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Toyota Corolla, Sedan
#2952 of 3858 Corolla 4WD wagon - sticking valve repair - options?
Sep 04, 2007 (7:25 pm)
I own a 1991 Toyota Corolla 4WD wagon (All trac?) 238,000 km with a 1600cc engine that has been diagnosed with a sticking or burnt valve in the #2 cylinder. Compression is down by 40 psi in this cylinder (others are fine with 150 psi compression). Engine is still running but is noticeably "rough" and hesitant. Not sure how long I can still run the car around town in this condition?
Wondering what my repair options are? My mechanic has advised that the cylinder head must be pulled (4hrs labour) and sent to machine shop for necessary work and for valve repair/replacement as required. Am told that re-assembly could take longer, perhaps 6hrs. In total about a $1000 job at best case scenario I am told! Was very impressed that my mechanic performed about 1hr of diagnostic work (test drive, checked timing, spark plugs, wiring set and compression tested each cylinder)at no cost to me, so trust his opinion.
In past 3 years I have spent about $3000 to replace the clutch, fuel tank, fuel pump, brake & fuel lines front to back, alternator etc. so would really like to keep vehicle, but also don't want to open up a can of worms in the engine. Body is in good shape and I have mounted on rims summer & winter tire sets.
In my local area have found the identical vehicle for just $300, running but body badly rusted with 397,000 km although no apparent engine problems and also a fairly new radiator that I could use (mine is original). Wondering how complex it might be to just switch cylinder head & valves between the two vehicles?
Any advice that might be provided from this forum would be much appreciated.
#2953 of 3858 Re: Corolla 4WD wagon - sticking valve repair - options? [peteline]
Sep 04, 2007 (7:35 pm)
If someone is going to go to the trouble and pull the heads.....I'd have the head redone as opposed to putting on some other unknown status head. Who knows how long that will last, and how good it may or may not run.
I've had head jobs done on two different vehicles in my early days, both went on to run many many carefree miles.
#2954 of 3858 Re: Corolla 4WD wagon - sticking valve repair - options? [kiawah]
Sep 05, 2007 (4:12 am)
Thanks for the quick response and advice. Yes, it is probably better to stick with the "devil I know" than introduce other cylinder head/valve parts with about 150,000 more Km's on it.
My mechanic estimates that to re-do the cylinder head at the machine shop and replace valves could run around $500, plus around 10 hrs of labour for dis-assembly/re-assembly $60/hr (shop rate) = $600, so fairly expensive job on a 17 yr old vehicle, although I have already put $3000 in these past 3 years. To find an engine mechanic working from home for less hourly wage and no tax (15% here)would be an ideal solution.
The mechanic who did the diagnostic work did indicate that when you resolve a "top end" compression issue in the cylinder head, it sometimes puts more strain on the "bottom end" which can create further issues down the road. Would you agree with this? You seem to have had good luck with your cylinder head repairs down the road!
#2955 of 3858 Re: Corolla 4WD wagon - sticking valve repair - options? [peteline]
Sep 05, 2007 (5:02 am)
After having heads redone, I've not had a problem show up with crank or piston rings, but I don't beat the cars either so wouldn't expect problems.
But you are into the whole debate, at what point do you throw in the towel and stop fixing an old car. Some will say never invest more than the car is worth on trade in. Others will say okay to make some big dollar expenditures, it's still cheaper than buying something new, or pre-owned newer. Reliability and Safety come into play as well.
I personally work on my own vehicles, tend to keep stuff forever, and have more garage space and vehicles in the household than drivers so it doesn't matter if one starts to have a problem that needs worked on at my convenience. The girls get the newer reliable cars, I putz around on the older ones.
I happen to like the style of the old wagon you have, and would buy a new one if either Honda or Toyota made it (Matrix and CRV aren't quite the same). So, if I were in your shoes I'd have the head rebuilt since it sounds like you've kept up the other aspects of the vehicle.
On the other hand, the Matrix,CRV, or Subie Outback are somewhat tempting, and if you need the higher reliability and can afford it....certainly now would be the time to consider stop throwing money into the Corolla and upgrade to the newer safety platforms (Side curtain/knee airbags, VSC, disc brakes all around, etc).
#2956 of 3858 Re: Corolla 4WD wagon - sticking valve repair - options? [kiawah]
Sep 05, 2007 (5:43 am)
I just spoke to the machine shop where my cylinder head would be sent by the mechanic. Their costs are actually not too scary - $100 to re-do the head, $100 to replace valves /guides in problem cylinder. They would prefer to re-do all valves & guides for an extra $150 which seems to make sense given 10 hrs of labour are involved by mechanic in asembly work.
Regarding "letting go" of a vehicle, in hindsight, I should probably have done this about 3 yrs ago (before spending $3000!), but this Corolla wagon (only made for 3 yrs I believe) it is a great commuting car and very good in winter conditions with the AWD/4WD + two sets of good mounted summer/winter shares. I have been the sole driver of this vehicle for 17 yrs and have also not "beaten" the engine. It is also safety inspected until June 30th, 2008 so if I get the head work done successfully I should have at least 9 mths of trouble free driving ahead of me before next inspection. At my last MVI the mechanic commented on how "tight" everything was for an old car and the body still very solid.
I have 5 daughters (6-14 yrs old) who just returned to school, so this has already been an expensive few weeks for our family and this was the last additional expense I needed at this time. We really require 2 cars though with a very hectic busy family schedule.
While I procrastinate on a repair decision, do you have any idea on what additional damage I might be causing the engine driving a little around town on 3.5 cylinders? It runs but is "rough".
#2957 of 3858 Re: Corolla 4WD wagon - sticking valve repair - options? [peteline]
Sep 05, 2007 (6:05 am)
Well if you do it, have them do all of the valves and guides. No idea on additional damage, probably a better question for the mechanic you does the heads that you just talked to.
Well another thing to consider is you eldest daughter of 14. Not sure what state you are in, in NC here kids get their permit at 15 and drive with a parent for a year before off on their own. Voting to replace it is the fact that a newer vehicle would have airbags and safety features. Voting to keep it would be that you'd have low insurance, and it's a great sized and stable car to learn to drive on (and have minor fender benders, if they happen). With 5 girls coming up, you are going to have your own fleet of vehicles before long.
#2958 of 3858 Re: Corolla 4WD wagon - sticking valve repair - options? [kiawah]
Sep 05, 2007 (7:28 am)
For an alternative opinion, I just visited the local Toyota dealer which is only 2 min drive away. Their "official" book price for a cylinder head/valve job is 16 hrs! They indicate that if you were to replace all valves & guides this would bring the compression up to 165-170 psi in each cylinder, which could cause strain on the piston rings likely causing excessive oil burning.
Before embarking on this road, they would like to attempt a valve adjustment and conduct a WET/DRY? compression test, to possibly try and improve the #2 cylinder compression up from 110 psi, closer to the 150 psi of the other three. This would cost around $200. They say if you were to pull the cylinder head it is better to just replace the affected valves in that #2 cylinder to prevent the oil burning issue that I mentioned above.
They also indicate that no further damage will be caused by running the car short distances around town in the meantime. When I brought one of my daughters to an early morning swim practice yesterday, on a cold engine, I noticed very little "miss" in the engine, but it developed more later in the day on a warm engine. On the hwy I have no problem maintaining the 110 km/hr speed limit.
I live in New Brunswick (NB) Canada and the age to start driving on a graduated license, accompanied, is 16 yrs old, so extra vehicles will no doubt become an issue for our family in the near future. With the "graduated" license the child can drive the car alone sooner, assuming they pass the applicable written & driving test if they take a course of instruction from a designated driving school.
Regarding vehicle maintenance, I never compromise what I consider safety issues related to brakes, steering, tires etc. but could live with "cosmetic" issues like a rust spot fixed up or a pin-prick hole in the exhaust system etc. To pass annual MVI must have no holes in exhaust system or rust perforation holes, but in between MVI's I would let some these things go.
#2959 of 3858 Re: Corolla 4WD wagon - sticking valve repair - options? [peteline]
Sep 05, 2007 (8:27 am)
I suspect you'll gets lots of differing opinions before all is said and done. I can only relay what I would do, and the rationale for why I'd do it. Each persons's situation is totally unique and different, and for the same exact problem statement could have a different correct solution.
Certainly if there was a chance that by simply adjusting the valve you could get the compression up in that cylinder, that is the thing to do as it is non-invasive. If on the other hand the valve is burnt or valve guide noticeably worn, and you are going to have to take the head off (to have 'something' done) (and financially in your circumstances it makes sense to fix as opposed to dump), then you have a risk situation decision to figure out. Is it riskier to a.) only fix the one valve, minimizing any potential unknown ring situation, but maximizing the potential 'other valves have a problem risk' ....or b.) fix all the valves, minimizing valves ever causing a problem in the near future, and increasing the risk that you may have piston ring blow by.
I personally am a proponent of preventive maintenance, and if one valve has a problem, it is reasonable that since all the other valves have gone thru the same mileage/oil/pressures/temperatures over the years, they all are reasonably worn at a similar rate, and are not too far behind. Since it is incrementally cheap to do and have the financial means, I'd do it. If it turns out the rings become a problem, dump the car. Likewise if you only repair a single valve, if you later have another valve problem, dump the car.
If you knew the odds this would be an easy decision. Otherwise, you're taking a chance no matter which alternative you decide. If financially you can afford to replace, spend the 200 bucks to try to adjust the valve if they can and you think you'll get that much more back in selling the car, then dump it before you run into additional problems.
Good luck with whatever alternative you choose. It's only a car and at some point it's going to the junk heap, you've certainly got your money's worth out of it up to this point.
#2960 of 3858 Re: Corolla 4WD wagon - sticking valve repair - options? [peteline]
Sep 05, 2007 (3:33 pm)
Re: "It's only a car and at some point it's going to the junk heap" - that's exactly what I tell my kids when they swoon over late model fancy vehicles and complain about what Dad is driving (with no mthly payments, paid off many years ago!).
This evening on a relatively short 15 min drive in traffic I noted a "hot" smell coming from the engine when I stopped, although water temp is normal, but the tunnel to the rear axle was also becoming noticeably warm and also around the gear shift.
So things are definitely not improving, and it would appear that in that in cylinder #2 where the valve is sticking, it is perhaps getting well and truly cooked!
#2961 of 3858 Re: Corolla 4WD wagon - sticking valve repair - options? [peteline]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Sep 05, 2007 (9:02 pm)
I don't think you can have a sticking or burnt valve with 110 psi compression. I think the diagnosis is not correct.
110 psi should fire the cylinder just fine. Yes you might have a lumpy idle but if you had a burned valve or a sticking one your compression would be much lower than that.
Your valves might merely be tight or you could be heavily carbonized.
I wouldn't pull the head just yet, not by any means.
First I'd try a valve adjustment
Second I'd try to de-carbonize the engine.