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Can a motor be locked up without noticing anything going bad?

12-06-2007, 11:00 AM
I have a Ford Escort LX 97 109K miles. I left the dome light turned on for 8 hrs and when I tried to start my car back it worked but I needed a couple of tries (so the battery was low I presume).
I drove for 2hrs and the day after I couldn't start my car.
Jumpstarting worked fine. I got my battery tested and it said battery perfect. I didnt belive the test and so I got a new battery. Same result

One day after I couldn't even jump start the car.

I towed the car to a mechanic and he said my motor is locked up and basically I have to change car. He said he cant know the cause because he doesn't know the history of the car but he suspects no oil in the engine,
I never noticed any leaks and I changed oil recently.

Is it possible to lock up an engine without noticing it? How could I have driven till home with a locked engine? Since last time I drove the car (when I jumpstarted) I only kept trying starting turning the key, nothing else.
When I parked my car last time engine was running good, I didnt hear any bad noise.

Better tow the car somewhere else before throwing it away?
Thanks a lot for the help.

12-06-2007, 02:56 PM
Last time you drove it did you notice the oil light coming on? When you turn on the starter does it just click and then nothing? Does everything else go dead when you try the starter. If you had any of these symptoms the engine may well be locked-up.

No you wouldn't hear anything wrong until it was too late. The damage could have been done the last time you drove it and then when going out to start the car it would have a siezed engine. This is possible if it was run with no oil pressure. However, if it was driven with no oil pressure you would have heard the valve lifters go clackity clack.

A way to tell would be to put a ratchet and socket and extension on the crankshaft pulley bolt and try to turn the engine. If you can turn it, it probably isn't locked up. If it won't turn over or it's really hard to turn or you hear noises while you try to turn it, then the engine is siezed up.

Get a second opinion

12-06-2007, 03:10 PM
No oil light coming on.
Last time I drove it it was working pretty fine exept for the fact that I needed to jumpstart it.
Starter just clicks. When I try to start the car all lights,radio, wipers, etc go down. But when the car is off all works and lights are really bright.

Thanks again

12-07-2007, 05:54 PM
If you have the means to do yourself what Dave suggested, also remove the spark plugs. With the spark plugs removed you won't get any resistance from the cylinder trying to compress... should make it easier to turn by hand.

12-07-2007, 06:39 PM
When you turn on the ignition key to the 'start' position; it is normal for the accessories (radio, wipers, heater fan,etc) and the indicator lights on the instrument cluster to go out. However with the drivers door open, the dome light should probably stay on - even while the ignition key is in the 'start' position and even while the starter is cranking the engine.
I think a suddenly-bad starter is more likely than a suddenly-siezed engine. a previous poster said; try turning the motor using a wrench on the crankshaft pulley - the one with the serpentine belt on it. With the plugs out it should turn okay. Have a look at the dipstick - see if there are any tiny shavings in the oil. That would indicate it had been run without enough oil. Finally, you can drain the oil from the motor; into a clear or glass container you can see into. Look up into the bottom of the container and see if there are tiny metal particles in it. If any - its bad news.
It could be a bad starter. I had to replace the starter in our 92, when it was taking several tries to get the car to start. It would just make a nice click each time, but eventually would start. The old starter had about 100,000 miles on it.
Check that the ground connections are in good shape (the negative side of the battery). If they are corroded, getting a jumpstart via the jumper cables connected to the battery posts wont help.
With late model cars with computers in them - I would never attempt to connect the jumpers anywhere other than the battery. This means those cables have to be in decent.
Every ground wire on your Escort is -important- to something the car does.

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