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Thread: 1.8VVT stripped spark plug thread

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    Default 1.8VVT stripped spark plug thread

    1.8 VVT (Z18XER), 2008, 78000 miles.
    Quite happily just driven 60 miles at 70mph on a motorway/dual carriageway. Stopped at a roundabout. Pulled away, immediate loss of power, firing on 3, SVC light, sound like blowing exhaust, except from under bonnet. Stopped, got car recovered. Opcom revealed "cylinder 3 misfire". Took off coil pack, #3 plug came out with coil pack, pack melted and plug a mess where hot gasses must have leaked past. Boroscoped (flexible camera) through plug hole, all looks ok. Tried new plug, just drops into hole - I thought the old plug may have vibrated out, but it appears it was blown out; threads on plug have been flattened. Plugs replaced <10K ago (VX originals), the other 3 look OK.

    So...why did it happen? There does not appear to be any clues, engine rotates happily with all 4 plugs removed. No oil loss or oil in water (or water in oil for that matter).

    Is it worth getting a helicoil kit, fitting a new thread, plug and coil pack (about £100 for the whole lot), or is it likely to spit it out again?

    Has anyone had the same thing happen? Has anyone tried a helicoil on the Z18XER?

    Thanks, Steve

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    Regular Member Critch's Avatar
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    Vehicle : vauxhall vivaro

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    Engine : 1.9

    Year : 2004

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    Do few checks before hand, exhaust not blocked, also try checking valve faces with camera.

    it might have been over tightened during fitting and pulled threads and slowly over the milage just pulled threads even more with compression.

    helicoil might hold ok. But if its getting excessive combustion pressures for what ever reason it may happen again

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    Might have been cross threaded when fitted and gradually pushed out passed the damaged threads

    Sent from my iFail using Forum Runner

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    Helicoil kit ordered, been told that there's no surcharge for remanufactured unit if head is knackered, so for £35 it's worth a try! I shall recut threads and run a compression test, see what numbers come up; Critch you mentioned excessive combustion pressures, any ideas on what else to look for (checked for blocked exhaust, but cannot bend camera enough through plug hole to look at valve seats. It spends most of its time on LPG, so if anything it should be lower pressure, although hotter?

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    Id be checking for a collapsed or blocked cat.
    "We are not some sort of dictatorship!"


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    Quote Originally Posted by Cleared To Land View Post
    Helicoil kit ordered, been told that there's no surcharge for remanufactured unit if head is knackered, so for £35 it's worth a try! I shall recut threads and run a compression test, see what numbers come up; Critch you mentioned excessive combustion pressures, any ideas on what else to look for (checked for blocked exhaust, but cannot bend camera enough through plug hole to look at valve seats. It spends most of its time on LPG, so if anything it should be lower pressure, although hotter?
    Silly question but are you taking the head off to do the Helicoil repair?

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    Regular Member Swedge's Avatar
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    i thought lpg was rough on the valve seats? wouldnt that cause less compression than standard if they were worn?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swedge View Post
    i thought lpg was rough on the valve seats? wouldnt that cause less compression than standard if they were worn?
    I believe so, which is why I said "so if anything it should be lower pressure, although hotter?". It has got electronic flash lube (valve saver) installed, so the seats should be ok, I spoke to my installer who reckons these engines should be fine with the flash kit, certainly for better than 60K which it's done since the conversion.
    Quote Originally Posted by alcutler View Post
    Silly question but are you taking the head off to do the Helicoil repair?
    My thoughts after a lot of Googling is no; grease on the tap, #3 at TDC, vacuum nozzle with tube to go through the plug hole afterwards. The general consensus seems to be that as long as the helicoil tang (stainless steel) doesn't fall in, a tiny amount of aluminium swarf should be insignificant, especially if I rotate the engine by hand until exhaust is open and blow compressed air in the plug hole to flush anything out after vacuuming when the job is done.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Das View Post
    Id be checking for a collapsed or blocked cat.
    Thanks for that Das. As it was running when it failed, and continued for another few seconds before I could pull over, I am guessing it's ok or I would likely have seen damage to #1, 2 or 4 too, but it's worth checking. My gut feeling is to spend the time checking as much as I can before I go for a restart, so I guess pressurising #3 with compressed air and then rotating until the exhaust valve opens to check for instant pressure decay should work. If there's any delay, then I guess I'll be pulling the manifold & cat too!

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    Regular Member alcutler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cleared To Land View Post
    My thoughts after a lot of Googling is no; grease on the tap, #3 at TDC, vacuum nozzle with tube to go through the plug hole afterwards. The general consensus seems to be that as long as the helicoil tang (stainless steel) doesn't fall in, a tiny amount of aluminium swarf should be insignificant, especially if I rotate the engine by hand until exhaust is open and blow compressed air in the plug hole to flush anything out after vacuuming when the job is done.
    Thanks for you reply - a mate of mine did one on his car and did it with the head in situ - he got the piston up to tdc and the rigged up a length of hose that would go through the plug hole and gaffer taped it to the nozzle of a powerful vacuum cleaner, and he never had any problems - is there enough of the original threaded plug hole left to tap out for the helicoil to screw in.

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