August 19

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Engine Noise Repair

Jeep, Podcast


Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. And of course we're here with Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience, 38 years of servicing, repairing and maintaining cars in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and 20 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: So a Jeep Grand Cherokee 2011 model. What was, there was an engine noise? What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah, this vehicle came to our shop. The owner was complaining of a ticking sound, a fairly loud clicking sound in the engine. So we had to look at that and did some diagnostic. It definitely wasn't normal.

Mark: And what did you find was causing the problem?

Bernie: So we isolated the problem to the right hand, right cylinder bank. This is a 5.7 litre Hemi V8, and there was definitely some noise in the right hand cylinder bank. So in order to diagnose it further, we removed the right valve cover, inspected to see if we could find perhaps a loose, something loose in the valve train. This is a pushrod engine. So the cam shaft is located in the centre of the V, sort of the classic spot for a V8, and has push rods running up to the push rods and rocker arms. We didn't see anything noticeable. We rotated the engine, ran it. Nothing was excessively noticeable. But we were certain that the noise was coming from that side of the engine. And doing some research into these engines and from some personal experience, we figured that it was probably, possibly a worn out lifter or a cam shaft problem of some sort.

Mark: What was the next step?

Bernie: Next step, removing the engine. And incidentally this engine also had a leaking oil pan gasket, which can be done in the car, but it's quite a labor intensive job. So at this point we knew we had an internal engine repair to do of an oil pan gasket to repair. So we authorized the client to let's take the engine out and take it apart and find out what's going on, and then we can fix it all in one shot.

Mark: So once you had the engine out, which is a big job, and apart, what did you find?

Bernie: So what we found, and we'll just get right into the picture show here, we found that, we did find wear in the cam shaft and we found one of the lifters worn out. These use roller lifters for low friction and that's what we found was worn out. So a combination between that, those two, is causing the ticking noise.

There's our nice 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Really nice condition. This vehicle has actually pretty low mileage, 114,000 kilometres. So it's still, in my eyes, kind of a brand new vehicle. This is the old and new cam shaft. So part of the replacement was to, we had to replace the cam shaft. We replaced all the rocker arm, all the lifters, rocker arms were in good shape. So the cam and lifters was basically the main component. But we also changed the timing chain and the a, it has variable valve timing. We changed the variable valve timing actuator gear as well.

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Engine Noise Repair
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Engine Noise Repair
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Engine Noise Repair

While everything is apart, it just kind of makes sense. There's always wear in everything. But this is the new camshaft down here, and if you look up at the old camshaft, you can see worn parts. I'm going to just show a closer picture in a second, but you see this cam lobe is where this one has wear. There's wear in several others that's pretty pretty noticeable.

Mark: And 114,000 kilometres. Normally that wouldn't necessarily be that apparent.

Bernie: I wouldn't think so. I mean I think this is really excessive, but if you do a little research on these engines, there's a lot of problems with these, with the lifters and cam shafts wearing. We can talk a little more about why this would happen at such an early age in a minute. But again, this is a closeup view. This is the front cam and this is the one where the lifter was collapsed as well, or worn. And you can see this wear here, this pitting. The case hardening on the camshaft is coming off. And as I said, there are several other lobes. The lifters on the others were all working fine, but it was only a matter of time before they, all of this would tend to fail.

So these, interestingly enough, this is not something you're going to find on an old 426 Hemi, that the front cam journal is just going to be a big solid piece of metal. But these passageways, these are for the variable valve timing system. So up in the engine block there are passageways and there's an electrically-operated solenoid and that changes the oil pressure out to the cam gear, which is located in this area here. And that can adjust the valve timing of the engine.

So that's kind of how that's accomplished. So again, as engines get newer, this is the same old kind of classic V8 that's been around for since the '50s, but modern modifications make it work better and more efficiently.

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Engine Noise Repair
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Engine Noise Repair
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Engine Noise Repair
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Engine Noise Repair

Lifters, this is a set of lifters. These are interesting. When you buy them, they basically come as a, normally you just buy loose lifters. These coming in this plastic holder here and there, if you notice there's little round holes in some of them and not in the others. This engine has a variable, it's a variable displacement engine. So the computer can actually shut off up to four cylinders in this engine while it's running, for a better fuel efficiency and lower emissions. And it does it with the lifters. It'll basically just depressurize these. So they basically, the cam shaft and lifter moves, but it doesn't move enough to allow the valves to open, so they stay closed. So the cylinders are basically just causing no drag on the engine. Very minimal. So it's kind of an interesting system.

This is our worn out lifter here. I'm going to get into a little closer picture so we can see some details of what was happening. It's a little subtle, and a video may have been more useful, but if you'd notice, if you look at the gap between this point and that point and then you look over here where the arrow is pointing, you'll see it's substantially lower. And if I could grab this with my hand, I could, if I could show you, but what we're able to do is actually this piece will move up and down and it's not supposed to do that. So there's little needle bearings inside that have worn out and basically created a whole bunch of excessive play. And so that's, this is where our ticking noise is coming from.

Also on the lifters, they're in this plastic retainer. And there's a reason that it being a roller, of course, this has to always roll in the proper direction. And apparently these fail. I haven't seen one yet, but it's a reasonably common item where the plastic piece will break. And so the lifter will actually rotate sideways and not roll properly on the cam. And of course that will create wear in a real hurry.

So here's another kind of close up view. There's the lifter holder. There's the lifter that slips in and you can see it's got its grooved to fit properly in there. What else do we have for pictures here? I think we've, I think we've covered ... Oh yeah, the engine.

So yeah, there's the, it's a four, this is a Hemi. It's like Dodge's, Chrysler's made a good use of their branding from the 60s. You've seen a lot of their vehicles, their Chargers, their Cudas. A lot of the vehicles they sell are leftovers from the good old days in the late 60s early 70s, when their engines had huge amount of horsepower. This is a hemispherical cylinder head. The other thing, one thing's different about this over the original 426 Hemi, of course, is that it's a smaller engine, displacement wise, but it also has two spark plugs.

And as far as for details, I assume these are both fired at the same time, but there are some engines that do use two spark plugs, again, for just better combustion. It's kind of added complication. And of course when you have to change the spark plugs, it doubles the price. But they do last a long time. So that's our picture show for the engine.

Now I do have some other items if you want to ask me the next question.

Mark: Did you find anything else while the engine was out?

Bernie: Yeah. So the other item that I did notice while the engine was out is that you can see a, you could see some coolant leakage, very subtle amount of coolant leakage. You can see sort of, this is the front left oxygen sensor. And you can see some crusty buildup around this oxygen sensor. And there's a heater pipe right above this, and so very slight amount of coolant's been leaking, who knows how long, onto this oxygen sensor.

So it just made a lot of sense to change this part while the engine was out because of course you could actually get right in there and do it. I mean it's not a hideous job while the engine's in, but the oxygen sensors are actually a real pain to change in this vehicle. Very, very inaccessible. There was a lot of good things about doing this engine job, but the location of the oxygen sensors wasn't one of them. So we changed this oxygen sensor and these heater pipes, and I'll just get a little closer view of of this kind of thing.

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Engine Noise Repair
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Engine Noise Repair
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Engine Noise Repair
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Engine Noise Repair

There again you can see a little bit of the crustiness and this is a, it's interesting. It's a little, it's an assembly, a pipe assembly. It has a plastic elbow that goes through the firewall. And then there's a couple of other hoses at the other end that attach to the actual ... this is actually in the, I shouldn't say, this is in the cowl area and the firewall is actually further back. But they, it needs this adaptor to run the hose through the cowl.

What else do we have here? Oh yeah. Close up view. There's the oxygen sensor with the crusty deposits on it. Again, we changed that while the engine was out. I mean it, as far as we know it was working fine beforehand, but you never know how, that with that kind of stuff dripping on it, it'll definitely shorten the life span.

And there's one final picture of this. So this is that hose assembly. So I wanted to just get this elbow, but of course being a modern vehicle, they only sell the hose assembly. The good news is it wasn't very expensive, which is good. And it came with all the quick connect ends down here, which clip onto the heater pipes of the engine and the hoses. It comes with clamps. So the actual removal and reassembly process is actually pretty straight forward because it comes with all the parts and pieces you need. You don't need to hunt around. Do we have clamps, how do they go together? It's pretty straight forward.

But I often wonder, this vehicle's eight years old. What's going to happen when it's 15? Oh we're sorry we don't sell that part anymore. Then you've got to start custom making stuff and kind of annoying that way. So I'm back.

Mark: So you mentioned the mileage. It wasn't that high on this vehicle.

Bernie: Oh yeah. About 114,000 kilometres is really a pretty, a young vehicle. Low mileage.

Mark: So that's kind of early for this sort of catastrophic wear to be already taking place.

Bernie: I would consider that to be so, and you might want to ask, well why would that happen? And I think, I mean, there's always manufacturing defects and things that aren't made as well as they should be. But I mean really, this is where it's critical to change your oil on time or early every time. And when this vehicle was brought to us, it had, it was a little overdue for an oil change. It was a little low on oil, not critically. But those kinds of things can all make a difference. You just get a little slight lack of lubrication or the oil just breaks down a little too much. It's a little too old. That kind of thing will cause this sort of wear to happen on engines, and you never know from engine to engine.

We have customers who abuse the crap out of their car. We had a Subaru yesterday where the owner brought it in and every time she's like, if she's like 5,000 kilometres overdue for an oil change. And she'd been doing it for years. So there, I'm not saying, like you can get away with it in some cars, because some people will go, Oh yeah, well I did that. Well, yeah. Okay. You're lucky, because there's people who drink a case of beer a day and smoke five packs of cigarettes and lived to a hundred, but they're kind of rare. They are the very rare exception. So with cars, it's like change the oil. I mean that's really the critical thing. Change it when it's due. Even a little before it's due.

Mark: Could we make an assumption that this car was probably not really driven for long distances, like taken out and driven 250 miles in one goal kind of thing. It's been all stop and start in town. And that's even more critical for making oil changes on time.

Bernie: It is. Absolutely. That's a really good point. If you do a lot of straight highway driving, you can actually stretch your oil change interval out even longer because the engine is hot. It's warm. Everything's moving. Very, very good point, Mark. It's the city stop and go traffic is even harder on it. So cold starts and that makes a huge difference. So yeah, I mean even then it's worth changing the oil probably more often.

Mark: And a lot of sitting, probably, with the eight-year-old vehicle that's only got 60,000 miles or 70,000 miles on it.

Bernie: Yeah. Yeah. Not a huge amount of use.

Mark: How are Jeep Grand Cherokees overall?

Bernie: Well you can always ... thank you for bringing that. Overall, I mean, well, to me this is kind of a bad stain on the reputation of a Jeep, and if you do a lot of research you'll find a lot of these 5.7 litre engines have similar issues. You and I do a lot of podcasts on Jeeps because there are a lot of things that happen to them. This particular Jeep. It's beautiful. Like it's a really beautiful vehicle. Really nice to drive. It looks great. And I think Grand Cherokees have always been like that. I mean, they're a really nice vehicle. But they do have a lot of issues. I mean this one we, on this particular vehicle, and I think he's a fairly recent owner, secondhand. We've actually rebuilt the transfer case on it because it had an issue.

So it's had a number of problems at what I would consider a pretty early age. I have a 2001 Suburban, knock on wood. I've never rebuilt the transfer case. It's got triple the mileage of this vehicle. So there are a lot of things that do happen to Jeeps, and it could be that this one just suffered from some bad maintenance. That does happen to us. Unfortunately the risk when you buy a used vehicle, which is good to really look at, if you're getting a used vehicle, if you can look at the maintenance schedule. Because you're, there are some risks. But I'd say like for Jeeps, there are definitely more issues than average.

Mark: So if you want to look after your Jeep in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead because they're busy. Can't just walk in. And they're only servicing people in Vancouver. So we appreciate your calls and interest from all across North America, but we can only serve you in the Vancouver, BC area, other than maybe some other circumstances. Check out the website Of course on our YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos and articles about all makes and models and repairs over many years now. And of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. We really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark. And thanks for watching.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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