Q: Engine in bad condition

asked by on July 22, 2016

My friend owns a 2008 Scion xD 1.8L with 78K miles on it. Her battery light came on and the car broke down. The water pump bearing failed knocked off the serpentine belt - no water pump or alternator. The oil and temperature lights came on before the car died.

A local repair shop fixed water pump. She thought maybe the aftermarket security system caused the car to break down. The engine turned, but wouldn't catch and starter was ok, fuel was OK, but bad spark due to wigged out coil. The coil was replaced but it didn't help. So the repair shop found that the engine was getting really bad compression - 50 psi instead of > 100 psi - thought it might be valve timing. They also found that the oil had not been changed for many years. I was like molasses sludge. So the oil got changed. They ran individual cylinder tests and found the head gasket was bad. They found that cylinder 1 leaks to coolant passages and over to cylinder 3. The technician is concerned parts were damaged from overheating. She had a transmission service done because the fluid was really dirty, but the technician was very concerned that there's some chance they might find that the lack of maintenance plus possible overheating has caused allot of damage. What are you ideas and thoughts on this car? Thanks.

Yes, unfortunately if the oil had not been changed for many years this coupled with the overheating could have caused serious damage to the engine. 50 psi compression is a bad sign, this indicates massive blow-by in the combustion chambers and if it is a consistent reading across all cylinders, then it is likely this engine is in need of replacement or a major overhaul.

However, I am concerned how the oil condition and blown head gasket were overlooked and an ignition coil was replaced for a no start issue when there should been signs of mechanical engine issues while the vehicle was being cranked for the no start condition. Before going through with either a rebuild or replacement engine, you may want to get an opinion from a second mechanic and then shop around for a rebuilt or replacement engine and installation.

Based on the description here, it may not be the best course of action to rebuild this particular engine but it would be a good idea to get a second set of eyes to do a complete inspection on this before determining the best course of action.

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