My Dodge 600 SE, a 1987 car, 2.5 engine, was precious to me. I loved it and tried to take good care of it. It has 176,311 miles on it. On Saturday I was driving it on the freeway, in the rain, and it was doing fine. I was in a hurry to get to a party and going as fast as 65 mph. Suddenly, after I had driven about 20 miles, it seemed to have lost power and would no longer accelerate. I pulled over to the side. I didn’t see any engine/oil lights go on.
I thought maybe I had gotten bad gas, as I had just put in half a tank of gas. Or I thought maybe there was water in the gas tank. It started up and I drove it a bit further, and then it died, and I put on the flasher lights. I was in the slow lane. A car behind me didn’t see I had come to a stop and almost crashed into me, swerving around me to the right. I knew I was in a bad spot, in the rain, so I started it up again and was able to go a little ways, and ended up in a dangerous spot between an off ramp and the slow lane. I could not get it to move after that.
I was on the way to a Flapper Party in full Flapper regalia, with no jacket, just a feather boa. I looked a sight! People would not stop to help. I think they thought I was a transvestite! I was so mad. Finally a nice man pulled over. He said we needed to get it off the freeway, so he pushed it. I may have put it in gear into neutral or drive while he was pushing it, with it off, or I might have tried turning it on and putting it into neutral. I can’t remember which. He got it to the side of the road.
A woman then offered to call the Highway Patrol. The Highway Patrol were too busy to help me, but a policeman came by. I called a tow truck. It was a long wait. After about an hour, a woman driving a Mercedes too fast crashed into the wall of the far freeway lane, parallel to me. She had hydroplaned on the water. Oh, my. She got lots of help, and when MY towtruck arrived, he took her car instead of mine.
Since I had already paid my ticket for the party, I decided to try driving my car there, still thinking maybe it was only water in the gas. It did start up, and I drove it slowly a ways on the side of the freeway, but I got worried it might not be a good idea and came to a stop just as the tow truck was reappearing. When we got it to the shop, my friend showed up and looked under the hood and said the engine appeared to have blown. The cap was missing and all the oil had leaked out. The repairman said the timing belt had shifted and knocked off that cap. It is a non-interference engine, but for some reason it was destroyed.
What could cause a timing belt to shift like that? I have had the timing belt replaced on this car twice. The first time a very experienced shade-tree mechanic did it, maybe 10 years ago. After a couple of weeks, that belt wasn’t working right, so he had re-done it, and I had no problems until maybe 3 years ago, when the timing belt needed replacing again. A mechanic replaced it for me for only $188. I assumed he replaced the tensioner and all parts associated with the timing belt, because he seems very competent and conscientious. But I don’t know that for sure. Could a part have just worn out and caused the belt to shift like that? What is your best guess? I don’t recall hearing any suspicious noises associated with engines blowing. However, a couple of weeks ago I did hear a new noise, kind of like a squeal or a screech or a rattle or a hum that was new. It lasted a few days and went away. That was during in town driving. This was the first time I’ve driven the cars at freeway speeds since I heard that noise. I had forgotten all about it until researching this problem. I had thought this good old car would last forever. I had hoped for at least 200,000 miles. What did I do wrong? All feedback will be appreciated.