I have a 1985 Cadillac Deville with the 4.1L V8 and 36,000 original miles. I've owned the car since 30,000, and it has been VERY reliable, but I've had one problem since I bought the car: it always felt a bit low on power.
Well, the other day I removed both rocker arm covers in the hopes that my issue was sticky valves (I had ruled out fuel pressure, engine sensors, etc.--believe me, I've been tinkering with the car every few hundred miles to see if I could remedy the issue). When I started the engine, I noticed that all valves on the firewall-facing 4 cylinders moved up and down fine, but one intake and one exhaust valve (on different cylinders) on the radiator-facing bank were hardly moving up and down at all, irrespective of the rpms.
Here's my question: is this definitely a flattened camshaft, or could it be that I have 2 bad lifters? There is NO engine tick, although there is a noise somewhat akin to nearly inaudible (I have sensitive ears) valve float when I push the pedal down more than 1/2 way. The engine amazingly runs silenty, and quite well, except for a lack of power when I depress the accelerator more than 3/4 of the way down.
A little history behind the car: I bought it for $400 with a blown intake gasket and cracked radiator (cooling fan relay broke, idiotic old man kept driving it around after it overheated). I put everything back together, and the car has run fine, but I obviously have some sort of mechanical problem. Regardless of the issue, the car has certainly served me well for $400 and 6,000 miles (1 year) of service--and it's still going strong, and my daily driver.
I'd be inclined to say a camshaft if it weren't for the super low miles on the car, and the fact that I'm guessing some anti-freeze seeped into the lifters when the intake gasket blew, but then I'd hear a ticking, wouldn't I? Can anyone help me to identify what my exact problem is? The other strange thing is that the problem has gotten no worse (literally, none) in the 6,000 miles that I've owned the car. It actually runs much better now than when I bought it! How much longer can I expect the engine to last if it is a camshaft? Since the cam is hardened, if I keep good oil in it, could I feasibly drive it like this for 10,000 more miles or so? I currently have no backfiring.