90 SDV won't run, timing chain?
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HT4100 4.1, 4.5, 4.9 Discussion, 90 SDV won't run, timing chain? in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; My 90 SDV won't run and I suspect the timing chain has jumped. It has been running poorly on and ...
  1. #1
    rstewart65 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    90 SDV won't run, timing chain?

    My 90 SDV won't run and I suspect the timing chain has jumped. It has been running poorly on and off for the last few months and now it won't start. I have fuel, spark and it appears compression (it's had to turn by hand with a 24mm wrench) but it backfires thru the throttle. I pulled the dist cap and the rotor points closer to 8 than 1 with the crank at TDC. Also, the crank turns 12-15 degrees while you hold the rotor still, so I'm inclined to think badly worn chain/gears. Anybody have any other ideas? Thanks!

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    Dave S Texas's Avatar
    Dave S Texas is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: 90 SDV won't run, timing chain?

    Ask this over in the Engine forum(or maybe it will be moved there)
    What codes are showing in diagnostics?

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    Ranger's Avatar
    Ranger is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 90 SDV won't run, timing chain?

    Yup, sounds like a worn timing gear to me.

  5. #4
    rstewart65 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 90 SDV won't run, timing chain?

    The only code it has been setting is e22, which it has set forever. In the last year I've changed the throttle body, injectors and rail, and ECM.

  6. #5
    rstewart65 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 90 SDV won't run, timing chain?

    Any idea how much time to replace the chain? The inspection staton told me this was the last year it would pass without addressing some underbody rust issues so I'm not sure it's worth fixing.

  7. #6
    Ranger's Avatar
    Ranger is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 90 SDV won't run, timing chain?

    I have no idea. Maybe someone else does, but time is greatly dependent upon your skill level. Last one I did took an evening, but it was a north/souht mounted engine (the way God intended) and had lots of room to work.

  8. #7
    Sevillian273's Avatar
    Sevillian273 is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: 90 SDV won't run, timing chain?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger View Post
    it was a north/souht mounted engine (the way God intended) and had lots of room to work.
    Haha! Amen, Reverend.

  9. #8
    ewill3rd is offline Cadillac Technician
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    Re: 90 SDV won't run, timing chain?

    Be sure to pull the distributor, seems like I remember engines of that era apple coring the distributor gear.
    If that is happening you might be looking at a much larger repair.
    That would mean the cam dist. drive gear is wiped and you'd need a camshaft or an engine.
    Not saying that is the issue but....

  10. #9
    rstewart65 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 90 SDV won't run, timing chain?

    Yeah, if this was my GMC truck I could change it an evening too, but the transverse mounting isn't going to make it an easy repair. I did one in my sons 3.1L Grand Prix years ago and it was an 8 hour job. I hate to condemn it to the scrap yard, but it's hard to spend $100 plus the time if I can only get another year out of it.

  11. #10
    cadillac_al is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: 90 SDV won't run, timing chain?

    A lot of these cars go 200,000 miles and higher without timing chain failure. I'm quite curious about the mileage of this car myself. I think Ewill may be on to something about a distributor problem. If the car has rust issues that need to be addressed this year, then I would start looking for another car. There are quite a few ex-garage queens out there with very little rust on them for reasonable prices.

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    ewill3rd is offline Cadillac Technician
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    Re: 90 SDV won't run, timing chain?

    I just remember back when I worked at an indy I had one that I replaced the distributor gear on like 4 times because it was getting torn up.
    It kept jumping time because the gear was getting eaten.
    The last one I put in didn't last 5 minutes, they actually bought an engine and they fell back in love with the car, they said it was running better than it ever had and they were quite happy.
    That was like 15 years ago though....

  13. #12
    drewsdeville is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: 90 SDV won't run, timing chain?

    I suspect the distributor gear. Next time, instead of turning the crank, see how easy it is just to turn the rotor through that 15 degrees of play/ If it was the timing chain/gears, it would be harder to turn the distributor by hand as you would have the resistance of the valvetrain to overcome as well. If it turns really easy, pull the distributor and have a look at the gear. If you pull the distributor, check a look down in the block. You should see a thrust washer down there. It IS necessary. It acts as both a shim and as protection for the aluminum block from the dizzy gear. If there is no washer down there, that's what's wrecking your gear. There is really no other way to ruin the distributor gear if in fact that is the problem

  14. #13
    Dave S Texas's Avatar
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    Re: 90 SDV won't run, timing chain?

    Quote Originally Posted by drewsdeville View Post
    I suspect the distributor gear. Next time, instead of turning the crank, see how easy it is just to turn the rotor through that 15 degrees of play/ If it was the timing chain/gears, it would be harder to turn the distributor by hand as you would have the resistance of the valvetrain to overcome as well. If it turns really easy, pull the distributor and have a look at the gear. If you pull the distributor, check a look down in the block. You should see a thrust washer down there. It IS necessary. It acts as both a shim and as protection for the aluminum block from the dizzy gear. If there is no washer down there, that's what's wrecking your gear. There is really no other way to ruin the distributor gear if in fact that is the problem
    I agree. No thrust washer=big problem.

  15. #14
    rstewart65 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 90 SDV won't run, timing chain?

    I tried the dist and it's tight, no play at all. I'm really beginning to question if the mileage on this car is correct. It shows 117k and had 75k when I bought it. Last night I was looking at some Devilles online and my car has a bit more wear on the drivers seat than many shown online with 150k plus. I just got in from work and pulled my factory manual out and it indicates the mileage is stored in the cluster and I recall these earlier digital clusters were not the most reliable. I now suspect the cluster may be a second hand part. I'd get a carfax, but what's the point now I guess. Now looking for a nice deville in the area, maybe I can find one that needs tires and other stuff I have that is still good.

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    drewsdeville is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: 90 SDV won't run, timing chain?

    Well then, I'd have to agree with you, you are probably looking at a timing chain problem. However I doubt it's due to wear as the timing set in these engines are great. No plastic/nylon gears like in some of the newer stuff. If I was to put money on anything, I'd say something went haywire with the tensioner.

    The timing chain really isn't that big of a deal to replace. It's very straight foward, no trickery. Of course, you will have to remove the harmonic balancer. Also, if you take a look in you FSM, you will notice that the water inlet mates to the backside of the timing cover. You will have to replace this gasket after it's been removed.

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