General Question

trypaw's avatar

Car had headgasket job now something is wrong?

Asked by trypaw (327 points ) July 21st, 2012

Ok so, long story short took my car in to finally get my leaking head gasket fixed this past Thursday (at a pretty well known place). Before this the car ran fine, smooth. No other problems other than this gasket. Like literally, I have a great car. Well Went to pick it up yesterday and they said the head was replaced (they did the timing belt too) but it was idling rough and was acting funny, so they were going to try to figure it out today. Well today rolls around and they have apparently 3 people working on it for almost 7 hours. They replaced a crank shift, and a cracked cam sensor ( I think that’s what they said) these obviously werent broke before. They started up and they took it for a couple runs. I came to pick it up and imminently after starting it I knew this wasn’t right. I know my car. I started it up, very loud rev as it turned on, shaky idle, as I started to drive whenever I pressed the gas pedal the car would make a vrooooom rev sound. My brakes were more hard and the car just ran kinda crappy. So I U-turned it and took it back. They cant get to it until Monday. What could they have possibly done to my car? It was NOT like this and they apparently are having a hard time figuring it out. Any input would be great. i don’t know what to do. I paid them $1000 and my car has new problems. What if they can’t fix it? I had a perfect car and I’m pretty upset. They’re doing all this testing for free and trying to figure it out but I’m really nervous and scared my car is screwed now. What do you think?

Car-98 Dodge Stratus.

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21 Answers

Crashsequence2012's avatar

WOW.

Do I read correctly that they replaced the crankshaft?

We will start there.

Help us by giving much more detai about the car itself.

trypaw's avatar

I think they did but I’m really not sure. I’m horrible with cars. I just want to know whats going on.. What is the crankshaft? Could they have broken that during my gasket replacement? And all I really know about my car is its a 98 dodge stratus 2.4 engine. No problems before this. and I’m really upset.

trypaw's avatar

I know they said “crank” something. And my Cam (sensor?) was cracked. It is just so different now there is something they’re missing something isn’t right. Maybe I can describe what I experienced more in the couple minutes I drove my car before I took it back. I am really angry. If you can help me in any way I would really appreciate that!

trypaw's avatar

Would this have anything to do with the timing belt? They said they would start Monday by taking out all my engine stuff again and checking my belt to see if its maybe a tooth off?

filmfann's avatar

They didn’t replace the crank shaft. It was probably the crank sensor.
It sounds like they changed the mix, and increased the idle, which is too bad because I am betting it’s the timing that’s wrong.
Of course, they are looking at it, and they are mechanics, while I am neither. In my defense, I am right.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

Replaced Crank Position Sensor.

The engine’s computer prefers to know at what point in the engines cycle it is in at all times.

The crank Position sensor provides this info so the computer can use that and other information do decide on things like air/fuel ratios and ignition timing setting. These detections and adjustments are happening 1000d’s of times a second.

Conditions that affect an engine’s performance and efficiency are constantly changing. A slew of factors including barometric pressure and how deep your foot is into the throttle.
The sensing and adjusting by the computer is an attempt to change “settings” in the engine to compensate.

The crankshaft:

Think of a bicycle. It has a crank. Your legs act very much like the pistons, moving up and down. The crank converts that motion in a rotating motion on the bike and in your engine.

Cam sensor isn’t making sense to me.

If they replaced the timing belt (a critical component that keeps the two main sections of the motor in sync) they should have checked the timing between these two sections. This is absolutely vital for proper engine function.

Probably they should have replaced the water pump then as it is basically in the same place as the belt is how I’ll put it.

I’d insist that they check the valve timing and the ignition timing (that is if the ignition timing isn’t self adjusting).

trypaw's avatar

Well what does the revving when pressing the gas and hard brakes and rough idle/start sound like? And yeah it probably was the crank sensor, I know it didn’t take them too long to replace these things but it didn’t fix my problem either. It just runs so crappy and I don’t understand what they could have broke.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

I need more description regarding the feel of the brakes.

Brake pressure should be firm yet input should still be easy to adjust (modulate) during a braking event.

Is it possible that the brakes were “spongey” feeling before and now that undesirable feeling is gone?

Or are the brakes now just “hard” and no additional pressure from your foot translates into harder braking.

Go brake more and ask yourself “Is the brake pedal firmer but I actually have more control?”
and get back to us.

funkdaddy's avatar

So unfortunately something isn’t hooked back up right, and they don’t seem to know what.

It’s not uncommon, but it’s not a good sign that they’ll be able to figure out it, they’re probably just troubleshooting at your expense.

The cam sensor (yours is probably a little different, but just to give you an idea) often gets broken if you’re not careful with the parts. I’m not saying it’s their fault, it’s like losing a bit of glassware when you move. Honestly they probably have replaced it as an attempt to fix the rough idle without knowing for sure if it’s the problem.

The fact that they keep telling you to come and get it isn’t a good sign, because they’re just trying to get it close enough without actually making sure it’s right. Engines are finicky and you can’t just be counting hours until you can push it out the door and expect it work for the next 60,000 miles.

On Monday ask them why they’re replacing the things that they are. Ask them what their next troubleshooting steps are to get it to run correctly. Explain you need it to run for the next 3 years and ask what their warranty covers. If you can, take someone who will understand what they’re talking about so they don’t just use terms to confuse you. If you don’t have someone, find another mechanic and pay them for an hour of their time to make sure they’re on the right track. It’s an added expense, but it helps to have someone impartial to get a “second opinion”.

Big car care places (Pep Boys, Firestone) are usually where mechanics get their first job after some sort of certification. It doesn’t mean they don’t have highly qualified folks, but it’s the luck of the draw like with anything else. Someone there probably knows how to fix your car, you want to make sure whoever assigns the jobs knows you’re expecting the car to work for a long time or you will be back. You want to make sure they assign the guy who knows out. You want them to call The Wolf.

Good luck with it.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

Rough idle and start could certainly be the result of bad timing.

trypaw's avatar

The brakes are firm but they feel to firm and feel hard, I stop fine and everything, But thats really all they do thats weird I suppose.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

Modulation of the brakes. In other words easily controlling braking power by increasing or lessening pressure from your foot is vital for control.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

You good ponies could use some car fortune.

I send some your way.

woodcutter's avatar

A mech once told me that sometimes an engine has worn enough throughout, that replacing the head/gasket could bring the compression back UP to factory specs…when the entire engine was new. This sudden uptick in compression can cause internal engine failures due to the fact the entire thing has worn together and runs that way. Assuming the piston rings are tight. Some older engines with bad heads and gaskets are not worth repairing. In for a penny…in for a pound.
That may not be what’s going on here but thats what I was told could happen.

trypaw's avatar

Thanks @Crashsequence2012 :) haha we do need some fortune.
@woodcutter they said they checked the engine and it all looked good, they ran compression tests and no one mentioned anything really about possible engine failure if I fixed it. In fact everyone said if I wanted to keep the car for a long time (sentimental value) I should get it fixed. I hope I didn’t harm my car by doing the thing that I thought was right. Would there be anything it would be doing that would be an obvious sign of engine failure? Wouldn’t they be able to tell?

trypaw's avatar

Well turns out the teeth were a little off on my timing belt. All seems well with my car now. However driving back from the repair shop. Surprise! My lower power steering hose broke, (under my car behind my tire found it snapped) Now my wheel is hard to turn. I noticed the other belt (serpentine?) next to my PS belt is a little off track. Could that have caused my PS belt to snap, if they rubbed together? Its just a little coincidental. Pretty sure the auto place had something to do with this too.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

@trypaw I’m becoming more and more concerned regarding the shop you are using. It’s my opinion that they aren’t good at what they do.

The serpentine belt(s) would have to be removed to get to the timing belt.

These belts like should have been replaced once removed and then proper tension adjustment is vital.

Improper tension could easily be why a belt came of or is “off track?”

I take what they mean is that some of the timing belts teeth had broken off. Bad but not nearly as bad as the belt breaking. In many cars if the belt breaks upper and lower engine components that are kept in sync by the belt collide often causing enough damage to total the engine.

trypaw's avatar

Yeah I’m not going back after all this, I’m annoyed. My car was great I haven’t had a problem in years with it. Until they touched it that is. Anyway glad its fixed I guess. However now as I press the gas and accelerate the car makes a rrrrrrrrrrr sound until I reach 10mph and it starts at 5mph. I don’t even know anymore, they tell me its nothing. But it didn’t make this sound before they touched it. I’ve already dished out so much money it’s not like I can take it somewhere else right now.

dewywin's avatar

Here is my 2 cents worth, even though it has been some time since your post. After reading your chat on this matter I would assume this is probably DOHC ( Double overhead Cam shafts) and since you say your brakes are hard to press and probably up higher than normal I would assume they have the intake camshaft out of time. Thus less vacuum created from the engine causing rough idle, bogging on acceleration mostly in reverse.Shaking engine at higher RPMs in park or neutral around 5–6000rpm etc . and hard brakes caused from lack of vacuum. So instead of realizing that they may be out a tooth or two because of the most recent Timing belt replacement. They treated the incident as a vehicle arriving too their shop with poor acceleration and idle issues with bad brakes. That is why they said you need a Cam sensor, Crankshaft Senor etc. I am surprised they didn’t try to sell you a Mass Airflow sensor while they were at it. Rule of thumb I always use: when there is a issue, what was preformed before the issue started. 9 out of 10 times you will find the answer there :)

dewywin's avatar

One more thing. You mentioned you have a whrrrrrrrr sound when starting out at lower speeds. My guess would be that either they messed up setting the tension for the timing belt and you now have the belt slapping the top of the valve cover or they didn’t watch carefully how they reinstalled the timing belt covers and the belt is rubbing against the covers causing a whrrrrr sound :)

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