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Old 12-29-2020, 10:05 PM #1
EvergreenPearl EvergreenPearl is offline
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HELP: A big screw up and a mystery after valve cover gasket job

OK, I'm at my wits end with this and need HELP. Just finished a valve cover gasket job and now have a crank no start situation.

First, the big screwup:

Despite many warnings from @mtbtim and others, I broke off a piece of the plastic "wire protector" and dropped it down into my engine on the drivers side. It was about 3/4 inch square. I even removed a cam shaft to try and get it out, but it was GONE down into the large cavity at the front of the drivers side that I really hope leads to the exhaust and will just shoot the plastic through until it causes problems with the cat down the road. That's my best case scenario with that. Ugh.

Now the mystery:

There is a lonely brass bolt that screws into the rear drivers side corner of the lower plenum. It looks like it should have a ground electrical connection to it, but after putting everything back together I see nothing in that area to put there. I took pics before starting the job, but that area in the pic is completely dark. What the heck should be connected there?

I really hope there's some connection here that I missed that would cause a crank no start. I'll post a couple pictures of the lonely bolt once I figure out how to post pictures..

It cranks completely normally, but just doesn't fire up. There is (maybe) a faint smell of gas after cranking it a bit, but I cannot for the life of me find a fuel connection that I missed.

Not sure it matters, but I discovered a coolant leak out of the lower intake manifold gasket, so replaced that while I was in there. Also replace the knock sensor harness. All OEM parts for the whole job.

Any insights? Am I completely screwed with the piece of plastic in there, even if it does fire up? Did I miss an electrical connection that is causing the crank no start? Any help would be much appreciated.

Last edited by EvergreenPearl; 12-29-2020 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 12-29-2020, 10:31 PM #2
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Here's the area where that lonely brass bolt is...

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Old 12-29-2020, 10:32 PM #3
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And here's the bolt itself, while on the disassembled lower plenum.

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Old 12-29-2020, 10:59 PM #4
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Did you follow the factory service manual exactly when you removed and replaced the cam shaft? I'm suspecting something went wrong with this.

As for that plenum bolt, it looks like one of the bolts that hold the metal fuel rail onto the lower plenum. There's two bolts that hold the fuel rail onto the plenum but they bolt into the side facing the driver side and don't bolt onto the top or face of the lower plenum.
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Old 12-29-2020, 11:41 PM #5
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Yes on the FSM directions for the cam shaft. Lined up the single dot (driver side), torqued bolts in order, used the little retainer bolt, etc. After reinstall, when turning the camshaft with a wrench everything seemed normal. This seems like a logical place for a screw up but I think I got it right.

For the bolt, this one is on top of the lower plenum, in a little corner that pokes out from below the upper plenum. I see the two fuel line bolts on the side and have them all situated nicely.

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Old 12-30-2020, 12:00 AM #6
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I do t think the bolt has nothing to do with it... I think when you removed the cam u missed something

Engine does not go from running valve cover job to no start
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Old 12-30-2020, 12:08 AM #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tbasse01 View Post
I do t think the bolt has nothing to do with it... I think when you removed the cam u missed something

Engine does not go from running valve cover job to no start
True for sure. Unless I missed some key electrical connection or or fuel connection.

The valve cover job itself was actually really smooth and kinda fun.
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Old 12-30-2020, 12:28 AM #8
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Tampering with the knock sensors, were you throwing a code? As someone who spent MONTHS down that path I can tell you you're playing with fire!
In regards to the bolt that wouldn't stop your engine from firing - there's nothing over there that could attribute to this. Just some hoses and a bracket to hold the fuel line, I believe the only electrical ground on the plenum is right near the diagnostic box. During the half dozen times I took apart my intake I somehow ended up with a a number of "extra" bolts that I still struggle to find where they should go
When you say the plastic piece went "into" the engine, do you mean it somehow dropped into/through the valvetrain? Or merely fumbled it and lost it in the valley? I'm really struggling to see what happened here. Regardless I believe your problem lies with your camshaft. Double check all vacuum lines are in place too, that your MAF is hooked up, etc. Are you getting any codes?

Another thought, maybe you mixed up the coolant and vacuum lines on your IAC (little green unit underneath the throttle body)? That's always a possibility, albeit not a likely one.
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Old 12-30-2020, 12:44 AM #9
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Good thoughts. Thanks guys, keep em coming and I'll dig back into it in the next couple days. I'm hopeful to not have to dig all the way down to that cam shaft again but I will if I have to.

Devbot, the plastic piece went down into a big hole at the drivers side front below and in front of the exhaust side cam shaft. It's weird and I'm not sure what it actually is. Maybe an oil passage? It's within the head, not in the valley or anything like that. Should have taken a picture.

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Old 12-30-2020, 12:58 AM #10
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I'd have to see a picture, I'm even more lost than before lol
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Old 12-30-2020, 01:03 AM #11
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Iíd go over every electrical connection you took apart, all the coil packs/spark plug wires/wires under the throttle body etc. Another thing you could try if your really desperate is take it all back down to the valve covers (leave those on) and put it all back together again following step by step on Timís video.. Iím betting on a loose or not connected electrical connection.
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Old 12-30-2020, 01:46 AM #12
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I'm already pretty much done with the re-teardown anyway, so that's the plan next time I can get to it in a couple days.

I took a look at my neighbors 3rd Gen and you guys were right that the random bolt was a goose chase. It looks like an installation feature. He had just an empty bolt hole. Makes me wonder where that boat came from. I thought I was careful labeling stuff but I guess not careful enough. Nobody to blame but myself for any of this.

I'm betting on a bad fuel line connection. There was at least one suspect connection, plus I had to drain all the fuel out of the line above the intake manifold. I'm sure that makes it harder to restart.

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Old 12-30-2020, 09:53 AM #13
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Before you go through the trouble of tearing things down I would see if you and an assistant can get it to start by spraying starting fluid or carb cleaner into the throttle body. If it starts with carb cleaner/starting fluid then you know you have a fuel issue.
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Old 12-30-2020, 11:42 AM #14
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Just use starting fluid.


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Old 12-31-2020, 03:29 PM #15
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No dice with the starting fluid. That probably means no spark, right?

I pulled the spark plugs and they were soaked, dirty, and reaked of gas. I had my wife crank it with the plugs out and more stuff (probably gas) came out. Stuck a camera into the Spark plug tubes and the nice layer of carbon buildup on my cylinder heads was wet and shiny. So... Now I'm letting it air out for a few hours with the hopes that I flooded it and fouled the spark plugs. New plugs ready to install once it looks and smells dried out.

While I don't think this is related to the non-start issue, here is a pic (from the interwebs, not my engine) with the area that the little plastic piece fell into. Any idea what problems that could cause down the road?

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