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AZ VLX Malibu

2003 Wakesetter VLX Motor Failure - help!

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AZ VLX Malibu

I have a 2003 Malibu Wakesetter VLX with the 335 Monsoon engine. Okay here is the deal - the boat has 150 hours on it - about 80 of them heavily abused in salt water (before I got it). Anyway a few days ago I was driving back at almost full speed 5,000 rpm about 40mph. Anyway the RPMs dropped to 4200 RPM the boat slowed to about 30 MPH and began to run rough. All instrument indications were normal - oil pressure, temp etc but the motor began to puff white smoke in the engine compartment and out the exhaust.

I pulled the throttle back to idle and pretty much limped back into the dock with the motor running rough. I had the compression check done today - cylinder 3 was at 0 and 5 was at 30. The rest were a normal 160. I have talked to several people about options and have heard I might have a bad head gasket to bad cylinders.

The question is what do I do next? What I don’t want to get into is some ridiculous shop rates $70 an hour+ in Arizona to tear the motor down and have it rebuilt. From a few people that have been there - I keep hearing that a full replacement motor is in order. Please keep in mind this motor might have significant saltwater damage - I doubt the original owner ever flushed the motor.

So where do I get a full longblock? Or where do you recommend to send the engine for a rebuild? Obviously it is winter and I am not in a huge hurry. How far should I let a mechanic tear into the existing motor and see what they can find wrong with it?

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Pistol Pete

If the motor had never been flushed, and was running salt water through it, I'd replace the whole motor. You should be able to tell by looking at the motor how extensive the corrosion is. The previous owner didn't have a closed cooling system?

motors here and here.

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Malibuswany

I have a 2003 Malibu Wakesetter VLX with the 335 Monsoon engine. Okay here is the deal - the boat has 150 hours on it - about 80 of them heavily abused in salt water (before I got it). Anyway a few days ago I was driving back at almost full speed 5,000 rpm about 40mph. Anyway the RPMs dropped to 4200 RPM the boat slowed to about 30 MPH and began to run rough. All instrument indications were normal - oil pressure, temp etc but the motor began to puff white smoke in the engine compartment and out the exhaust.

I pulled the throttle back to idle and pretty much limped back into the dock with the motor running rough. I had the compression check done today - cylinder 3 was at 0 and 5 was at 30. The rest were a normal 160. I have talked to several people about options and have heard I might have a bad head gasket to bad cylinders.

The question is what do I do next? What I don't want to get into is some ridiculous shop rates $70 an hour+ in Arizona to tear the motor down and have it rebuilt. From a few people that have been there - I keep hearing that a full replacement motor is in order. Please keep in mind this motor might have significant saltwater damage - I doubt the original owner ever flushed the motor.

So where do I get a full longblock? Or where do you recommend to send the engine for a rebuild? Obviously it is winter and I am not in a huge hurry. How far should I let a mechanic tear into the existing motor and see what they can find wrong with it?

Where in AZ are you?

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AZ VLX Malibu

Where in AZ are you?

I am in Glendale Arizona.

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AZ VLX Malibu

If the motor had never been flushed, and was running salt water through it, I'd replace the whole motor. You should be able to tell by looking at the motor how extensive the corrosion is. The previous owner didn't have a closed cooling system?

motors here and here.

The boat was used at Thunderbird lake in AZ - which has one of the highest saltwater contents you can run your boat on. From what I hear the damage can be up to 2x ocean water. What I am trying to figure out is what makes more sense - just putting in a whole new block or throwing huge money into rebuilding the motor. I just get the sinking feeling a motor shop will keep "finding things" considering the salt water damage

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Malibuswany

I am in Glendale Arizona.

I know of a good shop in Havasu

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the_dude

The items most likely to be "damaged" from saltwater use aren't the long block components of an engine. Those are thick cast iron pieces that would take a prodigious amount of salt corrosion to actually damage. It's doable but it's much more likely for you to find damage to other components like the exhaust manifolds. If they are good, then the block and heads are "probably" fine. It is interesting you have having problems in cylinders 3 and 5 as those or 4&6 and the most common to have head gasket failures occur between them, though I'd expect zero compression in both. Pulling a head off really shouldn't take more than a single hour in the shop to determine exactly what that specific problem is. $70 or whichever is worth making an educated decision on.

If you have cylinder or piston damage then I'd think hard about fixing it versus throwing a new long block in it. For the labor you pay to have the engine pulled assuming you pay someone to do it, it's not that much more to throw a brand new long block in IMO. Otherwise if it is just a head gasket you can have that replaced pretty easily in the boat.

EDIT: One other thing. It might be harder to deduce on a boat but the last time I saw a 350 with a blown head gasket between 3 & 5 it made quite loud ticking noise that almost sounded like a valve problem. So if you run the motor listen closely at the engine. You can make a poor mans stethoscope with a piece of fuel line or heater hose (any rubber hose) to isolate the sound.

Edited by the_dude

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tvzzz

First thing I would do is put compressed air to the bad cylinders. By doing this you could determine if the compression is being lost via cylinder head or blowing by the piston rings. You will need to pull the valve covers and turn the motor to ensure the valves are closed on the cylinder your testing. Place an air nozzle in the spark plug hole and listen for leak, if you have problems sealing the spark plug hole with the nozzle you can make a custom fitting with on old spark plug and thread it in there. This way you could narrow down your problem a little more.

Edit for more info - Did the white smoke smell like oil? Maybe check for any difference in oil level and color.

Edited by tvzzz

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99response

No matter what the problem is you're going to have to tear down the top end, do that and figure out what the problem is head gasket, bad cylinders, etc then you can make a more educated decision.

If its a head gasket and you can fix it yourself I'd do that before throwing $3k into a new motor, nevermind the labor to install.

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Bake's Marine

The question is what do I do next? What I don't want to get into is some ridiculous shop rates $70 an hour+ in Arizona to tear the motor down and have it rebuilt. From a few people that have been there - I keep hearing that a full replacement motor is in order. Please keep in mind this motor might have significant saltwater damage - I doubt the original owner ever flushed the motor.

$70 a hour? That's not bad at all, our shop rate is $120 and we are really low compared to shops in the area. Most are $150-$160 http://www.seattleboat.com/content.asp?nav=116708&cpid=9894&

Monsoons are a really strong 5.7L 350, the first thing I would look at is valve train since it is so rare to have internal engine failure on that motor. Bad heads or head gaskets are good possibility if the boat was exposed to salt for a long time.

-Paul

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nuttyskier2002

I will have to disagree with the dude on his statement about cyls 3 & 5. On a small block Chevy (which is what you have) the cylinders are numbered 1, 3, 5 & 7 on one side and 2, 4, 6 & 8 on the other. The way the valves are arranged in the head results in a common problem for the gasket to blow right in the middle of either head. Either 1 and 3 or 4 and 6. The reason for this is that in the middle of the head you have 2 exhaust valves that are back to back. To prove this to yourself look at how the exhaust ports exit the heads. This situation results in heat concentrated in that area. Anytime you have low (or no) compression on adjacent cylinders of a small block Chevy motor (especially in the middle of the head) immediately suspect a blown head gasket.

The previous poster has a very good point. To start any repair or to verify your troubleshooting,... you have to pull the head. By doing so you can verify that you don't have a burnt piston. If all pistons look good, clean the deck surface thoroughly and check it with a straight edge and feeler gauge. Do the same with the head. If straight and no cracks just replace the head gasket. Get yourself a manual and follow the torque specs. Write back for any specific questions. Good luck!

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Lance B. Johnson

$70 a hour? That's not bad at all, our shop rate is $120 and we are really low compared to shops in the area. Most are $150-$160 http://www.seattleboat.com/content.asp?nav=116708&cpid=9894&

Monsoons are a really strong 5.7L 350, the first thing I would look at is valve train since it is so rare to have internal engine failure on that motor. Bad heads or head gaskets are good possibility if the boat was exposed to salt for a long time.

-Paul

To add to what Paul said- If you get the head off and find the problem is due to salt water corrosion, it would be a very good idea to replace both head gaskets. If one failed, the other is probably not that far behind it. It is not much more work to do it this way, and a lot of extra insurance. Good Luck, oh and 70 an hour is a bargain!

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AZ VLX Malibu

To add to what Paul said- If you get the head off and find the problem is due to salt water corrosion, it would be a very good idea to replace both head gaskets. If one failed, the other is probably not that far behind it. It is not much more work to do it this way, and a lot of extra insurance. Good Luck, oh and 70 an hour is a bargain!

Okay - I will take the boat in Thursday and let you guys know what I find out. I am sure pulling for a gasket vs a new long block. I have only been able to put 20 hours on this boat so far and looking forward to putting in a full summer on the lake! Thank you all for the advice..

Dan

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Bake's Marine

Okay - I will take the boat in Thursday and let you guys know what I find out. I am sure pulling for a gasket vs a new long block. I have only been able to put 20 hours on this boat so far and looking forward to putting in a full summer on the lake! Thank you all for the advice..

Dan

Can't hurt to investigate, if the motor is junk then your just going to replace it with a new long block anyways. Rip the heads off and it will be obvious if the head gasket is blown. Have you even pulled the valve covers off yet to see if you broken valve train parts? That's the easiest first step that takes 10 minutes to inspect.

Wish you luck!

-Paul

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the_dude

I will have to disagree with the dude on his statement about cyls 3 & 5. On a small block Chevy (which is what you have) the cylinders are numbered 1, 3, 5 & 7 on one side and 2, 4, 6 & 8 on the other. The way the valves are arranged in the head results in a common problem for the gasket to blow right in the middle of either head. Either 1 and 3 or 4 and 6. The reason for this is that in the middle of the head you have 2 exhaust valves that are back to back. To prove this to yourself look at how the exhaust ports exit the heads. This situation results in heat concentrated in that area. Anytime you have low (or no) compression on adjacent cylinders of a small block Chevy motor (especially in the middle of the head) immediately suspect a blown head gasket.

You and I were trying to say the same things but you are flat out wrong. Cylinders 3&5 and 4&6 are the ones with two exhaust valves back to back which is why I called that point out and I've personally seen this problem before.

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nuttyskier2002

You and I were trying to say the same things but you are flat out wrong. Cylinders 3&5 and 4&6 are the ones with two exhaust valves back to back which is why I called that point out and I've personally seen this problem before.

You are right and I must correct what I wrote above. Instead of saying 1 and 3 I meant to say 3 and 5. I re-read your original post and I agree that you and I are trying to say the same. I originally thought you where saying that 4 and 6 are more common to blow and that 3 and 5 are not. But after reading again I must recant my original reply. Sorry Dude for the misunderstanding

To all: 3 and 5 and/or 4 and 6 are the most common to have head gasket issues between them. That is right in the middle of either head. Also it is common for small block Chevy heads to crack right between the exhaust valves of these cylinders if the engine overheats. So check for cracks there when you pull the heads.

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AZ VLX Malibu

Can't hurt to investigate, if the motor is junk then your just going to replace it with a new long block anyways. Rip the heads off and it will be obvious if the head gasket is blown. Have you even pulled the valve covers off yet to see if you broken valve train parts? That's the easiest first step that takes 10 minutes to inspect.

Wish you luck!

-Paul

There is a boat shop down the road from me that has been heavily advising me to bring it buy to take the heads off and see what he finds. He is a big GM guy and is not convinced I fried the motor. I should only be into the inspection for one hour labor - worse case I spent $70 nailing down the motor is bad. Best case I just saved $4k.

If the motor is bad - a brand new replacement is $4k or the remanufacured long block is $3k. Does this sound right to you guys? Anyone know anyplace to get a discount on that kind of stuff? The Malibu dealer in AZ closed a few months back and I have been advised there are no Idmar dealers in AZ. Any help would be appretiated! Also - obviously I am not in a huge hurry. If I need to take the motor out and rebuild the same one that is okay to....

Thanks!

Dan

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Bake's Marine

There is a boat shop down the road from me that has been heavily advising me to bring it buy to take the heads off and see what he finds. He is a big GM guy and is not convinced I fried the motor. I should only be into the inspection for one hour labor - worse case I spent $70 nailing down the motor is bad. Best case I just saved $4k.

If the motor is bad - a brand new replacement is $4k or the remanufacured long block is $3k. Does this sound right to you guys? Anyone know anyplace to get a discount on that kind of stuff? The Malibu dealer in AZ closed a few months back and I have been advised there are no Idmar dealers in AZ. Any help would be appretiated! Also - obviously I am not in a huge hurry. If I need to take the motor out and rebuild the same one that is okay to....

Thanks!

Dan

Dan,

From Indmar a long block is $4275 +freight: http://www.bakesonline.com/searchresult.aspx?CategoryID=789

I know people have found better deals on long blocks but I'm not sure what the differences are.

I wouldn't do re-man, unless you find somebody that really knows what they are doing and will warranty it parts and labor. I've had a few do it yourself customers and have had really bad luck with re-mans in boats for some reason.

Let us know what you find out. Since it is really rare for a Monsoon to have something go wrong, it's got me interested.

-Paul

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