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Old 04-11-2017, 10:02 AM   #1
rshur
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2004 VUE 3.5L
Default Random engine misfire & other related codes

I've been wrestling with several OBD error codes to try to get my Vue to pass inspection, and I'm at a loss where to look next. Initially, the OBD codes were misfire codes (P0300-P0306) as well as codes for the O2 sensors and cat. After a quick diagnostic, my mechanic indicated the O2 sensors & cat codes were likely the result of the misfires. The first step taken was to replace the spark plugs (it had been probably 150K miles since they were last replaced), but the check engine light immediately came back and was occassionally flashing, indicating active misfires. My mechanic believes it was an intake issue causing the misfires. Next, they did a valve adjustment and cleaned out significant carbon deposits (he indicated it was about 75% clogged),replaced both O2 sensors, and replaced the air filter. That almost seemed to do the trick. The check engine light remained off for about 2 days & a little over 100 miles (not long enough for the system to reset and pass inspection) but it came back on last night. It has not flashed again (yet), just remains solid. My mechanic is not sure where else to look and said I may have to take it to a dealer, either Honda or GM - and my local GM dealer is NOT an option given the insanely poor service they provide to Saturns.

Current codes are: P0420 (Cat low efficiency bank 1) - repeated twice, P0300-P0306 (engine misfires)
Neither my mechanic nor myself are feeling any misfires while driving after all of the above work was done. My mechanic doesn't think the issue is with either the ignition coils or the cat.

'04 Vue 3.5L V6 with 298,600 miles

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Old 04-11-2017, 09:26 PM   #2
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Default Re: Random engine misfire & other related codes

If you're at nearly 300K and getting all those misfire codes, the first thing I'd replace are the coils if they are original.

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Old 04-11-2017, 10:09 PM   #3
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Random engine misfire & other related codes

1-Does your mechanic know how to troubleshoot for damaged, disintegrating catalytic converters strangling the exhaust system? If I'm not mistaken, your 3.5L V6 has three catcons; one on each exhaust manifold and a third one downstream.

2-Does your mechanic know how to check fuel pressures and know what to expect?

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Old 04-12-2017, 12:34 AM   #4
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2006 VUE 3.5L
2004 ION-2 Sedan
Default Re: Random engine misfire & other related codes

Some spark plugs just won't run good in this engine.
I recommend: 1) only the OEM spark plug (Denso Iridium SKJ16DR-11 / GM 12582002 / Carquest 3422 )
2) compression test and any cylinder are low, also test cylinder leak down (where is the cylinder leaking from or to)

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Old 04-12-2017, 01:04 PM   #5
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Default Re: Random engine misfire & other related codes

Quote:
Originally Posted by atikovi View Post
If you're at nearly 300K and getting all those misfire codes, the first thing I'd replace are the coils if they are original.
As far as I can remember, they are still the original coils. I did some searches, and this was my primary focus as well. From what I found, even if the coils themselves are still good, the boots around them very well may not be, causing leaks and the trouble. The cost of replacing the coils is much less than playing with the cat, so this would be my next course of action. The coils are also something that I can replace on my own, which I can't say about the cat.

I've already sunk more money than I probably should have into getting it to pass inspection (it also needed new bearings and some rust repair on the frame), but it's still cheaper than new car payments...for now. I will start with this as my next course of action, and if the problem persists, I will look at the cat

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Old 04-12-2017, 03:23 PM   #6
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Random engine misfire & other related codes

There are zero costs troubleshooting catcon problems if some common sense is used. We share common sense suggestions for troubleshooting against paying repair shops to 'find' problems.

Remove both O2 sensors from exhaust manifolds (upstream sensors), startup and drive around. Hot exhaust may require soup can diverters to prevent melting nearby plastic (panels, wiring, etc). Some found immediate engine improvement to confirm blocked catcons. No improvement from this brief test means the problem is elsewhere. The only cost to you is time and maybe skinned knuckles loosening O2 sensors. Antiseize compound is used to prevent sensors from bonding.

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Old 04-12-2017, 06:09 PM   #7
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2005 VUE 3.5L
2007 VUE 3.5L
Default Re: Random engine misfire & other related codes

Quote:
Originally Posted by rshur View Post
As far as I can remember, they are still the original coils. I did some searches, and this was my primary focus as well. From what I found, even if the coils themselves are still good, the boots around them very well may not be, causing leaks and the trouble. The cost of replacing the coils is much less than playing with the cat, so this would be my next course of action. The coils are also something that I can replace on my own, which I can't say about the cat.

I've already sunk more money than I probably should have into getting it to pass inspection (it also needed new bearings and some rust repair on the frame), but it's still cheaper than new car payments...for now. I will start with this as my next course of action, and if the problem persists, I will look at the cat
A few thoughts ... your 3.5 Vue has two cats.

Ask your mechanic to break out his vacuum gauge to check for obstructed exhaust / cats. Its also good way to check for sticky EGR and PCV system.

Its very possible a single misfiring cylinder (typically cylinder 1) can cause multiple misfire codes to set.

I've encounter P0420 codes on two of our family 3.5 Vues and both were "cured" by replacing bank 1 downstream sensor (cylinders nearest firewall).

Low fuel pressure during extended crank can also cause multiple cylinder misfire codes to set ... ask mechanic to verify fuel pressure meets specs for ignition on - during crank - and for a few minutes after ignition is turned off.

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Old 04-13-2017, 12:04 PM   #8
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Default Re: Random engine misfire & other related codes

you mentioned your mechanic replaced both o2 sensors.. However, I believe there are 4 on this vehicle .. as I have the same year/model..

are the misfire codes randomly showing all 6 cyclinders, or are specific cylinder numbers always showing up? If so,, just replace a couple of the coils and see if that helps, before swapping them all out... (they're around $20 a piece on RockAuto, among other places)

if the codes are random.. I would have him check for an intake manifold leak.. along that intake gasket. I had a similar problem a few years back.. (also check for vacuum leaks)

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Old 04-15-2017, 12:32 PM   #9
rshur
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Default Re: Random engine misfire & other related codes

Before I jumped on replacing the coils, I chatted with my mechanic again. While he said it was a possibility (like anything can be), he does not think the catcon is the culprit. He said it would be a big and costly (it would cost more than the value of my car) gamble, with little indication it would resolve my issue. He also does not think the ignition coils are the causes either. He did agree that, if anything, it would be the #1 coil and not all 6. And, naturally, the #1 coil is the hardest of the 6 to reach, being on the back, passenger side of the engine.

He hooked up his tablet to check on how it was running in real time. If I read his screen correctly, the misfire threshold is 225 per cylinder. It #1 cylinder reported 265 in the history of the past 5 days since the last reset, #2 was 200, and #3-6 were between 60-80 each. We left it running for about 10 minutes to catch any misfires, both letting it idle and giving it gas. No misfires were reported in any cylinder. I should also note that the car drives very smoothly and there is no noticeable lose of power. It drives as well today as it did 10+ years ago.

At this point, my mechanic thinks the issue is computer related. He has reset the check engine light again with the hopes of it staying off long enough for the system to reset and to pass inspection. If it does come back before then, he said he will just hand-write an inspection sticker, as if the inspection computer was down at the time. When I can find some free time down the road, I may try to replace just the #1 coil in the off chance that can get the light to stay off.

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Old 04-15-2017, 12:44 PM   #10
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Default Re: Random engine misfire & other related codes

Quote:
Originally Posted by rshur View Post
If it does come back before then, he said he will just hand-write an inspection sticker, as if the inspection computer was down at the time.
Now that's a mechanic to know. You have to leave an extra twenty in the ashtray for that service?

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Old 04-25-2018, 04:59 PM   #11
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Default Re: Random engine misfire & other related codes

I have the exact same problem. Tried everything except fuel injectors!

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Old 04-26-2018, 01:09 PM   #12
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Default Re: Random engine misfire & other related codes

if you know which of the cylinders are getting the misfire.. then simply swap the coils around with the cylinders that aren't showing a problem.. clear the codes.. and see if they return for the same cylinder.... to rule out the coils... The coils are not a problem to reach.. on the back ... you have to stretch a bit.. but they're all accessible without any special tools or removal of other part to get at them...

Also.. have him check for a leaky intake manifold gasket.. They can usually spray some starter fluid, etc.. around the area and see if the idle smooths out, etc...

Might not hurt to disconnect the ecu for a bit to clear out everything.. and have him check the ecu ground connection..

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