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Discussion Starter #1
It has been about a month since my car broke down and I am trying to figure out if my engine failed because of sludge. The only way to find out is if I look in the engine or if I have records of all the oil changes. I don't have all of the records so I want to look at the engine myself if possible. I heard you can tell by looking under the valve cover where the cams are and see how the oil looks. Is it easy to take the valve cover off and if so do I need a torque wrench to torque any of the bolts when putting it back on? Also how do I get to the timing chain to see if that is the problem?
 

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Yes you can inspect the state of the top part of the engine by removing the 'cam cover' You may also be able to tell by draining the oil and putting a length of steel wire slightly bent at end (welding, coat hanger etc) into the oil pan and scraping it along the bottom - if crud comes out there is your answer. Sometimes the bottom of the dipstick is crud covered also.

In reality you should always torque bolts, but its not like taking the Head off where doing it in a sequence and torque is vital.

If you really want to know you should drop the oil pan.
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One way to tell is to drop the oil pan and inspect the oil pickup strainer. Even if you have sludge and other junk in the oil pan, it doesn't necessarily mean the engine failed because of that. If the oil pickup strainer is completely clogged up, it'll be a good indication there was no oil flowing through your engine. This is what my oil pan and strainer looked like. As you can see, it was not completely clogged yet and the engine was still running fine.

Can you provide more details how your car broke down and what the symptoms were?



 

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Discussion Starter #4
The car ran pefectly fine before it broke down. I was accelerating onto route 3 to about 70 and it started to crap out on me. At first it felt like it ran out of gas or the battery died, but come to find out it was something internaly that broke. I had it towed to the saab dealer and they did a compression test that came out all zeros. It wasn't over heating and I had changed the oil with castrol syntec about 1,000 miles ago. I haven't had anybody look inside the engine yet to see what it is since it costs alot just for them to look at it. If it is a sludge related issue I want to find out so I can maybe get a new engine. The saab dealer says I'm better off getting a used engine and doing an engine swap. Some other guy told me it sounds like the timing chain broke witch would be better than if my piston rings blew.
 
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My first guess would be the timing chain as well. It is hard to imagine all 4 cylinders/pistons failing at the same time because of sludge. An easy way to check is to remove the valve cover and check to see if the valve train is operating correctly. Maybe a camshaft somehow failed. Usually, chains don't break but you never know. How many miles are on your car?
 

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Very strange that all cylinders came up zeros......I'd go for a second opinion.

Crank position sensor, fuel pump or direct ignition cassette would also cause your car to die. And how does the dealer know something internal broke if they did not tear the engine down.
 

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errrrr, if the oil light did not come on I would not think it to be oil related (sludge). Anybody know otherwise. All sludge stories on here started with an OIL light that I have read anyways.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I myself don't think its a sludge issue. It wanted to find out if it was so I could get the warranty to get a new engine, but you also need records of oil changes for that as well and this was owned by 2 other people and it was a lease car so that is probably not going to work out since I don't have many records. The saab dealer had no idea what was wrong, all they told me was that it could be anything inside the engine and that it had no compression. I wanted them to go in to find out what was wrong, but they charge so friggin much just to look inside the engine. They suggested I buy a used engine and do an engine swap for $4,000 to $4,500 which was out of the question for me. I did have them change the di cassette and spark plugs recently and thought that could have failed again, but they said it's internal.
 

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remove the cam cover and have a look - if its internal its very likely that you see the damage when there is no compression - its easy to remove
 

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Breau, are you any good with a wrench?

Get it home and investigate yourself. Or maybe you have a buddy that can do it if you don't want to pay a mechanic.
Look around, see if you can find a shop with a cheaper rate.

Just thought of something, do you have a 2.3L or a 3.0L engine. The 3.0L engine i believe have a timing belt instead of a chain like the 2.3L. If you have a 3.0L V6, it's possible that your time belt has broken and if that happens while you have some speed, it's possible that the valves have gone thru the top of the pistons....hence no compression.

You really need to pull the cam cover off and let us know what you find. Short of that, you can also pull out the spark plugs and look into the cylinders with a flashlight. Check for damage to the top of the pistons.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
It's an aero so 2.3L, yea I'm going to find out today the price another mechanic will charge me to take a look at it. If its too much i'll just take a look at it with my friend who knows saabs better than I do.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
What would cause no compression and all the cylinders? I'm thinking the head gasket or the timing chain.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
hehe I know, I haven't had any time to look at the thing, I have a mechanic that specializes in saabs thats going to take a look at it soon and see if the engine is saveable. If not he has an engine for me ready to go, I just wanted to get some opinions of what could cause no compression for every cylinder. Timing chain and head gasket seem to be 2 very possible explinations.
 
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