Metal shavings in oil - clogged VVT solenoids - Saturn Sky Forums: Saturn Sky Forum
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post #1 of 44 (permalink) Old 12-18-2014, 05:57 PM Thread Starter
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Metal shavings in oil - clogged VVT solenoids

My 07 redline (160,000 miles) was experiencing a rough "rocking" idle here and there recently, just before my last oil change. On my last change, I put in a bottle of Rislone thinking it was sticking valves. That seemed to help but not cure the issue. I also noticed in the oil when drained little bits of metal shavings. Not much, just a glistening.

Then, just last week it threw a P0011 code, while doing the rocking idle. Google says it's the VVT solenoids on the top of the engine and they are typical to fail. Ordered Dorman 917-215,216 from Amazon and replaced these today.....

Well....... the old solenoids, which electrically tested fine, were clogged up with these bits of metal shavings!!!

The good news is, the engine is purring like a kitten now. Even when it wasn't rocking back and forth, it didn't sound 'well' at idle, and seemed sluggish when stepping on it. No more of that.

But, I am worried about what is causing these metal bits, and what happens when it runs out of metal.

The bits are magnetic, and I guess I will be buying a magnetic oil plug as well. Anything else anyone can suggest checking/doing to prevent this from becoming a big problem?
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post #2 of 44 (permalink) Old 12-18-2014, 06:12 PM
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First off, if you can see a metallic glisten to your oil, you have A LOT of metal in your oil. Usually it takes an oil test at a lab to determine how much metal is in your oil as the particles are usually microscopic. If it is that visible where you can SEE shavings, you already have a big problem. Best you can do now is figure out what the big problem is and address it before it becomes a catastrophic problem.

Now, I would consult Dave at DDM or Bill over at Hahn for a better idea of what you're looking at but just using the limited knowledge I have on these engines I'm betting that is bearing material.

The reason I say this is our blocks and heads are aluminum. Aluminum isn't magnetic. If it was a piston ring and you had that much ring material in your oil you'd be burning through oil quickly and the engine probably would have failed by now. If it was piston material then your rings would have already been worn away and see my last comment for why I feel this isn't the case. If it were from a valve or spring and they were giving off that much material again, I'd think the valve would be failing and it would either have broke causing a whole ton of racket under your hood and causing a misfire or you'd have no compression in that cylinder which would also cause a misfire. Any misfire and you would have a flashing check engine light.

That leaves your camshafts, crankshaft, connecting rods, and their bearings. In all these locations the bearings usually go before the shafts or rods. Usually metal in your oil is a sign of your bearings going.

Regardless, as you're seeing metal shavings in the oil will cause other issues such as sensor problems. In addition, metal in the oil gets circulated through your engine. This free floating metal is going to act like sand paper and accelerate whatever wear is causing the metal shavings in the first place causing the bearing to eventually fail. It can also plug very small oil passages such as the ones that actually feed the bearings to lubricate them. Blocking this lubrication can cause a bearing to overheat and fail. Once a bearing fails completely you have catastrophic engine damage.

Right now you can probably pull the engine, have it cleaned out, and then rebuilt. If you wait, you may find yourself replacing the engine completely because there is a hole in the block after a con rod snaps and punches through it.

Good news is you may not have to take the engine out to figure out where this metal is coming from. Talk to a lab that does oil testing and see what you have to send into them for an oil test where they analyze it and tell you all the different materials in the oil. By determining what kind of metal it is, you may have a better idea of where it is coming from.

Once again though, I recommend contacting someone who is an expert in the Ecotec engine and seeing what they say.


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Last edited by Robotech; 12-18-2014 at 06:34 PM.
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post #3 of 44 (permalink) Old 12-18-2014, 06:37 PM
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Wow, going for the magic 200,000 miles mark

Here's hoping you can eek out another 40K miles and start looking for another SKY.
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post #4 of 44 (permalink) Old 12-18-2014, 06:39 PM
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You can make it stronger...faster...(Cue 6 mil dollar man theme)

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Here's hoping you can eek out another 40K miles and start looking for another SKY.
Shows how different we think. I'm thinking now would be a good time to go Cleavite bearings, ARP studs throughout, some J&E pistons, better rods, maybe some head work and balance the whole thing...

...then work on putting out 500-600 hp...

...but that's just me.


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Last edited by Robotech; 12-18-2014 at 06:42 PM.
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post #5 of 44 (permalink) Old 12-18-2014, 07:04 PM
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im guessing here, but either one of the rod/main bearings is going bad, or you need to rebuild the turbo on the car. Check the turbo for shaft play to steer you in the right direction.

Either way, your motor is on borrowed time. Its not if, but when it will fail.

I am looking for a project Sky. If you want to make a deal, let me know!
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post #6 of 44 (permalink) Old 12-18-2014, 07:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miller11386 View Post
im guessing here, but either one of the rod/main bearings is going bad, or you need to rebuild the turbo on the car. Check the turbo for shaft play to steer you in the right direction.

Either way, your motor is on borrowed time. Its not if, but when it will fail.

I am looking for a project Sky. If you want to make a deal, let me know!
Good catch on the possibility of the turbo bearings. I totally forgot about the ones in there since I'm so use to being Supercharged or NA...


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post #7 of 44 (permalink) Old 12-18-2014, 07:31 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miller11386 View Post
im guessing here, but either one of the rod/main bearings is going bad, or you need to rebuild the turbo on the car. Check the turbo for shaft play to steer you in the right direction.

Either way, your motor is on borrowed time. Its not if, but when it will fail.

I am looking for a project Sky. If you want to make a deal, let me know!
How can I access the turbo shaft to see if it has any movement (other than spinning )?

If it's not the turbo, then I would consider selling as an engine rebuild would cost too close to the car's value for my liking.

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post #8 of 44 (permalink) Old 12-18-2014, 07:40 PM
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Keep it running . . .

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post #9 of 44 (permalink) Old 12-18-2014, 09:10 PM
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Remove the intake and grab the nut that hold the fins either with your fingers or a pair of needle nose and look for play "side to side" and "in and out"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVTdJ7AQsZw



This one is clearly bad..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVTdJ7AQsZw

these turbos on stock cars are journal bearing, so they have a little play, however the odds of the turbo being bad are slim... its easy to check on though.

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post #10 of 44 (permalink) Old 12-19-2014, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ku4zs View Post
How can I access the turbo shaft to see if it has any movement (other than spinning )?

If it's not the turbo, then I would consider selling as an engine rebuild would cost too close to the car's value for my liking.
Two things with that.

One, the value of your car with an engine with metal in it is nearly $0 as, like you said, if the person buying it knows there is metal in the oil they're going to have to rebuild it and thus offer you WELL below blue book.

Two, if you don't tell them the engine needs a rebuild then I feel sorry for whoever gets that car. I really hope you have more integrity than that. (Not saying you don't have integrity...I don't know you...just throwing this out there since this IS and option you have.)

Three, if the car is paid for then rebuilding the engine will give you another 7 years plus of enjoyment out of the car if everything else is mechanically sound with it. Sure it sucks, but if you build it REALLY stout then you may get even more life out of it.

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post #11 of 44 (permalink) Old 12-19-2014, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miller11386 View Post
im guessing here, but either one of the rod/main bearings is going bad, or you need to rebuild the turbo on the car. Check the turbo for shaft play to steer you in the right direction.

Either way, your motor is on borrowed time. Its not if, but when it will fail.

I am looking for a project Sky. If you want to make a deal, let me know!
Definitely something to look at and even if there is not much shaft play with that much metal running through the turbo, it would be a really good idea to rebuild it.

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post #12 of 44 (permalink) Old 01-04-2015, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
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I want to remove the valve cover to see if the shavings are coming from the cams. The oil I drained from the oil pan had very little metal shavings in it, just enough to catch my eye. But the VVT solenoids had a lot! The oil filter didn't show any metal shavings that I could see. It seems whatever is causing this is lies after the oil filter but before the VVT solenoids (in terms of oil flow).

There was a pretty solid piece that came out with the VVT solenoids, that was shaped like a flat curved sliver. Bearings wouldn't produce this shape of wear off, right?

I'm looking over the pictures from this: Piston Ring Failure (lots of pics of inside an LNF) - Cobalt SS Network

That one larger piece does resemble the surface of the cams. Do I need to drain the oil completely to remove the cam cover, and/or replace the gasket for it if I do?

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post #13 of 44 (permalink) Old 01-04-2015, 11:03 PM
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I have removed mine and replaced with the same gasket, no problem. the hoses are another thing. Be sure you remove them both or you can knock the gasket off. The back bolt is kind of a pain, just go slow. When putting back on, I zip tied all the hose and wires away from the area, made it a lot easier.

Sorry to hear of your problems, hope everything turns out okay and if needed easily fixed.
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post #14 of 44 (permalink) Old 01-07-2015, 04:51 PM
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No you do not have to drain the oil to remove the cam cover.
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post #15 of 44 (permalink) Old 01-08-2015, 11:12 AM
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I agree with the guys that say deal with it now. If it were my car it would be parked until I figured out what was going on, but for sure there is no future for an engine with steel bits circulating inside it. I'd advise that you get it pulled apart (maybe after you pop the cam cover to see if you can localize the issue). You've got some good mileage on it now and if you give it new rings and bearings it should last a long time (might want to spin it enough before you tear it down to see what the compression is - maybe you can get away with a bottom end rebuild).

Good luck and let us know what the problem turns out to be - you are the pioneer for those of us with lower mileages.

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