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Old 08-25-2009, 07:33 AM   #1
paul z
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Car stumbles, smell gas when starting or stop

Hoping I can get some quick advice here (search isnt displaying any results). One my way home from work I was stopped on the highway than out of nowhere the car starting running real rough like it was going to stall. Before I could pull it over the car returned to normal.

On my way in today stopped at a red light the car did the same thing (stumbling) for a few seconds than returned to normal. After it happened this time I could really smell gas coming in from the vents. Once I started moving again gas smell went away. Scanned the car and no codes.

The problem has been off and on for a few months now and up until yesterday it would only happen when I started the car in the morning. Originally (back in July) it had a code of P0304 (#4 misfire) so I changed the plugs and wires. Car has been not running all that great since. I bought platinum plugs and the guy at the part shop said they didnt need to be gapped.

Could the issue be with the plugs or wires? I have been using high octane fuel to see if that would fix the problem but obviously it hasnt worked. Fuel filter was changed about 18K ago. Car seams to be idling rough.

The car is a 2002 SPI high mileage (90% highway) on it. Up until I got the P0304 code the car has been great. Since then the car has been taking a nose dive.

This is my commuter car so I need to figure out if it can be fixed or if it is time to retire the old girl.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated


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Old 08-25-2009, 11:17 AM   #2
a_2000_se
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SPI - Let me guess - you've got just over a 110k miles on it?

It sounds very very familiar - a stumble/miss at stops and stop lights. And it's on #4. (Don't put injector/valve cleaner in the tank - the carbon might be the only thing holding the valve seat in place when the engine cools down.)

What's your compression - cold and hot?

Do you have $500+ and some tools/knowledge to replace the head?

Are you feeling lucky? sorry I have to say that...

edit - but first check and set the gap on your plugs
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Last edited by a_2000_se; 08-25-2009 at 11:20 AM. Reason: gotta check plug gap
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Old 08-25-2009, 01:40 PM   #3
paul z
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Yes its an SPI with .... are you ready... 200K Mile's on the clock. So even if you get platimum plugs they still need to be gapped? If so... i am really upset that I was told that you shouldnt by one of the part stores. I will go out and by some new plugs and stop with the expensive clean as you drive gas.

I dont have any tools to check for the compression so I guess I will need to take it in after I try new spark plug. When you mention "replace the head" are you referring to the head gasket?

Anyother.....less scary.... ideas?
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Old 08-25-2009, 03:15 PM   #4
a_2000_se
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Congratulations - you've definitely have an outlier there maybe even a museum piece. But seriously...

History of the car is as important as the codes:

You are the original owner and know of all work done to the car?
You've never had any engine work done?
Never refreshed the top end? or replaced the engine?

If so those highway miles must be the fountain of longevity and some good easy highway miles.

Along with my dropped valve seat my cylinder head had worn valve guides - especially #4 - lost of buildup on the valve stem. With that many miles, 200k+, you're good for a refreshed cylinder head and a great improvement in performance (not to mention possibly another 200k miles).

As far as the plugs - the parts store guy is just telling you what he was told. The jury is still out.

But again - with 200k miles on an original engine and no work done - there has to be some major cleaning necessary somewhere.

I'm curious what your compression is/will be?

Please, for all of us here, give us a detailed list of what work you've had done and at what mileage. We can all learn something from your car. Thanks in advance.

Buy yourself a beer and send me the bill !
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Old 09-04-2009, 09:57 PM   #5
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What a week it has been. Last Saturday the car died in a parking lot while I was shopping. Car drove there okay (felt rough and stumbled once or twice while stopped). When I finished shopping and tried to start her up again she wouldnt. I towed the car to the dealership and they told me I need a new engine on Monday. Apparently there is NO compression any more on the third cyclinder. Seems kind of odd that because one cyclinder is faulty that I would need an entire new engine. Today I spoke with another mechanic and gave him the run down and he didnt seem all that surprised that a new engine was in order. Does this sound right to any of you?

I am hopefully going to tow it from the dealership to the mechanic for a second opinion. I think I may just be putting off the obvious but wanted to hear any thoughts this board may have.
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Old 09-07-2009, 10:12 AM   #6
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I suspect what both mechanics are trying to tell you is yes, you can fix that one isolated problem - and it probably won't be cheap - but with a car with that kind of mileage on it, you're likely going to experience other expensive problems in the near future as other bits wear out. So it's probably cheaper in the long run to "start fresh" with a new motor (and have some peace of mind too).

If you've got zero compression, the heads got to come off at the very least and, if the motor got that way by ingesting a dropped valve seat or some other internal bit, you may have trashed the cylinder bore/rings/piston head.

a_2000_se seems to have some experience with this; what did he pay for similar repairs and then compare it to the price of a new motor or used motor with less mileage.
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Old 09-07-2009, 10:23 AM   #7
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Take it to a non-dealer mechanic, and request a used engine. That will be cheaper than the dealer engine, and will last just as well.

The reason it's been suggested that you replace the engine is simply because it's about the same in labor for you since you're not doing it. To repair your engine would require actually more labor, and possibly more cost in parts than a used engine from another vehicle. There should be a warranty on the used engine- very limited, but enough for you to figure out if it's good or not after you install it.

I have no idea what CAN prices are, but if it was me, I'd find a place that would keep the price under $2k USD, otherwise you might be better off searching for a new vehicle if you can't repair it yourself. You should be able to sell it for around $500 USD with a bad engine to some jerk (like myself) who will take it and swap the engine out himself to make a buck.
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