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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My mother has a 2007 Chrysler Town and country touring model 3.8 front wheel drive. She bought it roughly 2 years ago at 171,000 miles it currently has 190,207 miles. Paperwork she was given by the previous owner showed a replacement rebuilt long block engine was installed at 163,000 mi.

A few days ago the engine developed a loud ticking noise I can only describe as a lifter tick. By loud I mean the noise can be heard standing 50 ft away from the vehicle with the engine running and hood closed. It literally sounds like an engine running with no oil in it. Using a mechanics stethoscope I've determined noise is coming from the intake manifold area. Using the stethoscope on the engine block or either cylinder head there is no ticking sounds just a normal hum you would expect a running engine to make. Placing the stethoscope on either the aluminum lower intake manifold or the plastic upper plenum part you can clearly hear the tick. I have also checked there is no tick from the alternator with the stethoscope placed on it. Could this be failing fuel injectors causing this tick. I just changed the oil which smelled like gasoline, and currently she is getting an average of 10 miles to the gallon in this vehicle. For the last 2 months she's been telling me that she's noticed the gas mileage has been steadily decreasing before that started she was averaging 18 mpg.

The engine does not seem to be misfiring and there are no DTC codes stored in the computer. I have personally done every oil change on this vehicle since she bought it and I change it roughly every 3,000 miles. Her owner's manual states to use 5w30 oil, the oil cap says to use 5W20 I've been using 5W30 with every change. I even went as far as removing the fuel rail with injectors attached from the manifold flipping them upside down and turning the key to the on position several times to prime the fuel system expecting the injectors to start leaking but none leaked. From reading some previous post I did run 16 oz of marvel mystery oil in the engine for 100 miles before doing the oil change and there was no difference in the noise being made. Since I changed the oil she has not driven a vehicle in fear that's causing engine damage. I plan on ordering new fuel injectors from RockAuto and installing those hoping this could fix it but I'm literally out of loss of what could be causing this noise.

About 2 months ago I replaced the water pump, belt, both radiator hoses, thermostat and electric fan relay as the engine was running warm but not overheating. It was running between half and three quarters on the gauge. After replacing all these items the engine now runs at the halfway mark and never goes past it. When this was happening it never did overheat it never went to the 3/4 mark on the gauge but could get shy of it.

Any help or advice is greatly appreciated and I thank you.
 

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5W-30 oil is fine. 5W-40 would work as well. Both are more robust than 5W-20. Forget that as a problem. The 5W gives you the cold starting/warm up advantage regardless of the second number.
How about your air filter, everything clear there, no rodent's nest in site?
How's the throttle body? Clean or dirty.?
PVC valve working? last replaced?
Basically start from the top and work down for the diagnosis.
Having said that the cat(s) could be acting up. What's the exhaust smell like. The cat can rattle too.

There can be a cam related problem with these engines, at least in the older ones.

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Air filter is about a year old has roughly 10k miles on it. No debris of any kind in the air box assembly. PCV valve was done with the air filter and spark plugs and wires all about 10k miles ago. The van is from Iowa originally and as such does have some rust in the rockers yet the exhaust system has the normal surface rust to any vehicle in Phoenix Arizona would have on it exhaust system. This leads me to believe that the entire exhaust system must have been replaced at some point. The catalytic converter appears to only be a few years old with no rattles. When running the exhaust does smell of gasoline. Like the engine is running rich. About 3 months ago it did throw a p420 code for the catalytic converter inefficiency. That code disappeared on its own and has not come back since. The throttle body doesn't appear that dirty but I have not cleaned it since she bought the van.
 

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By the way, "Welcome to the Forum".

You have covered a lot of bases for sure.

If you take the oil filler cap off, can you hear any strange noises there?

How does it idle?
 

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Welcome and sorry to hear you are having these issues...

I suppose the van is down (AOG - aircraft on ground) and it certainly sounds like you know how to hold a wrench in your hand,

I would take the fuel injectors and put a little flag on them (or sharpie marker the cylinder number) and then if you use a (I think 3/8 or 5/16" id fuel hose you can put that hose onto the top of the injector and fill it with mineral spirits, gasoline, carb cleaner, fuel injector cleaner,... you get the point. Then with shop air, you can apply 35-43 psi to that hose full of liquid and see if the injector leaks.
You can then use a 9volt smoke detector type battery and *tap *tap *tap to fire the injector to see if it is working and if it has dribble. You can see the spray pattern... Use of mineral spirits is pretty benign BUT use care not to breath, open flames, get it all over your skin.. etc.

I'd rather see you send the black injectors with the MOPAR logo made by Siemens out to an injector service cleaning and calibration, rebuild than to buy the cheap chinesium green injectors. Last time I checked about $18 a piece for before and after flow charting, cleaning, and New seals and gaskets.
MrInjector.US or anyplace of your choosing.

BUT FIRST, read your spark plugs. They can tell volumes of what is happening inside an engine.

Compression check: A valve may be sticking and that is the tapping you hear.
if you find a dead cylinder, bring it up to compression stroke and blow shop air into the sparkplug hole, where is it hissing? Exhaust pipe (exhaust valve stuck open) Intake/airbox (intake valve stuck open) Oil fill cap (leaking past the rings)

Again, welcome.
Let us know what you find and how you fix it...
 

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My mother has a 2007 Chrysler Town and country touring model 3.8 front wheel drive. She bought it roughly 2 years ago at 171,000 miles it currently has 190,207 miles. Paperwork she was given by the previous owner showed a replacement rebuilt long block engine was installed at 163,000 mi.
Less than 28,000 on new engine... A Chrysler factory new long block or some other engine builder?

A few days ago the engine developed a loud ticking noise I can only describe as a lifter tick. By loud I mean the noise can be heard standing 50 ft away from the vehicle with the engine running and hood closed. It literally sounds like an engine running with no oil in it. Using a mechanics stethoscope I've determined noise is coming from the intake manifold area.
With Mechanics sethascope you should be able to touch each injector and hear the faint little tick tick tick.

Using the stethoscope on the engine block or either cylinder head there is no ticking sounds just a normal hum you would expect a running engine to make. Placing the stethoscope on either the aluminum lower intake manifold or the plastic upper plenum part you can clearly hear the tick. I have also checked there is no tick from the alternator with the stethoscope placed on it. Could this be failing fuel injectors causing this tick. I just changed the oil which smelled like gasoline, and currently she is getting an average of 10 miles to the gallon in this vehicle. For the last 2 months she's been telling me that she's noticed the gas mileage has been steadily decreasing before that started she was averaging 18 mpg.
Leaking weeping injector (or stuck fuel needle seat in carburetor engine) can leak fuel into a cylinder that seeps past the rings and into the oil. I've experienced where a slug of gasoline in a cylinder is a slow or stopping point when cranking the starter when it hits that cylinder. Hydraulic lock.

The engine does not seem to be misfiring and there are no DTC codes stored in the computer. I have personally done every oil change on this vehicle since she bought it and I change it roughly every 3,000 miles.....Since I changed the oil she has not driven a vehicle in fear that's causing engine damage. I plan on ordering new fuel injectors from RockAuto and installing those hoping this could fix it
Use caution when "wheeling out the parts cannon and shooting from the hip. You may hit your mark and call it a day but more times than not it gets very expensive very fast and you may still be in the driveway on blocks.

Unburnt raw gas/oil flooding the catalytic converter can clog it up, so I would certainly correct the problem before driving it. other than test drive/run.

Troubleshoot and confirm THEN change parts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
First off thank you all for the help seriously it is greatly appreciated.

Van runs excellent no misses idle or at any throttle input. This is a noise that appears as soon as it is started hot or cold and does not go away. Only way I can describe it is imagine a very loud lifter tick, that does increase with rpm. I did use the stethoscope on all six injectors and the sound to my ears is the sound I am hearing from the engine. This noise literally started out of no where, was fine then all of a sudden the noise appeared. Probably not the best idea but what I did to test for a dead cylinder was disconnect one spark plug wire at a time. With all six wires, when a wire was disconnected the engine ran with a miss. Again no check engine light, an no codes in the computer. All six spark plugs look great with a light tan color starting to appear.

Using the stethoscope I can only hear this noise in the following areas, lower intake manifold upper plastic plenum, and the six injectors. Went as far as using the stethoscope on the catalytic converter with it running, no ticking noise heard. But I can confirm it heats up quickly got the burn to prove that lol. Using the stethoscope on the injectors it's not a faint tick tick this is a very loud tick tick honestly it's louder using the stethoscope on the injectors then the actual ticking noise the engine is making if that makes sense.

Engine is a rebuilt long block installed by a shop for the previous owner don't know who supplied the long block. But it runs perfect even with this ticking time bomb sound.
 

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SO,
it runs good starts good
It ticks loudly
Mom said it has been getting horrible fuel economy MPG'
and you smelled gasoline when draining the oil
 

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Can you differentiate louder tick on the front of the engine or the rear of the engine?

Instead of the stethoscope, try using a length of hose like garden hose or heater hose.... Wrapping paper tube or even a few taped together paper towel tube or rolled up news paper.

I know those stethoscope can be very loud and too sensitive to define where a noise is coming from sometimes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yes runs good start good bad fuel economy ticks like it's about to blow up. I have had 2 people besides myself smell the oil filter and oil I removed both claim it smells like pure gas to them. I still have both the oil and filter that was drained out and removed.

It is hard for me to be certain but to my ears the noise seems louder from the rear facing lower intake manifold than the front one. The noise doesn't change from front to back of engine(timing cover to transmission). But I swear it does sound slightly louder on the backside of the engine closest to the firewall. I can confirm all six injectors are black in color have the pentastar logo and Siemens name on them.

I am literally about to throw both new injectors and a catalytic converter at it if I can't figure this out. I have spoken with roughly 10 shops(both independent and dealers) and the soonest anyone can look at it is at least a week out. Two dealers told me they couldn't get it in until November! I do have a mobile mechanic I use when I'm stumped and do have him coming out tomorrow to give his opinion as I don't know what else to do.

Injectors I will use are from rock auto the $63 a piece Mopar units. As for the cat converter I will use either a ebay cheapo or a have a muffler shop weld in a universal one. It does not have to go thru emissions testing at least. I have used an ebay converter before on a friend's 2002 town and country and he has 4 years and over 50k miles on it so far. His does pass emissions just fine.
 

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Don't put on a new cat until after you get the engine fixed and the MPG is reasonable. No sense to foul out a new catalytic converter until after it is safe to presume that the engine is burning clean.

The old cat may clean itself, burn off unburned fuel...
Myself, I was looking at a possible cat for my 2002 3.8L for self install. I saw them on Rock Auto and eBay. They are no longer available from MOPAR that I could see.

Try that garden hose to your ear. You can get a 4 foot piece of clear 3/4 or 1" vinyl hose from HomeDespot for cheap.
Heck, if you drained a 50 footer out dry and used it like I suggest it would probably work too. (no kinks, no restrictions, can even be coiled as long as there is no water puddling restriction)
Another thing that is less sensitive than that mechanics stethoscope is a long screw driver or short broom handle. Will transmit vibration similar to soup cans and a string.

I am curious what you or MobileMike finds and what you do to repair it. Cost, parts, effort.

I think these vehicles are great for my parents. Good ergonomics, good visibility, if maintained - dependable, fair fuel economy, safe..
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yes I did use the stethoscope on the oil pan and only get the humming noise I get in other places. My mechanic friend thinks it is the injectors. I found a place in Mesa AZ that is going to rebuild the original injectors and flow test them for leakage. So I should know by either tomorrow or Friday if the injectors are bad. If that doesn't fix it then an ebay cat converter will be next it looks like.

I keep you all posted and thank you for the help.
 

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If the check engine light isn't on, then you don't need a new converter. It will light up if there is a trouble code, and it will FLASH while running if the computer sees the engine running pig rich, signalling impending damage to the converter. Unless the noise you hear at the rear of the engine is from the metal flex section between the exhaust manifold and the cat leaking exhaust. If fresh air enters the exhaust there, the oxygen sensor will read the diluted exhaust as "lean" and dump more fuel into the engine. This results in running rich, poor fuel economy and a little exhaust noise.

Only other thing I could guess is a leaking injector dribbling fuel into a cylinder with engine off/parked. That would dilute the engine oil to make it smell like gas, and might thin it out enough to make the engine tick more than usual. Although, it would then make the engine take a little longer to start because the fuel system would be below pressure at first, and need a few seconds of the pump running to "prime the system".
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Just thought I would update everyone again thank you all for your help. I had all six fuel injectors rebuilt by a fuel injection repair company here in Phoenix. They claim that there was minor flow issues and there was 10 mL variance across the six injectors and they were noisy. I got them reinstalled and the noise is still present.

I decided to remove the front valve cover and start the engine to check for oil flow there is oil flow coming out of the holes of all six of the rocker arms on the rocker shaft assembly. There are still no codes in the computer but with the engine running held at 2000 RPM and feeling the exhaust exiting the tailpipe it does feel and sound like there is a slight misfire. The oil flowing out of the rocker arms like oozes out for lack of better description but does pool up it looks roughly half inch deep at the bases of the valve springs. This is at idle speed I didn't check the flow with the engine above idle to avoid a mess.

So I have now made the decision I am going to remove the lower intake manifold and expose the lifter valley and look for a collapsed lifter. Hopefully I find the issue. I will keep you updated. Thank you everyone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
I did use the stethoscope on all the front cylinders( 2 4 6) with it idling and could hear a slight ticking sound. I believe the issue is in the back cylinder bank (1 3 5) I don't see how I can easily remove that valve cover without pulling the lower intake manifold first. Honestly I would rather pull the manifold than pull the wiper cowl assembly. So that is my plan this evening is to just pull the whole lower manifold and expose the lifters and check for play which would tell me if there is a collapsed lifter. I will also be able to pull the rear valve cover and see if this is a rocker arm issue.

This van does have some body rust throughout and the wiper cowl assembly does have rust around the fasteners so that's why I think it would be easier to pull the manifold than deal with the wiper cowl assembly. At least the engine will go back together easy compared to dealing with potential rust issues.

Thanks for the idea on the exhaust manifold gaskets I may replace those while I'm there. If there is a collapsed lifter then I will pull both cylinder heads and replace all the lifters and push rods with new ones and obviously new gaskets and head bolts.

If it isn't a collapsed lifter then my mom has made the executive decision that she's just going to put it in to a shop and have it diagnosed.

BTW I did use the stethoscope on the oil pan and front lower engine block and there was no noise other than a slight humming sound. This is definitely an upper engine noise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Well I have it apart and it does not look good, I removed the lower intake manifold and both valves covers. Good news is that I can confirm it is a rebuilt motor it is too clean inside to not be a rebuild, but there are 7 rocker arms with varying amounts of play in them. A single rocker(intake cyl 4) in the front bank I can move ever so slightly. All six rocker arms on the back bank can be moved as well. Two of the rockers (intake cyl 3 exhaust cyl 5) on the backside are loose enough that I can fit the shaft of a 6" long flat blade screwdriver in the gap between the rocker arm tip and valve stem top! I can literally grab the rocker arm and compress the lifter enough to cause a gap just by pushing down on the pushrod side of the rocker arm. Two more I can fit just the tip of a small (3") cable tie into the gap. At least I can not see any damage done to the pushrod cups on the rocker arms, or any of the valve stem tips. I pulled the whole rocker arm shaft assembly from the rear head to verify there is no damage. Guess it was good that it got parked right after this noise started. Literally has less than 2 miles of driving and about 15-20 mins total run time on the engine since the noise started.

So looks like I get the pleasure of removing the heads and replacing all the lifters. I am also going to replace all the pushrods as well to be safe even though I can't see any damage to the tips of the pushrods. I priced everything with Rock Auto and comes to about $325 with shipping and tax to get all the stuff I believe I will need to do the job. That is a head gasket set with new head bolts, 12 lifters, 12 pushrods, tune up stuff might as well since I'm in this far even though that was done 10k miles ago and a Haynes manual. Did find the oil pan gasket is starting to leak as well so I will get one of those also. Should take about 7-10 days for all the parts to be shipped and arrive.

I thank you all for all the help with this. Figures I get stuck with the worst possible outcome grr. Please let me know if there is anything else I should do while I am in this deep lol.
 
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