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My project: Valve Spring upgrade

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I've been dealing with hesitation and multiple misfire codes on the Intrepid. After much research and ruling out various other causes, a member of Di.net (the guy who wrote the 2.7-3.2/3.5 conversion manual) led me to Chrysler TSB 09-002-03.

This sounded a heck of a lot like my problem, so I decided to take the plunge an embark the the most complex car repair I've ever done.

The TSB calls for the exhaust valve springs to be replaced with an updated design, part number 04892082AA. Since I was in the area I decided to replace the valve stem seals with new Felpro units.

So after I gathered all of the tools seals, and other goodies I needed I started taking things apart on 6/13. One of the forum members was nice enough to come by and give me a hand taking things apart. Took all day to get the valve covers off.

Then the rockers came off. At this point I decided it best to group, bag, and label various bolts and parts so I knew where they went when it came time to put things back together (I am so glad I did this).

I then threaded rope down cylinder #1 after finding BTC, and then pushing the piston and rope up against the head. This is tedious and slow, but its comforting knowing that something is physically holding the valves up. Plus this job took so long to do it would have been impracticable to use a compressor to do the job.

At this point things slowed down to a crawl. The valve spring compressor I had wouldn't fit into the cylinder head all the way, and it couldn't compress enough to get the retainers off. I bought a different tool from Advance Auto. This fit in the cylinder head fine, but was such a cheaply made POS that the arms bent trying to hold the spring in place. Returned it.

Then I came across the Lisle 36200 Magnetic Valve Keeper- Remover- Installer. I'd seen it in some of the how-tos and PurdueGuy suggested it when I was having issues getting them off.


This tool uses a magnet to pull the keepers off the valve stem as the spring is compressed, either with your hands or with a hammer (if you have the space, you really don't in our engine bays). On day 2 of my attempts to remove the first spring it managed to do it in 30 seconds.

However, it seems this tool's install section is either too big or I just couldn't get enough leverage, to install the keepers. So I couldn't use it to install them. What I ended up doing is modifying the first compressor by bending parts of the metal tabs so it could fit in the cylinder head, compress the spring, and install it that way. This worked, but even with the spring fully compressed the keepers just barely fit in there. The first one is easy enough to get one, the second one is much more tricky. It took me all day to get the first spring reinstalled.

Since I was in no rush, and my hands sore from using the remover tool, I took my time over the next few weeks doing the rest. That and the high heat and humidity plus the occasional storms made it so I only worked on the car a few hours a day usually.

The other fun part that takes up lots of time is the need to unbolt brackets and move hoses and wires so you can actually get the tools on the springs. This was annoying, but on the flip side, I know how to remove and install all the upper brackets, the alternator, and compressor now. :D

I got better at removing and installing springs. It took me 3 days to do the first one, but this past Sunday I removed and installed the last 4 during the course of the afternoon.

So with the job complete, it was now time to put everything back together. This actually went surprisingly well, thanks in no small part to the bolts being bagged and labeled.

Before could put things back together though, I had to take more stuff apart! I had to remove the radiator fans and the timing covers so that I could position each camshaft in the neutral position, one at a time, in install the corresponding rocker arms.

After they went on, I cleaned up the valve covers and the mating surfaces and put them back on. Ended up with a missing bolt, which was annoying. After ruling out the possibility of it falling in the engine, I borrowed one from the 2.7. It later turned up resting on the sub frame. Glad it was found, missing parts suck.

The I put the accessories and brackets back on. However, as I was putting things back together, I discovered that a ground wire was broken. In fact the other end of the wire and the bolt that retains it was completely missing from the cradle! I can only assuming the guy who did the engine swap didn't put it back on...maybe forgot or maybe broke it and didn't want to fix it...ass.

So I trip to the junkyard today got me the missing bolt, the right ground wire (I doubled up with new wires I got too), and the band clamp for the intake to throttle body...mine broke while trying to tighten it.

I tell ya, nothing feels better than the engine firing right up after all that hard work (that I've never done before). Drove it around town and then on the highway. Didn't notice any hesitation and no CEL *crosses fingers*. The real test will be when I take it to Lowell, which is about an hour's trip. The CEL would tend to come on during this trip, so it'll be a good test. Here's hoping!

I plan to decarbonize the engine to finish it up. Then the next project is the rear brakes.

And now some photos:


Here is the engine having just had the valve covers removed.


And here are the rocker arms.







And here's the rocker arms removed.




Pretty clean in there! No sludge. :)

This is that junk tool trying to remove a spring.


Here's the last spring, with the new valve stem seal installed.



The compressor I used to install the keepers.


Springs replaced, now time to unbolt the timing covers.


Neutral position on passenger side is at the timing marks.


Neutral position on driver's side is 45 degrees pas the timing marks.

The timing marks themselves seem to line up pretty good.


Engine reassembled and running!




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