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Old 08-10-2017, 03:25 PM   #1
josteen
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Default P0304 and P0128 problems

For starters, I have a 2002 L300 with 163669 miles on it. Car runs fine except when accelerating from stop to 5-10 mph you do feel a slight pull / hiccup but after you get over 10 mph you don't feel it any longer.

I've personally owned the car for about 4 years and the only thing I've done to it is replaced the fuel pump about a year ago.

So I've had a SES light on when I have the codes read at AUTOZONE they tell me the following:

P0304 - Cylinder 4 Misfire Detected
P0128 - ECT Sensor Below Thermostat Operating Range

I took it to my mechanic who usually does good work and I've had no reason to distrust. He says the computer (or whatever) is telling him several differing things. He's saying the following needs to be replaced...

plugs and boots (139.50 parts / 280 labor)
thermostat housing (76.36 parts / 320 labor)
egr (165.45 parts / 120 labor)
knock sensor (no price for part yet - he was having issues finding one, 200 labor)

So obviously I wasn't happy to hear a quote around 1370ish when that's about the value of the car itself at this point. And that's just to get the SES light off so I can get it inspected. That's not even considering the other things I need to fix on it. AC leak (quoted 120 to fix) and front struts & mounts with alignment (another 500).

I'm also unsure if the egr and knock sensor need to be replaced. I havent seen anything regarding those sensors when I research a P0304 code. Obviously, I guess the t-stat would be for the p0128 code. The p0304 seems to be a little tricky from what I've read. Seems some people got on a goose chase and fixed one thing after another and never could get the SES light off. With a car 15 years old with 163k miles is this worth it to fix or is it going to be a money pit and time waster?

Any advice or input would be appreciated as always! Thanks guys and gals!

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Old 08-10-2017, 03:34 PM   #2
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Default Re: P0304 and P0128 problems

Also, some extra info...

I've done some repairs on my SL1 2002, but never on my L300. So I'm not sure how different everything is.

I've replaced an EGR value on the SL1. Along with a few other sensors.

I've never done the plugs/boots myself, but I've seen it been done on other cars and charging for 3.5 hours of labor ($80 an hour) for plugs and boots seems a bit much. Is that accurate?

The other labor hours are:

1.5 hours - EGR (which I know didnt take that long on the SL1).
4 hours for t-stat (and from things I've read that does sound like a pain on the L300)
2.5 hours knock sensor (never done it so no clue)

I'm always worried about labor hours for things and at $80 an hour it can get pricey if these are inflated some.

What's the labor quote look like to those with experience? Thx.

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Old 08-10-2017, 04:56 PM   #3
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Default Re: P0304 and P0128 problems

You can shop around for labor quotes as each shop sets their own labor rates. $80 isn't high or low. Thermostat replacement is very labor intensive. Search for images here of members replacing theirs at home. A t-stat is less than $30 retail so you're looking at marked up parts as part of profits. Spark plugs are also labor intensive but plugs are about $3-$7 each, retail. Look up parts costs yourself. Use rockauto or other discount sites. The more you know........ At the least, the t-stat and plugs need to be replaced to get rid or both error codes. A different problem not mentioned is whether or not the timing belt and water pump were replaced at 100k miles.

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Old 08-10-2017, 05:18 PM   #4
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Default Re: P0304 and P0128 problems

Ok good to know. I know the dollars per hour rate can vary by shop. I was just curious if those particular estimates sounded reasonable. If you say the t-stat and plugs are a bit labor intensive then I believe you and their estimated labor hours are probably more correct than not. Thanks for info.

I wonder if the shop would accept my parts and just charge me for labor or if it's kind of a standard thing for them to only use the parts they get (because again they are marked up for profit obviously).

As far as the timing belt and water pump, I have no idea. I've owned the car for about 4 years and since about 135,000 miles. Any way of figuring out if the parts on the car are original or new?

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Old 08-10-2017, 05:41 PM   #5
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Default Re: P0304 and P0128 problems

Other than a record of repairs made by the previous owner, there are no methods I'm aware of to know if timing belt and water pump were replaced. Personally, if I'm replacing timing belt and water pump, a record would be made in my owner's manual and if I remember, I might mark the area, cover, engine block with info so anyone not seeing the manual will see markings on the timing cover or engine block. Paper records are easily lost, markings (etched) are permanent.

I'm slow and took two back breaking days to replace my t-stat. Not twelve hour days but leaning over the engine strains back muscles. I'm due for my timing belt and water pump next year...........

Some here have friendly shops taking parts from owners while most shops won't to control warranties and insist on using their parts even if they're exactly the same supplied by customers. You can always ask around for labor rates and flexibility as there are no set rates for repairs. Everything is negotiable.

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Old 08-10-2017, 06:09 PM   #6
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Default Re: P0304 and P0128 problems

So personally would you hold off on the EGR value and knock sensor and just do the t-stat and plugs and then see if maybe that will correct it? I just can't find any info on how the EGR and knock sensor pertains to those codes. Maybe they are seeing something else besides those codes that are telling them those sensors may be faulty? I guess I can look online and see how different the L300 EGRs compared to SL1s. I've replaced and cleaned ones on SL1. Never worked on the L300's before.

Good idea on the manual. I'll check there and hopefully, a note or two is there.

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Old 08-10-2017, 08:12 PM   #7
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Default Re: P0304 and P0128 problems

I'm in no better position to make assessments outside of what's presented. The two error codes and car history points to a t-stat running cold (a reader displaying coolant temps will tell you whether or not engine temps are correct - 185F-200F). Spark plugs may be needed if never replaced after 100k miles to address a misfire. Egr valves usually turn on one of several error codes and may not be necessary if an error code doesn't pop up. Egr valves can create problems without generating error codes and you haven't described anything that points to egr valve issues.

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Old 08-11-2017, 02:45 AM   #8
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Default Re: P0304 and P0128 problems

Personally I would not sink any money into this car unless I could verify that the timing belt was done. With the struts and other cost factored in you're looking at 2 grand or so in repairs. If the timing belt breaks then you will easily sink another 2k into it. Since I have done these repairs I will tell you that you are getting bent over backwards. Not only are parts prices heavily inflated, but he is double dipping you for labor. When doing the thermostat the intake manifold must be removed. Once the intake manifold comes off you have access to the coils and plugs. If you have no other choice than to keep this car going I would only do the thermostat and plugs. I would also mention that doing the thermostat gives most access needed to get to the plugs and that you want the labor cost to reflect that.

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Old 08-11-2017, 07:27 AM   #9
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Default Re: P0304 and P0128 problems

Thanks for the additional info. Pretty much what I was thinking. KBB value for the car in good condition is less than $1400 so I really dont think I want to put another 2k+ into it. Plus I looked everywhere and can't find anything about a timing belt replacement. So I would assume a NO there. Might have been done, but if I cant verify I guess it's better to assume NO than YES.

Good note on the labor. Would have never thought about asking if that was reflected in their quote. Thanks.

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Old 08-11-2017, 12:16 PM   #10
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Default Re: P0304 and P0128 problems

Your odometer reads nearly 164K miles. FWIW, I don't believe a factory installed timing belt, or any other timing belt for that matter, would have survived for more than 60K miles beyond its recommended replacement mileage. It would've broken long ago, or stretched to the point that - minimally - the engine would no longer be timed correctly. It seems likely to me that your car's timing belt was replaced prior to your purchase of it.

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Last edited by pierrot; 08-11-2017 at 12:23 PM..

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Old 08-11-2017, 12:45 PM   #11
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Default Re: P0304 and P0128 problems

Well that's certainly information worth considering. As little as I actually drive the car (maybe put 3000 miles on it a year) I'm thinking it still has a lot of years and miles left on it to kick it to the curb. I would just hate to fix the plugs / t-stat and the SES light not go off and then it basically becomes a guessing game as to what I should throw money at next to fix. I've read a few posts about the P0304 where people have gone down a long list of repairs and couldnt get the light off.

Decisions, decisions.

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Old 08-11-2017, 01:23 PM   #12
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Default Re: P0304 and P0128 problems

It must be pointed out that some emission system components/sensors are dependent upon a properly regulated cooling system. If the thermostat is stuck open then the engine will not reach its normal operating temperature and can result in other malfunctions partially related to the emission system with cooling fan operation failures among them. So thermostat replacement is a very important item for reasons beyond cooling system temperature alone.

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Old 08-11-2017, 01:35 PM   #13
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Default Re: P0304 and P0128 problems

Here's the last suggestion with two outcomes; reset the error codes (if you're not due for state emissions inspection) and they don't come back after a few days of driving or they come back. If they reappear, make repairs. Reset may be done in one of several ways; battery (negative) cable disconnect (and lose radio presets), removing the ECM fuse in the engine fuse box for 15 seconds or use a reader capable of reset commands. In states requiring emissions inspection, error codes with the check engine light on is an automatic failure. Resetting/erasing the cel a day before inspection still fails - the emissions parameters are reset and the emissions self tests begin as if the car left the factory assembly line. It may take as much as 50 miles of varied driving before each parameter is met, commonly known as readiness monitors before a 'not ready' status (reader display) changes to 'ready' when a vehicle automatically passes emissions before an inspection. The cel may be off but only a reader, either a personal one or state inspection computer, will see either a 'not ready' or 'ready' status'.

Personally, I reset P0128 several times during one winter but still had adequate heat until early spring when I replaced the t-stat. This error never came back and its been several years. I didn't have a reader to display coolant temps but after replacement, a reader displays a consistent 190F, summer or winter.

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Old 09-11-2017, 03:38 PM   #14
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Default Re: P0304 and P0128 problems

sorry fdryer I just now saw your last post on this thread. I revisited it because I think I'm going to have the tstat and plugs done and hold off on the sensors. See if maybe that will get the lights off.

I can do the sensors myself. Doesnt look too terribly difficult (egr and knock). I've done the EGR on the SL1.

It's funny about the lights. Last year the light came on for about 2 weeks during the summer and right when I was about to have it checked out it went away and I got the car inspected no problem. The in winter the light came back and has stayed on. I wonder if it was the tstat warning then too and just went off for whatever reason.

Im in Texas and require emissions. I thought about resetting the codes and driving around a bit to see if they stay off or not. Doubt they will but worth a shot I guess. So if I reset it, drive it for over 50 miles and it stays off then I should go and try to inspect it?

I will still get the tstat fixed because obviously, I need to, but if I could get the car to pass inspection now and hold off for another month with my bonus comes that would be ideal.

Thanks for all the help.

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Old 09-11-2017, 06:37 PM   #15
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Default Re: P0304 and P0128 problems

I think you're in a no-win situation. With at least two error codes that rely on replacing spark plugs and thermostat, you're gambling on a manual reset and driving around in hopes of error codes not coming back. You're doubling down without any repairs prior to state inspection with two error codes that can turn on at any time while risking the emissions self tests are complete before emissions inspection. While this is your choice (reset), you don't have to rely on state inspection to tell you whether or not pending codes aren't fulfilled during the drive cycle to allow all readiness monitors to complete. Any reader can be used to tel you if some or all emissions monitors are completed.

A good reader can display error codes, reset capability, live displays of sensors, and readiness status. Emissions self tests are performed every time the engine is started, car driven, to continually monitor every sensor for failure. When left alone, emissions monitors are normally in 'READY' status; no error codes, no one manually reset the engine computer with either a reader reset or battery disconnect. Any error code means the emissions program detected something wrong - in your case the P0304 cylinder#4 misfire and P0128 coolant below normal operating temperatures, and halts testing until the errors are fixed. Without anyone resetting anything and making correct repairs, the emissions self tests will determine if repairs correct the error codes and upon the next engine start, can erase one or more error codes on its own. No manual reset needed as the emissions programs automatically detect correct repairs. At the minimum, you have two errors requiring at least replacing spark plugs and thermostat. Nothing else. Spark plugs address the cylinder #4 misfire and t-stat replacement addresses the low coolant temperature error code. Personally, the egr valve and plug boots are simply more profit for the shop.

Everyone decides on the merits of continuing repairs on a car that's all paid for or switching to another car whether new or used. The question is a car that's all paid for will always need maintenance without any more car payments while a new or used car may require monthly payments (including interest) if not paid in full and on the hopes that little to no maintenance is required other than regular maintenance. Most members save on costs by performing as much maintenance at home with tools. Paying for service is more costly whether taking a car to a shop or dealer. Businesses are in business to make money so labor rates and marked up parts costs adds to the large repair bills diyers don't face from buying at discount prices and performing all work at home. To make this car more difficult as far as costs go, without any bills or records of whether or not the timing belt and water pump were replaced, its never safe to presume the timing belt was replaced. If not replaced, the belt is way over its recommended mileage for replacement and can fail at anytime resulting in severe and costly damage. The reason for following recommendations to replace parts is to maximize long term reliability against sudden costly damage when not following guidelines. As I see it, if you bough the car used and it already had over 100k miles, the previous owner most likely didn't want to pay the costs of timing belt replacement as this would be a commitment to hold onto a car longer. Passing on the costs for maintenance to another owner is nothing new. All used cars are sold as is, whether maintenance records exist or not. The next owner assumes all responsibility unless a dealer has a warranty.

If you decide to reset the error codes, you're also resetting all readiness monitors - a reader will display 'NOT READY' and require the drive cycle/normal everyday driving for about 50 miles or use a reader to monitor status. Any error code means the car fails, period and a waste of time bringing it to inspection. You can check your state DMV for which emissions monitors can fail yet still pass state emissions.

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Old 09-14-2017, 12:48 AM   #16
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Default Re: P0304 and P0128 problems

Well, I got in touch with the previous owner and nope he never had the timing belt and water pump replaced. So yeah looks like the original belt still on there after 160k+ miles. So yeah I think this car is going on a mechanic's special sale and going bye bye lol.

What do you think is a decent asking price for 2002 L300 in this condition? Runs well, but needs these things fixed obviously. KBB in great condition is $1700 (which the car body-exterior and interior is in pretty great condition). Starting at $500 too much to see if anyone is interested? lol

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Old 09-14-2017, 02:08 AM   #17
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Default Re: P0304 and P0128 problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by josteen View Post
Well, I got in touch with the previous owner and nope he never had the timing belt and water pump replaced. So yeah looks like the original belt still on there after 160k+ miles.
Wow, was I ever wrong to believe that the timing belt had been replaced sometime prior to your acquisition of the car back in post #10! It's amazing that the vehicle has gone for so long with the factory installed timing belt. Sadly, it would appear that the seller intended to pass his significant lack of care for the vehicle on to someone else.
Quote:
Originally Posted by josteen View Post
So yeah I think this car is going on a mechanic's special sale and going bye bye lol.

What do you think is a decent asking price for 2002 L300 in this condition? Runs well, but needs these things fixed obviously. KBB in great condition is $1700 (which the car body-exterior and interior is in pretty great condition). Starting at $500 too much to see if anyone is interested? lol
Well, you might be starting too low. Consider what you'd hope to receive from a buyer and price the car at a point that you can bargain from as reasonably as you can, or you could simply state that the $500.00 price is firm if that's all you really want for it.

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Old 09-14-2017, 09:34 AM   #18
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Default Re: P0304 and P0128 problems

Yeah I was shocked too. The more I read up on it the more I was convinced that surely it had been replaced. Sadly no. I got the car at around 130k and have had it for about 4 years. Guess that belt has done its job and then some lol.

You're right on the price. I usually leave room for negotiating down to let the buyer think they got a better deal and I'm in no hurry. So yeah I'll prolly start a little higher and see who bites.

I know I see "mechanic special" sales all the time on craigslist and facebook exchange sites. I just wasn't sure if my value of around 500 seemed too low or too high in this situation.

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Old 09-14-2017, 09:55 AM   #19
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Default Re: P0304 and P0128 problems

Your choice to keep this car or sell it as is along with info about needing repairs for an honest sale or not. There's no harm in reselling it at the price you bought it for, a little less from ownership. If advertised as a mechanics special, the next buyer may be an experienced mechanic/technician and abe to make his own repairs. He can save on all the labor costs and parts at discount to come out ahead with a more reliable car for personal use or turnaround and sell it. There's also a possibility of someone buying it to flip and not reveal the repairs needed. To keep dishonest buyers away, it might be to your advantage to keep the same price high and let the buyer tell you what they expect. Since you're more informed as to what your car is worth and the possibility of this car having a longer lifetime if someone else invests in personal time and money into it, this car has a resale value unless it's a clunker. From what you've described, this car doesn't seem to have any major problems other than needing required maintenance to extend its lifetime for another 100k miles or more. Each owner decides on these issues with no two owners in the same boat with exactly the same personal finances. The non tangible value may be the fact that if the car is reliable but needs repairs, intrinsic value is higher because of the repairs needed to continue its long term reliability. That's always negotiable to anyone wishing to buy a car and can maintain it personally to save on costs against paying someone else at retail rates.

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Old 09-14-2017, 10:30 AM   #20
josteen
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 102

2002 SL1
2002 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: P0304 and P0128 problems

Good advice. Appreciate it. Yeah, I plan to fully state everything that needs to be repaired to make it an honest sale.

Guess I could start high since I'm in no hurry and see the response. Always easier to come down than it is to go up lol.

...
2002 SL1 - 152,000
2002 L300 - 163669

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