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Discussion Starter #1
So today I was driving and one of my spark plugs came out of the head. Car was running fine before hand. I didn't have a wrench on me so I had it towed home. Put the plug back in and drove it a few miles. Ran fine till the plug came out again.

The first time The gap was totally closed. I opened it back up before I re installed. When it popped out the second time the gap was closed again. It doesn't look hammered though. I haven't tried to put it back in yet. The threads were still in the head after it came out the first time. I hope they're still there now.

I haven't taken one of these engines apart. What could cause something like this?? Did I just not tighten the plug?? Even then, the gap being closed, something must be hitting it.
 

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Old Phart
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Let's think on that again, you don't think it's possible the end of the plug hit something AFTER it came out?

Not tightened OR over tightened are the two reasons for one to come out.

First possibility you can have a few damaged threads in the head, second they're ALL damaged.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
The gap could have closed while the plug was bouncing around, I guess. I don't think it had been over tightened. I just do a little more than finger tighten. It's been a while since I changed the plugs. Like probably over a year. There was no aluminum on the plug. I think the head is stripped now though. :( I stuck a claw grabber thing in the cylinder and didn't feel anything in there. It was running fine. No knocking or anything.
 

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Old Phart
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Try a flashlight, needed to see the threads down in the hole.

Plugs need to be tightened 'snug' by hand, but with the tapered seat type used that also means that they turn VERY little when tightening once the seat contacts. Older types with gaskets could make a quarter turn to tight as a new gasket crushed.
 

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Hi L200B,

This happened to me 2 years ago I documented the fix here:

Index of /focus-2001-zetec-head-removal

It involves a number of expensive specialty tools but it is doable in your driveway. Cost is a few hundred in parts not including the fee the machine shop is going to charge. This IS an advanced engine repair job so DO NOT attempt it unless you have the time and patience to do it right. The head MUST come off because it has to be mounted in a jig to do the repair and it MUST be skin milled before going back on the engine. The block mating surface has to be completely cleaned before putting everything back.

With this engine IMHO the factory made a mistake and cut some of the plugs in too deeply on some of the heads. As a result the last thread of the plug sticks out into the cylinder a bit too far. Then over time that thread end gets carboned up and if someone removes the plug later, there is enough carbon on the end of the plug to damage the threads on the way out. This weakens them enough that high cylinder pressures will blow the plug out. In my case I was doing 110Mph for an hour on the I-5 Interstate Highway with an average RPM of around 5k when it happened. (No, I'm not saying what stretch that was. ;-)

My understanding is people that race these helicoil ALL the plug holes.

You can see this in the picture I put up of the head, the number 1 plug is definitely deeper in than the others, and on my head that's the one that blew out.

Here is my recommend procedure in dealing with these Zetecs on plug changes:

1) ALWAYS use the Motorcraft platinum plugs and DO NOT regularly change them. Once every 50k miles is fine. That should work out to no more than 4-5 plug changes over the life of the engine.

2) NEVER change plugs on a warm head. Only remove plugs when the engine has sat stone cold overnight.

3) When pulling the plug follow this procedure:

a) Loosen the plug 1 turn
b) Squirt a lot of PB Blaster into the plug hole surrounding the plug.
c) Give it several hours to penetrate down the threads.
d) REMOVE BY HAND if you have to use leverage on a ratchet when removing the plugs, something is wrong.

Good luck with it!

PS Sorry the pictures up there stink, I lost half of them when the phone I was taking them with crapped out
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Instead of pulling the head off at this time. I JB Welded it. :) We'll see how it holds up.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So I just drove it for the first time really. The check engine light is on. Which I guess I would expect after losing a cylinder. I'm going to reset it before I drive it again. It had full power. I was worried it was going to miss because the plug wouldn't have a good ground. Not an issue. I didn't let it get super hot this time. JB Weld is rated for 500
F degrees constant, 600 degrees F intermittent. That sounds relatively safe to me. I will have to drive it more to be sure.

A few days ago I bought a Chevy Tahoe. Already feeling the pain. Not as fun to drive. MUCH worse MPG. I want to be able to tow though. About the only thing I don't think the Escape can handle.

This truck was rear ended not too long ago. Cosmetic damage for the most part. If that weren't the case I'd be in a bigger hurry to swap the head. I see rebuilt heads for these for like 200 bucks online. Eventually I'll get around to swapping it out. Or maybe just buy another Escape. Great vehicle. Super fun to drive. Good MPG.
 

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Well, good luck to you on that - I don't know of anyone who has successfully kept a plug in a head for any length of time using JB Weld - but I also don't know anyone who has tried it and had it fail and admitted it, either. Please post a followup if it works for 50k miles or if it fails sooner than that. At the worst, if it fails it will not have damaged the hole further.

Unfortunately with the Zetecs there's really no possible way to repair a plug thread without pulling the head. The hole is too deep in the head.

I've see a lot of criticism over the years on using helicoils for plug repair but the one in my Zetec's head has been there for around 30k miles now. And most critics of them seem to be Timesert distributors so they are biased anyway. I still maintain the effectiveness of a heli-coil for plug repair is directly affected by the experience and skill of the mechanic putting it in, which might account for why so many people criticize them - because it's easy to criticize something you don't have the skill to properly do.
 

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OK L200B,

Can we get an update on the JB Weld repair?

Did it hold up?

I ask because at 180K miles my 2009 zetec 2.0 has popped out a plug, I tried the heli-coil repair but the head was so messed up that the heli-coil has nothing to hold on. I am considering JB Weld on the heli-coil to see if it will would it in.

Expecting only 250K on this motor, I figure if I have to remove the head at this point then I probably should just get a Reman'd motor for a swap, or overhaul this motor COMPLETELY if I have to do this.

Thoughts??

So I just drove it for the first time really. The check engine light is on. Which I guess I would expect after losing a cylinder. I'm going to reset it before I drive it again. It had full power. I was worried it was going to miss because the plug wouldn't have a good ground. Not an issue. I didn't let it get super hot this time. JB Weld is rated for 500
F degrees constant, 600 degrees F intermittent. That sounds relatively safe to me. I will have to drive it more to be sure.

A few days ago I bought a Chevy Tahoe. Already feeling the pain. Not as fun to drive. MUCH worse MPG. I want to be able to tow though. About the only thing I don't think the Escape can handle.

This truck was rear ended not too long ago. Cosmetic damage for the most part. If that weren't the case I'd be in a bigger hurry to swap the head. I see rebuilt heads for these for like 200 bucks online. Eventually I'll get around to swapping it out. Or maybe just buy another Escape. Great vehicle. Super fun to drive. Good MPG.
 

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OK L200B,

Can we get an update on the JB Weld repair?


Thoughts??
You won't. Not because there isn't a followup - but because the OP isn't going to show up here and admit what I already posted on this thread - that the JB weld stories mostly never work.

There is only one factory authorized type of repair on these and that is to use
an insert. Timesert is the one Ford favors, I believe. If the threads are just stripped to the point a helicoil won't work that's OK the inserts hog out more material than a helicoil tap and there probably is still enough material in the hole for an insert to hold.

If you have access with a drill you can try an insert. Otherwise the head needs to come off and go to a shop which can fill the plug hole with aluminum welding then drill and tap a new plug hole, no insert needed.

The helicoil repair is a specialized repair that generally only works properly when the head is removed and in a jig so that the helicoil tap can be driven into the hole at a precise dead on.

And my engine with that repair in it is still going strong, by the way.

The JB Weld guys are mainly looking for a repair that will hold just long enough to be able to sell the car off on to some unsuspecting suckaaa

The quicker you quit thrashing around looking for a shortcut repair on this the faster it will get done, you know. Why are you so afraid of pulling the head? I can tell you, you probably will be better off with a repaired head, a fresh head gasket, new timing belt, light valve lapping (which can be done since the head is off the engine) than getting some junkyard piece-o-yit engine that the prior owner has probably already done a JB weld repair on one of the spark plug holes that you don't know about.

And even if you go the insert route, it is still better done with the head off the engine in a jig, so the area can be flooded with cutting oil when the insert is driven in, and the insert can go straight in and the cutting chips can then be washed away. Far better than the barnyard method of of standing on top of the engine trying to center a drill "by eye" and trying to get the chips out by coating the threads of the insert with grease and hoping the chips all stick (or blowing compressed air down there hoping to get all the chips out)

It's human nature when something breaks to panic and think "I gotta get this POS back together tomorrow so I can drive to work there has GOT to be some quick and dirty way to do it"

But a plug hole repair is a major repair no matter what they say. At WOT that cylinder is probably at 1000psi after ignition so the plug has a half a ton of force trying to spit it out of the hole. Probably more actually. Glue isn't going to hold it in.
 

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Expecting only 250K on this motor, I figure if I have to remove the head at this point then I probably should just get a Reman'd motor for a swap, or overhaul this motor COMPLETELY if I have to do this.
If your engine was running well before this, I wouldn't drop $2500+ for a reman (plus labor to install) on a car with 180K miles. Fix / replace the head.
 

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'...that the JB weld stories mostly never work.'

X2. Because like with so many other things, the issue is not the product, it is the implementation that fails the job. So many do not grasp that.

Beyond that, that post sounds scarily like one of my own. Do you have a more irascible cloned brother?

Man, I heard so many glue fix stories when I used to sell JB that I knew the majority of them were fake, and you could see the obvious need to work dripping off the desperate in a flood, they believed more than they did in the Messiah. Great product used correctly but the human brain behind it must be correct too.
 
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