2013 Range Rover Sport Supercharged Severe Timing Chain Noise
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, Producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: I'm doing well.
Mark: 2013 Range Rover Sport Supercharged has a severe timing chain noise. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: This vehicle arrived at our shop on Monday. Well, I arrived Monday morning and found the vehicle parked outside with a message that was on our voicemail from about 12:30 at night when the vehicle had been dropped off. There was a severe ... The owner said the engine had lost power, severe ... Some noises in the engine and a number of warning lights on on the dash.
Mark: Was this an issue that occurred suddenly?
Bernie: Well, according to the owner, a few months back, we replaced the supercharger nose cone. It was very noisy and he said even since then there was a noise in the engine. I think it was something that had been progressing for a little while, then just got suddenly worse. The issue came along suddenly that they needed to drop it off to fix it. It was good they did and didn't drive it much further, as we'll see soon. Yeah, other than that, I think the noise had been there for a little while.
Mark: How did you start your diagnosis?
Bernie: Well, of course, listening to the engine we could hear there was something pretty severe rattling and didn't want to run it for very long. Ed, who was working on it, popped the oil filler cap and he could see the top of the left timing chain. He said you could actually see a piece of metal in there, which we'll again see in the photograph. He said as soon as he kind of poked down and touched it it dropped down inside the engine, so at that point we knew, "Hey, we can't run this thing. This is like too risky. We gotta pull the timing chain cover off and see what's going on. Something is broken in there."
Mark: How could it have broken apart like that?
Bernie: Well, let's ... Why don't we just look at some pictures and we'll talk about that, because we're still kind of speculating as to what may have happened. Let's get in some pictures here. This is the lower timing chain cover removed. There's a ... It's a pretty large area in the front of the engine, but the lower timing chain, this is a ... You can see the crankshaft here. Here's the two timing chains. This is the right chain, the left chain, and there are of course, tensioner ... There's the tensioner. This is the guide ... This is the tensioner lever and this is the guide rail. You'll notice something here. There are actually bolts missing. There's no bolt here, no bolt there. We didn't remove them. You can see this guide rail here has a bolt.
This is what happened. These bolts came apart and there was also ... In behind here, and you'll see a better picture of this later, there's an oil jet that sprays oil right on ... Directly on the timing chain and the gears. There's a piece that actually sticks around and points here, and that piece is completely gone in this picture.
Mark: Not to get too pedantic here, but the timing chain basically ties the camshaft together with the crankshaft so that the valves open at the right time when the pistons are up towards the top of their stroke.
Bernie: It does, exactly, and of course, it's critical that these move in exactly the right time because pistons and valves, the clearance is very tight. If the timing goes out, pistons and valves will hit and cause basically ... It basically destroys the engine. For all intents and purposes at this point you'd either have to rebuild it ... Excuse me ... Replace it with a new one or get a good used engine. Those would be the options had that occurred, and it could very well easily have happened in this case.
Let's just get into a few other pictures here. This is just some of the damage. This piece had been floating around inside the engine. Actually, I'll show you the piece in a minute, but this is just where stuff ... Metal had been banging around on the cylinder head. These are some of the other pieces we took out. This is part of that oil jet. You can see it's been scraped, bent, twisted. This piece is folded over completely. Broken bolts. These were the bolts that were in place where the timing chain guide was.
This picture here, this was the cover. You can see where the bolts have been. The arrows point ... These bolts have been rubbing for quite a while on the cover, so as the chain runs of course there's a lot of rattle and force and movement, so it's been banging around and almost wore holes through this cover, but it's still in good shape. It's just a ... It's a chunk of metal so really wouldn't be damaged. A little more wear and there'd be a hole in it, but at this point it's okay.
What else have we got here that's good to look at? There's our ... This is after the chain was removed. This is how the ... This is the damage on the front of the engine. This one here, the bolt's pretty much sheared off and the actual surface here is good. This, as you can see, the bolt has broken off quite a far ways in and what's left of it, and a lot of damage around this area. What was a flat surface like this where the bolt shoulder would rest has now been completely damaged. We have ways of repairing that, which we did, all these pieces. It's been a work. Stuff you really don't want to have to do, but it does need to be done. One more shot, just some of the damage from the guide ... Or sorry, the oil jet that was flailing around and banging against the chain and scraping.
There's a lot of bad noises going on. I guess we could probably get to the picture just showing the completed job where everything's back together. Again, here's the chains, guides bolted back in. Here's that jet that we ... That I mentioned earlier. You can see there's a whole arm here that comes around and twists around and that piece was of course mangled and bent and twisted. There was this piece left, but this one was nowhere to be found. Part of this jet here bolts up underneath this particular piece here, so somehow these bolts came loose. We don't know why or how, but they did and that's sort of what caused everything to go bad.
Mark: We'll go back to, how would those bolts ... Would they just work themselves loose? Was it a bad repair job in the past? Any clues?
Bernie: We're not really sure. It's possible that this timing chain could have been replaced in the past. I haven't had a chance to quiz the owner on it. He hadn't mentioned it and it is ... The vehicle's about 100,000 kilometres, which is sort of where we normally find the chains start to rattle. The 2010 to 2012 for certain have a lot of issues with the timing chains because the ... I've shown this in a previous ... We have a previous podcast on this ... The tensioner, the plunger of the tensioner and the guide rail are kind of substandard in size. They should have been made bigger, and so they tend to wear out and cause the chain to start rattling.
This had the updated type in it, so it may be either one of two things. Either someone had done the repair and not tightened the bolts properly, or B, it just wasn't ... It just somehow from the factory it wasn't tightened properly and it came loose. That's not usually something you see. Engines are manufactured really well, but it's something that can happen.
Mark: With all those chunks of metal floating around in there, I imagine it could have been pretty catastrophic.
Bernie: Oh yeah. I'd say by the Grace of God or a miracle or good luck, whatever you want to call it, that chunk of metal did not go actually between the chain and the gears, because had it done that, that would have been very easy for that to happen. It would have definitely jammed up the chain in the engine and it would have ... It would have been in one big boom destroying the engine. Pistons and valves would have collided and the repair bill would have been substantially higher.
Mark: I'm assuming the repair was just getting all these parts back in proper order and retiming everything and making sure it's back into good condition?
Bernie: Yeah. I mean, essentially the job was the same as any normal timing chain job we would do on one of these engines other than we had to repair those bolt phalanges that were broken and of course replace that jet, which we don't normally do when the timing chain's rattling. Other than that, it was basically the same level of work.
Mark: Anything that the owner could have done to possibly prepare for this? Or not had this happen? Maybe be as catastrophic or dangerous as it was?
Bernie: Well, yeah, I mean, I think the lesson to be learned out of this is when you hear a noise in your engine, especially a rattle noise, it's critical to have it looked at and fixed right away. Now, I say ... I mean, the repair bill for this job is not really gonna be much more ... A little more than it would have been if we'd addressed it earlier, but had it driven even a little further or just ... It could have already had that piece fall off and break and jump ... Go into the chain. It really ... The preventative maintenance here ... We often have this ... J.D. Power and Associates today ... Study saying it's 46% cheaper to maintain your car and fix things before they're broken, but I'm starting to see in a lot of cases it's actually hundreds of percent cheaper some of the time to fix things. When you hear a little noise, fix it, because this job would have been triple the cost had the engine failed, or more.
Mark: Again, we'll talk about Range Rover Sport Supercharged. This is a pretty high-performance vehicle. How are they for reliability?
Bernie: Pretty good. We talk about some of the timing chain noises. It seems these Supercharger nose cones are an issue on pretty well all of them, including Jaguars with the same engine. Other than that, the cars, they're pretty good. There's lots on them to go wrong and over the years the suspension compressors go bad. Those are things we see on Range Rovers. I haven't really done too many on these models yet, but they're at the age where we'll probably start seeing them and be doing them.
Overall, pretty good. I think they seem to get better and better as time goes by, but these timing chain issues with these are a little bit of a ... I'd say disappointment. I mean, it's work for us. That's a good thing, because we never complain about that, but from an owner's perspective, it's a little annoying having to do that, a timing chain at such a young age.
Mark: Well, it's a high-performance, ultra-luxury vehicle that has a lot of things that are very convenient and very comfortable, but also very expensive to fix.
Bernie: Exactly, exactly. That's right, and I just think about brakes, too, on these things. I mean, they tend to wear pretty fast. They have massive, enormous brakes, but there's a lot of vehicle to stop and performance ... Things just tend to wear out and ... Great vehicle and good used buy. They tend to depreciate quite well, so that's a good thing if you're looking for a good luxury used vehicle, but you will spend a fair bit of money fixing it.
Mark: There you go. If you're needing any kind of service on your Range Rover in Vancouver, the guys to see, the experts in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call and book ahead, they're busy. Or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com. Hundreds of articles, videos on there. Literally hundreds. As well, our YouTube Channel. Eight years almost of videos on there of all makes and models of cars and repairs. Of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Thank you, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark. I was just thinking maybe one ... Pretty soon we'll be saying there's thousands of videos on there at the rate we're going, so it's kind of exciting. Anyway, thanks for watching. Thanks, Mark.