Catastrophic engine failure - share your stories

Joined
May 17, 2009
Messages
18,640
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N.H, U.S.A.
I bet @schwinney could tell us some whopper stories about his first subaru.

I have never blown an engine. I think arco is on his 15th or so. :LOL: :) 😉
No Third. Only three I recall that blew.
First, was an Audi 100LS, The timing chain roll pin fell out, lost time and bent the valves. Re-manned the heads.
Was on the highway heading to the Catskills a week later and a couple rods started knocking. turned up the radio. Then BOOM at 70 MPH. Ginat hole in teh block So much coolant and oil smoke couldn't see, drove to the right until I could feel the cable guardrail chewing the fenders off. Called a friend to pick us up.
Second was a junkyard 307 SBC in a V8 Vega GT conversion used as a mockup. It ran, so drove it for a week or so working out the build bugs. Got into an impromptu street race. Couldn't shift out of first as it was bound up under throttle - but stayed in it to win the race. Clang! chuckka chuckka. Snapped a rod in half. Piston stayed in the hole. Took that piston out and left the rod there and drove it as a 7 cylinder (!) until my 327 was ready.
Now, I forget the Third.

All these, when I was young, back in the 70's

My newer cars, we traded them away before they let go. And most were my wife's cars that I didn't drive!

Except: Ford Ranger (head gasket), Toyota Yaris ( VVT actuator), Honda Fit (noise and power loss after using LiquiMoly MoS2)

Oops! Gotta add a new 2014 Nissan Versa Note. Started knocking on the way to work first below freezing morning first 3 miles.
Brought to dear I demonstrated loud engine rap to their "lead mechanic" They blew me of and said the engine was "just breaking in". And the Mechanic smoked and glazed my clutch - the dope. I said disgusted, " No its just breaking! "and left. Traded the car a couple days later at same dealer for a '14 Rogue Select that served me well for five years and almost 70K miles - which is a lot for me.
I am sure there are more, but as I stated at the select committee hearing "I do not recall at the moment"

- Ken

exhibit a : Chinese Nissan OE filter assembly/ design which could cause restricted oil flow:
adequate clearance between 1.o fibreboard endcap and 2.o deep-drawn canister proper (< 0.20mm)

nissan filter.JPG
 
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Joined
Apr 12, 2009
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2,415
Location
Maryland
You're right! I have disliked Volkswagons ever since. They were both terrible cars. No heaters, no a/c, poor ventilation, leaked water through the so called air vents. UGH!
The problem was they were basically designed in the 40's for the european market. I too dis liked the lack of heat. And when things rusted you got carbon monoxide in with the warm air.
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2004
Messages
2,650
Location
Illinois
Only engine that blew in my presence belonged to a guy driving by in a Ford Escort. I was out in the yard and could hear this guy coming from several blocks away; it made all the knocking and clanging noises typical of an engine about to die. He went by our house, and my first instinct was to keep watching because it sounded like it was about to blow (I watched WAY too many "Cash for Clunkers" videos back in 2009). Sure enough, he barely got a block down the road before there was a loud bang, and a small fireball and a very large cloud of smoke emerged from below the car. He rolled to a stop beside the road, the car now completely silent.

The guy raised the hood and started waving his arms to clear the smoke. I walked over to look, and sure enough, the engine block had a large hole in the side of it, and hot smoking oil was all over the engine bay. A few of the engine's moving parts lay scattered in the road behind the car. The driver though was only slightly concerned and was certain he could get it running again. He hopped back in the car and tried to crank the engine, to no avail. He asked if I could give him a jump-start.... I pointed out the hole in the engine and the shrapnel in the road, but that didn't bother him at all. Eventually, he persuaded one of the neighbors to back out their car to try to jump him. I finally walked back home, but watched from a distance as the guy tried for about an hour to jump-start the car (he even called a friend or family member to try also) before finally throwing in the towel and calling a tow truck.
 

Shel_B

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It was around 1990 or so, and I was looking for an early 70s Mercedes to purchase. While driving to a friend's place in a neighboring community, I saw a 1972 300SEL 6.3 parked in a driveway with a For Sale sign on it. I grabbed the first parking spot that I could, went to the house, knocked on the door, and when the fellow opened the door, I explained who I was and what my interest was. We set an appointment for later that day for a test drive.

While at my friend's house I was getting excited thinking about a great test drive and maybe owning this gem of a Merc. I got back to the home of the Merc a few hours later all stoked for a late-afternoon adventure.

Getting into the car was in and of itself exciting. Those comfortable leather seats, the big steering wheel, and the wood trim all added to the excitement. Twisting the key got the big 6.3 started, and with a subtle and smooth rumble the big Merc said "Let's boogie!"

The car was everything I'd hoped for ... comfortable, powerful, and smooth. The suspension soaked up the bumps and vagaries of our rough city streets. I drove around town, went up into the hills for some twisties, and then headed for a little-used stretch of freeway where I planned to do the final leg of the test drive. In my mind, I was already writing the check.

We got to I580 and the approach to the Richmond-San Rafael bridge, and after cruising for a bit to get the feel of the big machine on the highway, I nailed it. I buried the loud pedal and the car picked up speed smoothly and rapdly. My butt told me it would be very happy in this seat.

As we approached 100mph there was a LOUD noise and the car slowed quickly. The engine had exploded, and I could see the oil slick behind the car as we coasted to a stop. The 8-quart capacity emptied through what we later discovered was a large hole in the block and a shredded oil pan. The poor (and soon to be poorer) owner mentioned that it would cost him $13,000 to replace the engine. While sad for the guy, I was very happy that this happened before I wrote that check. There was no way I could have afforded the car and a new engine.

We got the car towed back to his place and it remained parked in his driveway for more than a year before it disappeared.
 
Joined
Nov 8, 2019
Messages
309
Location
Michigan
In highschool a buddy of mine had a 90s chevy with a 6.5 diesel and he would cold start it at 25-30 below unplugged and immediately rev it to the moon. Made it 3 weeks into january before a rod said aight ima head out

Another friend in highschool missed his 5-4 downshift and went 5-2 at 70 mph in a 4 banger s10. Immediatelly began knocking and died soon after.
 
Joined
May 18, 2012
Messages
7,586
Location
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Only engine that blew in my presence belonged to a guy driving by in a Ford Escort. I was out in the yard and could hear this guy coming from several blocks away; it made all the knocking and clanging noises typical of an engine about to die. He went by our house, and my first instinct was to keep watching because it sounded like it was about to blow (I watched WAY too many "Cash for Clunkers" videos back in 2009). Sure enough, he barely got a block down the road before there was a loud bang, and a small fireball and a very large cloud of smoke emerged from below the car. He rolled to a stop beside the road, the car now completely silent.

The guy raised the hood and started waving his arms to clear the smoke. I walked over to look, and sure enough, the engine block had a large hole in the side of it, and hot smoking oil was all over the engine bay. A few of the engine's moving parts lay scattered in the road behind the car.
A dropped valve seat caused this.
 

4WD

$50 site donor 2023
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Sep 21, 2010
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Texas via IAH
My '66 GTO. The torque monster 389 was rebuilt by my brother. Man did I beat on that thing; it ate transmissions. Blew the engine accelerating HARD on an Expressway. Cam was in multiple pieces.
Wish I had that car today. Midnight blue on blue interior. The 1st gen GTOs were some of the most beautiful cars ever made.

A friend put a new Chev Targetmaster 350 in his big Chev 3/4 ton work truck with all the boxes. Heavy with all the tools. Bought it in a crate; installation was done by one of his shade tree mechanic friends.
The new engine threw a rod through the pan within a short time. Chevrolet offered a great warranty on this $1200 engine. They towed his truck to the nearest dealership and replaced the engine. Zero charge. Amazing.
Sounds exactly like BiL’s goat growing up - 2 speed - 80 mph in 1st and still chirped tires when it shifted 👀
 

OVERKILL

$100 Site Donor 2021
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But hey, it got there once! You've got my record beat. My Cosworth-Vega survived many excursions to 8000 rpm.
My 302 survived a 2nd at >6,000RPM to 1st (missed 3rd) the one time I screwed that up, have no idea how high it wound, needle went right off the end of the tach, I stuffed that clutch back in so fast...
 
Joined
Feb 26, 2005
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3,577
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Kansas, USA
Haven't had one yet.. the Briggs powered mower technically blew up after I handed the reins to my son. His reaction was priceless. Hopefully at 12 that'll be his last engine he blows up 😂 Interesting I gave dad a mower that blew up in the same fashion. Ran fine for me!
 
Joined
Apr 1, 2020
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Pacific Northwest
Haven't had one yet.. the Briggs powered mower technically blew up after I handed the reins to my son. His reaction was priceless. Hopefully at 12 that'll be his last engine he blows up 😂 Interesting I gave dad a mower that blew up in the same fashion. Ran fine for me!
Sounds like you might have some sub conscious ability to know when an engine is going to let loose
 
Joined
Jul 14, 2014
Messages
870
Location
Wisconsin
I used to race oval track cars. Had quite a few catastrophic failures. I learned that 42* advanced timing on those engines was too much. Not much salvageable from that. Wish I would have taken pictures of some of the damage.

But I did take a pic from about 4 years ago from a 800cc two stroke engine that had a rod bearing on the crank fail. Made a mess out of the lower case. Not much good from that engine either.

3F25C885-C9B7-4A22-AADF-8E9EE44A31A8.jpeg
 
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Joined
Oct 7, 2012
Messages
3,785
Location
Staten Island, NY
I wrote the death certificate for a 2.4 Theta Sonata back when their failures weren't widely understood

"It needs a starter" said the owner 😒

Oh shove it I said, couldn't bar it over with a 3 foot breaker bar and my excessive frame jumping up and down on it

Glad I got to see it before it got towed to the dealer, it took 3+ qts of oil to register full on the stick

As for the high mileage hero 2AZ in Project xB, only time will tell 😳
 
Joined
Feb 12, 2018
Messages
554
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California
But hey, it got there once! You've got my record beat. My Cosworth-Vega survived many excursions to 8000 rpm.
It was tired and worn out with darn near 400k miles, burned a 1qt of oil weekly. I forced it into second gear somewhere around 90 mph. Top speed redline was 60mph in 2cd. Tach went to 8k, I was way passed that pointing straight down. I'm assuming it was around 9500. For sure over 9k
 
Joined
Aug 10, 2005
Messages
4,046
Location
Kansas City
You're right! I have disliked Volkswagons ever since. They were both terrible cars. No heaters, no a/c, poor ventilation, leaked water through the so called air vents. UGH!
Just think, if Germany won the war and the world, we would still be driving them.
 
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