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Seized Engine???

11-17-2005, 02:28 PM
I have a co-worker that has no extra cash and needed a car. I happened to have had a 1994 Saturn SL2 that I had stopped driving about a year ago. It has 260k on it and other than burning about a quart every 500 miles it ran pretty good. Always started right up, even after sitting for a couple of months.

He picked up the car and drove it for about 4 days. The other morning on his way to work he said it started losing power and finally died. I went to take a look and it wouldn't turn over. Acted like the battery was dead, but it isn't.

He had it towed to a gas station and they are telling him the engine is seized. I asked my co-worker upon hearing this questions like "Was the temp rising?", "Did you heard any noises?", "Was the oil light on?", etc. He said the oil light came on just as the motor died, which is pretty much normal.

Although I haven't seen the car since the gas station mechanic looked at it, I'm still skeptical as to whether or not it is really seized since I've dealt with this mechanic and am not particularly impressed with him.

Has anyone ever seen a motor seize in such a peaceful manner?

2.2 Straight six
11-17-2005, 02:34 PM
i dont really think it would suddenly seize up like that, although it might be possible, take the car elsewhere an get a second opinion, dont let the mechanic take you for a ride.

have someone else look at it and be sure before you do anything else.

11-17-2005, 04:02 PM
Get a socket and a breaker bar on the crank nut and turn the engine (clockwise). If you can turn it with about 80 lbs of force, its not seized, If you can't turn it, its seized.

I've seen two saturns do this exact thing. One of them seized so hard that it broke the block... I don't just mean put a crack in the main web, I mean THE BLOCK BROKE. My friend was driving hers and it seized and all of a sudden was steaming like mad. It broke the block all the way up the water jacket on the front side up to about an inch from the head.

Edit: Realizing that its an OHC engine, it may have sheared the teeth off the timing belt letting it lose power over a few seconds, then seizing against a valve. If that's the case it will probably need at least a rebuilt head and possibly new pistons. It may have bent a rod or scored some bearings as well, so suffice it to say that if its seized, its probabaly junk. The cost of ther repairs will be triple what the car may be worth. If its not seized, its probably some weird electrical problem... but it sure sounds seized to me.

11-17-2005, 04:13 PM
Thanks for the replies. I'm a pretty handy wrench myself, but just haven't had a chance to really look at it. He's having it towed to my house tomorrow, so I'll confirm the seizure thing this weekend.

I'm thinking of running over to the gas station tonight and putting the thing in 4th or 5th (it's a manual) and seeing if we can turn the motor by pushing it. We tried this in reverse (only direction we could go where it was stalled), but it's usually a chore to get one to turn the motor over in reverse or 1st gear. I've found 2nd isn't usually too easy either.

I've seen a bunch of engines seize, but never without at least a little noise or even violent activity. I'm wondering if it might not be something as simple as some corroded grounds since it sat outside for the year. Could explain both the no turnover condition and the power loss/stalling.

Curtis, are you saying both you saw broke the block, or one did and the other a silent death?

They have timing chains and I know from experience they do make noise if they are loose enough or worn enough to cause a jump or shearing of the cam sprocket. I still don't like the smell of the diagnoses simple because of the description of the events leading up to the stalling. Could be, but first I've heard of one seizing without any noise at all. He also told me a few minutes ago that when he rolled to a stop it was still in gear, so the motor had to be turning to some degree. It has a relatively new clutch, so I know that thing isn't slipping enough to make it feel like a normal in gear coast to a stop.

11-17-2005, 04:13 PM
is it a manual or auto?

either way you can check yourself if the engine is seized, try turning the crank pulley with a wrench, if it turns, the engine is obviously not seized.

if it is a manual trans, checking for engine seizure is easier, just put the car in 5th and push it, if you can push the car in gear the engine is not seized.

i have had one car engine seize on me while driving, and no, it did not go quietly. the water pump went grenade on me (i could actually hear parts flying off) and then it lost power as the engine and auto trans. overheated and seized. this happened on the freeway, with no warning, (temp gauge had been long broken) and rather quickly. luckily, it was an auto and i was able to shift it into neutral and coast to the shoulder, a sudden seizure in a manual at freeway speeds could have been disasterous.

before i get flamed for not taking care of this problem before it killed the car i have to say that it was my sisters car and i had only borrowed it for the day. she didn't know there was a problem with her waterpump, so i didn't know.

ps- be carefull where you take the car to be worked on. some mechanics will see a huge $$$$$ sign over your head because of the potential for LOTS of hours of labor. in the case of the 90 corrola above, we knew it was time to cut our losses and part it out. we got her something new(er) rather than pay for an expensive rebuild or swap on that junkyard refugee.

good luck.

11-17-2005, 04:31 PM
What is really starting to torque me is that everyone that knows this guy is treating me like I somehow screwed him. Now, don't ask me how this can be considering he has no money and can't afford to buy a car, I gave him the car trying to be a nice guy and told him everything I knew that was wrong with it. Hell, if he has to junk it the brand new tires are worth enough on Ebay or locally to cover what he paid for registering the thing.

He's been hinting today that I should cover the cost of repair. I should just shoot him and take the car back. Actually, any money he invested in it thus far is about what it would have cost him to get to work for the time he's been driving it anyway. What the hell is wrong with people?

Ok, rant over... until he says something really stupid about the car breaking.

11-17-2005, 04:46 PM
what an ass.

some people, when you do something nice for them they think that you are thier bitch now.

you don't owe him shit.

11-17-2005, 05:14 PM
Curtis, are you saying both you saw broke the block, or one did and the other a silent death?

They have timing chains and I know from experience they do make noise if they are loose enough or worn enough to cause a jump or shearing of the cam sprocket.

Just the one broke. The other one must have just been losing oil pressure, but since the dummy light is only programmed to come on under something like 6 psi it did nothing to warn us. It could have been giving 7 psi when it needed 50 on the highway, but the light didn't come on. It just did like your situation; lost power, heat spiked, and within about 10 seconds was toast, but no block breakage. The one that belonged to my friend it was about 10 seconds, then a clunk and steam. It was a combo of a weak block design, localized intense heating, and the fact that one or two cylinders seized up while the other two were still chugging away caused enough twist to break it. And what a sight it was.

11-17-2005, 10:37 PM
Without being able to actually examine the engine in question its hard to say what the exact cause is. I've seen a few vehicles that were labeled with the "siezed engine" monicker that turned out to be locked up FEAD (Front Engine Accessory Drive) components! Also a hydro-lock condition can "sieze" a engine with little warning. Fluid doesn't compress so any coolant, water, oil, or liquid fuel in the chamber can lock a engine. It could actually be a leaking head gskt that allowed coolant to leak into the cylinders (might be! :naughty: ) :2cents: If a hydro-lock occurs under certain conditions valve, head, piston, and rod damage can result so I'de advise your friend have the car checked by a qualified engine tech before spending money on repairs.

11-23-2005, 04:00 PM
Well, it sure enough is seized, but don't know why right now. We're taking it to my house tonight and I'll see what I can find without ripping the motor apart, or maybe I will rip the motor apart. It would be great if it was as simple as coolant poring into a cylinder or something, but I never get this lucky.

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