Q: No oil which caused timing belt to break and camshaft

asked by on March 19, 2017

A few weeks ago my car broke down. The problem was that I had no oil. I got my oil changed back in November of last year(2016) and the mileage the car would have to reach to get changed is 344806. Even though I had another thousand something miles left to go I was going to change it the day after my car broke down before It actually happened. I got a mechanic to come check it and he said my camshaft and head gasket needed to be changed and told me to order a camshaft and head gasket set. But I want to know if there is anything else that would need to be changed like the timing belt or the crankshaft. Just to be certain

My car has 344605 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

What is of concern to me, is that the mechanic did not mention that the engine in your vehicle is an interference engine. This means that the pistons and intake and/or exhaust valves occupy the same space. As the name timing belt implies, it is responsible for making sure the valves and pistons move in the proper time so they are not in the same space at the same time and make contact. When the timing belt breaks, the valves will slam closed from the valve spring tension. The crankshaft and pistons will continue turning for a short time from the inertia and rotational force. The pistons will then hit the valves and bend them. Simply replacing the timing belt and/or camshaft will most likely not result in a properly running engine when done. In all likelihood, there will be low or lack of compression in one or more of the cylinders due to the bent valves. Compression will blow right by them. If in fact the head gasket is faulty, the cylinder head has to be removes in order to replace it. While the head is off the engine, it should be sent to a machine shop for testing before reinstalling it. If there is any indication that the valves and pistons made contact - which in all likelihood there will be - then the most cost effective repair would be to install a completely rebuilt cylinder head. It would be less expensive than rebuilding the existing head. In order to remove the cylinder head, the timing belt and possible intake and exhaust manifolds will have to be removed. If you go ahead with the repairs, any part that was removed to perform the repairs, should be replaced with new ones. For example, the water pump is in the way of the timing belt. No matter how old the water pump, thermostat, timing belt tensioner, etc are, now is the time to replace them. While everything is apart. There should not be any additional labor charges, just the cost for the new parts. Also, the pistons should be carefully inspected for damage as well. If any of them are damaged from contacting the valves, they will require replacement as well. If that happens and you want to repair the vehicle, consider a good used engine as an alternative to repairing the existing one. Just be sure that if a used engine is used, replace things like the timing belt, tensioner, water pump, etc, before it is installed. With the mileage listed and the fact that it ran out of oil, odds are that the cylinder walls and/or piston rings are worn, allowing oil blow-by. That alone makes installing a known good engine a more cost-effective alternative. Most used engine suppliers will offer some sort of warranty as well, anywhere from 30 days to one year..

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