Author Topic: My car exploded  (Read 7196 times)

Offline Sir Thrift-a-Lot

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My car exploded
« on: August 17, 2013, 12:50:18 PM »
So I put Jerome in the car to do errands and it was hot so I started the engine and turned on the AC. Then Gale got in and as I was loading stuff into the back it stalled. I noticed a smell like starter fluid from the exhaust. The car has 105,000 miles on it so I expect these types of things from time to time. Old cars, first world problems. So I start it again (it's still hot in there) and went back to load in. Suddenly there was a HUGE sound like a gunshot. Smoke started pouring out of the engine compartment. I was in the garage screaming at Gale to get Jerome out of the car (I didn't know if the whole thing was about to go up in flames). Our neighbor from two doors up (a volunteer fireman) comes running down with his radio in hand because "I heard a gunshot and screaming". He is a good man.

What do you think caused this? All of the smoke was pouring out of the crack seen in the pictures. Is that (possibly) fixable or do I have to figure out how to get another car?   I'm really bummed out because I just spent a fair amount of time and some cash getting this thing inspected for another year.





I guess I won't be making the meeting tonight.

Offline papabearjew

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Re: My car exploded
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2013, 01:16:09 PM »
Don't forget I'm a bugler if you need me to sound taps...
Hopefully it's repairable and not dead.

Offline Sir Thrift-a-Lot

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Re: My car exploded
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2013, 01:18:00 PM »
Don't forget I'm a bugler if you need me to sound taps...


 ;D

Offline sk1335

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Re: My car exploded
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2013, 01:20:35 PM »
Should be an easy and inexpensive fix - looks like you need a new injection manifold
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Offline Sir Thrift-a-Lot

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Re: My car exploded
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2013, 01:28:06 PM »
Should be an easy and inexpensive fix - looks like you need a new injection manifold

I like easy and inexpensive.   Any chance that the explosion cracked the block?

Tom, do you have an injection manifold on either of your Windstars?

SunnyDaze

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Re: My car exploded
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2013, 02:40:40 PM »
Mark, is this by chance a Ford / Mercury 3.0 / 3.8?

Offline Sir Thrift-a-Lot

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Re: My car exploded
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2013, 03:14:42 PM »
3.8L V6

Offline Sir Thrift-a-Lot

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Re: My car exploded
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2013, 03:16:02 PM »
Ford Windstar.   I guess I didn't mention that.   Tom already sold me some parts from one he is boning out, so I guess I just assumed.

SunnyDaze

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Re: My car exploded
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2013, 04:11:44 PM »
First, has the truck been displaying any issues as of late? A drastic change in gas mileage, idling high, a check engine light?

Ford began using those composite intake manifolds in the early 90s. The "early" runs are notorious for experiencing failure. If you decide to replace the manifold, I highly recommend purchasing a Dorman aftermarket unit as they have revised the design with greatly improved reliability.

One possibility is that the first "stall" that you experienced while running the AC was the manifold initially cracking. As a result, an influx of unmetered air could have entered the engine creating a lean condition, resulting in ignition failure and thus the "stall". When you re-started the vehicle after the crack occurred, the engine was most likely operating under a very lean condition. Typically all air that enters your engine passes through (and is metered by) the Mass Air Flow sensor located just upstream from the air filter box. The MAF sends a signal to the ECU, which determines the proper air / fuel ratio. The unmetered air that entered through the crack causing the lean condition most likely resulted in a misfire scenario in the form of a loud backfire, (combustion when an intake valve or valves were open) allowing the flame front to travel backward through the lower and upper intake manifolds. Sadly, the weak point of that intake system is the upper intake, so the backfire would have cracked the already failed manifold even further. This scenario does explain the smoke coming from under the hood as well.

If this first scenario is indeed what happened, then most likely no damage occurred to anything other than the upper intake manifold itself. On a Taurus or Sable, this is not a difficult repair, however the restricted engine compartment of the Windstar makes it a bit more of a PITA.

Another scenario, albeit less probable, is some sort of ignition timing failure. "Timing" so to speak is the harmony of the rotating mass of the engine (crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, camshafts) and the associated valvetrain components in conjunction with fuel delivery. When an engine is properly timed, the ignition process occurs slightly before the maximum excursion of a piston in a cylinder when undergoing a combustion stroke. This is phrased as "X degrees before top dead center". If you have some sort of issue that resulted in a timing error, then a backfire is certainly possible. Again, if a backfire occurs, the weak spot in the top end of your engine is the upper intake manifold, thus explaining the crack. What could cause an ignition timing failure? That depends on whether or not your Windstar is distributorless or has a distributor. What year is this thing?

It's most likely the first scenario. Chances are you'll bolt a new upper intake on and it'll fire right up, assuming proper installation.

If it is the second scenario, then you would have most likely been experiencing a poorly running engine beforehand.


Either way, you did not crack the engine block. I've never seen an engine that isn't highly modified with a "cracked" engine block.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2013, 04:24:07 PM by SunnyDaze »

Offline Sir Thrift-a-Lot

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Re: My car exploded
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2013, 04:27:56 PM »
No symptomatic warning at all.   Ran fine yesterday.   We did have some ignition work done a couple years ago, but nothing recent.   The check engine light is a permanent fixture on our dash.

Your post is very helpful.   Are you a mechanic?

What should I look for with gasketing the new manifold?   Do I need a torque wrench?

Offline Sir Thrift-a-Lot

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Re: My car exploded
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2013, 04:31:29 PM »
2002 Windstar, BTW.   I see those Dormans are about a c-note.   If Tom has a good one on his parts car, can I just get a new gasket?

SunnyDaze

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Re: My car exploded
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2013, 04:39:38 PM »
Straight out of high school a few friends and I purchased a garage. I did that for almost 8 years until I went to college. Most of the guys now own their own shops, so I keep up on things and go turn wrenches when I'm bored, when they're behind, or when I need extra cash. I keep my ASE certifications as well.

Tell me what year the truck is and I'll send you a link to the Dorman kit. It should include all necessary gaskets (upper intake to lower intake, sometimes called a plenum gasket, throttle body gasket, idle air control valve gasket, and possibly a few other o rings and small seals.

Do you need a torque wrench? No, but, go to any Advance Auto parts and loan one. You pay a deposit, you use the tool, you return the tool and get your cash.

You can also have someone scan the vehicle before you do the repair and determine which code or codes caused the check engine light to come on to rule out the oddball ignition failure scenario. Scan tools are relatively inexpensive and simple to use. You may even have a friend who owns one.

Again, if it ran fine yesterday and days before, it is most likely upper intake manifold failure. It's a known issue and it's common, however, I've turned enough wrenches and ate enough of my own words to never tell someone that a scenario is absolute before properly diagnosing the issue.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2013, 04:54:17 PM by SunnyDaze »

SunnyDaze

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Re: My car exploded
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2013, 04:48:03 PM »
It seems as if they made 2003 Windstars with and without distributors. Do you happen to know if yours is one with a distributor or is it a DIS (distributorless ignition system) model?

In all honesty, using another Ford production manifold is not a great idea. You'll most likely spend at least 1/2 the price of the Dorman manifold in gaskets from either Fel-Pro or Ford, plus the additional time you've got wrapped up into sourcing all of the individual gaskets, hoping they are the correct part, etc...

Plus, it sounds corny, but, if that manifold failure occurs while you are driving and your engine stalls, you lose steering and braking ability. Protect yourself, your passengers, and your fellow motorists by doing it right the first time and being done with it. :)

Offline Sir Thrift-a-Lot

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Re: My car exploded
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2013, 05:04:07 PM »
Yes, I see that the gasket kit is half the cost or more.   I already figured that one out for myself.

I do have a friend with a scanner.   Doesn't the car have to be running to scan it?

It is a 2002 Windstar 3.8L V6.

SunnyDaze

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Re: My car exploded
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2013, 05:08:22 PM »
The car doesn't need to be running to view a code as long as it stored in the ECU. If you wanted to view live data then the car would have to be running, but, scan tools that display live data feeds are very expensive and are usually only owned by professionals.


 

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