Good morning I am Saul Reisman at Saul’s Automotive. Some of you may be old enough to remember the first oil crisis in the 70s. When this happened and fuel was rationed and you were waiting in line to get your 5 gallons of gas at the pump, the manufacturers had to come up with a way to beat technology. They needed more fuel efficient cars to keep you on the road. At that point, Ford tried to do something very ingenuities and ahead of its game. They replaced the V8 engine in their mustang with a 4 cylinder. It had a displacement of 2.3 liters so just larger than your soda bottle and produced 87 horsepower. While this was an extremely underpowered engine it flew through emissions with flying colors. Since that day now 40 years later Ford still uses the exact same engine in all of their modern vehicles.
Now they have revised it. They have improved the technology and they have squeezed a few more horses out of it. It is still the 4 cylinder it once was 40 years ago. However, in the case of what we are servicing today, we have a 2009 Mazda CX7 SUV. A midsize SUV that was equipped with a turbocharged version of this 4-cylinder engine. The vehicle came to us at 85,000 miles still under the factory power train warranty because it was exhibiting an engine knock. The Denver owner has done all of their oil changes at regular intervals, has taken care of every piece and part of maintenance yet here we are today slowly but surely disassembling this engine. What we have in front of us is the timing cover for the chain that drives from the crankshaft up to the cams.
Then we have the upper cams themselves along with the timing chain tensioner. Now the reason we have this all in front of us is that we are currently working with an aftermarket warranty program. They have stipulated with us that they would like to see each and every component that has failed in their hands so they can physically verify it. In this case, this tensioner which is literally a hydraulic spring assembly to put pressure against a chain to hold it taught just like when you are riding a bicycle has failed. It was not lubricated properly due to poor design from the factory. Instead of this $200 part failing and destroying itself the computers design to take oil from the rest of the engine and redirect it to this pressure assembly to ensure it stays tight.
So the rest of the engine slowly starved of oil including the turbocharger while the vehicle was ensuring that this timing chain tensioner was getting all the lubrication that it needed. However, since this tensioner failed so often, that tensioner was leaking oil internally. It was not building pressure and it was not holding the timing chain tight. If we take a look at this timing chain cover, we will see that on this upper hemisphere there are clear marks right across the surface of it where the carbon builds up has been eaten away. This is occurring on both cams and is a result of the timing chain actually slapping the inside of this aluminum housing. In this case, we were able to save this vehicle for our Denver auto repair owner. We were able to catch this before this chain snapped and had a catastrophic failure.
The vehicle has less than 90,000 miles on it. If you own a Ford or Mercury vehicle that came equipped with one of these engines, they even put them in the new Mazda’s, even as far as some other cross-branding that we haven’t even seen yet. You may want to get these checked out sooner rather than later. What came in today as a warranty-able repair from the factory could have very easily been a $6,000 engine repair had the Denver owner not come into our Denver auto repair shop as soon as they did. While we appreciate that Ford’s technology has changed over the past 40 years, I owned a 1983 Ford Ranger that was equipped with this same engine and it failed the same way. If you are looking for the most reliability, please come see us here at Saul’s Automotive. We have the experience and expertise to recognize these problems ahead of time and keep you on the road before it gets expensive.
Please give us a call at 303-919-7769. Thank you.