6

A local repair shop recently replaced the engine in my 06 Pontiac Solstice. They obtained a used engine from LKQ. I'm not sure how many miles the replacement engine had (unfortunately).

Wednesday night, the engine blew. Under light acceleration, I heard a single, loud POP, the car shut off, and I coasted to the side of the road. A LOT of oil drained out, looked like all of it. I couldn't see any indication of a hole in the oil pan or anywhere else. Also, most of the coolant drained out.

So, relevant points:

  • The oil that came out, with less than 2000 miles on it, was black.

  • Car has an aftermarket turbo, which was also on the previous engine. The shop moved this over when they installed the new engine. Also replaced clutch, water pump and thermostat.

  • When I picked up the car, it had a weird drivetrain vibration I've described elsewhere. The shop replaced the transmission mount afterwards. That reduced the vibration but did not eliminate it.

  • I ran a compression test a few weeks ago and found 120/120/140/140. Spec for this motor is 150.

  • Occasionally, when starting, the engine would idle pretty roughly for 5-10 seconds before settling into a smooth idle.

  • I checked the oil a few days ago when filling up the gas tank, and found it about a quart low. I topped it off with a quart of Mobil 1, level looked fine.

  • When the engine blew, I wasn't going very fast, and wasn't under heavy boost. I was turning left at about 25-30MPH. I could see that leading to oil starvation if the level was really low, but it wasn't. I also have no evidence of a leak or anything in my driveway or elsewhere.

  • For about the past week, there was a weird problem with starting. After parking, the car would refuse to turn over, almost as if the battery was dead. I disconnected and reconnected the negative battery cable (each time this happened), and then the car would start fine. I suspect some corrosion on the terminal. Note that we've had some pretty heavy rain and, at one point, the ECU and battery both got a little wet.

I'm waiting for the shop to get back to me. I know they didn't look at it yesterday as it was in exactly the same place I had dropped it when I drove past at the end of the day.

Suggestions on how to handle this if the shop doesn't cover it? Should I expect them to cover it, considering how recently this happened, the weird vibration, etc.? Is there any way to really determine if the engine was bad when it went in (making this LKQ's fault rather than that of the shop)?

Any and all advice appreciated. I don't want to hold them liable if it wasn't there fault, but after spending a significant chunk of cash, I think it would be reasonable to expect the engine to last longer than this.

Update The shop called back. Apparently a rod is protruding from the side of the block. Yay.

They've said that they'll cover the labor for replacing the engine. We're not yet sure if LKQ is going to honor their warranty due to the aftermarket turbo. However, this type of failure, in my opinion, couldn't be caused by the turbo. The engine wasn't overheated, low on oil or coolant, or anything else. It appears that it was just an old, tired engine, that was on its last legs when we obtained it.

Any suggestions on appealing if LKQ doesn't honor their warranty?

Update 2 So, LKQ won't warranty the engine because of the aftermarket turbo. I fail to see how a turbo can cause an engine to throw a rod. It wasn't low on oil, hadn't been overheated, etc. It just gave up.

The shop had initially implied that they were going to cover the labor, but now they've said that they are not. Wonderful.

On the up side, I've had this car apart so many times that I don't think it'll take more than a weekend or two to get a new engine installed. I'm glad that this isn't my daily driver.

  • 1
    I wish I could provide you with some useful advice ... the key here is junk yard engines sometimes aren't all they are cracked up to be. I might suggest you find a used engine and have it rebuilt with quality parts. Pay for it one time and be done. You could also have a lower compression ratio built into it so you could turn up the boost more, plus have a blower profile cam put into it. All of it would cost more, but then you'd be "one-and-done" ... probably never need to worry about the engine again. LKQ not warrantying the engine is a load of crap. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 10 '15 at 18:57
  • You've had issues with the engine since day one, with or without the turbo. Unfortunately, they'll find anyway they can not to warrant the engine as a lot of places will do. No fun at all. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 10 '15 at 18:58
  • @Paulster2 yeah, that's about where I'm at. Looking at cam, bottom end, etc. If I never see the engine after this again, it'll be too soon. – 3Dave Nov 10 '15 at 18:59
  • I think that's a really good choice. I know it costs a bit more up front, but for the amount of money you've already put into it you'd have been better off starting there in the first place. The biggest thing I can say to you is to make sure the shop you choose to do your work is reputable. I'm sure there are plenty of shops in the Dallas/Ft Worth area which will be more than happy to take your money. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 10 '15 at 19:02
  • You could always drop an LS1 in it :D – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 10 '15 at 19:03
6

Having spent a few years in a shop I completely understand LKQ not honoring a warranty for this engine.

In their warranty document it's pretty clear that almost nothing is covered.

The way the manufacturer looks at the aftermarket turbo is this.

If you are increasing the volumetric efficiency beyond what the engine was intended to handle regarding power then you are potentially compromising the integrity of the engine.

A turbo is going to add quite a bit of additional power to the vehicle. The addition of the turbo does multiple things to the motor.

  1. Increased force on the piston

  2. Increased force on the wrist pin

  3. Increased force on the connecting rod

  4. Increased force on the offset journal and bearings

  5. Increased force on the crankshaft

  6. Increased force on the big end conrod bearing cap

I would bet money that the failure in the connecting rod occured at the bearing cap and that the bolts broke holding the bearing cap and the offset journal knocked the rod out of the side of the motor.

Considering the amount of additional force within the motor it isn't reasonable to expect the manufacturer to warranty it. You could consider the turbo a racing component even though you may not have been racing.

I have never seen a manufacturer warranty an aftermarket forced induction products other than Toyota on their TRD superchargers for their V6 line, which are covered under the Toyota warranty if a Toyota dealership installs them.

If you covered the warranty aspects with the shop and that the motor would have a warranty and they installed it with your aftermarket turbo it is their responsibility to communicate to you that you would be voiding the warranty. After all, they are the experts, right?

  • Thanks for the detailed response. I understand what you're saying. Oddly enough, there no sign of detonation. Other three (intact) rod bearings look fine. Oh well. Currently rebuilding engine #2 (this was #3) which from all appearances just needed a ring job - which the service manual says to do In the car, and certainly cost less than the $3600 this debacle cost. Argh. – 3Dave Dec 15 '15 at 17:53
  • That's a rough go. My buddy put a supercharger on his roadrunner 25 years ago. We started it, he revved the motor one time and it blew a conrod out the side immediately. The look on his face....the same as when I witnessed a friend telling their 6 year old their puppy died. Expensive hobbies we have. Best to you. – DucatiKiller Dec 15 '15 at 19:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.