I Have Seen Worse

This is what happens when you go 84,000 miles without an oil change.



Amazingly enough, I have seen worse.

I don’t think I will ever forget the Minivan that some stupid fucker brought into the dealership one time years ago complaining of the engine making a loud ticking noise.

For one thing, I hate mini vans. For another, they are a giant pain in the ass to work on. This thing was a Mercury Villager, alias Nissan Quest, Front wheel drive bastard.

I ESPECIALLY hated those motherfuckers.

I can’t remember how long it took me to finally get the front valve cover off the fucker because it’s been twenty five years ago but  even after all the bolts were out I had a hell of a time getting the valve cover up and out. When I finally got the front one off I immediately saw why and stopped working on it.

I was stunned at what I found and could only stand there and stare at it for a few minutes, completely Gobsmacked at what I was looking at.

I am not exaggerating, there was literally a long, solid brick of carbon under it that was perfectly formed to the inside of the valve cover and all you could see were the very top sides of the rocker arms and  a bunch of little round holes where the valve retainer caps had been moving up and down in it.

Amazingly enough, the owner declined to have a new engine installed in it after I told the service writer the one in it at the time was a goner and I wasn’t going to waste one more second of my time trying to figure out where the noise was coming from.

I threw it back together, charged the dumbass an arm and a leg for being so stupid and wasting my time and watched it roll back out the front door. Unfortunately this was long before cell phones with cameras because there has been many a time I wished I had a picture of that.

49 thoughts on “I Have Seen Worse

  1. I’ve had occasion to bring back engines (that are still running/runnable) back from the edge of the grave – what you showed us was such an engine. I would immediately drain the oil, throw in a new filter, and the cheapest low-grade oil – 5W or 10W if you can find it. Run it for five minutes, drain again and change the oil. Rinse (literally!) and repeat until the oil is no longer black. THEN, and only then, can the car be driven.

    Here comes the fun part: getting rid of the gunk buildup. My father used to be a B-17/B-24/B-29 mechanic many moons ago (90 years ago!!) and he taught me that to flush all the crap out of an engine, you put in a quart of Ford Type A Suffix A ATF in for one quart of oil. Only ONE. This helps the creep of lubricant into those tight spaces and helps flush crap out of the oil passages. The car will be burning “oil” because the rings are not yet loosened up, when they do the oil burning will slow down and stop if the engine has any compression left. Change oil again, same story. Keep rinsing and repeating until the oil comes clean. Do this only on an engine worth saving, or one that hasn’t been running in many years (if not *decades*)!

    BTW, Ford Type A Suffix A ATF is PURE transmission oil, NO additives. Nowadays I can get it as Type FA at your local automotive chain outlet (NAPA, O’Reilley, Auto Zone, etc.). I’ve used it to unstick lifters and even seized engines! PB Blaster is especially useful, though, for seized engines of all sizes. Done a few lawnmowers and generators that way… a cheap fix.

    The idiot that let that engine get gunked should be taken out to the north forty and promptly shot. I can’t believe the stupidity of some people.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yuh… well.,,
    That’s what my Mazda 323 hatchback must have looked like.
    Ehen I bought it it had 32,000 kilometers on its back.
    When I had to put it to its final rest it had 640,000 kilometers.
    I only changed oil twice.
    I always took care to top it off shouldn’t be enough in it though…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I hate to see mechanical objects neglected like that.

    Many years ago in my spannering days feller brought me a Renault 11, brakes aint all that good on it says he.

    I pulled the front wheels off and the pad material had disappeared long ago, the steel backing was grinding against the solid discs for so long they had worn down to around 1/32″ thick, quite how they hadn’t shattered i shall never know, but how did he not hear and feel the grinding?
    Another chap had an odd noise from his Citroen 2CV front disc brakes, one pad gone completely and it was braking on the piston, which had taken the shape of a Foreign Legion cap with elongated peak.

    Here in England the new fashion is stupidly high service intervals, only specified to keep the leasing and company car market happy, not for me thanks i still maintain my cars as they should be, result being no troubles and not having to buy any of this new rubbish rammed full of computers.


    Liked by 1 person

    • I had a friend that said the brakes weren’t working properly, so I pulled the front caliper and the one side had worn down (metal on metal) into the rotor so far that the ribs between the rotor plates were starting to show! It had worn through 200 thousandths of rotor plate! I chewed out my friend, because that could’ve been a catastrophic failure easily, locking up and destroying the entire front suspension.

      I went to the junkyard and immediately got a used rotor (it was for a 74 Impala). Cheap fix, close call…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I pulled the rear drum off of a real old man’s ’73 Delta 88 Aircraft Carrier once that was worn so bad that it split in half when I set it on the ground. I think that beast was something like 18 feet long and weighed well North of three tons!


  4. Sounds just like my sister. I had a 68 Camaro with with a 327 375 angle plug engine. Blew it (don’t ask how) and bought a 73 Nova SS. I did not have much money so I got a 230 6 banger with attached 3 speed cheap. Replaced the rear end and gave it to my sister with 66K on the clock. Fast forward 8 years she got a new car and I took it back. Had 225K on the clock. I checked the oil before driving it home. It was…..rather black. I was too scared to look in. I ask her when she changed it last….. enter blank look and replied “you have to change it? Does it go bad or something?”. Sold it for 5 times what I paid for it new ( bought it for about 3200 memory serves). I talked to him at a drag strip couple years later. That little 230 was still going in a 66 Chevy II. BTW, that 73 Nova was the biggest POS I ever owned, including the Fiat Spyder.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been working on marine engines for 40yrs, they usually die long before they get like that. Saltwater & oil turn to pudding that doesn’t lube very well with spectacular failures sometimes. But it keeps me busy.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yup….seen ’em that bad and worse. I’ve seen hydraulic lifters so worn that there was a hole into the oil chamber, and the cam “lobe” looked like a fuel pump eccentric. Oil pump inlet screens that were 80% plugged, oil filters that came off trailing long strings of “stuff”, and all manner of automotive mistreatment.


  7. Back in 1980 I bought a 77 LTD II with 120k on the odometer. It belonged to a salesman that averaged 35K per year. It had oil leaks at the valve covers and around the oil pan. It was sludged up and did the ATF with oil to clean it up. It blew a head gasket soon after and I did a top end overhaul. When I replaced the oil pan gasket I also replaced the oil pump. I drove it about a year then sold it. I found out later that the guy I got it from would change the oil once a year but would change the filter every month and get a new car every 3 years.


    • Ha, good stuff, those effing sales guys, you gotta watch those bastidges. I retired from an outside sales job and averaged over 50K a year for a couple decades and then some. The theory amongst us road lizards was that road miles don’t count, and indeed I ran almost all of mine out to between 200 to 250K without any engine or transmission issues. And they were all going strong with I got out of them, it’s just that after a while your ass gets tired of sitting in the same old seat and it’s time for a change of butt scenery. BUT-BUT-BUT the thing is, I was psychotic about engine and transmission fluid changes. Whatever the manual said, generally I did about half to 2/3 the recommended service intervals.

      I’m not gonna say that would work for EVERY car, but it worked for every one I was running.


      • I run synthetic as much as I can – if I catch the engine within the first 50K miles I will change to synthetic oil – Syntec from Castrol is my favorite. If not, I change the oil when it gets dirty, no matter the miles. See, it’s not that the oil breaks down (it doesn’t), but the particulates in it that causes undue friction – most especially, the babbit from the bearings and other surface wearing (iron, chrome). Sometimes it’s just carbon from blow-by, but I don’t have a gas chromatography setup to tell me the composition of the dirty oil. So, when it gets relatively opaque, it’s time to change. I don’t care if it’s 500 or 5000 miles/kilometers, it’s time. My engines last a long, long time.
        And I dearly love synthetic… have I mentioned that?? ;P


  8. Somehow my comments got mixed up. They don’t seem to be in chronological order and now my answers don’t fit anymore.
    Dang. That makes me look even more obnoxious than usual.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are not obnoxious Notwende, you are too linear and precise as your German upbringing… you need to come over here, sit around on old pick up truck tailgates with about eight toothless, old reprobate rednecks all talking at once on seven different topics and we can follow all conversations and reply somewhat intelligently and you learn things are not chronological or linear… I hope this helps. Besides we like you on here.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Sunday Linkage « Bacon Time !!!!!!

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