By Herb Helbig, Chief Engineer—Viper (Retired)
Q: ?In the Fall 2009 issue of VIPER Magazine, on page 17, there is an article about a 67 mm BBK throttle body for 2003–2006 Viper engines (62 mm being the factory size). Have you had ?any experience with this throttle body? Is the horsepower increase of “10 hp on average” plausible?
A: I have had no experience with the BBK product. As mentioned earlier, we never had time to rigorously test aftermarket parts. I discussed this product with my SRT® engine expert and he was skeptical about the horsepower increase.
Q: I have an extremely well-maintained 2000 GTS Steel Gray with silver stripes. Recently I decided to feature it in the World of Wheels Show, so I had it spruced up even more. I took the vehicle to a body shop to have my lower front bumper touched up and the rest of the car polished and buffed. The next morning I went to pick it up and the engine was knocking like hell. The shop owner had no idea what had happened—so he says! I took the car into a local Dodge dealer where they pulled the pan and found a broken piston, bent rod and maybe two more bad cylinders. Needless to say, everyone is in agreement that someone drove or over-revved the hell out of my engine. I contacted several companies and everyone agrees with this conclusion. I took the matter to my insurance company to battle for me, as I pay enough for the damn insurance. I informed them that the car is always well-maintained, never in the rain and I don’t race it—that type of damage can only be caused by abuse. Perhaps some kid at the body shop ruined the engine; as I don’t believe the owner who I gave the keys to would perform a buffing and polishing job himself. Do you feel this type of engine damage is most likely caused from abuse and/or negligence, and not a maintenance issue? Would an engine oil analysis shed light on how the engine was running long before the body shop arrival (as long as the engine oil was in the crankcase for a required mileage for the analysis test)? Please offer your insights on this subject. Thank you very much!
A: Certainly a grim situation to say the least. The damage you describe is typical of abuse. Since you mention that the car is well-maintained, I’ll assume the oil level was at the full mark, lending further evidence supporting abuse. The oil is probably contaminated with metallic debris, but if it were analyzed it might show that it was in basically good shape with its additive package intact—further evidence supporting your theory.
Q: I have a question regarding my 2008 Viper odometer. I recently took the vehicle to my Pennsylvania Inspection Station and repair garage—the odometer read 857 miles on delivery—when I picked up my Viper the odometer read 339,957 miles. The only other service they provided, other than vehicle inspection, was to add two key fobs. Any thoughts on what happened here?
A: It’s difficult to say what might have happened without knowing exactly what the inspection station did during their checks. If they connected some kind of diagnostic equipment to the car it might have triggered some kind of reaction that led to the odometer problem. I would say it’s a long shot but with electronics, you never know.
Q: I own a 1994 Viper and I am having trouble with it overheating. We have replaced the coolant and water in the radiator, and bled the system from the heater tap; however, the vehicle still throws water/coolant out of the expansion tank. Do you have any ideas as to what this problem may be? Any information would be great.
A: The first thing I’d try is refilling the system. You need to fill the system through the heater core but the engine has to be fully warmed up so the thermostat is open. Don’t forget to relieve the system pressure before you pull any hoses. If you still have trouble, the radiator may need to be pulled and professionally flushed.
Q: Why is rainwater an issue for Vipers and other collector cars? Even the new Hurst edition Viper that was featured in VIPER Magazine’s fall 2009 issue notes that the car left the show in a hurry, “… as a thunderstorm forced its early exit …” Is it perhaps impurities in the rain? Not necessarily acid rain, but something otherwise damaging? In other words, what’s worse about a rain shower compared to a car wash in the driveway with tap water from a garden hose? I don’t drink either one these days but I’m having trouble understanding why a rainy day would be any worse than a gentle car wash?
A: There is no problem with your Viper’s paint/finish and the rain—rainwater poses no problem. When cleaning the exterior, use good quality car soap along with your tap water (softened if possible) and you should be fine. Regarding the Hurst Viper story, I was there at Carlisle when that car along with many others left before the storm. The weather report had severe thunderstorm warnings up with the threat of hail probable. That’s what got everyone moving, the sky looked awful. Shortly thereafter it poured.
Your technical questions are always welcome. Please remember to indicate the body style, model year and mileage for your Viper.
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