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Cloyes: How To Service Timing Components 2002-2009 Nissan 3.5 L V6 Engines


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    • By Mighty Auto Parts
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      link hidden, please login to view appeared first on link hidden, please login to view. Neglecting maintenance intervals can result in performance issues and internal engine damage due to sludge deposits restricting the flow of lubricant to vital engine components. Evidence of lack of maintenance will normally show up in the oil filter and related housing. The filter media will be impacted with sludge deposits. Where applicable, the filter cap […]
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    • By Counterman
      When I hear the term diesel, the first thing I always picture in my mind is an 18-wheeler. Then my thoughts drift to gleaming chrome stacks, tons of load-hauling torque and the sounds of a semi-truck. The next thing you know I’m kicking back to watch the greatest trucking movie of all time, “Convoy,” for what’s probably the 10th time.
      I’m sure it’s generational, because growing up, diesel engines were only popular in heavy-duty trucks. Whether the big rigs defined the persona of a diesel engine or vise-versa I’m not sure, but to me the term “diesel” always has been synonymous with power and strength. So, what’s a light diesel? It seems like a contradiction of terms to me.
      A light diesel in the simplest way of thinking is anything diesel-powered that resides in someone’s driveway as daily transportation, including everything from cars to pickup trucks. The true definition gets a little muddy at a certain point because the federal standards have different weight cut-offs for their light-truck classifications.
      Using these standards, most full-size pickup trucks are all considered light-duty, even when they’re equipped with torque-monster diesel engines. But, if it’s a dually crew-cab 1-ton, it just might make it into the heavy-duty classification. Either way, it really doesn’t matter. Parts are parts, and if they’re driving it and fixing it, they’ll look to you – the counter professional – for what they need.
      Diesel Drill-Down
      As with any subject, knowledge gives you the power to sell, so I’ll start with what’s different about a diesel. There are three things that diesels are typically known for: fuel economy; lots of power; and long life.
      Why does a diesel engine get better fuel economy? Diesel fuel has a higher energy density than gasoline. This means that it takes less of it to produce the same amount of power resulting from combustion. Diesel engines also have much higher compression ratios than gasoline because the fuel is ignited by the heat of compression, and higher compression ratios in general lead to increased combustion efficiency.
      Why do they produce more power? Although modern diesel engines have the ability to produce incredibly high horsepower numbers, the “power” normally associated with a diesel engine is actually high torque. Torque is low rpm power for pulling, and horsepower is the high rpm power for acceleration. Diesel trucks are designed for pulling, which is why torque is so important.
      When the air/fuel mixture burns in a gasoline engine, it burns quickly, and the force of the expanding gasses drives the piston down in the cylinder. This creates power. However, once the air/fuel mixture has burned and the piston is traveling downward, the further down it goes, the less force is exerted upon it.
      Diesel fuel burns slowly. When the combustion process begins, the force of the expanding gasses pushes the piston downwards, but the air/fuel mixture continues to burn as the piston travels downward, exerting continuous force on the piston until it nears the bottom of the stroke. This continuous force on the piston is why diesel engines produce so much torque. Modern electronic control of diesel-fuel systems has allowed them to precisely control fuel-injection time to maximize this effect.
      Do they really last longer? As long as they’re properly maintained, yes – and here’s why. Gasoline is a harsh solvent with no lubricity. It wreaks havoc on everything it comes into contact with, including the inside of the cylinders in an engine. Diesel fuel, on the other hand, has a high level of lubricity, drastically reducing cylinder wear.
      Another reason for increased longevity also has to do with the slower speed in which the diesel fuel burns. The combustion of gasoline is a violent process that applies incredible stresses on the rotating assembly, whereas the diesel-fuel combustion process is less violent, applying a steady, continuous downward force on the piston.
      Then there’s temperature. Diesel fuel ignites at a lower temperature than gasoline, so combustion temperatures, as well as exhaust temperatures, are lower. And finally, there’s construction. Because of the higher compression ratios, diesel engines are built stronger and sturdier from the block and heads to the rotating assembly, often with increased oil capacity and improved oiling systems.
      Sales Opportunities
      In recent years, there’s been turmoil and scandal related to diesel-powered vehicles, and now there’s plenty of speculation that the end of the diesel isn’t too far off. But diesel owners aren’t ready to give up – meaning parts opportunities abound. With fewer diesel vehicles available, there will be a stronger push to keep the current ones on the road.
      Some areas of repair – such as timing belts, water pumps and hoses – ultimately don’t differ from a gasoline vehicle. However, an area where you can capitalize is maintenance. Diesel engines can last a long time, and that longer service life extends the opportunity to sell maintenance items.
      Fuel Treatment
      An immediate area to take advantage of is fuel treatment. The fuel system is the heart of a diesel. Fuel quantity controls engine speed. There’s no ignition system, and there’s no air-volume control or throttle plates like those on a gasoline vehicle. (In case a customer decides to call you out, there are some diesels with throttle plates, but they don’t have anything to do with controlling engine speed – they only smooth out engine shutdown and increase exhaust-gas recirculation.)
      Diesels have complex and expensive injection pumps and injectors. Not only does diesel fuel extend cylinder life with its lubricity, but it also preserves the life of the fuel system itself.
      The problem is that in order to reduce air pollution, ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel was introduced in 2006. By losing the sulfur, diesel fuel also lost the majority of its lubricity. This can be, will be and has been a big problem. Diesel-fuel treatments add back this lubricity, and while they may seem expensive to a customer, a small bottle treats many gallons, and if it’s properly measured, it ultimately only results in a minor fuel-cost increase.
      Cold-weather performance is another problem. Diesel fuel has always had a tendency to gel in extremely cold temperatures, and the loss of sulfur has made it worse. Diesel-fuel additives will combat this problem as well. Additives also battle cylinder deposits, and on a diesel engine these deposits soak up diesel fuel and effect fuel economy. Fuel additives should be recommended for continuous use.
      Filters
      Next on the easy-sell list is filters. Air filters fall under standard replacement guidelines that you’re used to, but fuel filters are an area to concentrate on. Contaminants can be very damaging to diesel-fuel pumps and injectors, and water accumulation in diesel fuel is a common problem. Diesel fuel often is stored for longer periods of time than gasoline, and the water accumulation is a result of condensation from temperature change.
      For this reason, almost every piece of heavy equipment has an individual water separator, and even many small diesel cars have water-drain valves in the bottom of their fuel filters. Generally, water accumulation isn’t a problem at larger-volume gas stations, but there’s no way of knowing for sure, so it’s better to err on the side of caution. Diesel-fuel filters should be replaced at least once a year.
      Performance
      Performance upgrades are common among diesel enthusiasts – especially intake and exhaust systems – but it can be a difficult market to get into since there are so many different options and applications. The best opportunities lie with accessories and upgrades that fit all models, such as gauges, lighting and interior accessories.
      Oil Changes
      When diesel fuel burns, it leaves behind black soot. This soot finds its way past the piston rings into the crankcase and turns the engine oil black. Even when changing the oil, there’s almost always enough residual oil in the pan and throughout the engine that the new oil is black almost immediately. The soot doesn’t harm the properties and performance of the oil, but think of it like any dirt particles: If there’s too much of it, the oil performance will degrade.
      It’s easy to see oil condition on the dipstick of a gasoline engine, but on a diesel there’s no way of telling. It’s critical for vehicle owners to document oil-change mileage so they don’t go over. It’s best to follow manufacturer recommendations for oil type, and it’s a good idea to recommend a high-quality oil filter. While diesel-powered cars typically have standard oil capacities, many pickup trucks have much higher capacities – sometimes 10 quarts or more. If your customer isn’t sure, take the extra step of looking it up so they don’t get home and end up short.
      Cleanup
      If your customer is doing an oil change, this is the perfect time to sell latex gloves, disposable rags and other cleaning supplies. Diesel oil will stain your hands for an entire day, and it doesn’t help the look of your garage floor either. We always should wear gloves to protect our skin during an oil change, but admittedly I don’t always do that on a gasoline vehicle. Diesel is a different story.
      Diesel Exhaust Fluid
      For the 2010 model year, the EPA mandated that diesel engines reduce the production of nitrogen oxides (NOx), which is linked to the formation of acid rain and smog. Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is what allowed manufacturers to meet these requirements. DEF is a solution of urea and deionized water that’s injected into the exhaust system before the catalytic converter. The chemical reaction forms ammonia, which then works in conjunction with the catalyst to convert NOx into nitrogen and water.
      It’s ultimately a simple solution, but diesel owners need to keep the DEF reservoirs full. If the DEF runs out, the vehicle will not start. If they’re running, they won’t quit, but often go into a low-power mode.
      Block Heaters
      Historically, diesel engines were known for difficult cold-weather starting, since the heat of compression ignites the fuel. Modern combustion-chamber design and technology have greatly improved this problem, but in the far northern regions of the United States and in Canada, diesel owners often don’t have a choice but to install a block heater. Even in areas where starting isn’t a problem, block heaters are popular in the winter since diesel engines take a long time to warm up.
      There are two different types of heaters. Most factory-style heaters are designed to fit directly into the engine block in place of a casting plug, which places a heating element directly into the engine coolant. This is generally the preferred method, as it’s the most effective.
      The second type of block heater is designed to mount flat on the bottom of an oil pan. The heat travels up through the pan and warms the engine oil. These are effective, but only given that they fit the pan properly and are out of harm’s way. Some factory applications are designed like this, but aftermarket designs are intended to be “universal,” and they don’t always work as well. Familiarize yourself with the heaters you have in stock, and what they fit, or where you can locate an application chart. Most people shopping for a block heater will know they want one – it’ll be an easy sale – but getting the correct one for the application is the hardest part.
      Tips for Your Customers
      The best advice you can give your customers is explaining the importance of diesel maintenance. A critical tip, however, involves replacement of a diesel-fuel filter. When a diesel runs out of fuel, air is drawn into the lines, and they simply won’t start until the air is bled out. Cranking the engine won’t do anything except overheat the starter.
      Some diesel trucks and heavy equipment are equipped with primers, such as those you may be familiar with on small engines. They’re designed to draw fuel from the tank and fill the filter and pump. Some newer vehicles have electronic primers that do this when the key is cycled on, but many diesel-powered cars don’t have either of these features. When the fuel filter is replaced, it needs to be filled with diesel fuel before connecting the lines. It often requires a small funnel, and it can take a few minutes to get it done, but it’s mandatory.
      Seasoned diesel owners should be familiar with fuel-filter replacement, but it never hurts to ask and make sure they are. You can save your customer a lot of trouble.
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    • By Counterman
      The VVT category continues to grow in the automotive aftermarket. These systems are becoming more and more common as manufacturers try to meet tightened fuel-economy standards. When it comes to meeting those standards, variable-valve timing (VVT) is just one piece of the puzzle. As these vehicles exit the factory warranty period, there’s a huge opportunity for counter pros to serve customers’ repair needs.
      Variable-valve timing is the process of altering the timing and/or duration of a valve lift event, to improve performance, fuel economy and emissions.
      On a conventional engine, the opening and closing of the valves is based on their fixed position relative to the timing chain or belt, which is driven by the crankshaft. Without VVT, the valve timing remains the same for all conditions. This means that certain compromises must be made by manufacturers; this is achieved by selecting a specific cam profile. The cam profile affects the valve lift and duration.
      However, an engine equipped with VVT can make additional adjustments, so it isn’t constrained by the cam profile. VVT systems allow for improved performance over a broader operating range. The ability to alter valve timing at any engine speed gives manufacturers the ability to tune for optimal performance and efficiency. The camshaft’s timing can be advanced to produce better low-end torque, or it can be retarded to have better high-end torque as directed by the ECU.
      System Overview
      It’s important to point out that VVT is not just a single part or component – it’s an entire system. There are a number of components that all need to work hand-in-hand in order for the system to function. Let’s talk about some of the components that make up the entire system.
      The part that actually controls the position of the camshaft is the phaser. Cam phasers may feature a piston-type construction, or a vane-type construction. Regardless of construction, they use engine-oil pressure to push against a strong internal spring. A VVT solenoid is used to adjust the engine-oil pressure into the phaser.
      While early VVT systems were active only in higher rpm ranges or under specific conditions, modern systems are actively adjusting the intake and exhaust camshaft positions for the best possible efficiency at all times.
      VVT systems have caused one emissions system to become all but extinct: exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR). Since VVT is able to control the way gasses enter and exit the combustion chamber, there’s no need for EGR systems.
      EGR systems were designed to reduce nitrous oxides (NOx) by recirculating exhaust gasses back into the intake manifold. This causes the combustion temperature to drop below 2,500 F, preventing the formation of these harmful gasses. EGR systems did work, but lacked the reaction time and precision offered by VVT systems.
      Failure Points
      In many ways, engine oil is the lifeblood of the VVT system. Inadequate oil pressure or contaminated oil will hamper system performance. It’s very important that customers are following the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, and using only the specified type, grade and viscosity of engine oil in their vehicle.
      Clean engine oil is critical to VVT-system operation. The oil passages of a VVT system are like a dead end, and the oil doesn’t flush out the passages all the time. If a piece of debris finds its way into a phaser or oil-control valve, it could be there for a while. Most manufacturers use a metal-screen filter to prevent debris from reaching the variable-valve timing system. Some manufacturers make the screen serviceable but, on some vehicles, it could be inside the oil-control solenoid and almost impossible to inspect or even clean.
      The relationship between the camshaft and crankshaft is critical in today’s VVT systems. The ECU relies on information from the camshaft position sensor and the crankshaft position sensor to determine ignition and valve timing. If either of these sensors produces a faulty signal, the VVT-system performance will suffer. A loose or stretched timing chain or timing belt, or a worn timing guide or tensioner, all could negatively affect the VVT system.
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    • By Counterman
      The first of the Ford “modular” engines was a 4.6-liter V-8 that appeared in the 1991 Lincoln Town Car. The family soon grew into six unique displacements, including a V-10. Three decades later, the modular family is still around, most popularly in the current 5-liter “Coyote” trim.
      Let’s look back at some of these original engines, the vehicles they powered and a few of the reasons we still hear about this engine family on a regular basis.
      But first, a disclaimer: The “modular” name doesn’t refer to parts interchangeability, although some of these engine designs share common features. In this case, “modular” refers to the manufacturing processes used at the Romeo, Windsor and Essex engine plants to produce these engines quickly for a wide range of platforms. Each of these engines has distinct design features, and some need to be catalogued carefully – utilizing VIN, application and model-year information to properly identify components.
      The original 4.6-liter was a two-valve SOHC V-8 engine found in the Town Car, Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis. The 4.6-liter was designed as a replacement for the old pushrod 5-liter and 5.8-liter (aka the “302” and “351”), a trend that continued as the pushrod engine slowly disappeared from the Thunderbird, Mustang and F-Series trucks throughout the mid to late 1990s. These early engines were built in Romeo, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario, and the two have distinctly different timing drives and cylinder-head designs.
      Identifying Romeo-built and Windsor-built 4.6-liter engines can be as simple as decoding a VIN – providing the engine is still in its original vehicle. Unfortunately, Ford chose to identify the Romeo engines with a “W” in the 8th VIN position, while the Windsor engine was assigned the number “6”!
      Looking at the engines themselves also gives a few clear clues, in case you’re dealing with an engine “in the wild,” or a possible transplant. The valve covers on the Romeo engine are held down with 11 bolts, while Windsors feature 13/14 bolt patterns. Beneath the timing covers, you’ll also find that Romeo cam gears are bolted to the camshaft, and Windsor cam gears are pressed onto their shafts. Even bare blocks can be identified easily by locating the “R” or “W” casting marks on each engine – and this time “W” actually means WINDSOR!
      F-Series trucks received a new modular option in 1997 in the form of the 5.4-liter, another two-valve SOHC V-8. The same year, E-Series vans were the first to receive the new modular 6.8-liter V-10. These engines were manufactured in the two Canadian plants, so there are no Romeo versions. These modular truck engines became known as the “Triton” series, which became a point of confusion a few years later when Ford introduced a THREE-valve cylinder-head design to the family.
      Triton would seem to indicate “three” of something, just like tricycles have three wheels or triangles have three sides, but the name pre-dates the first of the three-valve designs introduced in 2004. Triton truck engines can be found in both two- and three-valve versions, and the last 4.6-liter modular engine (produced in 2014) actually was a two-valve Triton engine.
      In addition to the trucks, three-valve engines were found in Mustangs and SUVs, but the modular family also included a series of four-valve DOHC engines in both 4.6-liter and 5.4-liter displacements. These were fit primarily in SVT, Shelby and other performance-oriented vehicles, but the Lincoln lineup also received the four-valve DOHC treatment periodically throughout the modular years. The current 5-liter Coyote continues this 4V DOHC tradition, along with its derivative 5.2-liter Voodoo/Predator, and 5.8-liter Trinity cousins.
      The 4.6-, 5.4- and 6.8-liter engines were plagued with spark plug issues in both the two-valve and three-valve versions. 1997-2008 modular two-valve engines with aluminum cylinder heads were prone to stripping spark plug threads, often ejecting the spark plug forcefully from its cylinder port.
      The three-valve design did not have thread-stripping issues, but the unique two-piece spark plug that Ford used in the three-valve engines from 2004-2007 has a tendency to snap in half during removal, leaving a difficult-to-remove stump of electrode shell at the bottom of the spark plug well. Several tool companies have developed plug-removal kits for the 3V vehicles, and thread-repair kits for the 2V applications. Ford redesigned the 3V heads (and spark plugs) for 2008, and has since upgraded the plugs specified for the 2004-2007 engines. Aftermarket companies also have developed one-piece replacement spark plugs for these applications, which decreases the chances of that tune-up going horribly wrong!
      Even though these modular engines have been around for a long time, the applications in which they originally were installed lend themselves to longevity. They still are present in fleets, from taxis and police cars to cargo vans and work trucks. Of course, modular Mustangs of all varieties continue to be enthusiast favorites, from daily driving to competition at drag strips, autocross and circle-track events. The secondary market for the Crown Victoria also includes motorsports, as they have become the preferred demolition-derby car in most full-size classes, and there are even racing series exclusively for P71 (police-package) Vics!
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    • By Counterman
      Camshafts are one of those components that can define an engine. Cams can have a direct effect on the efficiency, power curve, sound and even attitude of the engines they are installed into. Muscle cars and race cars are two examples of vehicles that are immediately recognizable by a loping, rumbling idle that builds into a deafening roar as they’re pushed harder and higher through their rpm range. 
      A “stock” camshaft usually is designed as a compromise between performance and drivability, with considerations for emissions and fuel economy, while performance cams trade much of the “politeness” of a stock camshaft in favor of brute horsepower. 
      If you were to open any of the major speed catalogs (or look up the information on their website), you’ll discover three things: Performance parts aren’t cheap; there are a LOT of cams to choose from; and each one is accompanied by a list of specifications including duration, lift, lobe separation and recommended rpm range/usage. But what makes one cam any different from another, and what do some of the terms used to describe a performance cam actually mean?
      Duration refers to the amount of time (expressed in degrees of crank rotation) that an intake or exhaust valve is “off” of its seat. This equates to the amount of time the valve is open, allowing air to enter or exhaust to escape. Generally, a longer duration means a “deeper breath” (or exhalation), although the amount of overall airflow through the cylinder is also affected by “lift.”
      Lift, or more specifically, “valve lift,” is the distance the valve travels as a result of the action of the camshaft. As the cam rotates on an overhead-valve (OHV) engine, the eccentric lobes act directly upon the lifter, raising it (and the pushrod above) a specified distance. The pushrod transfers this “lift” to a rocker arm, which in turn presses down on the valve, releasing it from its seat. Valve-spring pressure helps the valve close at the end of its cycle, and keeps the valvetrain components from clattering as they return to a resting position.
      In an overhead-cam (OHC) design, the cam lobe contacts the rocker arm directly, or against the valve itself when paired with a “bucket tappet,” which protects the valve stem from wear. The design of a rocker arm also multiplies the lift imparted by the cam lobe, creating more lift at the valve than at the lobe. Performance rocker arms use this advantage to improve lift without altering the existing cam profile.
      Us old-timers sometimes refer to camshafts as “bump-sticks,” as they seem to have lobes poking out in every direction. They are, however, precisely engineered to open and close multiple valves in a perfectly timed sequence to maximize their effectiveness. Lobe-separation angle (LSA) is a fancy name for the distance (again in degrees) between the centerlines of the exhaust and intake lobes on a shaft. This distance, along with the duration of the cam, will determine the amount of “overlap” in the movement of the intake and exhaust valves.
      Let’s look at a “racing” cam, and how its design affects performance. Intake valves open slightly before the engine begins pulling in air on the intake stroke. Call it a “head start,” but it helps promote airflow through the cylinder. As the piston reaches the bottom of its stroke, the intake valve is still open – pulling as much air as it can into the cylinder – then closes as the piston begins compression. Exhaust valves also open a bit before the power stroke is completed, with the pressure of the expanding gas helping “push” the spent exhaust out of the cylinder.
      With both valves slightly open at top dead center, more cool air is drawn in as the hot exhaust is expelled. This phenomenon is called “scavenging,” and at higher rpm can further boost horsepower. The smaller the separation between lobes (and the more duration) the more overlap will occur. Unfortunately, at idle and low rpm, it also causes a lumpy rumble, low engine vacuum and a lack of low-end power. Although many people (myself included) enjoy hearing this signature sound at the race track, it isn’t very useful in a daily driver! Choosing the right camshaft for your intended purposes begins with defining your intended purposes!
      Every camshaft design has a “sweet spot” – the rpm range at which it performs the best. Camshaft manufacturers’ rpm recommendations are a result of dyno-testing the unique combination of lift, duration, lobe design and separation engineered into each particular grind profile. If you aren’t going to be consistently operating in a cam’s specified rpm range, it may not be the best choice for your project. Your mostly stock, daily driven street vehicle won’t benefit much from a race-ready cam that really needs to rev up around 5,000 rpm to make maximum power. As with any other performance-part purchase, it pays to do your research before buying … no matter how cool the stickers will look on your toolbox!
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