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Wednesday, November 2, 2011


The Chrysler Sebring, the one my son and I spent the summer overhauling, has blown up. Coming up grapevine hill after lunch yesterday I gave it the beans and in response got a loud noise. It made it to the top of the hill but as soon I shifted into neutral the engine died. I pulled over and called for a tow.

Up till then there was no indication that there was anything seriously wrong. There were a few minor problems, like the clunk in the suspension, the whine from the alternator, something snapping down by the fan belt,  and steering wheel was on crosswise. But no indication of a real problem. Except for maybe the heat. Drive across town and the motor gets warm, as it should, but open the hood, and it seems really hot, like an oven, or an overheated motor. But we never got any of the conventional indications of an overheating motor. It didn't boil over, it wasn't loosing coolant, and the temperature gauge never got above the half-way mark.

So I don't know what went wrong. Maybe the block and heads were not flat enough. Maybe the head bolts should have been replaced. There was one funny thing, and that was when we filled the radiator with coolant it did not take nearly as much as I expected it too. So maybe there is something plugging the cooling system. But if that's the case, what's the deal with the temperature gauge? I don't know what went wrong, but things have definitely gone South and I am very unhappy.

To assauge my suffering I sit down to watch an old episode of Top Gear and they are doing a retrospective on the Rover V-8. This is interesting and a little painful. My first car was a 1963 Buick Special that I bought from my father for its' trade in value of $150. It had an aluminum V-8, the same engine that a couple of years later would become the Rover V-8, which would be used in a variety of British cars for the next 40 years.

Top Gear collected an entire fleet of cars powered by this engine for this picture. In the three years that General Motors produced this engine, they built 750,000 of them, which is more than the British built in the next 40 years*. General Motors quit building the engine because there were too many problems with the corrosion in the cooling system, due to customers using the wrong coolant in the aluminum engine.

Huh. Imagine that. Cooling problems with an aluminum engine. In case you didn't know, the engine in the Sebring is aluminum. Something is rotten in my garage and I want to find out what it is. Whether I will or not is another matter.

* Autocar has an interesting story about the Rover V-8.


Lloyd said...

There was one funny thing, and that was when we filled the radiator with coolant it did not take nearly as much as I expected it too.

This may be a clue, we had a Dodge Intrepid, and when filling with coolant, there was a bleeder valve in the system that had to be opened to let the air purge or it would not take enough coolant. The gauges would read fine, but there was an air pocket that kept coolant from flowing to all places it should. Some BMW's, and many other cars have this "feature"

CA Bob said...

So sorry about the Sebring, after all that work.pyingu