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Porcelain chip from spark plug in engine


Jorgie

Question

First off, I don't know that much about cars so bear with me.

I was putting new spark plugs in my car, '99 Chevy Cavalier, when the porcelain insulator on one of them cracked. I took it out and tried to fish out the chips, but one slipped out and into the engine.

After I got the other plugs in and put the old one back in for the cracked one, I started it up. It started fine, and within a few seconds, the RPMs dropped and the engine started shaking a lot. I shut off the engine, checked the caps again, and tried it again. Some more shaking and then it seemed ok. I revved the engine a little and more shaking, but then it passed again. I let the engine idle for a while and there was a faint amount of smoke coming from somewhere in the engine and also out of the exhaust. I drove it around the block and no troubles. The shaking has stopped and I was able drive it back to the auto parts store to exchange the cracked plug without problems.

I'm thinking that the chip, or possibly chips since I may have unknowingly knocked in more when removing the cracked plug, burned up or passed through to someplace else. Do you think this is what happened? Or will the chip(s) stay in there and eventually cause a bigger problem? I asked the guy at Advance Auto and he wasn't sure what would happen, but he said I should keep an eye on it. Maybe a can of Sea Foam would help?

Thank you in advance for your help, I'm more than a little concerned about my blunder.

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A can of Seafoam definitely will not help. If you are lucky the chips went through exhaust valves and out into exhaust system.

Some can be stuck on top of piston, I hope not into valve opening. The shaking and smoking of motor is not a good sign.

At this point there's nothing you can do, except wait and see (and pray a lot).

Next time maybe try to suck it out with a vacuum cleaner, ceramic insulator is extremely hard and will do a lot of damage.

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I should have added that the shaking and smoking has completely stopped. I just put the last plug in and it seems fine still. I used a lot of WD40 on the old plugs because they were really in there. Could that have contributed to the shaking and or/smoking?

I'm going to take a drive do some shore fishing tonight, hopefully I will make it back.

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I assume the shaking and smoking was due to WD40 draining inside motor. Good luck tonight (both fishing and driving).

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

How big a piece fell in? It sounds like it might have grounded its way though the exhaust vavle. You can pull the plug an start the engine. If its still in there it'll get blown out, asuming its not too big. Other then that not much else you can do.

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Small parts of the plug aren't going to cause too much problems, especially after some amount of engine run. Your other problems are probably related to other things. Cavaliers from 94-99 have head gasket issues. It's hard to know if that's your current failure without a pressure test.

WD40 is not a lubricant; it's more like a spray version of gasline antifreeze. You'd be better off by using a fogging spray.

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Sounds like the insulator found its way out, that why the shaking (misfire) has stopped. If the piece was too large to pass under the open valve and lodge between the valve and head the piston could potentially hit and bend the valve, most likely the insulator would crush and pass though, in which case you would still have a misfire. I'd drive it, you should be fine.

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

This reminds me the the time I was riding an old Ski Doo. No engine cowling so the carb's throat exposed. I was ice fishing and picked up and moved setting the ice rod on the dash. As I'm traveling down the lake I noticed the fishing line had been sucked into the carb, on the end was an ice fly.

Oh Well.

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I was once driving the boat for another mech who was diagnosing a problem with a merc 4.3 I/O, when he apparently had the flame arrestor off , with the nut on the stud above the carb, only finger tight, well it( the nut ) got sucked down into the engine at about 4400 rpm's. That ruined the cylinder!

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You should ALWAYS put a antiseize coating on spark plugs that screw into an aluminum head. Because of the different metals involved they can fuse together.

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Quote:

You should ALWAYS put a anti seize coating on spark plugs that screw into an aluminum head. Because of the different metals involved they can fuse together.


Most spark plugs are nickel (I believe its nickel) plated. If the threads are silver in color than anti-seize is not require. A few years back there was rumors that the anti-seize was causing some funky drive ability problems. If you do use it use it sparingly.

My advise on the porceline chip. If its running o.k. then drive it. There's nothing you can do about it now other then pull the head off to confirm that it is or isn't there. If it starts running ruff than you'll have to deal with it then but that may not ever happen. I wouldn't worry about it myself!

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Well I didn't catch any fish last night, but the good news is between the drive to and from the lake and a few errands, about 40 miles total, the car ran fine. I'll be sure to listen and watch for problems. I don't have a tach so all I can do is listen for changing RPMs. Thanks for the advice everyone, between you and a couple friends I called, I'm feeling better.

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