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Hole in valve cover

Folly77

New Member
Joined
July 22, 2009
Messages
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City, State
Charleston, SC
Year, Model & Trim Level
'03 XLS
1st post but been lurking for awhile. I'm not a mechanic so forgive my ignorance. This relates to my daughter's '03 Explorer 4.0.

She's been having trouble starting it (clicking noise so I figured corroded connections - which I cleaned up). So she called today and it wouldn't start again. Went over after work and hooked up the jumper cables and it started right up but the engine sounded terrible. I checked it out and found oil dripping on the driveway. Shut it down and started looking for source. I found a huge hole (3" x 1.5") in the rear of the passenger side valve cover and I can see a chain thru the hole. She said it sounded fine when she was last driving it.

So what could have caused this and any thoughts on repair costs?

Thanks
 



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i bet she blew it up, i had the gasket go on my valve cover and i ended up changing my motor
 






well, if its JUST a broken valve cover, a couple hundred bucks and a couple hours of your time to replace it, my concern is WHY is there a hole in the valve cover. hows the oil level? my other concern is oil starvation, if she ran it a lot with low oil the engine may need a rebuild or replacement, that could get spendy. Is this where the oil filler neck used to be?
 






The hole is in the back on the right side of the engine. I can see the timing chain so my fear is that it is a broken guide or tensioner. And since Ford decided to put the chain in the back I guess that means pulling the engine...waaaay beyond my capabilities. I'm thinking about replacing the cover and taking my chances.

BTW, I was actually showing my 16 yr. old how to check the oil about 2 weeks ago and it looked fine so I don't think that was the problem.
 






The hole is in the back on the right side of the engine. I can see the timing chain so my fear is that it is a broken guide or tensioner. And since Ford decided to put the chain in the back I guess that means pulling the engine...waaaay beyond my capabilities. I'm thinking about replacing the cover and taking my chances.

BTW, I was actually showing my 16 yr. old how to check the oil about 2 weeks ago and it looked fine so I don't think that was the problem.

I would drop the lower oil pan and see what is in there. I am going out on a limb to say I bet a chunk of tensioner got up in between the chain and cover to cause the hole. It probably went down into the pan. Dropping the pan will tell the story I reckon.
 






Another member here has a broken right valve cover on a SOHC. That ended up being from a cam follower that came out from its position and was jammed up into the cover. Take the VC off also and see what the parts look like.
 






ditto on checking under the VC and taking a look in the oil pan...
 






Check the oil then the valve train

I agree with zerodevil that the first thing to do is to check the oil level. Hopefully, the hole very recently occurred and the engine still has adequate oil.

CDW6212R's suggestion is an excellent one. It is very unlikely that a broken timing chain guide would create enough slack to wear a hole in the valve cover and not slip off the camshaft sprocket. If the chain slipped significantly or broke then the engine would not have started. I agree with Don that you should remove the valve cover. I bet you'll find a rocker laying loose in the head.
 






Thanks guys for all the comments/advice. I checked the oil level which was OK and actually started it, ran it for a few seconds and it runs fine - sprays oil and sounds like its got a hole in the muffler but runs OK. A friend's coming over this weekend and we'll pull the cover and oil pan and see what we find.
 






PIC-0060.jpg


I took a photo at lunch w/ my cell. This is rear of right valve cover next to firewall.
 






HOLY crap... SOMTHING came out of that hole, i wouldnt run that engine anymore if you can avoid it untill you find out whats missing... that is a BIG hole....
 






OK....so where's the best place to get a rebuilt engine? Pulled the valve cover and oil pan and couldn't find anything. Replaced w/ new valve cover, changed oil and it's got the timing chain rattle. With 120K on the engine, it was suggested that I replace it as opposed to repairing the timing chain.

Either way, I'm going to have to get a trusted mechanic to do it. I just don't have the facilities or equipment.
 






i just got quoted from a ford dealer to rebuild my 2004 4.0l engine is about $5000 + install+hrly work+fluids with a 3month warranty, and they recomended a new remanifactored motor for $5400 + tax and it comes with a 100000 mile warranty, id look around to find a cheaper price at a local shop or do it your self and save thousands.
 






A used SOHC can be had for $500 or so, don't go the remanufactured route unless you like to spend too much.

The repair parts for the rattle are only $200 or so, if no serious engine damage is yet there. The special tools are about $150, and it takes several long hours for most people. Shop around for labor, most will quote very high. Good luck,
 






Like Don said, get a used motor. If you are worried about the timing chain and tensioners on the new to you motor have them replaced before they put it in, its sure to be cheaper since the motor is already out.
 






WOW, i picked up a 4.6L with 30K on her (practicaly new) from a wreaking yard for about a grand, and did the install with fluids, new gaskets, spark plugs, thorough cleaning ,and random tools i had to run out and buy for less than 800 bucks. See if you can find a shop to do the install for you with a slightly used 4.0 instead of a new rebuilt at the dealer will cut your cost down by at LEAST half if i had to guess. call around to your local wreaking yards for a low milage 4.0 (doesnt even have to be out of the same year, you can get a newer one and swap over the parts you need for it to work on your vehicle. i have an 05 built 4.6L in place of where an 02 built should be... totaly worth it. Sorry about your luck, but at least we might be able to save you some serius $$ here and put a smaller dent in your pocket book.
 






tensioner drilled a hole

Any suggestions? Tensioner pulley drilled a hole into the timing cover!
 






Just repaired one of these in our shop. Problem was a broken guide.
 






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