the steering mechanism. The steering mechanism will only go so far.

        If you take the steering column out of the car, or you drop the front suspension out from under the car (like I did. Twice.), well, the two parts aren't connected anymore. Now if someone were to give the steering wheel a little spin while it is disconnected, well then, Blooey! goes the clock spring. And you won't even know anything is wrong until you get the car back on the road and the cruise control doesn't work. And the Air Bag warning indicator lights up.

December 8, 2013        Post-Mortem

Our 2001 Chrysler Sebring is dead again. It had been sitting in the garage for two years waiting for someone to work on it. A few weeks (months?) ago we managed to gather the necessary motivation and started work. It took us about a month to pull the engine (pull the car off the engine), R & R (remove and replace) the head gaskets, and put it back in the car. Actual time spent working on this project was maybe 20-24 hours, but for some reason it felt like a friggin' ordeal. It might be because I am old, or out of shape, or not used to working on cars. Whatever, it was a mighty struggle but we persevered and eventually got it put back together, put a battery charger on the two-year-old battery overnight and the next day it fired right up. Cool. Finish putting the bodywork back together, drop it down off the jackstands and we should be good to go, right? Wrong. Now when I fire it up there is someone banging on the inside of engine with hammer. That's not good.

     But you know, it might be the timing chain. I had an old Toyota once upon a time that would make that same exact noise when the chain got old. It would stretch so much that the tensioner would not be able to take up all the slack and it would slap against the side of the case. It sounded just like a rod knocking. The Sebring also has a chain and a chain tensioner, and maybe the tensioner isn't working properly. I'll drive it over to Eric's and see what he thinks, so I put it in gear and press on the gas and we start moving, but not very fast. The engine has like no power. I could stand the banging if we had some power, at least we could get up to speed and coast most of the way, but going like this the engine will hammer itself to bits long before I get there.

    Right. So the Sebring is dead again.

Evil brass bleed screw in the upper left hand corner.

Suspicious looking 5½ right in the middle.

    I suspect that this whole disaster started because someone did not properly bleed the cooling system when they changed the anti-freeze. It's supposed to get long life anti-freeze (the orange stuff) because it's an aluminum engine and all. They would have been better off to just leave it and not do the prescribed maintenance rather than botch it like they did. My first clue should have been when my wife drove it back from Iowa and the heater wasn't working. My second clue should have been when I opened the hood and saw that someone had written "5½" on the valve cover. It looked suspiciously like a junkyard marking, meaning the engine had probably been replaced once already.

Inside the timing cover of somebody else's nice clean engine.

Inside the timing cover of my engine.

    My third clue was when we opened up the engine the first time and found that the insides were stained dark brown and black. Looking at pictures on the internet of other people working on this engine I notice that the insides of their engines are all bright and shiny clean, which is how a well maintained aluminum engine should look, but I am used to working on old, beat to death, cast iron engines, which never were shiny silver inside. Add ten years of the engine working like a dog and various shades of black are what you should to expect.

    My fourth clue was when we took the heads off the second time and found ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with the head gaskets. Well, it didn't spray oil all over the engine compartment this time, so that should have been another clue.

     The only other thing was that we replaced the crank and cam position sensors while we had the engine out. Much easier to do this when the engine is out of the car, and at this point what's another $100? Might be why it failed two years ago and might be why it started right up this time, though it would be a heck of a coincidence to have rod bearing shell AND a sensor to fail at exactly the same time, or near enough to make no never mind.

    So now what? The car, except for the engine is still in fine condition, it only has 60,000 miles on it. What am I going to do with it? A junkyard might give me $300 for it. Everyone in my family is sick to death of it. I seriously doubt whether I could summon the motivation to attempt an R & R of the engine a third time, though I should be getting good at it by now .... no, don't even start thinking that. A used engine can be had from a junkyard for around $1500, and Eric tells me it's a 14 hour job to R & R the engine, for which he would charge $1200. So for less than three grand I could be back where I started, which is a running car with a dubious future.

    On the other hand I could attempt to repair this engine, but that is likely to be at least as expensive as buying a used engine. Just buying the gasket sets and head bolts this time cost over $300. I was just working on the top end, now we'd be working on the bottom end which means crank and rod bearings and possibly a new crank and rods, and those would definitely be expensive. So far I've sunk somewhere between two and three thousand dollars into this project for a car that might be worth five or six thousand. So I'm on the horns of a dilemma. Do I throw in the towel and sell it for parts, or do I gird my loins and venture once more into the breach?

     This whole episode did have the side benefit of running both of my boys through the Pergelator's Longneck school of auto repair. Whether this will give them confidence to undertake their own quixotic repair quests or cause them to stay very far away from auto repair remains to be seen.

    Eric's estimate of the time for him to do the job made me feel a little better about our performance. the fourteen hours he quoted is just to R & R the engine, nothing about doing any work on the engine once it is out. So 20 hours for us to do the job in our garage with only hand tools, a floor jack and an engine hoist is not too bad. There were two of us, but then we spent a lot of time looking for tools. It could be done without an engine hoist, but the hoist does make it easier.

Ferrari Dino 246 GT. A 65 degree 2.4 liter V6.

     The one piece to this story that I haven't mentioned (at least I don't think I have), is just how exotic this engine is. It's an all aluminum, DOHC (Dual Overhead Camshafts) 24 valve V6. When I was a kid and muscle cars with their pushrod-operated, cast-iron, V8's were all the rage, the only place you would have found an engine like this would have have been in something truly exotic, like a Ferrari Dino, and oh! how I lusted after a Ferrari in those days. Now it's just one of a zillion very similar engines, and no one even appreciates how special they are. DOHC and 4 valves per cylinder are just a couple of bullet points on the marketing brochure, and they might just be one bullet point. I, too, have become somewhat less impressed. Used to be when I did any kind of engine work I always cleaned all the parts both inside and out. Now I just make sure I set them down with the gasket surfaces facing up so they don't pick up any extra dirt. I still clean the gasket surfaces, but that's about it. Shoot, this time I didn't even drain the oil.

Old, Miscellaneous Repairs

January 12, 2006        Seat Covers

    Got some sheepskin seat covers for Christmas for the Sebring. Today seemed like a good time to get them installed. Got one cover installed on the drivers seat. Took two hours. Pulled the seat out and carried it into the kitchen and set it on the cardboard covered kitchen table. Kind of like "War Of The Worlds" (I really liked the scene in the kitchen with the engine on a stand next to the kitchen table. Man had his priorities straight.)

    It is a power seat so there were two cables connected to it. One for the motors and one for the seat belt. I like the Chrysler electrical connectors better than I like the Ford's. They both have a little clip that has to be pressed or pried before the connectors will come apart. They latches on the Ford are much more difficult to operate, and unless you are careful they will break off, and without the latches the connectors don't stay together very well. The latches on the Chrysler are easier to operate, but it can be a trick to figure just which part of the connector is the latch and whether it needs to be pushed or pulled. But I figured these out and got them apart. Removed the switch panel from the side of the seat and stretched the cover over the seat. I wasn't real happy about the way it fit, but after some tugging it seemed okay. Putting the switch panel back on meant driving the screws right through the side panel of the seat cover. So they are mine now, no taking them back at this point. Put the seat back in the car and start bolting it in. One bolt goes in really easy and then it won't tighten up. Pull all the bolts back out and lift up the seat to inspect. The clip nut for the bad bolt has slipped out of position so I wrestle it back to where it goes. All goes together smoothly.

March 9, 2008                Remote Entry

The Chrysler Sebring has it's own set of problems. It has remote entry, a special theft deterrent key and an alarm system. The remote entry has it's own key fob and works fine, or at least I haven't heard about any problems. The key has a padded handle that is maybe a quarter inch thick. It contains some kind of passive radio device that interacts with an antennae around the ignition lock. This means that if you need a new key you can't just get a copy made of the metal key: it won't work. You need to get a special key blank and then have it cut to match. And the blanks aren't cheap. They cost somewhere North of $35.

So just don't lose the key. But we still have the alarm system to contend with. First of all, car alarms are one of my pet peeves. They do an infinitely better job of irritating people than they do deterring theft. Besides, that's why you buy insurance. Let the thieves steal the car quietly, without waking your neighbors up. Call the insurance company in the morning and go buy a new car. I know it's a bit of an inconvenience, but it doesn't ruin my sleep.

Anyway, the alarm system on the Sebring sometimes goes off for no good reason. Press the wrong button and it gets all upset, at loud volume, and only by going through the correct machinations can you get it to shut up. I tried to get it removed, but it is integrated into some other piece of electronics that is basically essential to the operation of the car. I think we have learned through trial and error, what not to do, so it has not gone off recently.

May 3, 2008                Crater Protection

Drove to downtown Portland with my daughter Friday afternoon. On our return, as we were pulling into our driveway, the engine oil light came on. Hmmmm. That's not good. I had the oil changed just a month ago, what's going on? I check the oil, it's full, and it looks brand new. I've never seen oil like that in a motor that has been run even a little ways. Oil always starts picking up dirt immediately. I look for information on the web and I find several reports about this particular engine cratering before it has 100,000 miles on it, and they all seem to be related to oil problems. The engine in Marc's Isuzu Trooper, which is also a V-6, did crater a month or two ago. I don't know if the engine is the same or not, or maybe they just used the same oil pump designer. So it's going into the shop Monday. I might be in for a $1000 oil pump replacement. If that's what it takes to keep the engine from cratering, I suppose it will be worth while. The car is a 2001 Chrysler Sebring sedan with a 2.7 liter V6.

Here are a couple of links that talk about oil sludge, which sounds like it could be my problem.

http://www.schleeter.com/oil-sludge.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrysler_LH_engine#2.7

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_sludge

Update: Mechanic tested oil pressure and found it was okay. Sensor was leaking internally, which was causing an electrical malfunction. Replaced sensor. Bill came to $100.

Update 2: Coming home from the gas station, the oil light comes on momentarily as we pull into the driveway. Could it be this little dip where the driveway meets the road be what causes the oil to slosh enough for the oil pickup to loose suction for a second? What else could it be? This is only time we have seen it light up.

September 17, 2008        Cooling System

engine3.PNG

The first winter after we got this car I noticed the heater wasn't working, and with leather seats and a temperature south of freezing it was a bit chilly. My first suspect was the thermostat. The dealer wants $80 to replace it. $80! Shoot, I can replace a thermostat, so I go take a look under the hood. Well, there's a likely looking candidate. There is a thermostat size housing sitting on top of the engine, connected to the top radiator hose, right where you would expect the thermostat housing to be. This looks easy enough. Well, not quite. One of the screws is blocked by the plastic (!?!?) intake manifold, which means it has to come off, which means more shenanigans. Eventually I get it off, and pull off the thermostat-size housing, and look here, no thermostat. But what is even stranger is no coolant. I am sure there was a look of consternation on my face at this point.

OK, so we have learned two things. 1) $80 might be a reasonable price to pay for replacing the thermostat being as I cannot even find the durn thing, and 2) low coolant could easily explain the lack of heat, so there may be nothing wrong with the thermostat anyway. I mean the motor isn't overheating, even on longish drives. As a bonus I also learned that there are O-rings between the intake manifold and the engine, which means I did not have to go out and buy a new gasket. Sure, I should have replaced the O-rings, but this is a shade tree operation, we are not going to replace something just on some lab guys say-so.

Put the whole thing back together and now I need to refill the coolant. Problem with this car is that the thermostat-sized housing is higher than the radiator, so you need to bleed the cooling system. Further evidence of this is the bleed screw on the top of the oft-mentioned thermostat-sized housing. I experiment with various bleeding techniques, none of which work very well and at least one has the side effect of spraying me and the surrounding area with a mist of anti-freeze, but at last I am satisfied that I have gotten most of the air out of the system.

So things are working pretty well now, the car still runs and the heater works. But I come across some DIRE WARNINGS on the internet about mixing five year (orange) and three year (green) coolant and I decide the coolant should be changed. Not wanting another ethylene glycol shower, I take it to the dealer. They don't want to put green coolant in it, they want to use the high priced stuff. They have some techno-babble reason, so I relent.

That was over a year ago. But now when the car comes home after a longish drive it is spitting anti-freeze on the floor. A quick squeeze reveals that the top radiator hose is apparently empty. Come on guys, I took it the dealer, you are supposed to know that the cooling system needs bleeding. I suspect they didn't do it. We didn't discover a problem because my daughter was driving the car to school, which is only a mile away. The engine is barely going to get warm in that distance, you will never know whether the heater is working or not.

So now it's back in the shop. We shall see what they find.

Just got a call. Problem was the radiator cap had gone bad. It was only holding 4 pounds of pressure when it should have been more like 16 PSI. Only cost $45 for diagnosis, replacement and testing. So you're thinking $45 for a radiator cap? They only cost a couple of bucks at the discount auto parts store. But remember this car had been to two experts before this shop (me and the dealer) and neither one had detected the problem. I mean, when's the last time you had a radiator cap fail? I think he flushed the system to boot. Must have refilled it with the coolant that came out. I don't think you could buy the coolant for $45.

September 20, 2009        Blower Resistor

The vent and the A/C only seem to work when the fan is on the high setting. A little Googling points to the blower resistor as being the likely culprit. I pull out the glove box to see if I can locate this animal. I find one electrical connector plugged into some dohickey mounted in the duct work, but it only has two wires. I sign up for a weeks worth of Mitchell on-line repair manuals ($12) and it tells me to remove the "hush panel". It doesn't tell me where the hush panel is, or how to remove it, just get 'er done. I do a little poking around and there is a soft panel under the dashboard between the dashboard and the firewall above the footwell. I suspect we are dealing with the passenger side, that's usually where you find the heater. I feel around and there is a nut that I unscrew with my fingers. The panel is now loose, but it doesn't want to come out. I wrestle with it a bit and with a little bending I manage to extract it. It doesn't seem any the worse for wear.

Oh, look! Wires! And there is a big fat connector with five wires plugged into duct work. All we have to do is get this sucker out. Tugging doesn't work. A little flashlight and mirror work and I discover there is a red locking tab on the back side of the connector. I tug on it, it doesn't want to move. Look for advice on how to undo this expletive, Google returns nothing, E Auto Repair returns nothing. More flashlight and mirror work. Oh, look! A screw head! Try the quarter inch nut driver, too small. My 5/16 nutdriver is missing, so I pull out the quarter inch square drive set. Put a 5/16" socket on the mini breaker bar and use it like a nutdriver. Surprisingly the screws come out. They weren't that tight. And there were two of them in diagonally opposite positions.

The resistor comes out, a flat, black panel about two inches square, still connected to the wiring harness. Now I can get a grip on the locking tab and it slides up about 1/8" and clicks. Tug on the connector. Nothing. Resort to trying to force the connector apart using pliers. No luck. Tug on the red locking clip, it comes completely out. Oh look, there is one of those devil hook & slot latches. I slide my pocket knife between the hook and the slot to separate them. I still have to use the pliers to separate the connector, but at least now it comes apart. I swear the guys who design these things go to a school run by the devil.

Update: see Part 2 & Part 3.

September 22, 2009        Blower Resistor, Part 2

Who'd a thunk it? I mean all I had to do was plug in the connector, slide the resistor into the duct, and put in a couple of screws. Five minutes tops, right? Foolish boy. You forgot to sacrifice your knuckles when you started this project and now you will pay.

The connector goes on okay, but the resistor won't slide into the duct. The photo shows why. You can't see it directly, only by using the display screen was I able to aim the camera to get this shot. The slot is only half wide. That works fine for the original, authentic Chrysler resistor, but the off brand one from NAPA is a different critter. It has half a dozen pins sticking out back side, sticking out just enough to prevent it from sliding in easily.

I try carving away at the obstruction with my pocket knife, but the plastic is really hard, and I cannot really see what I am doing. So I get out the Dremel tool and an eighth inch drill bit and proceed to grind away at the offending obstruction. That works fine and then zip, the drill bit vanishes. Where'd it go? Near as I can tell it got sucked up into the duct work. The high speed and the spiral grooves conspired to pull it out of the collet. Put in another drill bit. Tighten the collet, against all that is holy, with pliers. More grinding and we are good to go. Except for that missing drill bit. I dig up a magnet and poke around in the hole, but no go. Insert the resistor.

All we need now is the two screws. They came out easy enough, it should be easy enough to get them back in. No, it's not. Normally in an upside down situation like this, I would put the screw through the hole in the resistor, hold it place with a nutdriver and slide the whole thing into place. But that's not working here. I'm lying across the door sill with my head on the floor so I can see the general area. My arms are folded up in front of me, and I have a rug burn on my left elbow. The drop light won't stay pointed in the right direction and I am having a devil of a time getting the screws into the holes that I can't see.

Just then my wife drives up and asks me what I'm working on. I'll be lucky if she let's me in the house tonight.

I eventually got the screws in, and the new resistor has apparently fixed the problem with the blower, now all I need is to replace the hush panel and the glove box, vacuum up the debris and pick up my tools. When I turned the fan on high I heard the drill bit rattle in the vent.

September 23, 2009        Plastic Screw Threads

One of the last steps on the Sebring blower repair was tightening the screws. The two screws that held the resistor were self tapping. The came out really easily, and once I got them in the hole they start to go in pretty easily, but then they quickly become more difficult to turn. Now I could just keep turning them, but I've been down this road before and I know it is going to take some serious oomph. They haven't engaged the old grooves, they are starting to cut new ones. I am tired of fighting with this thing and the last thing I need is to have to exert myself in these cramped quarters. So while keeping an upward pressure, I very carefully back the screw out until I feel a little click. That's when the screw finds the original thread. Now it screws in easily. Worked the same way for the other one, too.

Now we need to put the hush panel in. I took out the floor mat to get rid of the plastic chips from my grinding, and removing that half inch or so of extra thickness made putting the hush panel back much easier. Hold it upside down at about 45 degrees with the back edge up and forward. Slide it up under the bottom edge of the dash. Now swing the front edge down, forward and finally up into position. Now all we need is one nut to secure it.

This nut came off in my fingers, but try as I might I cannot get it to screw on using just my fingers. Finally I resort to a 5/8" socket and ratchet. That works fine until the ratchet bottoms out on the plastic stud. I pull the socket off and then slide it back on about half way so it is resting against the detent ball. It is not secure, or very strong, but it is good enough for this problem and it gives me enough clearance to tighten the nut all the way down. I was surprised at how much force it took. It was only a stamped sheet metal nut screwed onto a plastic stud. They probably just pressed it on at the factory.

May 14, 2010                Car Alarm

Our 2001 Chrysler Sebring Sedan has a factory alarm that is nothing but a pain. No one ever bothers the car, but the alarm goes off at least once a year. It used to go off more often until we learned to walk like an Egyptian, which seems to keep the alarm gods pacified, at least most of the time. But boy, don't ever forget or they will make you regret it.

You know, if there were car thieves on the prowl, and cars were getting stolen left right and center, and there were some reason for the car alarm to go off, then maybe having car alarms would be justified. But the way it is, they are just one more reason to hate modern life. They contribute nothing but aggravation and cost a bunch of time and money.

The worst part is you can't disable them. An aftermarket alarm you can remove, but a modern factory alarm is integrated into the computer that runs the car. Pull it and nothing works. I am thinking the only way to deal with this is to:

  1. Disconnect the horn, which hardly ever gets used, or
  2. Run a separate, parallel horn circuit, which would be a big pain.

I think it is still possible to splice into the wiring harness and take control of the horn. Cars are still wired with separate wires for each light and switch. Time is not far off though when every electronic device in the car will have its' own microcontroller and control signals will be transmitted digitally to and from the central computer. Then you are going to be toast as far as doing any electrical work on your car unless you are willing to spend the big bucks to get the specialized test equipment necessary for this kind of work.

This kind of problem is only going to get worse in the future. Car manufacturers need to provide a method for permanent disabling non-essential features that no longer function properly. They want to be careful, because they don't want car thieves to find out how to disable the car alarm. Or so they say. I wonder if insurance companies even care if you have a car alarm or not?

I know some people are very attached to their cars and really want an alarm system protecting their precious baby. Maybe if we attached a $10K aggravation tax to car alarms, it would dissuade them from installing one. And if they installed one anyway, the $10K could be used to pay for an emergency foam truck that would be dispatched to dump a mound of sound deadening foam on the offending vehicle and protect it from theft and/or damage. Boy, what a good idea. Sometimes I even impress myself.

May 18, 2010                Automobile Window Regulators

Rear window lift on the car (2001 Chrysler Sebring) broke a couple of days ago. I thought about trying to fix it myself, but my list of things to fix is getting longer faster than I am knocking them out, so in the interest of expediency, and not getting the rear seat rained on, I took it in to the shop. Dropped it off yesterday morning and picked it up this afternoon. $300, but it's fixed. And I learned something.

Used to be passenger car window regulators, which is what the mechanism that raises and lowers the window is called, were composed of pair of arms joined with a pivot in the center so they formed an X shape.

Car Electric Window Regulator & MotorFile_003.jpg

The crank, or in this case, the electric motor, to lower the window was connected via a gear to the end of one of the arms. Doors were constructed with two panels of steel (inner and outer) and the window regulator was in between the two and could only be accessed through small holes in the inner panel. Getting the regulator out required ingenious contortions. Further, everything was made of sheet metal and all the edges were made extra sharp to insure that anyone who ventured into this hidden realm would emerge bloody.

Things have changed. Here is Eric with a modern window regulator. This one happens to be from a Volkswagen and costs $300 instead of $200 for the one for our Chrysler, but they use the same basic design. A piece of stamped sheet steel, IMG_0659.JPG

some plastic bits, and short length of steel cable.IMG_0660-1.JPG

The bottom edge of the window clips into the white carriage which rides up and down on the black track. The cable connects to the white bracket and runs around the two inch diameter pulley concealed in the triangular white plastic doo-dad. The motor, or crank handle, which ever you prefer, plugs into the center of the pulley.

You have to admire the simplicity of the design. Much easier to replace and install, assuming you know the little tricks needed to disengage the plastic do-hickeys. Very cheap to make. Can't be more than a couple of bucks in raw materials. Of course there is fair amount of work making the dies used to mold the plastic parts and stamp the steel ones. And then they turn around and sell it for $200.

The one we needed was only available from the dealer. If we had needed one for the front door, Mr. Heaton would have been able to get an aftermarket one, presumably for less money. I expect rear windows don't get used as much and so don't break as often, so there's not enough demand to make it worthwhile for someone besides the manufacturer to make them.

centric, or engine centric. Well, bucky, which is it?

June 29, 2010                Water Inlet

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Car-car started getting hot and steaming. I had dealt with the cooling system before. I would have tackled this repair myself except that I have not figured out a simple, easy way to bleed the cooling system. Last time I ended up getting sprayed with coolant and I wasn't eager to repeat the process. Take it to the shop.

Picked it up this afternoon. $200. Seems the water inlet housing on top of the motor had cracked. It's not a very big piece, maybe the size of your fist. It's made of plastic and it cracked, a common occurance according to my mechanic. It's a dealer-only item and it costs a hundred bucks, which is beyond ridiculous, except that it comes with a sensor. Oh, that makes it alright then. <begin sarcasm> Right. <end sarcasm>


First Repair Attempt

September 4, 2010        The Car Dun Blowed Up

No, you aren't getting into heaven. There's a stop sign in your way.

Dutiful daughter and I are driving our 2001 Chrysler Sebring back from Beaverton this morning and something goes wrong. We are almost to our exit, but we are still on the freeway and she's putting on the brakes. No, she's not, she tells me. Stepping on the gas has no effect. We coast to a stop half way up the exit ramp. The engine has died, and it won't restart. It cranks, but she no catchee. Fine, get out, open the hood. Uh oh. We've got brown oil sprayed over half the engine. Looks like it got blown out the filler cap. I don't think we're going to fix this with jumper cables.

Should we call a tow truck, or should we get my truck and try towing it with a rope? Well, is there any place to even tie a rope onto the car? Um, no, there isn't, not unless you want to hook onto the front suspension, and even then you are going to impacting the lower body work. So no.

Call home, wake someone up, they give us a number for a Hillsboro tow truck company. I call them and get put on hold for ten minutes only to be told that Hillsboro is not in their service area.

A Mexican dude pulls up on a fancy sport bike. He's wearing these cool motorcycle boots with what look like toe protectors. Says he's a mechanic so I show him the mess. He gives us the number of a friend of his with a tow truck. We call the friend. Two people answer, they are both yelling unintelligibly, then the phone disconnects. We try again similar result. Third time I think I am able to communicate. Guy tells me it will be 20 minutes. I spend the time arguing with my daughter and looking for treasure.

Half an hour later still no tow truck. Call him back, more garbled communication, something about a 460. I don't think he's coming.

'Bout this time my wife shows up. We finally get the correct phone number for Hillsboro Towing. Clear, prompt, businesslike communications. The truck will be here in half an hour. The girls take off and I wait for the truck. (I spend the time reading the Omnivore's Dilemma. Very interesting. Probably have to write something about it, if I ever finish it.) The tow company sends a flat bed for which they charge $55 for loading and $5 a mile for carrying. Much better than the $90 the first outfit wanted. And he even gave me a ride home.

Racial profiling: Three vehicles stopped to inquire about our status. Two were Mexicans and one was a white guy. A white guy on a bicycle came by and inquired, but he didn't stop. He didn't have a chain anyway. A cop stopped someone on the freeway right by the exit, but he didn't stop by. None of the new Beemers that came by stopped. Can't say as I am surprised, I generally don't stop either.

September 20, 2010        Automobile Repair Dilemma

The car-car blew up. I had it towed to Eric's shop. He thinks a head gasket has blown. Only way he will fix it is to replace the motor with a rebuilt one. It's an aluminum V6 and it's had some cooling problems. I thought these problems were minor, but evidently aluminum engines are more sensitive to this stuff.

Head gaskets blow when the head warps, usually from overheating. Problem with aluminum engines is that oftentimes the block will warp as well, so to do a proper repair, the block needs to be resurfaced (machined flat) as well as the head. To do that, you really need to completely disassemble the engine. If you are going to do that, you might as well just buy a remanufactured motor, and that runs between $2500 and $4500, depending on whether you buy it locally, or buy it over the internet from an East Coast engine rebuilder and have it shipped across the continent.

On the other hand, I could haul the car home, pull the engine out in my garage, pull the heads off and send them to the machine shop, and apply a file to top of the block. Of course, this is a bit risky. It depends on:

All kinds of things could go wrong here. A file is good for knocking off high spots, but if there is a low spot, that means the whole surface would need to be taken down, and that is a job for a milling machine, not a file. Then there's the debris problem. Filing creates little bits of metal, most of which will be captured by rags, cleaned up with a vacuum or blown away by compressed air. However, by the nature of machinery some of the smallest specks will fall unnoticed into places where they will lie, waiting for their opportunity to wreak havoc on some sensitive part, like a piston ring.

What to do? Do I invest a bunch of time and energy on a possible cheap fix? Or do I bite the bullet and spring for the new motor? The car is worth just enough to make replacing the motor worthwhile.

September 23, 2010        Automobile Body Repair

I'm looking at attempting to repair our Sebring myself. Reading the shop manual I find that pulling the engine involves lifting the body off of the engine, rather than the other way around. Looking around for a hoist that can do this, I come across this video. It shows what goes on in repairing the damage from a little fender-bender and lasts about 5 minutes. Starting at the 2:35 mark, they devote about ten seconds to lifting the body off of the engine.

<VIDEO GOES HERE>

I am planning on trying to do this with an engine hoist. I will probably have to build some kind of jig to be able to lift the car body. Might be able to use a couple of 4 x 4's chained together. We shall see.

June 20, 2011                Auto Repair

Started working on the Chrysler Sebring today. Following the directions, we jacked up the car and then tried to take the wheels off. That doesn't work very well, unless you have an air wrench. I have one, but that means dragging out the hose and dialing up the pressure, and shoot all we have to do is break the lug nuts loose and they will come right off. So we used our Mechanic-Fu to break them loose.

June 21, 2011                Day 2: Lucille's

I made three trips to Lucille's Tool Store today. Couldn't figure out what size wrench I needed. The first trip I made this morning with my son and picked up a couple 18 millimeter wrenches: a socket and a combination wrench, but forgot to get the ball joint tool. After lunch I made a second trip with my friend Jack who had never been to this little slice of heaven. I picked up a couple of suspension joint tools and a 20 mm combination wrench. They didn't have a 20 mm socket. I was shocked. They had a place for it, but it was empty. When I got home I finally figured out that what I really needed was a 21 mm wrench, so back I went for a third time.

So now I finally have the enough tools and I was able to remove the left side steering knuckle, all of which was in preparation for pulling the half shaft. My on-line instruction manual says you just use a pry bar to pop it loose. Well, there isn't any room to insert a pry bar, so I went to talk to Eric (of Eric Heaton's Automotive, god of all things automotive). Eric was kind enough to fill me in, however the tale he told filled me with tredpidation. He's had to "pop out" these half shafts before, and it's an ugly business at best. His tool of choice is a six foot long, hundred pound torsion bar (from an old Chrysler suspension) with one end sharpened to a chisel point. Raise the car on a hoist over your head, set your stance, set your eye on the point between the transmission housing and the tripod joint and then STRIKE, O MIGHTY WARRIOR, with your mighty spear. If your aim is true, the clip on the shaft inside the transmission will compress, and the shaft will slip free.

I don't have a hoist. I have a Costco floor jack and a couple of antiquated jack stands. I don't have room to stand under the car, much less room for a six foot spear, nor do I have such a spear.

But maybe it won't be that bad, maybe they will just pop loose with a little help from my handy dandy two foot long crow bar, just like the instruction manual says. We shall see.

June 23, 2011                Day 4

We got the motor out today. The more I read the directions, and the more I looked at the situation, the more I thought the instructions were all wet. I also remembered an episode of Rides I saw recently where they were building a new General Lee (the orange Dodge Charger from The Dukes of Hazzard), and they were talking about how it was easier to take the engine out from under the car than to pull it out of the top because the engine, the transmission and the front suspension were all bolted together on a subframe called a K member.

You have to remember this is heresy. The General Lee is from like 1970, and all V8 engines from all American automobiles are supposed to come out the top, and go back in the same way. That's the way I learned it, and dad-gum-it that's the way it's always been and that's the way it will always be. Except not. Here we've got a bunch of gear-heads saying no, the engine comes out of the bottom.

Pay no attention to the girl, this is a picture of the General Lee.

Now I'm looking at this Chrysler Sebring, and I'm seeing the same thing: engine, transmission and front suspension all bolted to this one K shaped piece of metal. So I decided to dispense with disassembling the front suspension and pulling out the drive shafts and all that and just dropped the whole assembly. It took a bit of fiddling with sticks and bricks to make a scaffold to support this whole mess. There was some chasing around to disconnect hidden bits as we were lowering it out. We cut the exhaust pipe with a borrowed sawzall as the bolts were firmly rusted in place. We also cut the rubber covered plastic fuel line. We will probably regret that, but there didn't seem to be any place to disconnect it.

The whole thing probably weighs 700 pounds. It took some serious tugging to get it out from under the car. I think we are going to move stuff away from it to get room to work on it rather that trying to move it any farther.

June 30, 2011                Day 9

Haven't made much progress this week, but today we removed the:

The engine itself may be well designed, but all the stuff that goes in around it is just a mess. You can't disconnect the wiring harness from the starter until you remove the heat shield over the starter, and you can't remove the bolts that hold the heat shield on until you remove the exhaust pipe. Well, it might be possible, but it would certainly be a royal pain: the last bolt is obscured by the exhaust pipe. You could probably reach it from underneath with a box wrench, but it would slow going getting it out. Likewise in order to disconnect the wiring harness from the A/C compressor, you need to remove the alternator. To disconnect the wiring harness from the fuel injectors, you need to remove the intake manifold. The whole thing is like this, heat shields and brackets on brackets on brackets. I wonder what it would be like if somebody spent the time and effort to design this stuff to fit together instead of just tacking one thing on top of another.

The car spent a couple of years in Iowa before it came West, so the exhaust pipes are all solidly rusted together. Once we got the engine out I was able to get a real wrench on the bolts holding the exhaust pipe flange to the header pipe. They turned easily enough: they snapped right off, so we get to drill out the old ones, and if we are lucky, retap the holes. Might have to use nuts, which will make it difficult, or buy a new pipe, which will be another expense.

July 10, 2011                Day 19

Did not get any work done on the engine this week, though today we started building a stand to support the engine while we work on it. The bricks it is sitting on right now are not all that stable.

July 13, 2011                Day 23

Finished the engine stand and got the engine up onto it. It was a little nerve racking, balancing the motor on top of the floor jack, while we pulled out the bricks and sticks that had been supporting it and then wrapped our newly constructed work stand around it and persuaded the supports to stand where we wanted them. They were a bit uncooperative.

It's up, and it's stable, but it's not what you would call rock solid. I suspect the whole mass of metal weighs upward of 500 pounds. The longer supports, the ones on either side of the engine, are taking the weight. The ones at either end are not doing much of anything. The supports can take the weight, and they are braced in one direction, but not in the other, which means the whole thing moves back and forth a bit. I am thinking a couple of horizontal cross bars connecting the vertical supports could make it solid. They would make it tougher to get down when we finish. It might be worthwhile to borrow a hoist for that part.

There are several big bolt holes in the bottom of the engine and transmission that would be great for attaching some kind of jack platform, except they are all at different levels and angles. Working underneath, trying to figure out the dimensions would be a real pain. Even figuring out the placement of the vertical supports for my stand did not work out precisely as I had hoped.

July 15, 2011                Day 25: The Puller & The Pulley

We are finally starting to tear into the motor itself. Soon we will know whether it can be salvaged or not. But right now we need to get the timing chain off, which means the timing chain cover needs to come off, which means the big fat pulley on the end of the crank needs to come off.

Stupid pulley. It's held on with a bolt, but simply pulling the bolt out is not enough. The pulley is pressed onto the shaft (the front/right end of the crankshaft). "Pressed" is putting it mildly. It's pushed on with the force of Jehovah. Pulling it off is going to require some prayer.

So I went to Lucille's, our local temple to the gods of machined-ness. The had a whole selection of pullers available, little tiny cute ones, great big monster ones, two jawed, three jawed, high strength, really cheap, and really expensive. The pulley I'm dealing with is an eight inch monster, but the big thick rim is supported by thin little spokes. Can I pull it off by the rim? Or has it been pushed on with so much force that pulling on the rim will bend the spokes and effectively destroy the pulley?

Maybe I can get the hooks for a small puller in those slots around the hub, plus the price on the small puller is only ten bucks. If this little puller gets destroyed, it's not the end of the world. Mr. Lucille though has another idea. He has a special, high strength, expensive puller, that might be just the ticket. The one he has is a warranty return. Some yahoos bought it and put a six foot wrench on the end and trashed the threads on the center screw, the one that does all the pulling. So he and his (grand-)daughter scramble around and find a tap and a die to clean up the threads with. They run the screw from the puller through the die, and it really does look much better. They run the tap through the center of puller, but it's hard to tell if it makes much improvement.

This puller sells for $70, and he wants half of that for this "reconditioned" version. I am skeptical. I have dealt with recalcitrant pull-ees and weak pullers before and this does not sound like a good deal. But he guarantees it: if it doesn't work, he'll give me my money back. Well, all right then, if it does the trick, it will be worth it.

It doesn't work. There is not enough room between the pulley and the timing chain cover to get the hooks behind the inner hub. I take it back and exchange it for the big, three armed, 8 inch puller shown in the picture. Only problem is now there is nothing to push against. The central screw is too large to go inside the bolt hole in the crank, so I drill a small hole in the center of the bolt, screw it almost all the way in by hand, and use it to push against. It works! And it doesn't destroy the pulley, which is really good. Now that I know the pulley can be moved without an ungodly amount of force, I substitute a couple of deep, quarter inch drive sockets for the bolt. They work perfectly and the pulley comes off.

Now we can take the timing cover off and see what glories are revealed.

July 16, 2011                Day 24

Started tearing into the motor this evening. Removed the timing chain and the camshafts without too much difficulty. The little bolts holding the cam bearing caps were a bit of a bear to loosen. Twelve point socket wouldn't hold and the only six-point, 10 mm socket I have is quarter-inch drive, so we had to rig up an extension for our mini-breaker bar in order to have enough torque to break them loose. Bigger problem was keeping track of all the bearing caps and cam followers. "Good practice" requires that these pieces be reinstalled in their original places. Fortunately the bearing caps are marked 1I (for Intake) thru 5E (for Exhaust) so we just had to put them in separate, marked boxes for the two the cylinder heads. The cam followers are not very big, and are very dark and oily, so even if they are marked, the marks are going to be difficult to read. I sacrificed one of our Lego storage boxes and just put one follower in each slot, and labeled the lid of the box.

Now we can pull the heads, but boy these bolts are tight. We resort to using the torque wrench to break them loose. We get two loose, and then the wrench starts slipping. Uh, oh, looks like we cracked it. Going to need a new one. That's going to have to be tomorrow, all the stores are closed now.

I am cleaning up and I happen to notice that the idler sprocket is sitting at an angle. What the heck? Is this some kind of special spring loaded bearing that allows it to flop around like this? Umm, no. The bearing is shot. While I am fooling with it a ball falls out and rolls across the floor. This explains the loose ball I found in the timing cover when I pulled it off yesterday. This sprocket also happens to drive the water pump. I am beginning to wonder how much more damage I have yet to discover. On the plus side, the cam bearings all look fine.

You might notice the confused labeling on the plastic box I used for the cam followers. Used to be in the good old days, when all cars had their engines in the front and employed rear wheel drive (the way god intended), that the front, rear, left and right sides of the engine corresponded to the same aspects of the car. Now though, with these cross-wise front wheel drive jobs it's a little hard to tell. Do directions on the engine correspond to the directions on the car, or do they correspond to the functions of the engine? The front of the engine used to have the pulley that drove all the accessories, and the rear of the engine attached to the transmission. If you look at it that way, then the left side of the engine is towards the front of the car, and the right side of the engine is towards the rear of the car. I guess the question is whether you are car XXXXX centric or engine-centric. XXXXX

July 19, 2011                Day 27

This was supposed to take three weeks, maybe four. Doesn't look like we're gonna make it. Might help if we put in more than an hour a day, but hey, I've got a life too, you know. Okay, I'm lying, I don't have a life, but my helper has a life, and this car repair project is not high on his list.

Pulled off the cylinder heads the other day. If the head gaskets were blown, it isn't obvious where they failed. There was one head bolt that was not as tight as all the others, but that was the only evidence we had that anything was wrong. Today I pulled the water pump because of the bad bearing. Oh, looky here, the impeller has disintegrated. So even if the head gaskets were not bad, this project has not been a total waste. Pulling the engine certainly made the water pump easier to replace.

I replaced the water pump on our Windstar van several years ago, and it was no picnic. It was same kind of setup: transverse mounted V-6, front wheel drive. The front of the engine is right up against the right front fender, so you are working in a very restricted space, and that water pump was on the outside of the engine.

The water pump on this engine is inside, behind the timing chains. You build something like this you better be very confident that the water pump is going to last for the life of the engine, or at least as long as the timing chains. I am wondering about those chains and the associated guides now. Should I replace them as well? This is supposed to be an economy repair, my free labor being the biggest part of it.

Today I went to Lucille's to buy some scrub brushes to clean the mating surfaces of the heads and the block. Used to be, when engines were made of cast iron (as god intended), you could clean up these surfaces with a sharp scraper and a rag. Not anymore. With aluminum, you can't use anything harder than your fingernail to clean off the old crud for fear of putting a scratch in the surface that the new gasket won't seal. You can use a wood or plastic scraper, but no steel implements. These work, but they are slow and tedious, and you need a good supply because they wear down and lose their edge. The tool of choice these days is a funny little plastic brush made by 3M. They come in different colors: green, white and yellow at least. The yellow ones are for cast iron and the white ones are for aluminum. Eric says you can use the green ones on aluminum. But you can't just buy the brush, you need a die grinder to spin it. Thanks to the inscrutable Orientals, air tools can be had for a pittance these days, matter of fact, the two little 3M plastic brushes cost more than the 25,000 RPM die grinder.

Cleaning the surfaces still took a fair amount of time. Some places the black residue from the old gaskets flaked right off, other places it was like it had become one with the metal.

July 25, 2011                Day 33

Mmmm, carmel sauce.

Pulled the oil pan off thinking I would be able to check the bottom end bearings, but no such luck, the windage tray is in the way. I could take it off, but working from underneath is a pain, even when the engine isn't in the car.

I got this shot by holding the camera at floor level and pointing as best I could.

Cleaning up today I noticed a mark on the timing chain cover where the timing chain had been rubbing against one of the stand offs. This could be explained by the bad water pump bearing, or it might mean the chain has stretched and needs to be replaced.

Looking at the oil drained from the engine, I noticed that there was a layer of water in it. That is not surprising, head gasket failure allows coolant into the oil galleries, and vice versa. But down at the bottom of the bucket there is another layer of what looks like oil.What is that all about? Oil is lighter than water, so it normally floats on top. What came out of the engine that is denser than water?

August 16, 2011        Pictures

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Sebring intake valves, visible only due to flash

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Broken water pump from Sebring

Sebring engine with new water pump and head gaskets

August 21, 2011        Engine Assembly Notes

Installing the Camshafts and Timing Chains

Installing the timing chains was fraught with terror. I had two friends who did valve jobs on expensive overhead cam engines and both of them had to do the job over. Both of them did the job with the engine in the car, and they figured that if you didn't move the crank while you had the engine apart, it would still be in the right place when they put it back together. If both cases they were wrong. Once they had their engines assembled and turned them over, the mis-timed valves impacted the pistons and they all got bent.

This engine has dual over head cams, that is two camshafts per bank of cylinders. Two banks of cylinders means a total of four camshafts. Each pair of camshafts has a chain connecting them. The intake camshafts have a second sprocket that is driven by a chain from the crankshaft. So we have two separate situations that need to be coordinated.

Before we start putting anything together, we turn the crank so the mark on the crank aligns with the mark on the block. Normally I would expect this to put piston number one at top dead center, but not here! Shoot, none of the pistons are at top dead center. Oh! Clever devils! I see what they have done. With the crank in this position, all of the pistons are at least an inch down in their bores. So no matter what we do with heads and valves, there is no way the valves are going to impact the pistons. So we just need to not move the crank until we get the timing chains all installed.

Timing each pair of camshafts in a single head is not two difficult. Two of the links are marked and the sprockets on the camshafts are marked as well. Simply line up the marks and then mount the camshafts in the heads.

Now we can install the main timing chain and the large camshaft sprockets. This is a bit tricky. As I recall, the chain is draped over the rear sprocket and then dropped through the hole in the head. Then the front sprocket is inserted in the chain and fed upwards through the hole in its' corresponding head. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Whatever. Now the sprockets can be slipped on the camshafts where they are free to rotate. Now we can adjust the timing marks on this chain and these sprockets so they all line up.

Now we have a problem. The two camshafts in each head are in their proper relation to each other, and the main timing chain and all its' sprockets are all coordinated, but we still haven't connected the camshaft sprockets to the camshafts. This is done with a pair of bolts in each one. Unfortunately, with all the timing marks where they are supposed to be, the bolt holes do not line up. How effed up is that? The bolt holes are diametrically opposed, so the sprockets can be bolted to the cams in either of two positions. Either position will work mechanically because the crank makes one complete turn for each half turn of the cams. So icrank cannot tell if the cam is 180 degrees off. However, there is also the ignition timing to consider. Or what if we get one cam right and the other 180 degrees off? We might have a very rumbly engine.

In any case, the bolt holes were not that far off, and they were both off the same amount and in the same direction, so I simply went with the closer position. One problem is that one cam did not want to stay lined up. It was at a point where at least one of the cams was on the tip. As soon as you put it in position, the valve springs would cause it to move. The camshafts have square recesses to accomodate a square drive socket wrench extension, with that and a pry bar, you can rotate the cam into position and hold it there while you put the bolts in. A rachet won't work. As soon as you get to the position, the springs grab the cam and twist it away. Happens in both directions, hence my conclusion that it must right on the tip of the cam.

Installing the Crankshaft Pulley and Seal

Installing the crankshaft pulley and seal was a bit tricky. The pulley mounts on the end of the crank. The seal rides on a surface just behind the pulley, and slightly larger in diameter. The surface of the crank between these two area is beveled, so by turning the seal while pushing it will go right on. Unfortunately, the seal has to be mounted in the timing cover first, and the protrusions on the cover preclude any rotation while mounting it. If you just push the cover and seal into position, the edge of the seal will catch on the beveled lip on the crank and flip inside out. Somehow I imagine it will not seal effectively like that. Chrysler has a special tool for installing the crankshaft seal. I really don't want to buy one. I can't imagine ever having any other use for it. Besides, as specialized as it is, I am not even sure where I could get one.

So I improvised. I cut the ends off of a pop can and then cut about a one inch wide strip out of the side. I took the remaining piece, spread a little oil on it, wrapped it up on a circle and slipped it inside the seal. Spread the end of this rolled up piece of aluminum so it would go over the crank and pushed the timing cover and the seal into position. Then I pulled the aluminum piece out. Easy as pie. Don't know if it will actually seal or not. Seals are kind of funny. Old, ugly seals can work fine. New seals with microscopic defects can leak like a sieve. The seal suffered quite a bit of abuse while we were fooling around trying to figure out how to get it in position, and the edge of that aluminum is pretty sharp. I could have nicked the seal while I was pulling the aluminum shim out.

Installing the crankshaft pulley took a little work. It is a press fit on the perfectly round end of the crank, there is no key. There is bolt that holds it on. If the bolt had been just an inch or so longer, we could have used it to push the pulley on, but no, can't make it easy. I was able to knock it on using a block of wood and a small sledge hammer. Once I got it most of the way on, the bolt was able to grip the threads and push it home. There is a tab on the bottom of the timing cover you use with a screwdriver and one of the pulley's spokes to keep the pulley from turning while you tighten the bolt.

Wiring Harness

When connecting the wiring harness to the three ignition coils on the front bank of cylinders, I noticed that there were four identical connectors. This sucks. There is also a connector on a sensor mounted on the intact plenum that uses this same connector. So which one is the odd one? From this photo, I can see that the connector with the brown wire on top goes to the intake plenum. The ones with the green wire on top go to the ignition coils.

August 31, 2011        Batteries Plus, Again

Set about constructing a cradle to lift the engine into the Sebring yesterday and found the battery for my cordless drill was dead. No problem, I have a spare in the charger. Pull it out and plug it into the drill and . . . remember that sound from Star Wars when Han pushes the big red button and the Millenium Falcon does NOT go to lightspeed? Yeah, well, that's what we got here. Either the hyperdrive motivator has been damaged or this freshly charged battery is kaputski.

Stop by Batteries Plus (What is this? The third time in three weeks?) and pick up a new one for $35. Gadzooks! These things are expensive. We were at Home Depot earlier getting materials and I was ogling the new Milwaukee cordless drills. Real jazzy with their zig-zaggy stripes. Small and light, they look like a ray-gun straight out of Flash Gordon. But they want a $100 for them. I probably could have gone to Harbor Freight and gotten a whole new drill for $35, but I like my Makita. I've had it for years and other than the battery it shows no signs of wearing out. Of course I am probably going to have to replace the spare battery next week and that will mean another $35 expense.

September 2, 2011        Retail Oil

XXXXX

We're getting close on the Chrysler Sebring project. Today I went to the auto parts store to pick up an oil filter. It's going to be easier to install now than after we get the engine in. While I am there I decide I may as well get some oil and anti-freeze. We will need them before we start the engine, and that is liable to happen any day now, and I am not going to want to make a special trip just for those items. I am probably going to need to make a trip to the store for something, but who knows? Maybe not. Like I said, we are getting close.

Going into the store (O'Reilly Auto Parts) I see a poster advertising Castrol motor oil and Fram Filters, I think big whoop, they probably still cost double what the generics do. Then I get inside and I find that the generic oil is $4 (FOUR DOLLARS!) a quart. They have five quart jugs which are handy, but there is no discount for buying the economy size.

I pick up a Fram filter because it's easy, they have one of those little electronic selection jobbies. They have some other brands, but nothing that looks like the discount generic, so the $4 Fram filter is fine.

I get to  the checkout counter and guy tells me I can save $4 (FOUR DOLLARS!) by getting the Castrol oil instead of O'Rilley's house brand. The Castrol five quart jug is normally $24, so they are knocking off $8. Castrol must really want to sell some oil.

Yesterday I drove by one of those quickie oil change places and they were advertising oil changes for $18. Times must be tough. They must be counting on selling you some windshield wipers.

I think oil is somewhere North of $50 a barrel these days, but less than a hundred. A barrel holds something like 40 gallons, so if you buy it in bulk, a gallon costs about $2. Then you get to refine it, filter it, add a teaspoon of magic goo, and then bottle it. By this time it's now about $1 a quart, or $4 a gallon, same as gasoline. But for every gallon of motor oil they sell, the oil companies sell like 300* gallons of gasoline. So multiply by a factor of 4** to compensate for the smaller volume and you get $4 a quart, or $16 a gallon. Huh. Imagine that.

* 6,000 miles (distance between oil changes, which takes about a gallon of oil) divided by 20 miles per gallon for gasoline.

** Double the price for each factor of ten in difference in volume. A rule of thumb that I just made up.

September 3, 2011        Photos

Engine fully assembled and ready to go in.

 The jack would not raise the engine high enough, so we used the engine hoist to lower the car. We got the two to meet somewhere in the middle.

When we dropped the engine, the steering column simply slid apart. Putting the engine back in, we align the stub from the steering rack with the hole in the firewall. Then we raised the engine up. The steering column did not complain, and we had plenty of other bits to worry about. Today I thought we ought to check, and surprise, surprise, the steering wheel spins merrily without turning anything. As you can see in the picture, the two telescoping sections of steering column completely ignored each other. Fortunately, with a little pushing and prodding we were able to wrestle the rear suspension cross member far enough to allow the two pieces to connect. We did have to loosen a dozen big bolts, but the engine stayed right where it was, which was very good. Here is how it is supposed to look.

September 7, 2011        Day N+1

When we dropped the engine out of the car two months ago, not all of the lines had been properly disconnected. In particular, the fuel line hung us up, and in the excitement of the moment I elected to cut the dang thing instead of trying to figure out how to disconnect it. Today I paid for that rash action. $17 to be precise, for a plastic fuel line repair kit. Went by O'Reilly Auto Parts, because that was the last place that was helpful. I should have known better. I went by there yesterday to pick up a couple of hose clamps. They had them, which was good, but they were packaged in a blister pack and hanging on the display rack! That tells me it is a generic retail operation and not a real auto parts store. On the other hand I noticed that they had quite a selection of tools, including taps (tools for cutting screw threads in metal) which is something I would not normally expect to find in such a place.

Anyway, they couldn't help with my fuel line problem, so we headed over to NAPA. NAPA is not my favorite, their prices are generally a little higher and they are closed on Sundays, which sometimes interferes with my sinning. On the plus side, NAPA can get you what you need, even if it is obscure, or you screwed up by cutting a fuel line you didn't need to cut. And sure enough, they had a plastic fuel line repair kit.  All I really need from the kit is about four inches of tubing and the little metal ferrel. You know in the good old days, fuel line was either reinforced rubber hose, or copper tubing, and the one could be connected to the other with a simple hose clamp.Now we've got this plastic tube with funny plastic connectors on the ends. There's probably a million dollars worth of engineering in this part, but it only costs a nickel to make it, and then sell it for $17. The dealer probably wants $35, but it would be a snap to install. I still have some work to do to repair my fuel line using the kit I got from NAPA.

There's another factor in play here as well. Back in the good old days, fuel lines were suction lines. The fuel pump was on the motor, and it sucked the fuel from the tank in the back of the car. The pressure on the suction line was negative. Nowadays, we've got electric fuel pumps that produce something like 50 or 60 PSI (pounds per square inch) of pressure, which we need to keep the fuel injectors happy. So while a leak in an old time fuel line would make your car run poorly or not a all, a leak in a modern fuel line will spray gasoline everywhere, making a big cloud of explosive gas. Good thing fuel lines don't often leak.

Then there was the brake line. The line from the anti-lock brake unit to the right front wheel runs across the top of the front cross-member, which also supports the radiator. There are three little plastic clips that hold this line in place, and when we dropped the motor out, they did not want to let go and so they drug the brake line with them and reformed it into a new and more artistic shape. Which means it did not want to fit back where it was supposed to go. It still isn't right. I think I am going to need to stuff some rags between it and the frame so vibration doesn't wear a hole in it. That would be bad.

We did remember to disconnect the exhaust pipe when we dropped the engine. We did it by cuttting the exhaust pipe in half. If all goes well, I plan on taking it to the muffler shop and having them do a proper repair. Meanwhile, just to keep the exhaust pipe from dragging, and to keep the noise down to a dull roar, we patched the pipe with a piece of tin and a couple of hose clamps. It looks so good I might just leave it.

We misplaced one of the bolts that hold the A/C (air conditioning lines) to the compressor. Fortunately, I found one in my box-of-bolts. Unfortunately, it was an Allen head (uses a hex key). Fortunately, I just happened to have the right size metric Allen wrench with a 3/8 inch square drive. I had completely forgotten about it.

Back of the engine showing the power steering pump (blue), hoses (purple) and steering shaft and tie rod ends (yellow).

Also misplaced the screw that holds the power steering reservoir in place, which makes me think there is another jug of bolts hiding in the garage somewhere. The power steering was kind of a trick deal. By unfastening the reservoir, we were able to drop all the power steering stuff along with the engine. We did have to disconnect one hose briefly to disengage it from the aforementioned brake line. But that was all. After we got the engine out, we were able to remove the power steering pump from the engine. So we were able to remove all of the power steering from the engine without having to disconnect any of the hoses.

September 13, 2011        Test Drive

Yesterday we took the car out for a spin. Notice how the steering wheel is straight at the start of the clip. That's because we are going around a curve. Notice how later on in the clip the steering wheel is cross wise. That's because when we slipped the two sections of steering column together, we didn't pay no never-mind to the rotation. So now we've got a cross-wise steering wheel. I don't know which would be the easier way to fix it. Pull the steering wheel, or loosen the front suspension. Either one promises to be a royal pain, and I'm not sure it would even be worthwhile. We shall see.

I don't know if you can see the little orange warning light between the two big gauges, but it's the ABS light. What's up with that? Just because we rearranged the brakes lines into more artistic shapes shouldn't have any effect, should it? Maybe there's still some air in the brake lines, but the brakes seem to work fine. ABS on my truck is acting up, too. I wonder how much money we have spent (collectively, as a nation) on ABS equipment, and I wonder how much damage they have prevented. I imagine we probably spend a billion dollars a year on ABS braking systems, and I'll bet we save maybe 10% of that, for a net loss of $900 million dollars a year. No wonder we're all broke.

Notice the foggy area across the top of the headlight? Maybe not, it's hard to see in this photo. You can see a little cloudy spot just above the headlight bulb. When I was connecting the right front brake line I got brake fluid all over my hands and forearms. I wiped it off with a rag. Then I looked at something under the hood and I rested my arm on the headlight. The residue from the brake fluid, after I had wiped it off, crazed the plastic lens. Bah.

September 14, 2011        Red versus Orange

I used these two planks in a makeshift cradle to lower the engine out of the Sebring. When it came time to put the engine back in, I used them when I tried to make a better cradle. We slid the wide end under the car, positioned the engine towards the narrow end, and put the jack under the cross piece at the narrow end. The wide end needs to be narrow enough to fit between the jack stands holding the car up. Our first attempt was not well planned and was too wide, so we had to take it almost completely apart, cut the cross pieces down to size, and then reassemble it. Thank goodness for power screwdrivers.

The casters on the wide end made it easy to roll the half-ton engine / transmission / front-suspension assembly into position. The hinges were to allow us to adjust the height of the rear end. That turned out to be unnecessary.  What would have been helpful is some blocking under the engine to support the cross members, and some hooks to hold the cross members together. The weight of the engine on the mounts attached to the cross members tends to push them apart.

I have had these two planks for dang near forever. A neighbor in Phoenix gave them to me. I don't know what they were originally for, but somebody went to a lot of trouble to put them together: they are not single planks, they are each made of two tongue-and-groove, cedar 2-by-6's joined together. The left over tongue on one edge has been cut off. The beveled groove along the tongue and groove joint was filled with plaster, and then they were painted with high gloss enamel. I use them about once a year, usually for some kind of precarious scaffolding.

The price of hardware has really gone up. Used to be things like hinges and casters were unbelievably cheap, now they are like $4 (FOUR DOLLARS!) a piece.What's really bad is you can buy a complete furniture dolly at Harbor Freight for less than you can buy just the four casters for at Home Depot.

September 16, 2011        The Mystery of the Anti-Freeze Jug Cap

So I'm trying to purge the air from the cooling system on the Sebring. I open up a jug of anti-freeze and I set the cap down. I fiddle around a bit with hoses and funnels and coolant and then I go to put the cap back on the jug and I can't find it. It's not sitting on the car, it's not sitting on the cupboard by the door, it's not here, it's not there, it's not anywhere. Oh, well. Take the car for drive to get the motor up to operating temperature. I drive to the car wash, maybe two miles away. The car is dusty, it's been sitting in the garage for a year, it can stand a wash. I go through the wash and when we come out the other side the fan belt is squeaking. I figure it got wet in the car wash, when it dries out it will stop. It squeaks all the way home. When I get to my house I see a cap for a jug lying in the driveway. I go pick it up and see that's a cap for Zerex anti-freeze. That's weird, because I'm using O'Reilly's house brand of coolant. It doesn't fit my jug either. And the engine hasn't stopped squeaking. Matter of fact, it sounds like something is going snap everytime it squeaks.

So the Sebring is slightly demented. Once upon a time it grabbed the Zerex cap and has been holding onto all this time until today, when it saw an opportunity to grab a new cap, and being foolish and attracted to shiny things, it dropped the old cap and grabbed the new cap and started gnawing on it.

November 2, 2011        Disaster

The Chrysler Sebring, the one my son and I spent the summer overhauling, has blown up. Coming up grapevine hill after lunch yesterday I gave it the beans and in response got a loud noise. It made it to the top of the hill but as soon I shifted into neutral the engine died. I pulled over and called for a tow.

Up till then there was no indication that there was anything seriously wrong. There were a few minor problems, like the clunk in the suspension, the whine from the alternator, something snapping down by the fan belt,  and steering wheel was on crosswise. But no indication of a real problem. Except for maybe the heat. Drive across town and the motor gets warm, as it should, but open the hood, and it seems really hot, like an oven, or an overheated motor. But we never got any of the conventional indications of an overheating motor. It didn't boil over, it wasn't loosing coolant, and the temperature gauge never got above the half-way mark.

So I don't know what went wrong. Maybe the block and heads were not flat enough. Maybe the head bolts should have been replaced. There was one funny thing, and that was when we filled the radiator with coolant it did not take nearly as much as I expected it too. So maybe there is something plugging the cooling system. But if that's the case, what's the deal with the temperature gauge? I don't know what went wrong, but things have definitely gone South and I am very unhappy.

To assauge my suffering I sit down to watch an old episode of Top Gear and they are doing a retrospective on the Rover V-8. This is interesting and a little painful. My first car was a 1963 Buick Special that I bought from my father for its' trade in value of $150. It had an aluminum V-8, the same engine that a couple of years later would become the Rover V-8, which would be used in a variety of British cars for the next 40 years.

Top Gear collected an entire fleet of cars powered by this engine for this picture. In the three years that General Motors produced this engine, they built 750,000 of them, which is more than the British built in the next 40 years*. General Motors quit building the engine because there were too many problems with the corrosion in the cooling system, due to customers using the wrong coolant in the aluminum engine.

Huh. Imagine that. Cooling problems with an aluminum engine. In case you didn't know, the engine in the Sebring is aluminum. Something is rotten in my garage and I want to find out what it is. Whether I will or not is another matter.

* Autocar has an interesting story about the Rover V-8.

Second Repair Attempt

August 10, 2013        Sebring ABS Connector

Younger son and I started our second attempt to repair our Chrysler Sebring today. We made good progress with the preliminaries, removing the wheels, the plastic fender liners and disconnecting cables and hoses until we got to the ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) controller. Going to try using a slightly different procedure this time. Instead of disconnecting it from the frame and the brake lines from the front wheels, we are going to leave it bolted to the front subframe member and instead disconnect it from the wiring harness and the master cylinder. Should be simpler. I hope.

    Everything was fine until it came time to disconnect it from the wiring harness. Great big black, plastic connector, with none of the locks we have seen on all the other cables. Don't even try pulling on it if you can't find the lock, you'll just end up breaking it and having to jury rig some kind of lock to keep it plugged in when you finally put it back together. Finally resort to Google and find a page on Autozone that includes this little tidbit:

15. Disconnect the 25-way wiring harness connector from the CAB using the following procedure. Grasp the lock on the 25-way connector and pull it out from the connector as far as possible. This will unlock and raise the 25-way connector out of the socket on the CAB.

Yeah, okay, sure. What lock? Look at the top. Look at the bottom. Hmmm. What's this bit sticking up on top? Hoy! There is a seam between it and the rest of the connector, right at the top of the body of the connector. Could this be the lock? Well, let's pull on it and find out. Pull, tug, grunt, yank: nothing. Get my little bitty claw hammer, stick the claw in the hole in the side and pry. She moves! Connector still not loose, pry some more, and the connector comes free, just like magic.

Unplugged connector with lock engaged. Socket is at lower right in picture.

Connector with lock released.

October 21, 2013        Straight out of Carson

Ordered another set of gaskets for the Sebring from an internet outfit based in Carson, California. Looking at the map it looks like they are closer to Compton. What else we got here? A jam packed subdivision across the street, California State University Dominguez Hills just down the way, and hey, what's this? Goodyear Blimp Port! Thank you National Reconnaissance Office.

October 10, 2013        Restart Sebring Second Attempt

The first attempt to repair this engine ended in failure, so I thought I would try again, but after a couple of days my number one assistant threw in the towel and declared he didn't ever want to have anything more to do with this car. Can't say as I blame him. What's a little money compared to endless futility? I, however, remained convinced that this was a worthwhile project. Darling daughter has returned home in search of employment and if she succeeds she will need a car, so number one son stepped into the breach and said let's do this. And today we got the motor out of the car and disconnected from the front suspension. The last bit we accomplished today was taking off the wiring harness, which was done after I took this picture. From here on in it should be fairly straight forward. It's all the various entanglements (hose, wires, mechanical bits, more hoses and more wires) that make getting to this point a tedious job.

October 30, 2013        2.7 Liter V-6 engine head bolts

Found on Just Answer dot com

To install:

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Cylinder head bolt torque sequence-2.7L engine

  1. Clean all mating surfaces of any residual gasket material.
  2. Lubricate the threads of the cylinder head bolts with clean engine oil.
  3. Install or connect the following:

Cylinder head with a new gasket

  1. Torque the bolts, in sequence, using the following procedure:
  1. Step 1: Bolts 1-8: 35 ft. lbs. (48 Nm).
  2. Step 2: Bolts 1-8: 55 ft. lbs. (75 Nm).
  3. Step 3: Bolts 1-8: 55 ft. lbs. (75 Nm).
  4. Step 4: Bolts 1-8: An additional 90°. Do not use a torque wrench for this step.
  5. Step 5: Bolts 9-11: 21 ft. lbs. (28 Nm).

October 31, 2013        Repair Continues

3/8" square drive adjustable automatic torque wrench,

similar to but not the same as the one I used to have.

Didn't subscribe to the online manual this time since it was so frigging useless last time, but I still needed the torque settings for the head bolts and the cam bearings, so I decided to just post them here (and here), after all that's where everything else goes.

8. Tighten cam bearing cap bolts gradually in sequence shown in (Fig. 25) to 12 Nm (105 inch lbs.).

9. Install secondary chain tensioner bolts and tighten to 12 Nm (105 inch lbs.).

    Couldn't find my smaller torque wrench, the one with the 3/8" square drive, so we just tightened them up tight. Haven't seen the little torque wrench in a long time. I am afraid I may have gotten rid of it during one of my of "I ain't workin' on cars no more" fits.

    Stripped the threads for one bolt hole in the head. This was for one tensioners, not for one of bearings. It looked like about a 6mm screw, just a little smaller than a 1/4 inch, so I ran a 1/4-20 tap in the hole and put in an American bolt and it held. Messy, and not exactly kosher, but good enough.

    Found a lot of aluminum particles on the inside of the bearing caps. These bolts are really tough to loosen, I had to buy a new socket for this job last time. I think we may be approaching the limits of what the aluminum can take, so everytime you tighten the bolts you generate flakes of aluminum. These flakes are trapped in the hole and cause no trouble until you take the bolts out and then you get a virtual snowfall. I dumped them in a box when we pulled them off, so any debris that came out with the bolts was free to spread onto all oily surfaces, which included the bearings. That's my theory anyway.

November 9, 2013        Progress

  Older son and I got the engine back in the Sebring this evening. It took some ... I dunno .... force? Slight of hand? Careful engineering? Engine supported by an engine hoist, lowered to mate with the front suspension. Tripod joint came semi-loose. Luckily we were able to re-engage it without having to open anything up. Nothing like trying to line up a couple of axles dangling from a 500 pound block with a couple of hubs floppily attached to a 300 pound subframe. Somehow we managed. With a floor jack under the front end and a broom stick under the back end we rolled the whole assembly under the car and then jacked it up as far as we could go. It wasn't quite enough, so we had to reattach the engine hoist to haul the engine up the last few inches. We got the motor mounts bolted together and realized we hadn't engaged the steering column, so we had to undo the bolts in the left hand suspension tower to allow that side to drop down far enough to allow us to fit the telescoping sections of the steering column together.

    It was kind of weird working with that much weight. When everything is stable and still it all seems fine, but when you start raising and lowering things you start to realize just how much weight you are working with, and it's a bunch. Gravity is just the weirdest thing.