Chevy Duramax Diesel Engine Teardown Shows Pistons Destroyed By Valves

It’s time to become the Sherlock Holmes of automotive engineers and tear this engine apart to find the reason for the powerplant’s failure. The mill is a General Motors LM2 3.0-liter inline-six Duramax turbodiesel engine with a catastrophic failure. The powerplant came out of a 2000 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with around 146,000 miles.

Things start out looking fine. There isn’t a rod sticking out the side of the block or an exploded valve cover. Eric from the I Do Cars YouTube channel starts by removing accessories from the engine, like the fueling system. The first hint that something is awry comes when he takes off the upper timing cover because it doesn’t seem like there’s enough pressure on the timing chain. 

Removing the lower timing cover reveals more evidence of problems. There are big chunks of metal on the crank position sensor. Plus, oil with metal flakes โ€“ or as Eric calls it, “forbidden glitter” โ€“ is on the bottom of this area. There’s clearly something wrong.

From there, the situation only gets worse. Taking off the valve cover reveals metal-contaminated oil on the camshaft caps and too much wear inside these pieces.

Eric pulls the cylinder head off at 26:48, and that’s when the true extent of the damage is realized. Each piston in this inline-six diesel has deep indentations from colliding with the valves. It’s a catastrophic engine failure. 

The horror scene isn’t over, though. Removing the bottom of the oil pan reveals a sludge of metal flakes. There’s nothing in the oil pickup line. Eric thinks the vehicle might have been running low on lubrication when this failure occurred.

Taking apart the rest of the engine reveals that one of the rod bearings is gone. Presumably, the pieces of metal in the oil come from the mill grinding it up. 

At the end of the video, Eric offers his theory about the cause of this failure. The engine uses an oil-pressure-operated timing chain tensioner. If there’s a low amount of lubrication, then there might not be enough pressure on this piece, which could cause the timing to jump. On an interference engine like the 3.0 Duramax, that usually means the pistons and valves crash into each other.

That’s just a hypothesis, though. Watch the video, and tell us what you think caused this massive engine failure in the comments.

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