Is my engine blown?

Tiny
WAYNEKLAY
  • MEMBER
  • FORD F-150
My 2000 Ford Focus Wagon (4 cyl and only 65K miles) suddenly started knocking after a cold start. Had it towed to a mechanic who says: a) #2 cylinder has zero compression; b) upon injection of air into #2 cyl, air leaks out of #3 cyl and oil dipstick; c)nothing else can be determined until the head is removed (cost to remove $150-200) The car ran well up to this moment and oil was changed often. We are devasted as we have limited income, and are overwhelmed with various advice being given. (Replace engine, repair engine, junk the car, etc) I would be so grateful for your honest suggestions and options. I am a divorced dad raising two disabled children alone. I am over my head on this and am desperately afraid of making the wrong decision. I can only afford one and barely that. Could someone please help me? I am in deep trouble. Thank you so very much!
Wayne-Oakdale, MN
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Monday, June 25th, 2007 AT 5:24 PM

11 Replies

Tiny
INDYUKE
  • MEMBER
I believe you are wise to wait to make a decision until the head is removed and the mechanic is able to actually take a physical look at the cylinders, cylinder walls and the valves.

When you say air was injected into #2 cylinder, I presume you speak of a cylinder leak down test? Don't be alarmed by air escaping from the oil dipstick tube, thats normal whether the cylinder is damaged or not because what you are measuring is the percentage of pressure that cylinder will hold. Always some will go into the crankcase past the rings during the test.

What you should be concerned about is that air escapes out of #3 cylinder. If air doesn't escape from any other cylinder, I would consider the possibility of a blown head gasket between #2 and #3 cylinders, which is an inexpensive repair compared to replacing the entire engine.

Which is why I think it's wise to wait for more information after the head has been removed. I hope this helps.
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Tuesday, June 26th, 2007 AT 12:51 AM
Tiny
WAYNEKLAY
  • MEMBER
Thank you for replying.I wish I could be more helpful. The mechanic who presently has the car did not call the "air into the cylinders" test by any specific name. He merely said that he did it and according to him, he was most concerned about the air escaping thru the dipstick. I cannot remember why, because so much of what he was saying was "over my head" (he talked about where air should be circulating when introduced into the cylinder, and where it should NOT be circulating.) The car does not have any coolant leaks or oil leaks or anything like that. I had simply driven my kids to an area amusement park for the day and upon starting the car at closing time, the car turned over very sluggishly and would not start. I waited a moment, put the accelerator to the floor (old habit from the 70's) and the car started but a loud "metallic knocking" sound came from the engine that would not stop. It was louder upon acceleration. The oil level on the stick was clean and full. No other symptoms were present. No smells, no smoke, no leaks, no overheating, nothing else. After a nightmarish end to an otherwise pleasant day, I had the car towed home the following day, where the mechanic I have quoted took the valve cover off, did a compression test (NO compression at all in #2 but all others normal) did the air injection test, and gave me the bad news. His initial "guess" is a damaged valve and "possibly"- a worst case scenario- a hole in the top of the piston. He also told me of a Ford SERVICE BULLETIN for Escorts and Focus models about excess carbon buildup on the valves resulting in something getting stuck and collapsing? I tried to find such a service bulletin but could not. Does anyone know of this by chance? Another mechanic who just listened to my story gave another possible diagnosis: a broken or "jumped" timing belt.I apologize for such a long post. I am in a very bad situation and am fairly isolated from friends and family, so I have no where else to turn but to folks like you on sites such as this. I am trying to arm myself with information and am grateful for any ideas, suggestions, and help anyone reading this has time to give. Thank you INDYUKE for replying. Blown head gasket hasn't come up because of lack of any coolant leaks but I sure will consider that if you think it matches the other symptoms I'm having. Thank you, and all for your time. Any additional thoughts would be hugely appreciated. The car only has 65K and I hate to replace the motor with a used and even higher mileage motor. This also has been suggested.
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Tuesday, June 26th, 2007 AT 2:34 PM
Tiny
MERLIN2021
  • EXPERT
Air will leak eventually from oil dipstick tube. Especially if the head gasket is blown between two adjacent cylinders. 2 and 3 will be at TDC at almost exactly the same time. Less air will enter (hopefully) 3, so rings will not operate!
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Tuesday, June 26th, 2007 AT 3:59 PM
Tiny
INDYUKE
  • MEMBER
Merlin is right. The rings won't hold pressure at that point.

Wait until the head is off and the mechanic is able to take a look at it, especially the valves, piston and cylinder wall.

If the rings are shot, you will have score marks in the cylinder wall. If you broke your timing belt, the valve(s) will be damaged as well as the piston(s). There will be no questions once you're able to see it. Even a blown head gasket leaves evidence.
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Tuesday, June 26th, 2007 AT 7:27 PM
Tiny
WAYNEKLAY
  • MEMBER
Thank you both for your replies. I should know the "rest of the story" in the next 24 hours when they get the head off the car. I may need to turn to you again for any tough decisions I may be facing then. Hope that's ok. Will let you know outcome soon. Thanks again for your time. Sure wish I knew how it all happened? Bad luck? 65K seems rather low for such major trouble, but what do I know.
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Wednesday, June 27th, 2007 AT 5:00 AM
Tiny
WAYNEKLAY
  • MEMBER
Well, the head is off the car. The #2 cylinder intake valve seat somehow broke off, and was banging around in the cylinder. It damaged the head at the area around #2 cylinder, as well as scarring and pitting the #2 piston, as the piston came in contact with the valve seat apparantly. The valve itself was jammed down in the hole it sits in, about an eighth of an inch. The mech said he doesn't know how this could have happened, except for an overheating incident which never happened. Rare and weird and unexplainable. OPTIONS? The mech said: a) put a new head on and replace the piston. B) drop a used engine in c) drop a recond engine in. I'm so depressed I can't think straight. Any final thoughts from anyone? Thanks again!
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Thursday, June 28th, 2007 AT 3:30 PM
Tiny
JWALTH02
  • MEMBER
Did you ask him prices for all that? Cause you're deffinitly gonna wanna choose the cheaper of the three.
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Thursday, June 28th, 2007 AT 5:23 PM
Tiny
WAYNEKLAY
  • MEMBER
Well, the "repair" job with a new head and one new piston is close to $1600. Used motor install is $900 plus whatever a used motor will cost me-around $900 probably, if I can find one!(Scam artists are everywhere in the used motor business, I am finding out), and a "new" recond engine parts and labor will run $3500.I feel like jumping off a bridge (I would too, if it wasn't for my kids). Sorry.I am so discouraged I can't think straight. I am running into so many scammers that I don't know where to turn. I've got 2 disabled children and about $3000 total to my name. Lost my job recently, no credit cards to borrow on, and do not own a house to tap into. We were doing ok-not great but ok, until this. Sorry folks, I'll stop posting. Thanks to those who responded. I appreciate your time.
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Thursday, June 28th, 2007 AT 6:19 PM
Tiny
98RANGERXLT
  • MEMBER
Check at a junk yard for a half decent engine
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Thursday, June 28th, 2007 AT 8:13 PM
Tiny
WAYNEKLAY
  • MEMBER
Hello. Yes, I have called every salvage yard within 100 miles of my area (Minneapolis/St. Paul) and not one is to be found. I need the harder to find "P' Vin number engine-there are a few "3's" out there. So, I put a request nationwide and have gotten 4 or 5 replies from what turned out to be "brokers"- all of whom had countless complaints posted about them - some really terrible. I almost gave my money to one of them who I learned has operated under several different names and scammed everyone they came in contact with. I never dreamed this could be so difficult, but in my case, it honestly has.
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Thursday, June 28th, 2007 AT 8:38 PM
Tiny
INDYUKE
  • MEMBER
Have you talked to your mechanic about what types of engines. Possibly a more common one, easier to find and less expensive can be put in place of the current one?
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Friday, June 29th, 2007 AT 2:59 AM

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