"Cranks, won't start" (1989 MB 560 SL 112k mi.)
No fuel pressure. Fuel pump relay. Common problem. Note burned pin. Note date on relay; they don't last, which is why the failure is common.


"Won't start" 1977 Datsun 280Z
No compression in cylinder 3. Rocker arm has disengaged from valve stem, dislodging shim. Probably valve float due to over rev.


Engine Quit (1994 Volvo 960 120k mi.)
Timing belt broke. Piston struck the valves, bending the stems. Note all four valves locked in open position, and showing strike marks from the piston. The belt should have been changed at 70k or 7 yrs.


"Won't Start" (1978 240D, 312k mi.)
Non OEM glow plugs draw too much current and repeatedly blew the control module fuse. Someone's fix was to replace the fuse with a jumper wire! So now the circuit board is burned out. Saving $40.00 on glow plugs cost $300.00 for a new control module.


"Exhaust smoking" 2008 Cayman, 19k mi.
We thought the smoke was coolant from a blown head gasket. Wrong. It was coolant from a cracked cylinder/block. Click the photo. Porsche accepts a 2% failure rate in this engine. Low mileage? Out of warranty? Too bad. Good job, VW.


See Below
The Foreign Object. Stripped Oil Pan drain threads had been repaired with a Helicoil (Left). The ear used for insertion is designed to be removed (note notch in final coil turn). The ear (Right) somehow got into the oil pan, was picked up by and damaged the oil pump, and was found in the oil filter. It matches the marks on the oil pump impeller (below) perfectly.


"Bearing Noise" (1985 BMW 535i)
The bearings were ruined by oil starvation because the oil pump was damaged by a foreign object. This is the oil pump impeller.


1987 Mercedes 260
I'll just change my own head gasket. Cam timing? What's that. I'll just turn it over with the starter. What is that clanging noise? Won't start. Wonder why.


"Won't start" ('97 BMW 318 148k mi.)
Epoxy and FENCE WIRE. Yet another first. Inspired creativity if you were stuck in the desert during World War III.


'Dash lights came on, then the car quit.' ('06 MB S 500, 44k miles)
When the alternator quits, the car runs on the battery. As voltage drops, warning lights come on, then when the battery dies, so does the car. When the new alternator would not charge, we discovered the main 150 Amp fuse blew when the old alternator shorted out. Another fire averted. Life is crazy that way.


Won't Start ('98 BMW 328, 188k mi.)
The Engine Control Unit has been submerged in water entering the computer bay due to a clogged cowl drain. Common problem in the E36. This was in fact at least the second unit for this car.


"Died, Won't start" ('98 Z3 1.9 138k mi.)
After going through the entire 'no start' algorithm we were stumped. Until Perry had a brainstorm. "What if...?" Sure enough, the crank sensor (reluctor) ring is missing a whole section of teeth. So the crank sensor gets an incorrect signal. See:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crank_sensor


"Engine went BLAM." ('03 Volvo S 80)
This is what is left of a connecting rod bearing after overheating has welded it to the connecting rod journal. The rest of the smithereens are in the oil pan. See 'Blam' below.


"Engine went BLAM" ('03 Volvo S80 2.9)
Engine lost all its oil. Connecting rod 3 seized, broke loose, and knocked a hole in the side of the block.


'Engine not running right' ('87 MB 450 166k mi)
The timing is askew because the hydraulic chain tensioner reached the end of its travel as the chain stretched with age. The chain has also abraded the guides (photo) until one end broke. Luckily, the broken end did not dislodge the chain. a potential disaster.


'Running erratically' '72 MB 280 (47,000 original miles)
A layer of rusty sludge coated the bottom of the fuel tank, and had entered and clogged the fuel filter. The photo shows the tank end of the fuel line. The car had been sitting for 25 years.


"Rough Idle" ('83 MB 300 TD)
The Turbo Diesels have a special idle screw. At 369,000 miles the obvious wear has caused improper fuel flow. Click the Photo.


"Wont start" ('79 MB V8)
This is the underside of the mechanical 'Fuel Distributor.' The central pin, essentially the throttle, is stuck in the 'in' or full throttle position. The car sat in storage for decades, and the whole mechanism is clogged with gummy bears.


"Engine quit, turns over, won't start" ('91 MB 190 2.3)
Dr. Doofus said 'No compression, the engine is blown' Closer inspection shows that the cam sprocket is so worn that the timing chain jumped off. Unusual wear at only 140,000 miles suggests dirty oil. Compare the worn sprocket to the new one by clicking the photo.


"Overheating" ('86 MB)
Textbook blown head gasket. Hot cylinder gas escapes into the coolant, which does not cool the cylinder as well as liquid. The engine, while hot, was not damaged.


'No acceleration' ('01 MB SLK)
In modern cars, the gas pedal is no longer connected to the engine. A wire plugs into the sensor in the white edged box. When the sensor failed, the engine received no GO signal. The new assembly is entirely plastic. "Engineered like no other." Indeed.


"Engine Just Quit" (96 Mitsu 3000GT)
Crank position sensor was struck by the crank pulley's rotor (the bent flange). This was a rebuilt engine, improperly assembled. It lasted three weeks.


'Car will not go' ('91 Volvo 960)
Engine Coolant has leaked into the transmission through the Radiator/Transmission inter cooler. This awful brew looks like, but does not taste like, chocolate milk; and it does not work well as transmission fluid. Luckily, the Transmission is not ruined. Yet.


'Dr. Doofus told me I need a head gasket' ('94 BMW 525)
Zero compression in this cylinder and steam from the exhaust suggested a blown head gasket. Upon closer inspection the head has a crack from the water passage to near the Exhaust valve. Another consequence of allowing the engine to overheat Click on the photo.


'Engine stumbles at 40 mph ('84 MB 300SD)
Strainer in the gas tank is gagged up with 355,000 miles of diesel sludge. Only 40 mph worth of gas can get through. Not bad.


"Losing Power" ('99 BMW 528, 100k miles)
Another 'Bulletproof' engine. With a burned valve. Never been to Canada.


"Engine is missing..."
...missing an exhaust valve! The Volvo 2.4L 5 Cylinder engine is generally bulletproof. The only plausible explanation for this burned valve is crapppy gas. The family took an extended trip to Canada where octane is low and price is high. They bought the cheapest gas they could find. Blame Canada.


My engine is running rough ('99 BMW 528)
Some genius installed Autolite plugs. BMW's super high voltage coils (one for each plug) require the right plug- Bosch. If you have a nice car, you should treat it right. It was Jif Quick.


My ignition key turns, but nothing happens ('85 MB 190)
The key cylinder behind this shaft unlocks the steering wheel and connects to the ignition wiring at this end. The lock works, the steering lock works, the ignition works. But they no longer connect and all must be replaced.


'My engine quit on the way to the Dentist' ('89 Volvo 740)
This is the accessory belt pulley, which came loose from the crankshaft. The crank wore the shoulder visible beside the screwdriver as it spun inside the pulley. The belt stopped turning, the alternator quit charging and the battery went dead.


'My engine quit on the way to the market' (99 VW Golf TDI)
The vacuum pot on the throttle body broke. VW will not sell you a five dollar pot, you must buy the $157.00 Throttle Body. Note that the pot is actually designed to be replaced.


'Engine Quit' (Porsche 928)
This screw was sucked from the crankcase and lodged in the Oil Pump. The oil pump seized and threw the timing belt. Click to enlarge. Note thread marks on the impeller vane.


'Engine is Running Rough' (Volvo 240)
Wrong Distributor Rotor. Carved its way around the distributor cap, ultimately missing contacts. Jif-Auto did not have the right part, but this was close.


'No power'
This is the Air Mass Sensor which tells the computer how much fuel to inject. It measures by sensing the change in electrical resistance caused by the movement of cold air. When it becomes inaccurate, the engine can't manage itself properly.


'Doktor Doofus says I need a new engine'
Engine will not turn over because flywheel is jammed by a foreign object. The rear engine seal bolt had backed out and was ground up by the flywheel until a piece caught just right. 89 Volvo 740 with 178,419 miles. Click the photo.


'No power'
One cause: Aged, spongy, split vacuum line. People have asked how the quarter got inside the hose. It is holding the hose open so you can see the deterioration inside.


'Engine won't start' (Volvo)
One cause: Plugs are way past their expected life time. Remember Aretha Franklin's big hit: N*E*G*L*E*C*T ?


'Engine is running rough'
One cause: While modern computer controlled cars no longer need points, they do need plugs. These are about three times past their design life. BMW in this case. Many Manufacturers now use 100,000 mile plugs. We recommend you change plugs after 60,000 miles.


'My engine stumbles'
Age ('97) and heat have deteriorated a vacuum line. The hose actually is gooey.


'No power' ('86 Volvo)
Engine Overheated, Blew head gasket (brown discoloration) and Burned the (smaller) exhaust valve. Click for closeup.


'Engine just quit out on the Interstate' ('98 BMW 528)
On the phone when the car warned her of overheating, she did not see the warning light. When your engine overheats, you should: (a.) STOP (b.) Check your Bank account and keep going.


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