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Chrysler Repair/97 3.5 Won't start


QUESTION: Hi Roland.  Going back to the Intrepid that wouldn't start some days after the timing belt was changed, recall that there was no spark on 1/4 and then after some days of testing, no spark on another pair, and then no compression on the left side of the engine.  All I could figure was something wrong with the timing, though somehow only affecting one side of the engine.  That's where we left off.

The mechanic has finally looked at it just called to say that it's the valve lifters that are at fault.  Now I don't know what to think about that.  All the lifters on one side would be affected?  I guess I don't know enough about how they work to say.  He asked if I had added anything to the oil, which I hadn't.  I thought I'd see what your thoughts were.  He's apparently looking at it now and will call back in a few hours.

Thanks again,

ANSWER: Hi Mike,
The valve lifters are pressurized to be stiff (not squishy) via the oil pressure that is pumped to them along the rocker shaft. If the oil passageway from the block to the head to the shaft becomes plugged up then the lifters will loose their pressure and there will be increased gap between the cam shaft lobes and the lifters. This definitely would cause valve lifter noise (clacking sounds from all the lifters on the affected side, did you notice that?). It would certainly result in the valves opening much less (possibly not at all) and thus the compression would drop way down.
If indeed the lifters are spongy then the camshaft would need to be removed and an inspection as to why no oil pressure on that side existed. The oil passageway to the right side rocker shaft comes from the cylinder head at the third rocker shaft support which can be inspected after removing the shaft.  
What about the spark issue? Did you ever get spark on all 3 pairs of plugs?
Thanks for the rating and nomination.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Roland. I'm familiar with a moderate clacking sound, as the other side of the engine (1-3-5) has been that way for years. (Previous owner suggested worn rocker arms, I recall, and gave me a new shaft/arm assembly but I've never installed it.)  Now I haven't heard any similar noise from the side that has no compression now.

And of course, I don't know what this would have to do with the original problem of no spark.  It had no spark on two pairs when I gave up testing it.  A coincidence of problems?  I don't see how the computer would know that the valves are not working so that it could discontinue the spark--assuming it's even designed to do that--but maybe it does indirectly?

My conjecture about the spark issue was that the cam and crank sensors were out of synch due to a timing belt mal-alignment such that the spark would not be 'driven' to 4 of the 6 cylinders. I am at a loss to suggest anything further so would have to leave it to the mechnanic to first determine why the compression is so low on the right bank. The tappet noise, if present, might not be noticeable at cranking rpm as compared to the noise when the engine is running.

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Roland Finston


Free fast answer to your repair question about a Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth car, minivan, SUV, or truck. Problems with electronically controlled engines and transmissions as well as body wiring problems are my specialty. This free troubleshoot advice forum helps you diagnose faults, minimize repair costs or do-it-yourself.

I answer questions seven days a week and respond to you in about 30 minutes. "Maxed Out" means I am answering another question, briefly unavailable, or asleep overnight, so try again later.

I have do-it-yourself experience (50+ years) and a library of 100 1982-2011 Chrysler factory shop manuals and 20 multi-manual Chrysler Corp. CD's.

I was voted "Top Expert" 2010-2015, here at AllExperts, and have answered 20,000+ questions.


Five decades as a 'do-it-yourselfer' on domestic and imported cars.

Yahoo Autos Group called The Chrysler Lebaron Club (co-moderator)

Advanced degrees in Physics/bruised knuckles

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"Top expert" of 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 here at Allexperts. Quickest "average response time" at Allexperts (currently no. 1).

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