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Old 02-08-2012, 03:12 AM   #1
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Default Auto Mechanics Here? Help?

My 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup has been running rough...but not all the time. 120,000 Mi. One morning I almost did not make it home, 35MPH tops and running bad, RPM up/down. Got it towed to shop, guy said computer showed timing issues so he replaced cam sensor but when he test drove it everything was fine before AND after.

A day later same thing, almost didn't make it home...drove to shop with engine no power again. He test drove it for 20 miles and not a hiccup...computer showed nothing. He reset computer again and checked harness and cleaned all connections. I picked it up ran fine...next morning same thing, barely running.

Limped into Dodge dealership for second opinion, diagnosis, stalled in parking lot. They ran it all day not a hiccup, computer said fine. Asked they keep overnight and test drive first thing in morning when I usually have problems. This time it acted up for them.

They did a compression test and said cylinder #2 low compression. Guaranteed a valve job would fix my problem, cost between $600-$3,000 depending on what it would need. I said ok, otherwise the truck is in good shape.

Next day they call and say bad news. Engine needs to be rebuilt! For about $5,000 just in labor! Now for $600 they got my heads off, another $600 just to put back together, not to fix. What happened to the guarantee?? He also didn't tell me up front $600 was just to pull the heads off and take a look.

I figure what do I do? Tell them to throw parts in back and have it towed home? So I told them to put back together. I am not getting an engine rebuild for one cylinder with low compression. He says it will run like before when done, bad but running. I figure it will at least be back together instead of parts rusting in the truck bed.

Looks like I am down $2,000 from both shops (other guy did water pump and oil change too and still at dealership getting put back together) maybe more and have a near worthless trade in and need to go truck shopping this weekend.

Did I do the right thing? Well, besides bitch to the owner for the service guy guaranteeing $3,000 max would fix my problem. Oh, he also told me they would only pull the head off with #2 and if real bad stop and call me. They pulled both and now I have to pay to have both put back on...jerk.

Thanks for reading all this if you did.

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Old 02-08-2012, 03:36 AM   #2
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I used to be a mechanic and the thing I always stood by was being a great tech and being affordable and this sounds like none apply. I would personally find a mom and pop shop to find you a used motor ( they are everywhere for that truck) and throw that in there for probably around $3,000. If the truck is still solid and the tranny isnt slipping I would throw money into it rather than trade it in. just my $.02 Good luck

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Old 02-08-2012, 03:48 AM   #3
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I used to be a mechanic and the thing I always stood by was being a great tech and being affordable and this sounds like none apply. I would personally find a mom and pop shop to find you a used motor ( they are everywhere for that truck) and throw that in there for probably around $3,000. If the truck is still solid and the tranny isnt slipping I would throw money into it rather than trade it in. just my $.02 Good luck
Yeah, I need to think about it but I got bit bad and I'm hesitant to be bitten again. They both told me the transmission is fine....but then again my truck is still messed up.

I like the first guy, but he just couldn't figure it out. Funny was when I told the guy at the dealership the other guy could not figure it out he gave a smart ass smile like "figures, an idiot, no problem we WILL figure it out"....then calls me the next day and said they too found nothing wrong.
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Old 02-08-2012, 03:51 AM   #4
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..should have know too when I saw the "$99.99 an hour rate" sign at the dealership, but I was getting desperate. It was $99.XX anyway

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Old 02-08-2012, 03:57 AM   #5
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Yeah dealerships are all about that price. I have always delt with the mom and pops except for when my cars under warranty, or do the work myself. The messier the shop the better the mechanic typically haha

Stealerships really get on my nerves sometimes. I have a 2012 Jeep wrangler and the trans is bad at 2,900 miles tried to tell me a shifter boot would fix it haha what a joke...

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Old 02-08-2012, 04:09 AM   #6
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Yeah, I think I learned my lesson this time. How does an engine that runs perfectly most of the time (I think in the morning it is colder??) all of a sudden need a complete rebuild? The other 7 cylinders have good compression!!

Yeah, dealerships never seem to just fix your car/truck...they want to completely rebuild the whole thing..with all new parts.

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Old 02-08-2012, 04:11 AM   #7
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What if the rings are bad on the #2 cylinder? Would require dropping the bottom half as well? Can just one cylinder be fixed?

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Old 02-08-2012, 07:51 AM   #8
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I doubt you'd have to go any lower than the head, as long as the piston is in good shape. If your low compression is due to piston rings, you'll most likely see some blue smoke. If I were to venture a guess, I'd say you have a problem in the head (broken/worn valve, or sticking valve or lifter) and the dealership wanted to rebuild due to the mileage.

The fact that it apparently flagged the cam sensor reinforces this guess.

When you have a computer controlled engine that is having issues like this, sensors may start over-reacting, causing anything from an engine light to the problems your having.

Have a trust-worthy shop (hard to find nowadays) listen to your story, and maybe ask them to pull the heads (or tell the dealer to eff off and tow your truck to the new shop) and diagnose the heads, along with looking for signs of serious wear on the rest of the engine.

If they find badly worn cylinder walls and metal in the oil, ditch your current engine for a rebuild one (I'd bet you could get a new long-block for the Dodge dealer for a better price than having them rebuild one).

Personally (and I'm doing this myself) I'd go to the dealer, ask for a replacement engine, and replace the whole thing. You'll wind up with a reliable replacement with a 3 year warranty on the engine.

Sorry about the length, but hopefully you can get good use out of at least some of my ramblings

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Old 02-08-2012, 09:00 AM   #9
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I doubt you'd have to go any lower than the head, as long as the piston is in good shape. If your low compression is due to piston rings, you'll most likely see some blue smoke. If I were to venture a guess, I'd say you have a problem in the head (broken/worn valve, or sticking valve or lifter) and the dealership wanted to rebuild due to the mileage.

The fact that it apparently flagged the cam sensor reinforces this guess.

When you have a computer controlled engine that is having issues like this, sensors may start over-reacting, causing anything from an engine light to the problems your having.

Have a trust-worthy shop (hard to find nowadays) listen to your story, and maybe ask them to pull the heads (or tell the dealer to eff off and tow your truck to the new shop) and diagnose the heads, along with looking for signs of serious wear on the rest of the engine.

If they find badly worn cylinder walls and metal in the oil, ditch your current engine for a rebuild one (I'd bet you could get a new long-block for the Dodge dealer for a better price than having them rebuild one).

Personally (and I'm doing this myself) I'd go to the dealer, ask for a replacement engine, and replace the whole thing. You'll wind up with a reliable replacement with a 3 year warranty on the engine.

Sorry about the length, but hopefully you can get good use out of at least some of my ramblings
No smoke at all. I think they are going overboard. All my dealings with dealerships were like that, they won't just simply fix the problem, they want to make it like new.

I am not against giving back to a local shop for another shot at fixing it...but I am out $1200 now...so?

I sent the owner and general manager an email describing my situation and how I felt and asked how would they feel being out $1200 and truck still broke? Maybe I will get a discount on the repair, hopefully no charge since they did nothing to help me.
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Old 02-08-2012, 09:49 AM   #10
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I second the possibility of a sensor, they can do very strange things to an otherwise healthy engine...but if u do indeed have low compression in a cylinder and ur handy with a wrench, I have pulled the heads, replaced the rings and then scuffed the cylinder walls and drove it like a bat outta hell for about 2 days straight to get a good seal. It worked for me...chasing gremlins blow, good luck

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