Oil pressure problem - Pontiac Solstice Forum
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-20-2018, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
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This problem is beyond my scope of knowledge about cars, but I'm having a serious problem.

Driving to work today the car was running fine, it's about a 25 minute drive. I made a left turn from a complete stop onto a road with a high speed limit, so i gave the car about half throttle until I got up to 60mph. Everything was going okay. Then about five minutes later, I get the low oil pressure light. It was right before my turn to get into work, and as I turned the volume off and slowed down I heard a terrible noise from the valves. I turned in and double parked and shut the car off immediately.

Looked underneath, no spills, nothing obviously wet with fresh oil. Opened the hood, sides and back of engine looked dry. Took off the engine cover, all clean. Nothing sprayed on the inside of the hood.

I checked the oil even though the engine was hot and when I pulled the dipstick out there was a little bit of smoke.

I let the car sit for 6 hours and checked again, it was still showing low on oil so I added two quarts. It was showing full on the stick now, so I let it sit another 3 hours.

Went out, it started right up. The idle was a little loud but it smoothed out and got quiet after about fifteen seconds. I let it idle for another minute or two before giving some gas, then it started all over again. Valves were super loud, rough sound, and oil pressure light came back on. Even after getting off the gas it would still be making all kinds of noise.

Got out and checked under the car, no oil drips. Nothing under the hood except where the wind caught the oil I was pouring in and spilled. No smoke from the exhaust. Dipstick still showing full.

Guess I'm getting it towed tomorrow, just wanna know if anyone has any insight into what I should expect to hear when I do 😵

I'm at 156,000 miles

Edit
Decided to go for a second attempt an hour later. Smooth startup. No indicator lights when I pushed the throttle several times. But there is a very noticeable, constant hydraulic wurr sound coming from the engine bay. Sounds like it's most noticeable on the driver side.

Last edited by Zanepaul; 12-20-2018 at 05:11 PM.
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-20-2018, 05:08 PM
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"Time for a new engine"
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-20-2018, 07:13 PM
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1. Don't try starting it again, you'll just make the damage worse.

2. Do let us all know what broke after the techs pull your engine apart, if they do.

3. Time for a new engine!



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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-21-2018, 05:54 AM
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I think your just guessing here....from being low on oil and getting on it you might have just pumped out some lifters, also you should hook up a manual oil pressure gauge and see if its within limits. wen lifters pump out and you let them sit like you did they bleed down even more. point is they take a while to pump up. or you just blew your motor and its time. a sure sign of low to no oil pressure is bering knock exspecialy on start up......good luck, that really sucks, happened to me on a car I built, fried all the berings.
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-21-2018, 05:56 AM
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missed the part about the oil light being always on.....its done.
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-21-2018, 11:20 AM Thread Starter
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After the first start attempt there wasn't an oil light until I gave it throttle.
On the second attempt later on, no oil light at start up, idle or under throttle. Just the "wurring" noise.

Getting it towed today, diagnostic scheduled for tomorrow.

If the engine is toast, should I go rebuilt or go for a new engine? Stick with LNF or change to LDK? LDK appears cheaper
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-21-2018, 11:37 AM
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I would wait until diagnostics tell the tale, might be a easy fix.
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-21-2018, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Zanepaul View Post
If the engine is toast, should I go rebuilt or go for a new engine? Stick with LNF or change to LDK? LDK appears cheaper
I don't think you can get a replacement LNF any more, but that is a bridge to cross once you find out what happened.

Where are you getting it towed to?



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Last edited by DaveOC; 12-21-2018 at 12:47 PM.
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-21-2018, 04:34 PM
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I'm guessing your timing chain jumped, either because the chain has stretched or the guides or tensioner failed. At 160k, the chain definitely should have been replaced by now. That would account for the noise, oil loss, and everything else. If you haven't lost coolant, then head gasket, etc. are likely fine.

Here's the good news:

A timing chain job is a $200-$300 (in parts) Saturday afternoon affair that really isn't that difficult.

And, the bad news:

The dealer is going to charge you $2k to do it. A local shop will likely be less expensive (and nicer), if you can find a good one.

On an interference motor, a jumped chain can cause all kinds of issues including trashed valves, pistons, and potentially rods and the entire head. If the chain hasn't jumped FAR, the car will still run. At lower RPM, it can sound like it is supposed to. This is one of those meta diagnosis problems that involves either taking the front cover off to see for sure, or differential diagnosis. (If that is a thing, I heard it on TV.)

Get a competent diagnosis, but keep in mind: a replacement engine, at this point, is in line with the cost of a rebuild with this type of problem. That does NOT include installation which also isn't difficult, but is expensive. The advantage to a new LDK or a newer LNF is that, well, it's a newer engine. Newer is better. Grape Scotch!

ALSO keep in mind: if your chain jumped 1-3 teeth, your valves & pistons might be fine, and a timing chain *might* fix it. If it was my car, I'd rip off the timing chain cover and have a look. But, I have a lot of practice.

*I* would examine the chain and see what happens, but I have every tool known to man, and three other cars to work with in the mean time.

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Last edited by raygun; 12-22-2018 at 10:32 AM.
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-21-2018, 04:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveOC View Post
I don't think you can get a replacement LNF any more, but that is a bridge to cross once you find out what happened.

Where are you getting it towed to?



.
eBay has many.

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post #11 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-21-2018, 06:03 PM
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.........ALSO NOTE, the light is an oil level light, not an oil pressure light. Pressure is a completely different problem. ......
Are you sure about that? All of the references I can find in both the service and owner's manuals refer to the light and sender in terms of oil pressure. Only the dip stick is referred to with regards to oil level.
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post #12 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-21-2018, 06:19 PM Thread Starter
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I'm guessing your timing chain jumped, either because the chain has stretched or the guides or tensioner failed. At 160k, the chain definitely should have been replaced by now. That would account for the noise, oil loss, and everything else. If you haven't lost coolant, then head gasket, etc. are likely fine.
TLDR:
-I took it to a local shade tree mechanic (who didn't necessarily seem shade tree until i saw his shop) who also said it sounds like timing chain, but he tried to back that claim up by sending me a screen shot of some stored engine codes for P0011 and P0366, cam shaft sensor exhaust and intake
-After leaving there, I made an appointment at my regular mechanic for tomorrow, mentioned possible timing chain issue, and the tech that answered the phone said (basically) these cars NEVER have timing chain issues. Which now makes me doubt the competency of a place that has a 100% success rate in diagnosing and solving every problem with this car. He, however, is not the tech that always works on my car.

I'm actually surprised you said this. I'll explain why.

I was getting the car towed by a guy i have used and recommended many times. Good, honest guy I trust. Not that it matters, though. As we were pushing the car out of the parking spot and into place for loading, another guy stops by and jumps out to help. Turns out he's also good friends with the tow driver. Long story short, he tells me he's a mechanic and just "finally got rid of a solstice" that a previous customer refused to pick up. Mentions that he still has most of the engine left from it, and asks me to start the car so he could hear it.

I start it up again. Nothing at idle. Slight rattle at throttle, he said probably lifters. I spend about 50 minutes talking to the guy really trying to feel him out. I was about to spend a good chunk of money to have it towed over 60 miles to a good (but not cheap), honest, reliable shop i've used for every repair on this car without issue. But his shop was only five miles away. I recently had the cooling fans replaced because they completely crapped out. Module went bad. So I told him a little lie and asked if he could fix that first. Just to see what he would say. He ended up calling someone from the nearby GM dealership and asking them, who basically told him step by step what my usual mechanic told me he did to diagnose the problem, so I wasn't too impressed but at least he had his channels. I took a gamble and agreed to have it towed to his shop.

I get to his shop and immediately decide no ****ing way. Not a single driveble car there, they were all junkers. But I decided to play a little more. I started the car after it was unloaded and drove it about 15 feet into his shop bay. Interestingly, there seemed to be absolutely nothing wrong with the car. It sounded normal. It was always a little rough while it was warming up, but after a few seconds it was smooth. Nothing but the tick of the fuel pump. It drove nice and smooth into his bay.

Once inside he starts telling me that's weird, and that he'll "warm it up and take a look and call me tomorrow" so I said "well why not do it right now." So we do.

Starts up fine. Idles fine, but after a minute or two there is a very very faint rattle from the bottom side of the engine on the passenger side. When first pressing the throttle hard, you can hear what kinda sounds like turbo bearings, but nothing like the noise I heard when the trouble started. The noise eventually quiets down under sustained RPM. All in all, the car seems like it's mostly fine again. Mind you there still hasn't been a single CEL through any of this, only an oil light twice (once when the problem first occured, and once again when I started it eight hours later. I don't mean that I was starting it and driving it around with the oil light on AGAIN today!). The mechanic also agrees that there doesn't seem to be anything MAJOR wrong with the engine, but asks me to take him for a test drive before I decide what to do.

We get in the car, back out, and I begin to leave the lot. As soon as I start giving more than a little throttle, there's a rattling from the engine and the wurrr sound comes back. Mechanic tells me to stop the car, it gets quiet. Tells me to go again, and again the noise comes back once I really try and "go." Leaving the car in drive, he gets out and opens the hood to listen. When I push the gas while it's in drive, it rattles pretty good from the passenger side. Again, still NOTHING like it did in the first place, but definitely not anything I've heard before. He concludes it's timing chain. We go back in the shop and he proceeds to wheel out the exact same LNF engine from the car in the story he told me in the parking lot. Spins it around, shows me where the timing chain is and explains what he wants to do to the car to verify it. What worries me is he said the reason they pulled that engine in the first place is "because of the timing chain, but we couldn't figure out what else was wrong with it" immediately I think
a) bull****
b) you broke everything trying to change the chain without the proper tools
c) the repairs you TRIED to do caused enough damage that you had to remove the engine, and at that point you were basically holding the car ransom by demanding a ton of money to return a car that is in seriously worse condition
d) i love my baby way too much to let you ever touch her

I told him to hold off on doing any work on it. I was at this point 100% convinced he was trying to take me for a ride. I know who I bought this car from. I know how long he had it. I know exactly what he did to it and when. The timing chain was replaced at 125k miles, when the water pump was replaced for the second time. No way the chain is bad already, unless there's more to the story inside.

So I call my regular mechanic to set up an appointment for tomorrow, and mention that i think it's timing chain related, and, surprisingly, the tech who answered said it's unlikely.
He said "do you know how many times i've seen a timing chain issue on one of these cars?"
i said "probably all the time"
he said "no, only once."

I didn't ask him how many of these cars he's seen, but the way he immediately dismissed the chain all together makes me suspicious. However, there is one specific tech that they ALWAYS assign to my car every time I take it, and this tech on the phone was NOT him. The one who always does the diagnosing on my car is 100% spot on each time.

I'm going to take it there tomorrow either way because they're a good shop. Even if it comes down to rebuilding the top half of the engine, I know they will do the job right, to spec, and provide an excellent warranty.

sorry for the long story, but i'm just really passionate about this car and anything to do with it

Last edited by Zanepaul; 12-21-2018 at 06:23 PM.
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post #13 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-21-2018, 06:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanepaul View Post
TLDR:
- these cars NEVER have timing chain issues.
BULL$HIT!!!!! These cars are NOTORIOUS for timing chaing issues at 80-100k usually. Read the Cobalt and HHR SS forums for '09 and '10. Same motor, and there's plenty of posts about it. I'm going through this right now, though not as bad as your's. I had a tech "drive" my car without my knowledge for a tire issue and he drove it rather hard and I think he broke a timing chain guide. I'm almost positive. I'll know more next week because I'm tearing it apart.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanepaul View Post
So I call my regular mechanic to set up an appointment for tomorrow, and mention that i think it's timing chain related, and, surprisingly, the tech who answered said it's unlikely.
He said "do you know how many times i've seen a timing chain issue on one of these cars?"
i said "probably all the time"
he said "no, only once."
Do you know why they don't see them? Most people don't have over 50k on these cars. The '07s are absolutely 100% notoriously built with inferior guides.
And do some research on the Cobalt forum about it. Same motor, just mounted transversely. Oh...and the Cadillac ATS forums on the 2.0L as well.... Next gen LNF motor and they have issues at about 100k.

Mine has a vibration at 1000k RPM. It comes and goes. Thought it might be a fuel/spark issue, until it sat for about 3 weeks and then started it and I heard the chain rattle. So I'm pretty sure it's the chain. And be careful....there's 2 chains in there that need to be replaced and "re-timed". A timing chain that links to the cams and a balancer chain that runs the internal lob balancers to take the vibration out of the motor and run the waterpump.

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Last edited by The_Ghost; 12-21-2018 at 07:00 PM.
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post #14 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-22-2018, 10:29 AM
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Are you sure about that? All of the references I can find in both the service and owner's manuals refer to the light and sender in terms of oil pressure. Only the dip stick is referred to with regards to oil level.
You know what - I'm not entirely sure. When in doubt, I'd say trust the FSM.

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post #15 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-22-2018, 10:45 AM
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@Zanepaul

Wow - that's quite a bit of detail.

I'm going to have to go with @The_Ghost on this one - I've seen quite a few mentions of timing chain issues on these and other Ecotec-related forums. Also, as was mentioned, most of these cars still don't have that many miles on them. Given low average mileage (way < 100k), low production numbers and the relatively high number of failed chains, I'm surprised to hear an experienced mechanic say that he hasn't seen many failures. That could be a function of how many Solstices & Skys he's seen. Or, maybe he knows something I don't.

I recently swapped timing chains on a 6.2L. The symptoms were much as you described, but specifically: losing oil, intermittent but BAD noises, etc. One of the plastic chain guides had broken, allowing the chain to jump a few teeth. When I rebuilt my LE5, the chain was also off by a couple of links when I pulled the front end off.

One thing that can simplify diagnosis: if you remove the valve cover, the top of the chain is accessible. You can use a bore scope to have a look around for broken bits or anything that seems off without having to remove the front cover. It helps, of course, to know what it is supposed to look like first.

What I'm not really certain about is the "whirring" sound you mention. That could be the turbo. I never really noticed it on the GXP until I was listening really hard to find something unrelated.

Does the whirring change with RPM, or would you describe it as fairly constant?

The codes for intake & exhaust cam actuator solenoids are common, and the parts are cheap. If they fail, they can also cause some really bad noises, crappy -and intermittent - performance, and excessive oil loss. The parts are very cheap on Amazon, and easy to replace with a 10mm socket + ratchet, a pair of vice grips and about 30 minutes of your time.

BUT, you also said that you didn't have a CEL. Those codes will definitely trigger the CEL. Do you have your own code reader? If not, get one of the $20 jobbers off of Amazon. I have a wifi OBD-2 module and an iPhone app that work great when I don't want to drag out HP Tuners and my laptop.

Changing the timing chain - IF that is the problem - isn't difficult, just a little time consuming.

Blue-ish 2006 2.4, Werks stage 1 turbo, Borla cat-back, DDM braces, Spec aluminum flywheel, Spec stage 2 clutch, Werks aluminum radiator, some gauges, RKSport hood, Morimoto FX-Rs, GReddy Profec, Norm's fenders

'07 GXP, Werks Big Wheel K04 and tune, Solo catless downpipe, TCE Wilwood 6 piston front brakes, 4-piston rears , stainless brake lines, slotted/drilled rotors, BC Racing BR coilovers, Performance Autowerks intercooler, DDMWorks CAI, charge pipes and braces, RPM rollbar

Last edited by raygun; 12-22-2018 at 10:54 AM.
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