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Old 10-21-2008, 10:51 AM   #1
ChiliPepperSC2
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Default Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

When I was out driving yesterday, about halfway through my 30 minute trip my SES light came on and was flashing. I noticed that my acceleration up the hill was poor, but I didn't notice any other issues. Once I slowed down to idle speed, it was obvious I was suffering a misfire on one of my cylinders. I grabbed my OBD II reader and found a P0303 (Cylinder 3 Misfire). I had to drive home, so I took it easy and limped slowly home.

My husband and I changed out the plugs and #3 was fouled with oil. The plug change did not fix the misfire. We then replaced the ignition wires but again, no fix.

I drove to my mechanic this morning and they ran a compression test. Cylinders 1 and 4 read 115 lb, cylinder 2 read 120 lb, and cylinder 3 read 50 lb. They said all other checks were clean (I asked them to check the ignition wire and I'm guessing they ran electrical checks because of the misfire). I've read that one bad cylinder can indicate a bad exhaust valve. I don't know exactly what I'm dealing with here (I have the basic maintenance down, but nothing on this level), so I could use some help with suggestions on what could be bad, what kind of time frame I'm looking at for the fix, and how much it might cost me. Is the misfiring and compression issue linked, or do I have two different issues?

Thanks in advance for the help.
...
1996 SC2 DOHC Manual
Oct '10 220,000+ on odometer, 44,000+ on rebuilt engine
It took 13 years for my car to go as far as light goes in one second
:O)

Last edited by ChiliPepperSC2; 10-21-2008 at 10:58 AM.
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Old 10-21-2008, 10:57 AM   #2
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1996 SW2
Default Re: Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

Consider a replacement engine or a complete rebuild. Yes, the 50 psi in #3 explains the 303, and you could do a wet test and/or leakdown test to narrow down whether it's a valve or the compression ring. But 110 in the others is well below spec. Unless the mechanic didn't warm the engine fully, or didn't open the throttle fully for the test, or did something else wrong, the engine is very weak generally. But any of the above is possible, along with a faulty gauge. A "second opinion" (another compression test by another person) would be in order.
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Old 10-21-2008, 11:18 AM   #3
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Default Re: Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

What should my compression numbers have been if the engine were healthy? These guys generally do good work, but I'll opt for a second opinion before I make a move. I'll probably take it to the local Saturn dealer.
...
1996 SC2 DOHC Manual
Oct '10 220,000+ on odometer, 44,000+ on rebuilt engine
It took 13 years for my car to go as far as light goes in one second
:O)
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Old 10-21-2008, 11:28 AM   #4
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Default Re: Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

Mine is in pretty decent shape and 195 across the cyl

Definatly get it rechecked to verify. You could also go buy your own compression tester for about $35 and do it yourself. Pays for itself your first use.
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Old 10-21-2008, 11:37 AM   #5
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Default Re: Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

Minimum is 180 psi. The only reason I questioned the procedure/equipment is that the others are equal (typically a good sign), albeit low.
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Old 10-21-2008, 11:57 AM   #6
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Default Re: Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

I've been reading through a few posts and found a link to this tester:

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

Is this a good one to go with?

What is the harm in continuing to drive with my car in this state (aside from the uncomfortable rough idle, rough acceleration, poor gas mileage, and constance flashing SES light)? As happens with most people, I don't have a spare car and my commute to work is 37 miles each way. I can probably grab a few days off from work on Thursday and Friday, but I still need to get home today and get back tomorrow.
...
1996 SC2 DOHC Manual
Oct '10 220,000+ on odometer, 44,000+ on rebuilt engine
It took 13 years for my car to go as far as light goes in one second
:O)
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Old 10-21-2008, 12:09 PM   #7
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Default Re: Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

You can try to bring it back with an MMO or seafoam cyl soak for a day. Just make sure to let it blow out the spark plug holes before putting the plugs in to start it so you don't hydro lock. Oh and remove your front o2 sensor so the crap has somewher to blow out and not plug up your cat. Put it back in after the car stops smoking up the neighborhood

I got something called BG 109 compression restore from the dealer. http://www.bgprod.com/products/engineoil.html

You put it in with clean oil... let the car warm up for 10 minutes... then raise the idle to 1,200 - 1,500 for another 10-15 minutes... change the oil and filter.

This raised my cyl's from 190 to 195 and I had a weak cyl that was 150 and it brought it to a bit over 195
...
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Old 10-21-2008, 12:19 PM   #8
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Default Re: Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

You can still drive it. But be prepared for a total brake down if its the exhaust valve that is the issue.

Car specs?!?! DOHC? SOHC? Miles? These are VITAL to diagnosis!!

You need another compression test. This time following the procedure in Richpins video's or in the how-to library. You want a dry test results AND a WET test results. Post them.

After doing this we will be able to tell you if a MMO is going to do anything. A MMO is usually for stuck rings...not bad exhuast valves.

I have a feeling you do not have a bad valve tho. Usually 0psi is the result of a broken valve.

So, +1 on madpoque's post. You need another compression test dry and wet asap.
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Old 10-21-2008, 12:32 PM   #9
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Default Re: Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

My car specs are in my signature because I know they are important in diagnosing an issue:

1996 SC2 DOHC Manual 186,000+ (October '08)

I did an MMO soak a couple months back because of my oil consumption (I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I was looking at 5-6 quarts every 3500 miles or so). I didn't notice any change in consumption afterwards.
...
1996 SC2 DOHC Manual
Oct '10 220,000+ on odometer, 44,000+ on rebuilt engine
It took 13 years for my car to go as far as light goes in one second
:O)
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Old 10-21-2008, 12:40 PM   #10
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Default Re: Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

MMO/Seafoam soak is for the OIL rings. Probably won't affect the compression rings.

Some members turn off signature reading, so that's not a good place to put vital 411.
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Old 10-21-2008, 01:04 PM   #11
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Default Re: Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiliPepperSC2 View Post
My car specs are in my signature because I know they are important in diagnosing an issue:

1996 SC2 DOHC Manual 186,000+ (October '08)

I did an MMO soak a couple months back because of my oil consumption (I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I was looking at 5-6 quarts every 3500 miles or so). I didn't notice any change in consumption after wards.
Sometimes more than one soak is needed. But back to the issue...get new compression numbers

Quote:
Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
MMO/Seafoam soak is for the OIL rings. Probably won't affect the compression rings.
It helps un stick compression rings sometimes
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Old 10-22-2008, 06:58 AM   #12
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Default Re: Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

As I wait to borrow a friend's compression tester, I'm considering my options... If I went the way of a finding a "new" engine instead of doing a rebuild, what years are compatible with a 1996 MT SC2?
...
1996 SC2 DOHC Manual
Oct '10 220,000+ on odometer, 44,000+ on rebuilt engine
It took 13 years for my car to go as far as light goes in one second
:O)
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Old 10-22-2008, 08:46 AM   #13
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Default Re: Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiliPepperSC2 View Post
As I wait to borrow a friend's compression tester, I'm considering my options... If I went the way of a finding a "new" engine instead of doing a rebuild, what years are compatible with a 1996 MT SC2?
A compression ring (shy of a catastropic failure of a ring land) will not suddenly "fail". 50 PSI. There is no magic soak or anything else that will bring that back. (Sorry) My money is on (and my expirence tells me) you have a burned valve. Remove the cylinderhead, replace the bad valve and have a general reconditioning of, and "valve job" performed, by a machine shop on the head. (+/- $300 generally) Replace the timing componants (chain, guides, tensioner) and re-ring the pistons while its apart anyway. (Always a good practice whenever a head is redone on any engine anyway.) Total cost (you doing the labor with "normal hand tools" will run in the $1200 range, and net you an essentially "new" engine. (No need to actually remove the engine from the car to do any of this, the block can stay right where it is, including still attached to the transaxle) Far better than gambling on a "junk yard" piece with a basically unknown history.
...
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Old 10-22-2008, 09:51 AM   #14
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Default Re: Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

Quote:
total cost (you doing the labor with "normal hand tools" will run in the $1200 range,
$1200?
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Old 10-22-2008, 10:35 AM   #15
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Default Re: Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

I could use an "Engine Components for Dummies" guide to my engine. Anybody know where I could find one? I've come up empty so far.
...
1996 SC2 DOHC Manual
Oct '10 220,000+ on odometer, 44,000+ on rebuilt engine
It took 13 years for my car to go as far as light goes in one second
:O)
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Old 10-22-2008, 10:45 AM   #16
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Default Re: Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

Ebay, barnes noble, etc.

Id get a service manual and read that also.

Just incase you want a new engine, they usually run around $500-$700. You would need one from '95 - '98 for a drop in replacement. But as wolfman said you dont know the qualityof the engine. Personally, however, in the past ive just replaced the engine as its cheaper and quicker. But you get what you pay for
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Old 10-22-2008, 01:07 PM   #17
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Default Re: Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiliPepperSC2 View Post
I could use an "Engine Components for Dummies" guide to my engine. Anybody know where I could find one? I've come up empty so far.
Seriously? "How Stuff Works" may help as its free, online, and typing in almost anything like map sensor, maf sensor, idle air control valve, throttle position sensor, etc., should give you enough information to be dangerous. For education pick up a book under something like Bosch electronic fuel injection. There are many online sources of information when Googling too.
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Old 10-22-2008, 01:14 PM   #18
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Default Re: Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

Most likely if you had a burnt exhaust valve, you would have 0 compression(assuming it chipped off). When I bought my car, it had a burnt valve, and a piece of the valve wedged itself between the piston and the wall, scoring the cylinder. Most likely if you have an oil soaked plug though, it means trouble.

I found a 97 DOHC engine in the junkyard I scored for $110 bucks, and its been fine for 5k miles (knock on wood). Pick n' Pull has some good deals sometimes Any 96-98 DOHC should be a drop-in replacement for yours. 95 would work as well, but you need to change some sensors and injectors, and the 95 has two coolant temp sensors, whereas the 96 only needs one. Not a big deal though.
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Old 10-22-2008, 08:37 PM   #19
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Default Re: Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

I also would keep/rebuild/fix YOUR engine as necessary, before getting one with an unknown history.

Keep in mind, you could get a MEGA overheated junker with loads of stop leak in the coolant passages, which ran cheap SA rated oil from the gas station...the oil was just added, not changed....

A rebuilt head, timing set, gaskets, head bolts, rings and odds-n-ends is all you need..

Plus its cheaper than buying a Honda....
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Old 10-29-2008, 07:40 AM   #20
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Default Re: Cylinder 3 Misfire, Compression Testing Results

I talked with one of the mechanics that I've been to before, and he told me $1500 for a valve job, and if I wanted a ring job, he would recommend a remanufactured engine due to the cost. Granted, I still haven't run the compression test so I don't know what went bad yet. I need a day that a get home before it's dark since I don't have a garage.
...
1996 SC2 DOHC Manual
Oct '10 220,000+ on odometer, 44,000+ on rebuilt engine
It took 13 years for my car to go as far as light goes in one second
:O)
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