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Discussion Starter #1
Ok so I am brand new here and am wondering about advice on an engine swap for a 2005 Chrysler Town & Country Limited 3.8L. Last year the engine started knocking and it's been sitting in my parent's garage ever since. It still ran and drove, but the knocking got so bad, the engine would've likely destroyed itself if we kept driving. I am considering swapping in a used 3.8L engine into the van to put it back on the road since everything else was fine with it. With that said, is there anything specific about these vans I should know before attempting the job. I've seen a YouTube series of an engine swap performed on a 2008 model so I am wondering what is different and what is the same. This is just an idea I am throwing around, but I have lots more time than money so a junkyard engine and a month or two of on an off work is totally fine for me. Even with that said, do any of you think it still won't be worth it? Any advice or input is appreciated.
 

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Mileage??

First, make sure the knock is really a bearing failure. Since you plan to replace the engine anyway it will be easy to find out once the engine is out. I wouldn't buy another engine until you know for sure, depending on the mileage.

It may be a simple repair if the engine isn't really high mileage. It could be a split timing belt!

Some knocks can be caused by something simple. I once had a knock caused by a split fan belt which sounded exactly like a bearing!

Your friendly auto salvage guy can tell you which engine swaps are possible. Computers may be your main problem.

You can get a lot of good info by searching this forum.

These are the things I would do in your shoes.
 

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WELCOME!

First make sure all that knocking is not something simple.

If not, lots of people here to help you do a swap.
 

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This thread reminds me of back when I was a pup. I had a '73 gremlin that was running something awful. Someone I knew had an old beat up Hornet wagon of the same vintage that was beat up beyond belief but the straight 6 in it purred like a kitten. So I convinced myself a swap would be a great idea. I had an uncle that let me use his backyard tp do the job. I recruited two friends and rented an engine hoist, and we got to work. The whole time, the uncle was sitting on the back porch, drinking beer, cracking jokes, and laughing his A** off at us. Once we got the engine out of the Gremlin, he asked, "Wayne, what you gonna do with that old motor?" He told me to leave it laying there in the grass, he'd take care of it. Well, we did the swap, and had the Hornet's motor in the Gremlin, purring like a kitten.

A few months later, I go back to the uncle's house, and the old Ford pickup with the blown motor that had been parked out back was sitting in the driveway. "Hey Wayne, come look at this!" He popped the hood, and lo and behold, was the Gremlin's old motor. He fired it up, and it was running like a top. Then he reached in the glove box, and said, "I've been saving this for ya," and handed me a distributor cap with a large crack in it. Laughing at me like a hyena.

Lesson learned.
 

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This thread reminds me of back when I was a pup. I had a '73 gremlin that was running something awful. Someone I knew had an old beat up Hornet wagon of the same vintage that was beat up beyond belief but the straight 6 in it purred like a kitten. So I convinced myself a swap would be a great idea. I had an uncle that let me use his backyard tp do the job. I recruited two friends and rented an engine hoist, and we got to work. The whole time, the uncle was sitting on the back porch, drinking beer, cracking jokes, and laughing his A** off at us. Once we got the engine out of the Gremlin, he asked, "Wayne, what you gonna do with that old motor?" He told me to leave it laying there in the grass, he'd take care of it. Well, we did the swap, and had the Hornet's motor in the Gremlin, purring like a kitten.

A few months later, I go back to the uncle's house, and the old Ford pickup with the blown motor that had been parked out back was sitting in the driveway. "Hey Wayne, come look at this!" He popped the hood, and lo and behold, was the Gremlin's old motor. He fired it up, and it was running like a top. Then he reached in the glove box, and said, "I've been saving this for ya," and handed me a distributor cap with a large crack in it. Laughing at me like a hyena.

Lesson learned.
How he managed to install that engine on a Ford pick up?

I know Gremlin-Chrysler-Rambler would interchange parts.

I had a Gremling with std. steering, I easily installed a power steering system from a Chrysler vehicle.
 

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It is a 2005. Motor swap would be a labor of love since there is not much value left in the van to offset the labor. Try to ensure that it is a direct swap rather than one where things like manifolds need to be swapped or even more money in gaskets. Quickest may be to swap motor, trans, and suspension out the bottom.
 

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How he managed to install that engine on a Ford pick up?

I know Gremlin-Chrysler-Rambler would interchange parts.

I had a Gremling with std. steering, I easily installed a power steering system from a Chrysler vehicle.


Those old 232 CI straight six's would bolt right up to a Ford bell housing.

https://www.novak-adapt.com/catalog/adapters/engine-to-transmission/amc/ford-amc


AMC back in the day built those things from a menagerie of parts from the other big 3 manufacturers.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It has just over 140k miles on it. If it's a simple fix that can revive the engine, than I'm all for that. Are there common issues that contribute to knocking on the 3.8? My parents were told it might be the crankshaft, but a guy at our local shop said he wouldn't know for sure unless he tore apart the engine, which makes sense. Is there also a teardown guide or something similar I could use to try an diagnose the cause of the knock?
 

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Where are you located? If treasure coast Florida and I happen to be in the neighborhood, I'd come check it out and advise...

Like the guy's have said, it may not warrant a motor swap.
I was talking to a friend who does this for a living and he said that getting a salvage swap engine is no longer a few hundred dollars around here, at least.

You say it is in the garage and runs with a horrible knock?

Why don't you get it running and post a video.
Try to locate the source of the knock... If you take a short garden hose or the tube from a roll or Christmas wrapping paper, you may be able to hear where the knock is coming from. (be careful to not get fouled up in the fan belt)(have someone ready to shut off the key)
 

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the bearings can be inspected by simply dropping the oil pan. I've even seen guys replace the bearings from there. It doesn't usually last long though.
 

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the bearings can be inspected by simply dropping the oil pan. I've even seen guys replace the bearings from there. It doesn't usually last long though.
A bearing swap from below is fairly simple and cheap. I have done this on my Chrysler 2.4L and 383 cu in engines, indeed part of a full ring and bearing job (must remove head for rings). I don't know why a bearing change wouldn't last long since you do the same as if the engine was on a stand. The crank bearings are a little harder since you must push the upper shell around, but I never had a problem doing so. Worst case is if a bearing spun and buggered up the block or the crank is worn. There are ways to screw up the job, like not put the bearing w/ oil hole on the correct side (top), mix up bearing caps (mark them), not pre-lube, not torque correctly, ..., so study first and stop/ask when unsure.

Most sounds people worry about are not from the engine itself but some rotating component. If a high, tiny sound, it almost certainly isn't the engine itself unless a cracked flex-plate (my 3.8L suffered). Serious low-end failures are usually low, thudy sounds which get louder under load.

If you do look for another engine, matching the same year van is best. There are gazillion Chrysler minivans in the junkyards to choose, which is the benefit of buying the most popular. Search for the Engine Builder's article which details the 3.8L engine and differences over the years.
 

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A bearing swap from below is fairly simple and cheap. I have done this on my Chrysler 2.4L and 383 cu in engines, indeed part of a full ring and bearing job (must remove head for rings). I don't know why a bearing change wouldn't last long since you do the same as if the engine was on a stand.....
That is correct, if crankshaft is not badly worn out, it should last very long, if properly installed.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Liking all the ideas so far! In case anyone is wondering, I'm located in Aurora, IL (a suburb of Chicago) if anyone is wondering. The van hasn't been started in a year actually, but I can see if I can get it jumped and stated sometime next week and post a video. Should I pump out the old gas and add new gas first? As far as a spun bearing goes, I can drop the oil pan, but I might need more of a visual to actually replace anything. Is there a post on here with some pictures or a decent video on YouTube? I'll post a picture when (and if) I get the pan dropped. It might be a little while before I get around to it though since I've been busy with work lately. Thanks everyone for all the advice so far.
 

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Liking all the ideas so far! In case anyone is wondering, I'm located in Aurora, IL (a suburb of Chicago) if anyone is wondering. The van hasn't been started in a year actually, but I can see if I can get it jumped and stated sometime next week and post a video. Should I pump out the old gas and add new gas first? As far as a spun bearing goes, I can drop the oil pan, but I might need more of a visual to actually replace anything. Is there a post on here with some pictures or a decent video on YouTube? I'll post a picture when (and if) I get the pan dropped. It might be a little while before I get around to it though since I've been busy with work lately. Thanks everyone for all the advice so far.
The first fifteen minutes of this video are pretty good. This guy is a character; the last hour of the video is a religious sermon using car parts for props, but you can easily ignore that. This is on a Nissan four banger, but the principle is the same. It's the best video I've seen explaining how to replace the bearings.
https://youtu.be/xzFoR-e3qx0
 
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