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Daniel Elsner - Cam Failure #594

New 8/30/05

I am brand new to this mailing list; I own a 1997 SHO.

I would like to start by saying I have read through the timing chain change posting on the care n' feeding section of the site dated 10/12/04 and found it to be very informative. I would also like to say that by no means am I an auto mechanic, so any advice anyone can give me will be well appreciated.

I have only owned this car for about 4 months, and have really enjoyed it up to this point. Last week, I was driving down a state highway when the car began smoking and the engine kept wanting to die. I could get it to putter along a little, but it was acting as if the engine was not getting fuel properly. I pulled off the road only to find the smoke was coming from underneath the car from the exhaust pipe. I looked under there to see the entire thing lit up bright orange, with the area around the catalytic converter especially bright.

I immediately had the vehicle towed to the nearest Ford dealership. They had it for a couple of days, at which time they recommended that I "take the vehicle to someone who specializes in the SHO". They told me the timing was out, the plugs were swimming in fuel, and the vehicle is running on only the front 4 cylinders; they could not give me a reason why or a solution. They did confirm that fuel was being pushed back into the exhaust and burning within the catalytic converter. I called Ford directly to locate a dealership that was equipped to work on the vehicle (even though they should all be) and towed my vehicle there.

I just received word yesterday from this dealership that the timing chains need to be replaced because the timing is out, along with new seals and plugs to the tune of $5700.00. This of course is about $1000 more than the blue book value of my vehicle. After reading the information on the forums, I have a good mind that they just don't want to work on it.

If anyone out there can offer me any input or has had a similar situation and can share any information, I would very much appreciate it. Right now I'm even looking at the possibility of having the engine rebuilt and reinstalling it. One concern is that if the timing chains are bad, what caused this to happen? To my knowledge, the whole reason Ford went with timing chains on these models is so they wouldn't need servicing.

I apologize in advance to anyone if something similar has already been addressed several times by someone else. I looked over the site as best I could prior to writing this message.

--Dan E.

My friend welcome. You sound an awful lot like a cam failure.

Mike Yeager

Looking through your post ( and I may have missed it. ) where are you from. There are a lot of people out there that can help you, for a lot less then a dealer. For now, no more driving the car. It sounds like you may have done far too much damage to repair you motor with just a cam and some valves. All that hammering of some pistons and valves most likely will damage a couple of the pistons, maybe more.

Mike Yeager

God, I hope my cams don't go before I can afford to have the weld done.... -  Jason

1st, what state/ town do you live in?

2nd, ain't no $7,500 timing chain, I'd bet Uncle Larry's one good arm you have a cam failure.

3rd, If the dealership can't correctly figure this out, I would not give them $7,500 to sort it out.

4th, Don't drive the car, do not start the motor, until someone can we can help and educate you.

5th, see http://www.v8sho.com/SHO/CamFailureLinks.htm you have a lot of reading to do,

6th, see http://www.v8sho.com/SHO/NewGuyorRecentCamFailure.htm you may want to join the class action lawsuit (to get your money back) and please give us year, miles and VIN and other info.

7th, good news, you came to the right place, we can help you. 412 882 1100 - anytime ask for Tim


BTW, the chain is fine, you need 4 good camshafts.

----- Original Message -----
From: Daniel Elsner
To: Timothy Wright
Sent: Tuesday, August 30, 2005 9:53 AM
Subject: Re: timing chains

1. I live in Dublin (Columbus), OH
2. That's what I'm hearing.
3. I'm not.
4. I've been towing it around.
5. Started this already.
6. I'll look into this too.
7. Good to know.

Dan E.

To the best of my knowledge only one car on this list ever had a true "timing chain issue" and it was caused when the nylon chain guides snapped of the aluminum bracket and lodged between the chain and the crank sprocket. I can tell you from experience though that the second dealer I took my car to said I also needed a timing chain even though the sprocket had obviously separated from the camshaft, of course they would have only known that if they REALLY opened up the motor to investigate the rear head. The first dealer I took it to told me I just needed new lifters. In all likelihood you have lost the sprocket and will need several valves and a camshaft at the very least.

Carter Fuji


You have already gotten good advice from this group, and lousy advice from your Ford dealers.

As you should know by now, the cam chain is most certainly NOT the problem. You have a cam failure. Tim's note is spot on. Join the class action suit, and maybe you will get at least something back in the future.

Find a shop that works on SHO's and you may get out for less than five big ones ($5000).

A used engine (with the cams welded before installation) may be cheaper than fixing the one you have. Most certainly you have metal throughout the engine and maybe bearing damage in the bottom end. With all the running done under 4 cylinder conditions, a full rebuild would be in order. These are great cars and engines, once you get the cams welded.

If ANYONE on this list is driving a V8 without the cams being welded, I hope this and the many other horror stories will convince you to get the cams welded NOW, not next week. Today would not be too soon. Any of the four cams can go bad at any moment from near zero miles on the car to 200,000 miles. Nobody mortal knows if or when it will happen, we only know the odds are not remotely with you. Once the cams are welded, the engine seems to be long lived and dependable.

Don Mallinson


For those of you who don't know my story, I was cam failure #594. I am happy to announce that as of about a week ago, my '97 is back up and running, thanks to Brian King and his cohorts over in the SHOp in Marion, OH. There's still a few things I have to get done to her: alternator bearings are whining, SES light keeps coming on for O2 sensor wiring malfunction code, and I'll more than likely be springing for one of those tranny coolers soon. Other than that, she's running great and I'm very happy to be driving her again.

Brian did an excellent job on the repair. I wound up swapping the entire engine and transmission from one I found up on fleabay that I bought for $500!! The guy who sold it to me gave me basically everything under the hood, so now I even have quite a collection of spare parts. The old engine was verified as a cam failure and there are pics. The new one was TIG welded. All in all, I had the A/C serviced, engine welded and swapped, new plugs and coil packs, transmission was flushed along with filter and seals replaced, front end alignment, half shaft swapped out from the unit I purchased, and tires rotated. The best part is I got out for just under $3000.00 total (maybe just a tad over including all the towing/gas fees and stealer "tests").

I know it's been addressed to death, but if there's anyone out there who still has yet to get their cams welded, let this serve as an example of what can happen. I was lucky enough to find this listserv and all the great people on it and wound up getting out relatively cheap. I was also extremely lucky to find the engine I got on ebay. I just wish I would have known about the cam issue BEFORE they failed. The $600 to $1000 it costs to get the cams welded is far cheaper than having them fail, even when you get out as cheap as I did... and it's definitely less of a hassle!

I want to personally thank everyone who has provided me with advice, assistance and information since I've joined the listserv.

I've attached some pics. I have more if anyone's interested.

Dan E.
'97 Silver
TIG Welded

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