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95 tracker timing
05-02-2018, 03:12 AM
Post: #1
95 tracker timing
I'm working on my son's 95 geo tracker, 16 valve with the california 6 prong plug. After 3 days in the garage it's running okay, but only at about 30 degrees BTDC... skip the next paragraph if you don't like stories.

He was driving to college (local) on a typical April day in upstate NY (wet, cool, not raining and cold). Car started running a little rough, not awful, but it's time for a pitstop. Fills up with fresh fuel for the tracker and Funions for the driver, and about 2 miles down the road it's now running really poorly. It will hardly pull itself away from the stop sign, and crawls into a parking spot when I get the call. I trailer it home, and it's running like the timing is shot (belt intact) with difficulty starting, semi-rough idle and even for the tracker it's lacking power. Pull it into the garage and did the following:

New timing belt/tensioner, check all ignition (plugs, wires) and firing fine, fuel at rail but no pressure tester. Still running awful, hard to start. Double check timing, confirmed belt timed correctly (E@12 o'clock, crank on tdc notch,). Confirmed distributor at 1 o'clock when cyl 1 is top of ignition cycle, cap/rotor appear okay. So I started playing with the timing (jumper installed) and the car evens out and runs good, but only at severely advanced timing. I'm way beyond the timing marks provided, but best guess is about 30 degrees BTDC. The car will drive like this, a little sluggish at low RPM's but pulls at least as good as ever above 1600 rpm's.

To try to combat the easy stuff early; yes, the timing belt was installed (and re-checked) correctly, the cap/rotor are fairly new and the timing was done off cyl 1 spark plug wire (frontmost cyl). Rotor was at 1 o'clock with cyl 1 at top of ignition stroke. Distributor cap is maxed out for advancing timing on adjustment bolt, so it's not as simple as I reinstalled the accessory drive belt on the crank a bolt off, if that's even possible.

Any suggestions?
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05-02-2018, 07:38 AM
Post: #2
RE: 95 tracker timing
So crank bolt was/is fine, and I already ran a compression test (all 4 around 115 lbs). Also, the first cyl. was at TDC when expected on the crank by the timing mark. Not to mention the car starts, idles, and drives normally with the timing set where it is. I may pull the cam off the crank just to verify nothing weird is happening, but if that key had sheared or even distorted I'd have a TDC mark lined up on the crank but cyl 1 (or cyl 4 for setting the belt) wouldn't be at TDC unless I'm missing something...

I was hoping I had set the crank accessory pulley one bolt off and the marks were off but nope. That also wouldn't explain why the cap had to be at the max BTDC setting if it was just an issue of the mark on the lower cam...

So something somewhere is out of line, but I'm not even sure where to begin. I may order a new cap/rotor just to put that to bed, but it's not like the plastic suddenly re-molded itself 25 degrees off.
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05-02-2018, 09:35 PM (This post was last modified: 05-03-2018 10:26 PM by fixkick.)
Post: #3
RE: 95 tracker timing
That was just to make sure they were all the same, it wasn't at WOT and not peaked, closer to idle and cold. Also, a quick google search for this engine at 100k has typical compression between 115 and 125 so yours is amazing. (not an expert, but not a new engine) I wanted to make sure I didn't have a bad cyl, so if one had been 70 I'd start more elaborate testing at that point, like positive pressure etc.

It was a "hail mary", not that the math lines up. I was trying to explain that I had re-checked everything. The pin is intact, the keyway on the crank cam looks to be in good shape.

NOW that' we've covered that I do know how to turn a wrench and this isn't a question about how to pull spark plugs or divide 360 into 5(and I realize I haven't been a forum member long enough to be too sarcastic), my original question related to how an engine could run, and run well, with the timing about 30 degrees advanced.

The timing marks indicate the engine is 30 degrees advanced, and the distributor cap is advanced as far as it will go, so it seems unlikely to be an issue with a mark OR the distributor. What would cause an engine to prefer to run so far advanced? Keep in mind that something happened while driving the car to cause the symptoms that lead to all the work described in the original post. There are a thousand youtube videos, and this very site has an amazing database, so the answer will likely not be straightforward. I'm posting to hopefully find the one guy who has had this happened AND has found the cause.

If you'd like, and it'll save you daydreaming about me living on a mountaintop in Nepal, I can go do a full compression test and report back. In the meantime I'll keep my jokes about bolts and my improvised testing results to myself.Big Grin
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05-03-2018, 03:07 AM (This post was last modified: 05-03-2018 08:41 PM by fixkick.)
Post: #4
RE: 95 tracker timing
I'll try to break this down, simply, becasue there seems to be a difference in how you and I communicate.

Fact 1: I guess I'll start with the basics. The car starts, runs, drives, and in all other ways currently operates normally.
Fact 2: The mark on the crank pulley is showing I'm at least 30 degrees advanced.
Fact 3: The distributor is maxed out on advancing the timing.

This morning: confirming an average of 185 psi compression on each cyl. when fully tested. Tucked into bed, mint on pillow eaten, soft sound of a distant thunderstorm out the window.

No blinking CEL, and the engine does not start backwards or theoretically the drive gears would move me in reverse... correct? See fact 1
CEL is on when starting the car, not blinking.
No exhaust smell/smoke suggesting running rich.

Back to the original question, but using you as a sounding board I'm thinking I'm going to have to go completely remove the crank cam and be absolutely positive it hasn't moved. Then the 30 degrees advance would be close to the appropriate timing for the pistons, but 30 degrees off for the valves. It should still run horribly, even if the key has spun on the nose, but it's not running horribly. This is all I can think to check and you're trying to "teach" me something at every opportunity instead of discuss potential causes.
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05-03-2018, 10:15 PM (This post was last modified: 05-03-2018 10:25 PM by fixkick.)
Post: #5
RE: 95 tracker timing
1. The car starts with a turn of the key, idles smooth, has somewhat sluggish initial acceleration but once above about 1600 RPM's drives normally. I haven't taken it for a road trip yet, but 1/2 mile up and back seemed sufficient for my purposes.

2. The car will stall at 5 degrees (I have the same sticker on my hood, cool right?) I'm guessing 30 degrees because I'm out past the timing marks. It's set where it is, and will stay stable, because that's where I found it likes to be (hence the original post). Other than asking the car to explain in interpretive dance, I have no idea what your question of "why" means.

3. When you grip the distributor cap in your hand (right hand for me) and (assuming the bolt is loosened to allow for movement) turn it to adjust the timing, the bolt will only allow for so much travel in the advance/retard directions. In my case it's pushed as far as the bolt will allow in the advance timing direction. Hence (maxed out) at approximately 30 degrees advanced timing at idle, parked in a garage, where it stays stable (no bounce).

You are still looking for the error in my explanation, because none of this makes mechanical sense, which is why I was on here to begin with. Stop looking at the stars, where is the tent? If your next post isn't "check this" it's likely not helpful, and as much as I appreciate the attention given you're the only other voice in this conversation, it increasingly seems you're simply unwilling to say "I have no idea, that makes no sense".
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05-03-2018, 10:25 PM (This post was last modified: 05-07-2018 03:41 AM by fixkick.)
Post: #6
RE: 95 tracker timing
so we will not talk how it works or why advancing its spin faster , as that is normal and takes lots of ATTO Cycle mode, and smog answers. (long)
1: keyon.
2: does CEL glow y/n (check engine lamp)
3: start engine, CEL must go out, if not the ECU is not happy or the silly FED NAG switch is there, and set wrong. remove it or slide the switch 1 time. repeat these tests.
4: ok nag switch is off now, CEL is still stuck on running, so we know for a hard fact the ECU has errors stored in memory or live. so what is next, posted here 10,000 times but here we go.
5: insert the DTC diagnostic jumper, now. yours will be 4 pin 6 ,seen clearly here, 12s good, all other blink codes are DTC errors.

we have no scan tools for 95, (came next year) so only the above works.

you asked for things to do, there are like 100 tests on engines and EFI, an endless list of steps, and checks. (we have 1 done only Compression)
not one is spin the distrib, sorry, not one is.
a real TDC tool will not lie but is one valid super accurate test, about 1 degree accurate.
these old cars love to fail and go super rich, its a fact .
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05-03-2018, 11:21 PM
Post: #7
RE: 95 tracker timing
Found it...

Even though the 17mm bolt was tight, and the inspection mirror appeared to show the keyway was intact and in place, it's not. It's off. Wanna guess by how much? Thanks for your help, couldn't have done it without your ability to inspire me to go to the garage and look at this engine with pure hate. In the future, the bolt doesn't have to be loose and that can still appear to be intact BUT if all that goes unnoticed the engine will time substantially off. In my case, about 25 degrees off.

Your informational pages are awesome, by the way. Wanted to give full credit where it's due, and it's definitely due.
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05-04-2018, 12:09 AM (This post was last modified: 05-04-2018 03:45 AM by fixkick.)
Post: #8
RE: 95 tracker timing
is this 5speed stick or auto? trans, A/T?
that is why I say in my pages,
Warning, new kick your home check this bolt first, and the key.
we have like 100s failed here for 10 years, on other forums vastly more.

in many cases , it can be even more hard.
some glue the whole cog on , with structural epoxy (not just the key is is best there with damage)
also if the bolt did does not come off easy (means 100 to 150 foot/lbs or CCW force) the 17mm threads may be loctite'd with the kind that only releases at 300f temp. must be heated first., if not you may take out the threads with the bolt and for sure with any (badboy)impact gun (park the gun)
what you find there is any ones guess, and can be worse if jury rigged.

see my locking pages.

here are all ways to lock this engine up to attain magic 94ft/lbs spec. (seen for all automatic boxes)

best is 1st time belt change, ever, by you, remove the bolt and look make sure no damage there now or hidden , so you know what to do , now and 60k miles later.
btw 50 lbs is not tight, (only the old books said that, the TSB in 1996 is 94 and applies to all G16 made 89-98.

the future belts, leave the cog bolt alone, after all you already fixed it or was fixed by others correctly or is still perfect.
this is the G16b tender spot.

now we know why the starter motor doesn't go nuts overloaded at 30 degrees advanced, (answer, it's not ) that is why I ask this, first...
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05-04-2018, 12:13 AM
Post: #9
RE: 95 tracker timing
if a 5 speed,?
5th gear you can do this, torque.
the drive line winds up, let it, in hard set brakes, 5th gear clutch pedal out, 4wd mode helps. and true the torque wrench CW until she clicks, ignoring that wild wind up of drive line flex.
the clutch springs inside do most of that winding action until the collapse in the disc.
on the AT , this is much more harder, and is why most the damage here happens,
most shops just use an impact gun and guess.
some even strip the screw threads now. so easy at over 200 lbs.
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05-07-2018, 12:46 AM
Post: #10
RE: 95 tracker timing
First day off since last post, I'm headed in. I did check the 17mm bolt, but it was snug and visually didn't appear to have spun so I moved on, should have checked timing mark with screwdriver in cyl 1 first, but took a quick look and moved on.

Love the locking options, plenty of steel/aluminum on hand but have to run out for the G5 or G8 bolts. No worries, Dunkin is in the same lot as Tractor Supply and it's about this time of day the second hot batch of krullers come out. mmmmm.... Will update (hopefully with pictures if I can keep my head on straight) to add to the photo catalog.
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