Jan 7, 2006

Seeking Mechanical Advice


(Toledo, OH) My get-around-town car is a rusty 1988 Honda DX, a 4-cylinder clunker with 172,000 miles on it. It has absolutely no redeeming features besides 40 MPG and an engine that purrs.

That is, until today. On my way home from an errand it suddenly became quite sluggish in performance. I pulled over, lifted the hood, and the plug wire shot up, followed by oil shooting out of the place where the plug wire once was.

It appears that the spark plug has been damaged as well, although this photo does not quite show the plug. The spark plug is about 8 inches down in the well, and I am assuming that the oil represents lubricant from the cylinder that is unimpeded by by the plug that would normally be securely in place.

A few questions:

A) Have you ever seen anything like this?
B) Is there any hope for this vehicle?
C) Is this a repair that a relatively handy do-it-yourself minded person could undertake?

I would appreciate any feedback. This is an old car, but one becomes attached to reliable transportation. This car has given me about 15,000 miles for a very small investment, and I would hate to junk it if it can be repaired at a reasonable cost.


Anonymous said...

Good luck with your car Mike. I don't know anything about engines, but it was a nice picture.

Lisa Renee said...

I'd suggest it's a valve cover leak thought it's possible it could be more severe than that.

Not sure how bad of a job it would be on that car.

Matt Drudge, Jr. said...

Eh, get a load of this guy looking for the free mechanic's advice. Get a bus pass, Brooks!


historymike said...

Whatever, Matt.

I actually have four cars, but I like the Honda due to its high mileage.

I wish I lived in a town where public transportation was a viable option, though. TARTA, though, underserves the community, and it is dificult to get arounf town.

Elmer Frazier said...

I'd have to say the spark plug vibrated loose and the compression blew it out. The drain holes for the oil to run back down through the head are likely stopped up and there is excess oil on top of the head and the compression is blowing it up.

I would suggest removing the valve cover and seeing if the spark plug is gone. Chances are the threads aren't damaged and you can put in a new one and snug it down tighter.
While you have the cover off, get a long straight stiff wire and run it down the drain holes to stop the excess oil.

historymike said...

Thanks, elmer. Glad to see you didn't tie this post to race!


Hooda Thunkit said...

Race? Race??


You can't race a 4 banger with one plug missing ;-)

Sorry for not being able to help, but I just couldn't resist...

BrianMaxson said...

Mike, don't take your valve covers off, you're not going to get to your pistons thru there, unless you're planning on taking the valve heads off. The pistons that pushed the oil thru are connected to the camshaft. What it seems like is the piston rings have failed, so you're going to have to think about a kind of major issue.

What it seems happened is the buildup of oil from the failed rings congregated within the cylinder chamber and the excessive up and down created a backpressure that stripped the spark plug out with the explosion of gas within.

I say spray it with WD-40 and trade it in.

Elmer Frazier said...

Brian, you mean that you've never heard of the drain holes in the heads getting stopped up with sludge & etc? I've saw all makes & models do it over the years.

He said the car was running too good for the rings to be that bad.

Anonymous said...

TARTA underserves the community because of how the state and local funds them which is to the bare minimum. The state has cut public transit dollars to all urban system nearly 60% since 2000. TARTA only can run of where the demand is called for and whatever funding is available to keep up with high fuel costs, mechanical costs, and etc. If TARTA was funded by local sales tax which would provide a healthy amount of funding in order to serve county-wide instead of selective jurisdiction and more frequency. But this is up to to YOUR elected officials and the TARTA board to decide that--only time will tell.

Anonymous said...

a clogged pvc valve can also cause this. Easy to check

willow said...

Mike, do you still need advice? If so I'll ask my husband. He used to be a certified ASE mechanic.