Sign in to follow this  
RansomEli

Uh-oh, engine seized. Could it be my fault?

Recommended Posts

Placed this question here instead of the technical forum. Asking for general info and maybe your own hard luck story.

Rebuilt a 1989 Camaro 5.0 V8 engine (almost eligible for AACA tours), drove it gently using all the break-in additives for about 1000 miles. Changed oil and then drove it about 2000 miles more. Yesterday, just as I drove into my driveway, the engine stopped. Tried to restart, and something is hanging up, preventing the starter from turning the engine over.

Does not look good. Need to remove the oil pan and take a look.

Checked the oil 2 weeks ago & everything was OK. Checked the oil now, and it is just below the add oil level. No oil leaks in the driveway.

A machine shop prepared the engine and I assembled it (not my 1st one). Everything went together OK. Could I have screwed up? Wouldn't my mistake have showed up earlier?

By the way, I bought the car with 50,000 miles on it several years ago. At 57,000 miles a connecting rod bearing sheared off and screwed my crankshaft. Could I have a cursed car?

Anyone have similar stories to tell?

At least I can get a rebuilt engine -- they are cheap and plentiful. Unlike my 1921 Franklin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you sure the starter isn't just hanging up on the flywheel? That would be a lot more common than an engine seizing without warning. Chevys are sensitive to starter shimming for proper gear engagement. Have you tried turning the motor over with a breaker bar on the balancer bolt? Pull the spark plugs to make it easier.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was driving our 63-1/2' Falcon Sprint back home from our local car show. I crossed the road and was getting ready to start up our hill and the car just stopped.

Turns out that the shop the previous owner took the car to that worked on rebuilding the transmission didn't put a proper gasket back in it. They squirted Blue Goop on and squeezed that down instead.

Result? It squeezed some of the stuff into the housing where it got hot, came loose in strings and seized the transmission. It was like someone threw hot blue rubberbands into the transmission.

That was a mess for Bill to clean out. :mad:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You may want to pull the starter and look at the flywheel. With the starter out, you should be able to turn the engine by hand if it is not seized.

I am not familiar with the Camaro to know whether that model had gauges or idiot lights. Was there any evidence of an oil pump failure (warning light, drop in oil pressure, clattering of the valves) prior to the shutoff?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Small block Chevy motors are rather bullet proof. Not saying they can't break though. I would not panic and assume locked up. Would certainly try some of the other suggestions others have made. Put a socket on the front of the balancer and give it a try. Drop the starter and carefully spin the flywheel with a flat bar. Check you spark plugs- where did the oil go if it's not leaking? Out the tail pipe?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think it locked up ,why would the starter be a problem ,when he is on the road?

He wasn't on the road! Pulled into drive and engine stopped (a far cry from seizing up) Restart attempts failed to turn the engine. Most logical and simple is starter pinion binding against the flywheel. Quite common with a Chevy engine if not properly shimmed as others have mentioned.

I'll guarantee no one will ever have any doubts about an engine seizing if it should happen while running down the road or even pulling into the driveway.

The loss of probably about 2 quarts of oil could be a defective PCV valve and with a rebuilt engine could just be blow by because the rings have not yet fully seated. A real strong argument for forgetting the proverbial break-in routine and just running the heck out of it to force the rings to seat ASAP. If you break it doing that, it was going to break sooner or later anyway. Might as well get it over to start with.

Jim

Edited by Peter J.Heizmann (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The problem is solved! I have never heard of this happening.

It was the alternator. It malfunctioned and seized up, enough so that the starter motor could not turn the engine over. Everything is linked via a serpentine belt.

I was going to drop the starter motor and then hand crank the engine, but decided to add some oil and give it one more shot. Turns out the engine was only down 2 qts.

The engine slowly turned over (I guess the alternator had time to cool down), and then the engine started. There was a horrible, high pitched squeal which I isolated to the alternator.

Took off the alternator and tried to start the engine. It kicked over instantly.

Wow. I have never heard of this happening. I never thought a bad alternator could overpower a starter motor.

Live and learn. Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad to hear it was something simple. But you might want to have that starter checked if it is that weak. Might even be a real good idea to make sure the belt Idler pulley isn't close to giving it up, especially if it is the original. Ain't no fun to have one of those give it up when you're out in the middle of nowhere.

Jim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The alternator can make it happen. I had that happen on a Buick Century (about 1993 vintage I think). I like you was surprised that it would stop the engine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the alternator was going bad, it's possible that the battery did't have enough juice to restart the car. I would check the battery first before I would condemn the starter. A battery is alot easier to change than a starter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the advice. I just bought a new battery so I know it is OK. However, I will check out the starter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The alternator that I had that seized up never gave any indication that there was a problem. It was charging and did not have any loud bearing noise. I just turned off the car one night and the next morning the engine would not turn over.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a buddy that rebuilt an engine because of a locked up alternator. It did have high mileage, and it was using oil, so it probably needed it anyway. But when they were tearing it down, they couldn't figure out why it locked. Put it all back together - still locked! Then, they discovered something had broken loose inside the alternator and jammed it.

So it was an expensive alternator... :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

good thing the problem solved,but jim,he did say while he was driving into his driveway,it stopped,point ,he was driving.If an alternator seizes.the car ,a v8 will burn and break the belt.Most all will

Edited by old car fan (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
good thing the problem solved,but jim,he did say while he was driving into his driveway,it stopped,point ,he was driving.If an alternator seizes.the car ,a v8 will burn and break the belt.Most all will

Not at idle, in gear when the engine is runing at it's slowest RPM (IE: pulling into driveway). It wouldn't take much at that point to shut her down. It's got a serpintine belt which will not break easilly. Maybe burn the belt some, but certainly not break unless you're running it for a while that way. This case was immediate. Had he been on the hiway it would have been much different.

I drove my 92 Ranger (4.0L) for almost 20 miles with the altternator frozen solid and it never broke. Stunk real bad though!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The new serpentine belts make the turning over of the engine with a locked up component more difficult. More true on the old V-belt set up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is odd though, the engine in my 92 Trans Am is the same setup. My smog pump mechanically locked up but even with a serpentine belt, the engine started right up but squeeled like crazy! I thought the AC compressor had frozen, the started smoking the belt right away too. All this with a fairly new tensioner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this