Muddy Waters in my engine

#1
I made a big mistake and I can’t believe I’m the guy posting this. I went playing around in muddy pond like areas at the River Run park outside Jacksonville, TX. I do stupid stuff, but this is the by far my crowning event. About 60 minutes into the adventure I got muddy water into the engine. I have no one to blame and I should have known better than to play in water without a snorkel. I'm running stock air intake, technically it’s not running so I’ve just got stock air intake.

I ended up getting stuck in a deep mud hole when things started to show something was wrong. My buddy and I don’t think the hole I got stuck in caused the issue. We’re pretty sure it was from just minutes before when I was driving around like an idiot in what I would describe as a shallow muddy pond. I went slow, I went fast, forwards, backwards and dumbwards. I think back (50 hrs ago) and I’m like wow. Anyway, when I was in the mud hole the air intake was above the mud/water line. The driver side dipped down deep. The mud sludge started to enter the driver side & I left the Jeep running while my buddy hooked up to pull me out. About 30 seconds before getting pulled out I got Check Gauges light. When backing out I could hear there was something wrong with the engine. Sounded like I didn’t have any oil circulating.

We left it on the trail Saturday night. Sunday got supplies and started an oil change. We let it drain for 30 minutes, leaving the top cap off and dip stick out to help drain. It looked bad, grey with texture. Not smooth like water or oil. Changed the filter and added 5 quarts, only bought 10 quarts, wish I had bought more + another oil filter. It started up and at first it was rough but quickly smoothed out and it had oil pressure. The pressure got up to 18-20. I let it idle for 2 minutes and stopped it. Drained the oil for about 20 minutes. Also drained what I could from the newly used oil filter. Filled it with another 5 quarts and added back the oil filter. Started it up and it acted like the previous start, a bit rough and then quickly smoothed out. I say smoothed out, it doesn't sound good, but not like it was going to fall apart. I started to let it idle off the trail. Got about 3 to 4 minutes down the trail when I lost oil pressure. I stopped it and my buddy towed me back to camp. The family & I packed up and headed home. Had to get our travel trailer home so I could borrow another trailer to get the Jeep home. When I had to start it Monday to load it and oil pressure was back again. Towed it 2 hours home and when I unloaded it, the Jeep smoked a medium amount (a lot of smoke, but not crazy smoke) and it smelled bad.

So that's what happened.

My friend is recommending the following course of action.

Get a gallon or two of diesel and spray bottle. Remove the valve cover and use diesel to "wash" valve train down, as good as possible, get new valve cover gasket and replace cover. After upper end is done remove the oil pan. Use diesel to clean underside, as much as you can in all spots, especially around rods and bearings of crank. I suggest you replace oil pump, you're already there. If not pull it and rinse well with diesel. Do not use anything harsher than diesel. Diesel is light, drains down easy, clears most carbon based junk, and is a lubricant to a point. Any residual diesel burns off, no harm. May even pull plugs, all, and then drown cylinder with WD40. It cleans and drains easy and no harm done. You can do this and manually rotate engine at front end, balancer/pulley. And WD, stands for water displacement.

Is my buddy’s plan solid? What are your recommendations? I appreciate all the help I can get.

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#3
My apologies. Our best guess is that this came in through the air intake. There was muddy water in the air box. The air filter was a little wet, but not as wet as I expected. I figured the air filter would be soaking wet, but most of it was dry, just a little water. Maybe after the water went through the engine sucked the air filter dry. I've never replaced the oil pan gasket, so I thought maybe some got in through there. My buddy doesn't think it came in via the oil pan because I'm not leaking oil and the system had oil pressure prior to wheeling. His thought was if it has good oil pressure and I'm not dripping oil the only way into the engine would be the air intake.

The Jeep is almost 19 years old, so it's possible I have a leak somewhere, but no noticeable oil leaks.

One more note I just thought about. A month ago I noticed a hissing/sucking noise when starting up in cold weather. The sound didn't go away when the engine got to normal temperature. When starting it up on warmer days there is no hissing/sucking sound.
 
#4
Sounds like it could be any number of issues. If it did ingest water thru the intake it could have lifted the head or bent a rod. I have seen both happen because water does not compress. This will normally damage the head gasket either way.

Is it loosing oil?
 
#5
It's not loosing oil, but it sounds terrible. No way I would attempt to drive it before at least trying what my buddy suggested. I'll likely start working on it tonight.
 
#7
Might also check ur diffs and trannsmision for water and or mud. U definitly want to change the spark plugs. If theres mud on them that make the engine run like crap.
Get a compression gauge check the compression when u do the spark plugs. That tell u if u have blown head gasket pretty quick.
 
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#8
The little research I've done this week gave me concern about the head gasket. Thanks for letting me know how to check WillysJKJeeper. I plan to get started on with buddy's plan today. Family life is pretty busy so it might be another week before I get to the oil pan. I'll post my progress. Might also post elsewhere for more eyes, opinions, pointers, suggestions and laughing at my rookie like mistake.
 
#9
Just be glad it wasnt a jk u did that too u have to take the upper part of the intake off to get to the driverside 3 spark plugs. I had a friend do the samething to his TJ’s engine he took the plugs out then cranked the engine over couple times to get the water out and but them back in so he drive it back home. The transmission didnt fare well at all tho muddy water got in there and messed it up real bad it had to be rebuilt. Its fun playing in the mud but it will catch up to u the long run specaily if u dont pressure wash it all out frame start rusting from inside out from mud being inside there.
 
#11
I only posted on one other forum and they let me have it. I think three people told me the engine was a goner. I was afraid to find out what I had done and put it off a couple of weeks. I finally pulled the valve cover off and didn't notice anything out of ordinary. My buddy says "That's because you had a steam cleaning event inside the engine". After reviewing photos I took it looks like the rockers closest to the cab (rear of motor) are darker than the others. Maybe that were starved for oil while I was nose diving in that mud hole. Other than that I don't see anything wrong on top, but what do I know? Some of the spark plugs were not so clean, two had that sandy grit the Jeep inhaled. I pulled the oil pan and found a lot of sandy dirt/grit/mud. I can't believe how much I dug out of there. The oil pickup looks terrible. I plan to pull the top of the motor off and replace the head gasket. I'll get started this week, but it will be slow going. I've got a house project that needs completing before it gets hot. So I might not complete this till mid to late April.

Last night I checked my front diff and it was surprisingly clean. No water or mud, just gear oil. I hope transmission, transfer case and rear axle fluids are just as clean.

I might try and video this as all my youtube searches show XJs or if it's a TJ the motor is outside of the vehicle.


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#12
To get water into an engine is not really that hard, as it can be sucked down the intake.
To get water and mud/sand into an oil pan I find a little harder. There had to be a hole someplace that allowed that much water and dirt to get ingested into the engine oil paths.
Keep us updated on the progress.

If you were closer, I would offer to help you on your rebuild.

Todd
 
#13
I would imagine that if there that much mud and dirt in the oil pan u more than likely need to rebuild the block to. Im sure mud has done some damage to the main bearings and crankshaft and also the piston walls on the block. If u dont rebuild it more than likely it will be consuming alot oil. Maybe look at getting a remain short block.
 
#14
To get water into an engine is not really that hard, as it can be sucked down the intake.
To get water and mud/sand into an oil pan I find a little harder. There had to be a hole someplace that allowed that much water and dirt to get ingested into the engine oil paths.
Keep us updated on the progress.

If you were closer, I would offer to help you on your rebuild.

Todd
This other hole theory was of much debate with my buddy, his son and his son's crew who were there that weekend. What we can't figure out is why I've never seen any signs of a hole/leak. I for sure needed a new oil pan gasket, it had never been changed in 19 years. Anyone could see it needed replacing. With that said I never needed to add oil between changes, no drips on the driveway or garage floor. I think that's why I ignored changing the oil pan gasket.

We can't figure out how it had oil pressure, but still allowed fluids in? We were thinking of the engine as a pressurized system. If it would let that much in how could it be pressurized? I'm all ears because we're stuck on it being the air intake.
 
#15
I would imagine that if there that much mud and dirt in the oil pan u more than likely need to rebuild the block to. Im sure mud has done some damage to the main bearings and crankshaft and also the piston walls on the block. If u dont rebuild it more than likely it will be consuming alot oil. Maybe look at getting a remain short block.
My fear is this won't work and I've got to rebuild or replace. I haven't researched enough yet to fully understand what a rebuild involves. I floated the idea of an LS swap and it got knocked down before I could finish saying it. My wife isn't having it. She was specific about having the same engine it had before. If I had extra money I'd take that same engine requirement and get a 4.6 stroker. It's the "same" engine.

I too think it must have damage. We've got a lot invested in this and we'd like to keep it at least another 10 years before gifting it to one of our children.

Before I accept that as reality I want to pull the top off and see what I see. I want to do as much as I can before throwing in the towel.
 
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