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Old 10-09-2008, 07:08 AM   #1
2NDSOUT
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1994 SL2
1999 SL
Wrench Engine Misfire...Part 3----AGAIN!!!

Okay folks...hope someone here can help me out. At this point I am dumbfounded.

1994 SC1 Auto, 340,295 Miles as of today 10/09/08.

On the way to work this morning on the highway...AGAIN; I started losing power going up a hill and the engine started misfiring again.

I just replaced the spark plugs and wires in this car back in the middle of the summer. The Spark plug closest to the Driver Side had wiggled itself out about an 1/8 inch. I replaced the plugs, wires, (both from the dealer---standard NGK OEM plugs/wires)and cleaned off the coil packs.

I'm kind of stumped now...I don't think that the Spark Plugs are an issue. I think this is something else...

I'm thinking this may be a knock sensor issue? Or something related along those lines. This is a problem that is deeper than Spark Plugs. I have put two sets of Plugs in this car in less than 6 months...and I only drive about 15K miles a year.

I'm due for an oil change (actually OVERdue).

Anyone have any ideas of what I may be looking at here? I don't know what else could be causing the misfire; as I don't think that my car is just all of a sudden going to start eating Spark plugs; when all I have used in this car for the past 11 years of ownership has only been OEM plugs/wires from the dealership.

I made it to work, but nothing short of getting off the highway and taking the back roads to get to work ( I have a 33 mile commute one way.)

Please help. It's dark outside right now with a ton of Fog around...so I'm not going to really be able to see anything until later this afternoon.

Any ideas on this at all?

...
Bryan

94SL2 HCE, "Pearl"

99 SL

94SL2 260K Miles
1/15

97SW2 266K Miles
2/15

Always
94SC1 340,501 Miles
Org. Engine/Auto Trans
2/97-10/08
Gone 3/12

92SL1
05VUE
91SC

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Old 10-09-2008, 07:14 AM   #2
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Default Re: Engine Misfire...Part 3----AGAIN!!!

Have you done the ignition module/ignition coil cleaning for proper grounding? Removed the egr valve to block off the ports underneath with a coke can gasket and replaced the egr valve to hold the gasket in place, then driving this way?

...
VCX NANO

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Old 10-09-2008, 07:24 AM   #3
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1999 SL
Default Re: Engine Misfire...Part 3----AGAIN!!!

Edit:

I also had a code 32 for the EGR earlier in the beginning of Summer. I had replaced the EGR and EGR Valve...they are brand new from Rock Auto.

I had cleaned out all the ports for the EGR Valve...they wouldn't get clogged up again in the course of 3 months would they? I would find that hard to believe.

Ignition Coils were cleaned as well 3 months ago when I replaced the Spark Plugs/Wires...There was no sign of corrosion at all.

I'm just trying to get some ideas here....my gut is telling me that this may be the knock sensor...either that or I have a fried valve I don't have time for an engine rebuild right now, nor the money.

If we could go deeper..past the Spark Plugs/Wires (as these are still relatively new)..what other issues could cause the Misfire in the engine, loss of power...etc. ?

Also..what is the likelyhood that I have the same issue with a Spark Plug wiggingly itself loose again...what would cause this aside from it not being tight? (And believe me I made sure that the replacement plugs were in there good this 2nd time around.)

Any ideas?

I won't be able to look at anything until later today once the fog burns off around here.

...
Bryan

94SL2 HCE, "Pearl"

99 SL

94SL2 260K Miles
1/15

97SW2 266K Miles
2/15

Always
94SC1 340,501 Miles
Org. Engine/Auto Trans
2/97-10/08
Gone 3/12

92SL1
05VUE
91SC

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Old 10-09-2008, 07:29 AM   #4
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Default Re: Engine Misfire...Part 3----AGAIN!!!

what about the crank sensor? the engine goes under load as the car proceeds up the hill and asks for ignition advance to supply power. timing starts with that sensor.
what conditon are the plugs in when removed?

...
Gerry
72 Buick GS red
2008 Astra XR black 3dr
99 SL1

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Old 10-09-2008, 08:41 AM   #5
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Default Re: Engine Misfire...Part 3----AGAIN!!!

The cps doesn't do anything more than provide precise timing signals (as long as the engine rotates), period. It either works, works intermittently (the worst kind of partial failure), or fails outright. If the cps doesn't work the entire EFI system is DEAD. No cps = no fuel pump, no ignition/spark, and no injector pulses. In other words, if the engine runs then the cps is working.

2NDSOUT, 340,000 MILES - You've got a well worn engine and unless you left out the complete overhaul, there's a good possibility of low compression, worn valves, valve seals, rings, etc.. Don't assume any new parts will work straight out of the box. Expect the worst and hope for the best. The suggestion of blocking off the egr valve ports serves two purposes; 1) it completely stops exhaust from entering the intake manifold and creating hesitation, stumbling, and stalling tendencies and 2) it proves whether or not the egr valve is causing the problem despite it being cleaned or a brand new replacement.

...
VCX NANO

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Old 10-09-2008, 09:49 AM   #6
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1999 SL
Default Re: Engine Misfire...Part 3----AGAIN!!!

Apparently my post response to 72G's post didn't take.

The last time I took out the plugs they were fried with white ashy deposits because the one plug had wiggled itself loose. I replaced all of those plugs.

FDryer,

My engine has never been overhauled. Everything inside is original in the engine with exception to the Timing Chain; which was replaced at 100K miles.

I have replaced the occasional Water Pump/Alternator, etc. But as for "Moving Parts"---Cams,Rods,Pistons, valves, etc. these are all original.

Is is possible for the CPS to work intermittenly to the point where I could start the car and the car starts okay, etc. but when it runs it would misfire?

...
Bryan

94SL2 HCE, "Pearl"

99 SL

94SL2 260K Miles
1/15

97SW2 266K Miles
2/15

Always
94SC1 340,501 Miles
Org. Engine/Auto Trans
2/97-10/08
Gone 3/12

92SL1
05VUE
91SC

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Old 10-09-2008, 12:24 PM   #7
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Default Re: Engine Misfire...Part 3----AGAIN!!!

Quote:
Is is possible for the CPS to work intermittenly to the point where I could start the car and the car starts okay, etc. but when it runs it would misfire?
No! NO! And No!

The sole purpose of the cps is to provide precise timing signals all the time while the engine rotates, as its a crucial component for electronic fuel injection. It is the equivalent of an electronic heartbeat as described in the previous post. It will never lead to misfiring since it always outputs precision timing signals (if you were to observe it on an oscilloscope as waveforms) in order for the PCM to operate. Remember, if the cps doesn't work the EFI system dies immediately or never allows the engine to start up. Its the job of the ignition module, via the PCM, to provide the switching signals to enable the high voltage coils to output the spark. The cps provides the timing for all this to occur, the timing is permanently set mechanically on the crankshaft 'teeth'. All the cps does is detect the teeth and output a signal immediately. That's it! Simple! Its up to the PCM to use these timing signals to run the fuel pump, initiate the ignition system properly, and time the injector pulses. You can think of the cps as the electronic clock for the EFI system. No clock, no EFI. Dead engine. Misfiring is caused by the ignition module, plug wires, plugs, lack of compression, and poor electrical connections. The hard part is to figure out what's causing some misfiring problems. Even incorrect firing order causes misfiring!

With over 300,000 miles and absolutely no head work done or rings replaced has to lead me to ask for a compression test. It would be terrific if compression is still over 180psi with a high mileage engine but we have to be practical and look over everything.

...
VCX NANO

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Old 10-09-2008, 12:49 PM   #8
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Default Re: Engine Misfire...Part 3----AGAIN!!!

+1 %^^^ Compression test is overdue.

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Old 10-09-2008, 01:34 PM   #9
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Default Re: Engine Misfire...Part 3----AGAIN!!!

So if I go to do a Compression test:

Is this something that Autozone or Advance can do for free?

I've never done a Compression test...is it easy to do? I'll have to look and see if there is a step by step for the compression test in the how-to section.

Could we talk about injectors at all for misfires? Is there any possibilities that my injectors could be on their way out?

Fdryer, thank you for the explanation on the CPS unit. I learn something new everyday. Even after 11 years and 340K miles, I still learn stuff new.

...
Bryan

94SL2 HCE, "Pearl"

99 SL

94SL2 260K Miles
1/15

97SW2 266K Miles
2/15

Always
94SC1 340,501 Miles
Org. Engine/Auto Trans
2/97-10/08
Gone 3/12

92SL1
05VUE
91SC

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Old 10-09-2008, 02:15 PM   #10
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Default Re: Engine Misfire...Part 3----AGAIN!!!

No, a compression test is something you have to do yourself. Check the How-To Library and see if there is not an existing How-To. Harbor Freight is the low cost source for a compression tester. Buying a leakdown tester is a waste of money. You do not need it to differentiate between rings and valves/head problems. This one will do the job.

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=92697

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Old 10-09-2008, 02:27 PM   #11
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Default Re: Engine Misfire...Part 3----AGAIN!!!

A compression test is done manually and if done by Autozone there will be a fee but you may be able to borrow the tester to take home to perform yourself. Any garage/repair shop can do this but there's time and labor involved, removing the spark plugs and testing each cylinder that will cost some $ when you can do it yourself. All it is is a pressure gauge with a flexible hose line and fitting to screw into the spark plug hole. The engine is cranked about ten times and pressure is recorded on the pressure gauge. Some minor steps are done like removing the fuel pump relay/fuse and PCM fuse to kill the ignition system and fuel pump from injecting fuel while cranking the engine. The pressures are observed for consistency between cylinders and numbers; the average should be around 180-220psi with no more than 5-10% variation between cylinders. This is done on a cold engine then repeated again but with a few drops of oil in each cylinder to test the valves and piston rings for sealing/leakage. There may be a how-to or search as its been done by other members. You can also Google 'compression test' for information.

Injectors may be in need of testing/refurbishing/replacement but that has to be determined on a case by case basis. You can remove them for an initial visual inspection for crud build-up on the nozzle but generally gasoline is the solvent that cleans as it shoots through the nozzle. Google 'fuel injectors'. There's a simple test but requires being very careful with setting up the fuel rail and injectors outside the intake manifold to observe the spray pattern while someone turns the ignition key to the START position. You'll see a distinctive spray pattern among the injectors and a faulty one may be visible. There are videos for reference online. There's a wealth of information if Googled correctly. Fuel injector testing is not something done every day by everyone.

...
VCX NANO

Last edited by fdryer; 10-09-2008 at 02:33 PM..

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Old 10-09-2008, 03:39 PM   #12
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Default Re: Engine Misfire...Part 3----AGAIN!!!

How does a spark plug wiggle itself out? You must be not tightening them enough. I've never had this problem in over 205k miles. But if the spark plug is not the case, I'd definitely go for the EGR (unplug it and see how it does, though that's not always an accurate test) and the oxygen sensor (unplug that and drive around to see what's going on). White ashy deposits on the plug = lean. Could be either one of the two.

...
2000 SL2 5-speed turbo
MSnS-E fuel & spark controlled @ 17-20 psi (methanol injected)
Fully forged, P&P head and manifolds, FSR turbo cams, balanced to 9k RPM
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Old 10-09-2008, 08:59 PM   #13
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1994 SL2
1999 SL
Arrow Updates...Compression Test Results/Questions

Okay Saturn Gurus...here's the info you have to work with:

On my lunch break today, I thought I'll go ahead and stop by Walmart and put some of the Techron Fuel Cleaner into the Gas tank. $5.97. Put that in my tank, along with some fresh gas...Car ran fine going to Walmart, as well as back to my job...no misfires. Odd. Car ran fine.

Drove Home on the back roads, avoided the highway; just to be safe...no misfires. Odd. Car ran fine.

I stopped by Harbour Freight and bought:

1) Replacement windup LCD light (needed as my other windup LCD broke.)
2) Mechanic's Stethoscope---Basic...on sale for $2.99!! Will come in handy for sure.
3. Compression Tester for $7.99. I saw the others they had (more expensive, but this one looked like it would do the trick.)

Got home, after meeting the wife and mother in-law for dinner and just got back in a few minutes ago from doing the Compression Test. I had a nice hot engine since I had a 20 mile commute back home from the dinner location.
Took all 4 plugs out...they didn't look bad, there was mild black oil on the threads but nothing out of the ordinary, along with minor white ash deposits. Again not alot of white ash deposits, just enough to say "Hey the Spark Plugs look like they have a little bit of some white ash buildup on them."

I covered the remaining spark plug holes and stuffed them with shop towels. I started at from the Driver's Side first and worked my way to the Passenger side. I did the "Best of Three" Compression tests (meaning I cranked the engine for 10 seconds---3 times on each plug hole and took the highest reading on each). Here are the numbers:

1994 SC1 340,XXX miles; Original Engine, Original Auto Trans.
*Nothing has been rebuilt in the engine at all, aside from Timing Chain at 100K miles*

From Driver Side to Passenger Side:

180 PSI Driver's Side
150 PSI Next to Driver's Side
130 PSI Next to Passenger Side
180 PSI Passenger Side

Of note: Next to Passenger Side Spark Plug Hole (Number 2?) Started off slower in buildup but eventually got up to 130. I was a bit surprised that this was lower than the others.


I was reading on the standard Spark plug chart that is in the back of the Haynes Manual and it mentioned that with the color that I had on my plugs that it may be due to Carbon buildup and to possibly change Gasoline? I've been using Speedway LLC gasoline in my car for YEARS without any issues and I have ALWAYS used 87 Octane, nothing higher. I will occasionally use Shell, but not on a regular basis.

I also put 4 Ounces of MMO into the Crankcase and I am going to let the car sit for a few days before driving it again. I have alot of stuff going on this weekend so I may try the Piston soak with MMO later in the day on Sunday; as Saturday; I am working all day; and I have alot of stuff going on tomorrow (Friday).

If anyone can tell me what these Compression numbers mean...if they are good or bad, or ? I followed instructions out of my FSM manuals that I have for 91-93 model year (the engine really didn't change much for 94).

I have read that the compression numbers being too high or too low means that the valves and or oil rings could be toast or there could be a potential head gasket that is needing to be resealed or a cracked head (No evidence of a cracked head as my Coolant tank exhibited a beautiful green glow of coolant.)

So what does anyone make of my numbers? Remember that these numbers are coming from an engine that has: Never been rebuilt, is completely original inside, and I now have 340,xxx miles on the engine as of today.

Please advise, as I am going to drive my 94 SL2 for a bit until I can get a good diagnostic on what's wrong with the 94 SC1.

All input greatly appreciated

Thank you again.

...
Bryan

94SL2 HCE, "Pearl"

99 SL

94SL2 260K Miles
1/15

97SW2 266K Miles
2/15

Always
94SC1 340,501 Miles
Org. Engine/Auto Trans
2/97-10/08
Gone 3/12

92SL1
05VUE
91SC

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Old 10-09-2008, 09:42 PM   #14
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Default Re: Engine Misfire...Part 3----AGAIN!!!

#4 cyl 180 PSI Driver's Side
#3 cyl 150 PSI Next to Driver's Side
#2 cyl 130 PSI Next to Passenger Side
#1 cyl 180 PSI Passenger Side

What you'll need to complete this compression test to find the cause of the two low compressions would be to place a tablespoon of oil in cyls #2 and #3 and run another compression test. The oil will fill into the rings/lands and either increase compression from worn rings or remain the same suggesting one of the valves is leaking or burned. Time for a rebuild.

...
VCX NANO

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Old 10-09-2008, 09:49 PM   #15
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Default Re: Engine Misfire...Part 3----AGAIN!!!

Next step is to do a wet compression test. You can do this one cold if its convenient.

Set up as before and then place a squirt of engine oil in the first cylinder to be tested. Drop a shop towel over the hole and crank motor over a couple of times to distribute oil and eject surplus. Install tester open throttle wide and crank till the needle quits going up. Write down number. repeat for the next cylinder until they are all done. What we will find is the location of the problem wit #2 and #3. They are low and the funny thing is that 3 is misfiring and 2 has the lowest compression. The #2 cylinder would be the most likely to be missing.

Reading spark plugs is an art and the chart in the book makes assumptions that are not valid for your conditions. As long as they are neither heavy black or black and oil soaked or bridged you are good.

Right now with the available data all you can do is guess. After the wet test a better guess can be made.

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Old 10-09-2008, 11:33 PM   #16
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Default Re: Engine Misfire...Part 3----AGAIN!!!

I'm really suprised that nobody asked if it had the service bulletin done on it back around 1995-1996 or so. The single cam cars back then had a bulletin that put new, shorter valve guides in the heads that corrected axactly the problem you're having now. Before the new guides we used to flush the intake system with techron and that would usually last about 15k or so before it coaked back up again. When I saw misfire and a single cam that was the first thing that popped in to my head knowing the year. You can check all the normal wear stuff but a guaranteed way we made them act stupid was to warm up the motor, hold the brakes and bring it up on the converter for probably 15 seconds or so. If it was going to miss it did it right after it came back to an idle....every time!! Hope you find the problem. I hate a misfire worse than anything!!

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Old 10-10-2008, 12:14 AM   #17
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Default Re: Engine Misfire...Part 3----AGAIN!!!

OldNuc:
>the funny thing is that 3 is misfiring
How do we know which cylinder is missing?
2ndsout:
Misfires tend to occur (sometimes!) under load ... when
(I) the higher cylinder pressures are a challenge for the ignition system, and
(II) the increased fuel rate challenges the fuel delivery system. The fact that your administration of fuel additive was followed by improved performance may be indicative of a 'miss' caused by fuel starvation . A clogged filter, or gummed-up (intank) fuel pickup , or tuckerd-out fuel pump might be related. The event may have been occasioned by acquiring a 'bum' tank of "gas".

That said , the low compression - essentially predicted by F Dryer - does raise a flag.

As regards compression test results-- when two adjacent cylinders post sub-prime pressures , a leak in the headgasket between them may be the culprit.

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Old 10-10-2008, 12:48 AM   #18
OldNuc
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Engine Misfire...Part 3----AGAIN!!!

bygblok

That would also be a good test to run. Although a wet test will ID a sticking valve vice bad rings.
*********************
TomM96

Bad gasket is a possibility but usually the cylinder pair reads the same or very close on compression pressure. I thought the OP had identified the miss as #3. The important points are that it does miss, has 2 low cylinders, and there was a service bulletin that was to correct a problem similar to this.
*********************

Really need more data to determine the possible cause. If its a sticking intake or 2 then an intake flush is a viable fix, even if it has to be done a couple of times a year.

Last edited by OldNuc; 10-10-2008 at 12:55 AM..

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Old 10-10-2008, 07:57 AM   #19
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1994 SL2
1999 SL
Default Re: Engine Misfire...Part 3----AGAIN!!!

Morning all,

I drove my 94 SL2 to work today. As I mentioned; the 94 SC1 is sitting as of now in the driveway.

It's hard for me to write this, so bear with me. My 94 SC1 "Amber" is very dear to me...I've owned that car for 11 years. After 340K miles; I don't want to give up on this car. The car even shares my wedding date (09/13) (albeit the car was built (09/13/93---94 Model year) 10 years before I was married.

I just want to fix my car...although I know that there is probably not a remote chance in the world that doing an MMO or Seafoam soak is going to fix the issue of compression...what steps should I take now?

I'm pretty mechanically inclined on my Saturns. I have the FSMs, Chiltons, and Haynes manuals; and I have most of the tools. I've done repairs on my cars; everything from Alternators, Starters, Water Pumps, Belt Tensioners, Odometer Gears, Brakes...but I have not rebuilt an engine in any of my Saturns. Granted my 91 SC is in pieces in my garage; I have been taking that apart for the past 3 years in between work, raising a family, and paying bills. The farthest that I have gotten on that is to the Camshafts in that car.

I have a friend who is a Saturn Mechanic; and he has occasionally has helped me out over the 6 years I have known him.

I won't be able to do a "wet test" until Sunday afternoon at the latest

So...details:

Should I stay mute on driving the car at all? I thought it may be a good idea to not drive it, pending the risk of more damage being done.

Should I try to reseal the Cam Cover Gasket and see if that solves my issue?

MMO Soak? Seafoam soak?

How much am I looking at to...technically rebuild the engine...cost wise. I'd be doing this myself along with my Saturn mechanic friend. I'd probably be looking at Rings, Valves, maybe Rods and Pistons? I don't know what goes into an engine rebuild...as I have never done one before. But I am willing to learn and rebuild this car, as stated; I can't get rid of this car...this car is my baby. Is this something that can be done in a weekend? One Day? Two Days? How long?

Sorry I am asking so many questions. I'm good with smaller repairs; but when a complete rebuild...I need some help here.

Also...keep in mind that I bought this car in 1997; when it was 3 years old with 59K miles on the clock. I don't know if the Service Bulletin on the Valves was ever done on this car; as I didn't own it when it was new; and none of the maintenance records (which I have a 3 inch thick Binder of EVERYTHING I have done on this car since I have owned it.), mentions the Service Bulletin. Also, the local Saturn Dealership only goes back about 5 or 6 years on service records...there were some that I wanted to get replications of for my maintenance book; and I was told that they only keep items on record for up to 6 years. Anything prior they don't have record of as I was told.

...
Bryan

94SL2 HCE, "Pearl"

99 SL

94SL2 260K Miles
1/15

97SW2 266K Miles
2/15

Always
94SC1 340,501 Miles
Org. Engine/Auto Trans
2/97-10/08
Gone 3/12

92SL1
05VUE
91SC

Last edited by 2NDSOUT; 10-10-2008 at 08:05 AM..

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Old 10-10-2008, 09:14 AM   #20
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Engine Misfire...Part 3----AGAIN!!!

As dear to you your car is, I'd try the MMO soak as a last ditch attempt to free the rings before a teardown as its probably worth a rebuild with your attachment to it. I'm in no position to judge whether you can rebuild or not but with all you've done I don't see a problem other than having the room to leave the car open in your spare time. I'm sure others will have encouraging information for you.

...
VCX NANO

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