Effect of hitting snowdrift


2007 Mitsubishi Endeavor (5000 miles, and ploughed into an unexpected 5 feet deep snowdrift at less than 30 mph, and just stopped on the road. Once plowed out, failed to start and took to dealer who states timing mechanism/belt and valves are damaged, result is $2,500. We cannot understand how a fairly gentle incident would cause this type of damage? Anyone got any ideas? Thanks


is there any body damage? did the air bags go off?


It sounds to me like the impact caused the belt to jump a few cogs. Unusual, but strange things happen with impact.

I tried looking the car up on the Mitsu website and nowhere on the site could I find anything indicating whether this was a transverse mounted engine. If it is, as I suspect, then the impact would have been lateral (sideways) to the axis the timing belt turn on, so causing the belt to jump the cogs would be a definite possibility. Actually, I’d now consider your accident a “proof” of the theory.

Sorry. But at least everybody is okay.


I recall being a passenger in a co workers one ton 4x4 pickup when he drove it into a snow bank. The snow that packed into the engine compartment did throw the belts, and also bent the steering rods.
At one time Dodge’s old 2.2 engine timing belt could be thrown off by snow. I believe there was a service bulletin on it to add a shield. So its definitely plausible.


It wasn’t gentle and the snow rammed into the moving parts and can do real harm. If you had a manual transmission, the damage from the sudden stop could have been worse. It’s a transverse engine and you can do lots of damage. I wouldn’t be surprised if the engine mounta are damaged.


30 MPH is not gentle, and while I’ve seen some weird stuff on cars I’m a bit puzzled how this would cause valve damage.
A couple of questions here may be in order.
What are the no-start symptoms? Any coughing or sputtering?
Any odd noises at first; tapping, chattering, etc.?
Did the engine sound normal when cranking over other than simply not starting or did the engine appear to crank over faster than normal and rotate faster?
Are there any tapping noises when cranking the engine over?

If an engine sustains cylinder head valve damage for any reason it’s very noticeable when cranking the engine over because the engine will spin over much faster due to lack of compression. Valve damage is easily verified with a compression test and one would hope they have done this procedure before giving you the bad news.
I’m a bit skeptical about this but without some detailed info I just flat do not know for sure.

(Wonder if an '07 Endeavor uses an inertia switch? These are designed to cut off the fuel pump in the event of an accident).


Several tests can be done to substantiate the claims. They may just be going by sound. An off-road impact can dent the oil pan into contact with the moving crankshaft. This can sound much worse than it is. It would be difficult for you to double-check the dealer’s “findings”. The dealer has your access to your car, for tests and inspections, blocked. If you were paying, and not the insurance company, for the repairs, you could take the car to another shop.


OK4450–This is exactly what I was thinking. If it is something as simple as an inertia switch that needs to be reset, it would be really tragic if the OP had to pay for all of those repairs that the dealership claims are necessary.

OP–Look through your Owner’s Manual for a reference to a switch that needs to be reset after an impact in order to restore power to the electric fuel pump. While this is probably more hope than reality, it is worth locating the switch (typically behind a panel in the rear cargo area) and determining whether resetting that switch will allow the engine to be started.

Good luck!!


I’ve no experience with Mitsubishis, (“effect of hitting snow” intriqued me), but maybe this will still apply. I had a problem with a Plymouth Voyager and the dealer told me it was a broken timing belt. I couldn’t afford to have him fix it, so I took the van home and played around on my own. My problem turned out to be the crankshaft position sensor. Is there a chance hitting the snow drift disconnected, or broke, the terminal end on a connector. Might be worth crawling under the car to see.