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Old 07-12-2017, 01:02 AM   #1
TDA
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2008 Astra XE
Default You guys will probably tell me I need a coilpack

So, I replaced my exhaust cam solenoid recently after realizing it was totally broken, probably since I got it a couple months ago. Ran fine, just WAY underpowered at the lower RPM range. But, I thought maybe that was just how they was until I fixed it...

After replacing that... it ran much better except I was sometimes having a miss (but no codes) at midrange throttle under load. When everything worked as it should the car obviously felt much more powerful.

I unplugged the solenoid and that more or less went away. But I plugged it back in and figured maybe the VVT was just needing to work itself out after not functioning for I don't know how long.

It got really bad today. Unplugging the solenoid did not help. Plugged it back in, and it started throwing codes and bucking. P0303. P0301 and a random misfire code I can't remember. Also an evap code P0443 I think...

Cleared them and they came back. Bought new spark plugs as an obvious possibility. Replaced those with NGK Iradium... (they didn't have densos and figured if I couldn't get stock I'd go all out) I ended up pulling out Denso Platinums that had seen better days. Cylinder 3 was all sorts of messed up though. The little spike was not there at all and the whole center electrode was rounded off.

Put it all together thinking maybe I found the cause and.... it is still running very rough and misfiring.

There is the possibility of liquid getting somewhere it shouldn't... it was raining sideways, rather hard, in multiple directions, for hours today. If that is what it is, hopefully it will dry out and I'll just have new plugs out of the deal.

Otherwise... what do you guys think the problem could be?

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Old 07-12-2017, 01:51 PM   #2
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Default Re: You guys will probably tell me I need a coilpack

Mileage, maintenance done, parts replaced? Compression test? Fuel pressure? Variable valve timing can become another problem and add additional troubleshooting steps to isolate it from other problems.

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Old 07-12-2017, 07:49 PM   #3
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Default Re: You guys will probably tell me I need a coilpack

~137k miles I bought it a couple months ago at ~134k. Found receipts saying it had an oil change in Feb 2016, 1k miles before I got it. And a new clutch at ~128k. Label on the timing cover saying the belt was replaced at 114k. A bunch of other oil change receipts and one to check a previous repair on the rear driver side door wiring.

I've done an oil change myself already. The guy I bought it from was NOT the guy who's name is on the receipts for the previous work. So, he was clueless as to it's history.

Since I pulled out platinum plugs (not stock) I guess those were probably installed sometime in the last 50k or so. The guy before the guy I bought it from had it for a good portion of its life ~90k worth. From the receipts, he kept decent care of it. Nothing in the receipts to indicate a problem.

As I said in the OP, the exhaust cam solenoid was broken when I got the car. It likely broke in the wreck it was in before that. (that wreck is probably why the good owner ended up getting rid of it. I found him on FB but he won't respond.)

No compression or fuel pressure test. From how clean the plugs were overall, no sign of blow by or head gasket issues. They were just a tad worn (besides the one missing a piece) Nothing like my SL2 was. I've seen worse S-Series than mine too. But, no worries about compression from what I saw.


Something odd...
I did the plugs and put everything back together yesterday. Drove it today (Because I don't really have a choice right now) and it was better. Not BETTER by any means but better than yesterday.

Yesterday on my way home from work when all this went down I kept reading and clearing the codes. Had P0303 and the P0443 at first. Then P0303 several times. Then P0303, P0301, and P0300 several times all the way up to when I swapped out the plugs. Now, the P0303 didn't return at all today. Just the P0301 and P0300... I've reseated the coil on plug assembly several times to make sure it was well connected and seated...

I bought a super cheap coilpack off Ebay... hopefully these guys are true US sellers so it gets here quick. Last "USA Seller" I bought from had the item sent to them from china, then slapped a new label on top of the one from China to send it to me. "4-7days shipping" was 28 days. If that makes things better, I'll get a Delphi one and put this super cheap one aside as a spare.

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Old 07-13-2017, 10:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: You guys will probably tell me I need a coilpack

Based on the condition of your sparkplugs, coilpack seems to be an obvious replacement.

You can read about the coilpacks in dozens of posts here. If the spark plugs are not changed say every 25k miles, increasing sparkplug gaps seem to kill the coilpacks. There are also a few posts referencing suppliers that have been reliable in the past.

Finally, the Astra is much more peppy on premium fuel; the engine has so little horsepower that a small bump in power makes a big difference. I speculate the difference is improved computer engine mapping (timing) when the system senses higher octane fuel. Premium fuel from a top-tier supplier will have good detergents to clean the injectors. Also, you may get better gas mileage.

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Old 07-14-2017, 01:23 AM   #5
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Default Re: You guys will probably tell me I need a coilpack

For the heck of it to help cover basses... I pulled the air filter and found it is a clean Fram filter. Pulled the MAF off and it was so clean it looked new. Didn't pull off the throttle body but manually opening the butterfly and running my finger on the back side of it produced essentially nothing. (Wish my SL2 was like that... )

So none of that was dirty causing funky air fuel rations. But, I would have expected any misfires like that to be completely random rather than strangely specific anyway.

Noticed kits to replace parts of the sparkplug contact areas of the coil packs while looking for coil packs. Decided to pull the coil pack apart while waiting for the ebay special.

Noticed the spring inside is what actually makes contact with the plug. Cleaned the ends of the springs and stretched them all out slightly. Then put it all back together. Cleared the codes and though it still FELT like it was missing, didn't through any codes saying it actually was.

As for the gas tip...
I may run a tank of premium through just for the added detergents when this is all done. I may experiment for fuel economy sake down the road.

I had a Chevette (older cousin of the Astra in many ways) years ago. Premium gas and a tweak to the timing gave me a consistent 10% fuel economy improvement. That 10% was not always enough to justify the extra cost, but the extra pep (which a chevette desperately needed) made it worth it. But, I had people tell me many times that it was either all placebo or an indication of other issues I was covering up with my 'mod'.

Still a fun experiment any way it goes.

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Old 07-24-2017, 09:25 AM   #6
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2008 Astra XE
Default Re: You guys will probably tell me I need a coilpack

So, my $14 replacement coil pack is slightly oversize and doesn't really fit. But, I made it fit anyway. If it was a hair bigger it wouldn't fit down the spark plug holes at all. This resolved all my problems.

I'm ordering a Delphi one off RockAuto here soon.

Unfortunately, I think driving with this has taken a toll on my precat. I just got a P0420 today. The code reads out "Catalyst System Efficiency Below Threshold (Bank 1)"

Maybe it will burn out whatever it gunked up after a highway drive or two. Or maybe it was a random one time code.

If not... I may end up getting a stainless cat-less manifold as it is around the same price as an OEM replacement. Then figure out what the brits do to keep it from throwing codes.

And, my purge valve/evap system keeps throwing codes so I may have to actually look into that. My S-Series threw codes for that a couple times a year. This car it is once every week or so.

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Old 09-05-2017, 03:37 PM   #7
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Default Re: You guys will probably tell me I need a coilpack

My daughters 2008 XR has thrown the 0420 as well. I did all the same things you have mentioned:

Removed/cleaned Throttle Body
Plugs
Coil Pack
Mass Airflow Sensor
Air Filter

Car runs great but the codes were still there. Let me know what you did and if it worked.

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Old 09-06-2017, 07:46 AM   #8
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2008 Astra XE
Default Re: You guys will probably tell me I need a coilpack

I just cleared the P0420 code. It came back 2-3 times but after running a couple tanks of premium, and a ~3hr each way trip, it hasn't came back.

The car really loved the premium... I could hear pinging on the cheap stuff under load. Super smooth on premium and slightly improved mpgs (not enough to cover the price difference though)

Back on the cheap stuff and it hasn't started pinging again. I think the premium and/or the trip blew a lot of stuff out.

~4.5hr each way trip this weekend... I will say these seats aren't very comfortable for the long drives...

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Old 09-06-2017, 08:35 PM   #9
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Default Re: You guys will probably tell me I need a coilpack

Good to hear TDA. I was surprised how much more zip my daughters car had after doing the plugs/coil. She got it used with 44000 miles on it. When I pulled the plugs they did look pretty weathered so no doubt the plugs were overdue.

I cleared the codes on her car Sunday and so far none have come back. I am waiting to hear from her tonight when she gets in.

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Old 09-07-2017, 10:44 PM   #10
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Default Re: You guys will probably tell me I need a coilpack

P0420 came back. I am going to have run a few tanks of premium and see if that does it. Will keep this updated

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