1994 Pontiac Sunbird Sticky Lifters

Tiny
PROFESSORCHAOS96
  • MEMBER
  • 1994 PONTIAC SUNBIRD
Engine Performance problem
1994 Pontiac Sunbird 4 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic

I prefer this question to be answered by Jacobandnickolas, if at all possible. I have had the best luck with him so far!

Joe, On a startup during cold mornings, there is a lifter or two sticking a little bit and the motor ticks for a few seconds. Now, I'll put my bets together and say that it's probably a bit of sludge built up over the 300 000km and I'm just looking for the best way to clear it out without tearing the engine apart - before it gets any worse.

It's worth noting that I rebuilt the top end (including a re manufactured cylinder head) about 7000 km ago, and cleaned out the throttle body and intake manifold really good in the process, however the lifters I just removed and installed as is. I'm running AC Delco 5W-30 oil. And the car does not burn any.

I have read about multiple products, one being Seafoam the other being AutoRX, and another being Marvel Mystery Oil, all of which claim to do the same thing. All I can find on the internet is basically one bashing the other. Just wondering if you have any other suggestions with regards to freeing them up, and whether you agree/disagree with the canned engine cleaners. Thanks!
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Tuesday, January 12th, 2010 AT 2:50 PM

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Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
All of the products you have mentioned are good. There are some brands that are useless. However, I believe Marvel Mystery Oil has been around the longest which says something about their product.

I am going to explaine something that I do with my own cars that I never mentioned before on this site. Please remember, I do it and it's not standard procedure, but has always worked for me.

When I need a new car, I always get them with at least 100K + miles on them. The reason is because they are cheaper when they hit that mileage. WHen I get one, I always drain the oil (leave the old filter on) and refill the engine with Kerosene. I start the engine and let it run for about 20 seconds and shut it down. Then I drain the Kerosene, replace the oil filter with a new one, and refill the engine with new motor oil. I then drive the car for about 50 miles and change the oil and filter again to make sure that all of the kerosene is out of the engine. Kerosene really seems to clean things out of the engine.

It may sound crazy, but an old mechanic taught me the trick. The kerosene gets to all bearings, lifters. And cleans the sludge out. I was taught this when cars at 100K miles were junk and worn out. He would get them and do this and always get another 100K out of them. Presently, I have a dodge dakota with 220K miles on it. I use it as a plow truck, to haul, and drive it to work every day. It doesn't have an easy life. However, I'm confident it will see 300K with ease. (And yes I did this to it).

Please remember, this is a trick that was taught to me. It doesn't have millions of dollars in research spent on it, and you could have a lifter that is just worn out and not able to hold pressure on its own. However, if you purchase one of the products mentioned, you'll notice a kerosene like smell to it, except the Marvel Mystery oil. I think it just thickens the oil a bit with other additives to help clean the engine. Not sure. Give it a thought. It has helped me over the years and saved a lot of engines that people thought were junk.

If you have questions, let me know. As always, thanks for using 2carpros. Com.

Joe
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Tuesday, January 12th, 2010 AT 7:51 PM
Tiny
PROFESSORCHAOS96
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Thanks Joe, you pretty much summed up my thoughts. I have a friend that's been in the trade for over 25 years, and as well he sued a similar trick but instead of kerosene he used diesel fuel, for its lubricant properties. I would probably go ahead and do that with most engines but this one in particular seems to be fussy with valve stem seals, when I rebuilt the cylinder head the old ones were dry and brittle, and the engine burned oil. This is why I was considering these products, in hopes they wouldn't do that (at least as bad). I'll probably go with the MMO, I was leaning towards that anyway. I'll definitely let you know how it works, I'll be doing it on Friday.

Also, I went to a junk yard and pulled the vacuum actuators off another car, and I seem to be getting more airflow from the defog vents now. So thanks for that previous tip.

Best of luck Joe, Appreciate the help. I'll be sure to get back to you (and donate) the next time I run into a quirk!

Adam
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Tuesday, January 12th, 2010 AT 8:04 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
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Adam:

I'm glad to help. Thanks for the positive feedback. It may sound stupid, but it is appreciated. As far as the valve seals, over the years, they do dry out get brittle and break. As a result, the car will end up blowing blue smoke because the oil can bypass the seal.

Let me know if you have any other questions, and I look forward to hearing how it goes for you this Friday.

Joe
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Tuesday, January 12th, 2010 AT 8:47 PM
Tiny
PROFESSORCHAOS96
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Hey there Joe, just checking back in. I couldn't find any MMO, so I ended up getting Seafoam, which didn't do anything. So I have a few more questions to ask.

1. Would you try anything else aside from rebuilding? (FYI I think now the lifters are bleeding rather than sludged up)

2. I had the motor apart not that long ago, however I can't remember precisely how much room there was in the camshaft carrier. My question is, first of all where this is an OHC engine, can the camshaft be slid out of place? Or is it pretty much stuck there from valve spring pressure? And, if I remove the valve cover and slide the camshaft out, is there room to remove and replace the lifters and camshaft from another engine - without removing the carrier and cylinder head? I know your resources are probably limited and you may not be able to answer this, but I don't want to remove my valve cover because the gasket will probably end up leaking. If I can just slide that cam out and grab some new lifters, the job turns from an expensive, annoying one to a simple, one hour job.

3. Do you think the ticking may be something else? As far as I know there isn't much else in the top end of these engines that would make any ticking noises.

Thank you for your help Joe!
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Saturday, January 16th, 2010 AT 3:48 PM
Tiny
PROFESSORCHAOS96
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Save yourself the trouble Joe, I did some reading and yes, it can be done however I need a special tool to do so, specifically GM J-33302-25 valve spring compressor. However if you still have any other suggestions (besides a new car - lol), just let me know. Thanks!
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Saturday, January 16th, 2010 AT 4:32 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Sorry I didn't get back sooner. Yes it can be done as you have found. As far as the sea foam, you can't believe how many people use it. I see its name all the time here but have never used it myself.

As far as the car, you sound just like me. I could use a new one, but told my wife that the old Dakota that I use every day to plow driveways, haul and drive to work will last till 300K. It's at 220K now, I had to fix the frame as a result of a rust hole, but it runs everyday. Funny, I would feel safer in that 17 year old truck than my wife's newer Expedition with only 80K on it now.

Cars become like family. When you get one you like, it's hard to get rid of them. WHo knows, the old Dakota may make 400K (LOL). It's already getting tired, but I know it will see at least 300K.

Let me know how this works out for you or if you have other questions.

Joe
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Sunday, January 17th, 2010 AT 12:19 AM
Tiny
PROFESSORCHAOS96
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I actually done some shopping around, I'm going to pick up the tool (retail value $1200) for about 20 bucks on ebay, and I even found a place online to get GM OEM lifters, so I'm going to replace them now in a few weeks. My girlfriend keeps asking me why I don't just get a new car, I use the analogy "well you wouldn't get a new kid if yours got sick, would you?". Haha. At least I know what I have and exactly what's been done to it. Thanks for your help Joe, I'll PM you in a few weeks and let you know how the part hunting goes!
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Sunday, January 17th, 2010 AT 8:03 AM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
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Great analogy! And great deal on the tool. Let me know how if works out for you. And I agree, you know what you have, but never know what you're getting.

Joe
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Sunday, January 17th, 2010 AT 11:39 PM
Tiny
PROFESSORCHAOS96
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Joe, hopefully you can get back to me quick on this one, I put the lifters in my car tonight, and it wont start. I have rolled it over about fifteen times now without fuel to build pressure in them, and it seems to be getting a little better but still no go. I'm going back in the morning to try again, and if it doesn't go I'll check to verify the timing isn't off, if it isn't, then do you have any other pointers? I checked the compression, it was only 50 psi, but I assume that's because the valves aren't opening far enough yet. I soaked the lifters in oil for quite a while before installing them, in case you're wondering. Thanks Joe!
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Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 AT 7:36 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
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Hi:

Sorry, I got your message in my email just a little while ago.

Do you only have 50 PSI compression? If that is the case, it won't start. That tells me the rockers need adjusted. They are keeping the valves slightly open all of the time. Did you adjust
them?

Let me know.

Joe
PS: It's 11:05 here. I'll be up for another 45 minutes or so. If I miss your post, I'll get in in the AM around 9:00 or 9:30.
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Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 AT 10:07 PM

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