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> Cylinder Head Rebuilding [1], Engine only firing on 3 cylinders
GialloEvo94
post 11th March 2006 19:35
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OK...so today I was stuck in traffic and noticed the revs a little low on tickover. As I pulled away the engine felt very lumpy sad.gif It was immediately obvious that all 4 cylinders weren't powering the car. Previously (only 10 minutes earlier) it was pulling perfectly fine on the dual carriageway with no loss of power at all.

I limped home and whipped off the engine cover. I checked that each coil pack was producing a spark from the end of the pack itself (main plug) and also the HT lead to the opposing cylinder's secondary spark plug. All seemed fine and dandy smile.gif

I removed each of the spark plugs for inspection. They all seemed fine excpet for the ones from cylinder 3 which were wet...so this was clearly the cylinder not firing. I dryed off the plugs and swapped them with ones in another cylinder just to confirm that it was knackered plugs. Ran the engine for a few minutes (still lumpy) then checked again...all the swapped plugs in both cylinders were dry blink.gif I wasn't expecting that so back to the drawing board.

So...now I'm not sure which cylinder is the problem and whether it is the spark plugs that are at fault. On the service history is does say the plugs and leads were all replaced about 3 years ago due to a misfire and the car has done less than 20k since they were all changed. I believe that these plugs are supposed to last a long time (60k??) so I'm not sure why they would have given up so soon if it is the fault of the plugs. Is there any easy way of checking which cylinder is not firing and if it is really the fault of the plugs? The TS malarky seems a little more complicated to diagnose than a standard 4-plug setup. I guess I'm right in saying it is the large plug on the end of the coil pack is the one that does the actual firing? (what does the spark from the other plug actually do? unsure.gif).

Anyway...if anyone is able to give me a few tips or pointers on how to diagnose which cylinder is the problematic one and how to actually tell if any of the TS plugs are at fault I would be very happy. If the plugs weren't so expensive I would just go out tomorrow and buy a new set to give them a try but it is bound to be sods law that if I do that it will turn out not to be faulty spark plugs at all wacko.gif


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hazeyblue
post 11th March 2006 19:46
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QUOTE(GialloEvo94 @ Mar 11 2006, 07:35 PM)
OK...so today I was stuck in traffic and noticed the revs a little low on tickover. As I pulled away the engine felt very lumpy sad.gif It was immediately obvious that all 4 cylinders weren't powering the car. Previously (only 10 minutes earlier) it was pulling perfectly fine on the dual carriageway with no loss of power at all.
*

Something very similar happened to a me couple of months back... I almost got totalled at a roundabout - pulled out, car went very lumpy and almost stalled. It felt like it was running on 3 cylinders and it was misfiring.

I took it to an indi Alfa garage and the fault was traced to a dodgy Lambda.

HTH unsure.gif

This post has been edited by hazeyblue: 11th March 2006 19:46
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Symon
post 11th March 2006 22:12
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I would say dodgy lambda also, as thats what mine felt like, apparently the engine will run too rich, causing the plugs to foul, hence the three cylinder running.
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purple
post 11th March 2006 22:18
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there are cheapo versions of those plugs available, just wont last as long, could use them for elimination purposes. The second set of plugs is to clean up the emissions IIRC.

Not had a lambda go so unsure of symptoms but many have. The plugs are japanese, the lambda, Bosch, which is most likely to fail..........??
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GialloEvo94
post 11th March 2006 22:51
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Cheers for the suggestions guys...at least I have somewhere else to start looking as I wouldn't have even considered it could be the lambda sensor. I'll have a butchers and see if I can locate it...I guess it is somewhere on the exhaust after the manifold. As it looks like I'm now going to be working outside tomorrow I expect it to be raining in true British weather stylie biggrin.gif

It guess it may still not be the problem but it's definately worth a look. It just seemed a bit odd to me that the plugs would suddenly let go while on the move. If they were beginning to break down I would have at least expected misfiring to occur first before a total all out complete non-firing of one or more cylinders unsure.gif

Does anyone happen to know the rough cost of new lambda sensors off the top of their head? Is it better to stick with the original Alfa supplied Bosch one or are other ones just as good? (I notice that Lucas appear to do some and I'm sure other manufacturers do too).


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hazeyblue
post 11th March 2006 23:04
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My MPG was very poor in the lead up to the Lambda going pop... a tell-tale sign apparently. The garage fitted mine and used a factory spec Lambda. Car has been running like new ever since.

There are others available and Symon has had a good result with the one he picked up on eBay.

Good luck.

This post has been edited by hazeyblue: 11th March 2006 23:07
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Francophile69
post 12th March 2006 09:22
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What type are the plugs that were fitted 3 years and 20k ago. Indeed correct plugs have a life of 60k but are yours genuine or a cheaper type?
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GialloEvo94
post 12th March 2006 10:22
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Hi Steve,

They are actually NGK plugs (written on the ceramic top of each plug). The invoice lists them as BKR6EKPA (x4) and PMR7A (x4) at 64 for the lot so unless the garage lied it does mean the proper plugs have been fitted smile.gif

The more I think about the problem the more I'm beginning to wonder how the lambda probe could cause it to run so badly (if it is indeed the probe at fault). It really does sound like a tractor...not just slightly lumpy sad.gif And can a lambda probe just give up like that mid-way through driving?

Is there any way of testing the lambda probe for a fault rather than just taking a pot-shot chance by replacing it? unsure.gif Like the plugs, it's a an expensive part to buy (about 95) so to replace it and then find no difference would be a real bummer.

Maybe I will try to take an audio recording of the engine running later on and post it up if I can.

It's like a spagetti junction of leads down there blink.gif Is it possible to disconnect and remove the secondary plug coil packs & leads during the diagnosis process (i.e. in a 'normal' running engine would the lack of a spark in the secondary plugs make a noticable running noise difference to the engine?).


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purple
post 12th March 2006 14:32
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unplug the lamdba see if it makes a difference, the connection is on the bulkhead, mounted in a small cover in line with the steering wheel, rubber plug type connection.

HTH
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GialloEvo94
post 12th March 2006 15:33
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Thanks...I just tried this (I assume you mean the blue plug with 3 pins...the only plug I could find in that location) but unfortunately unplugging this makes no difference whatsoever sad.gif

The coils that fire all the main plugs are the 2 on the far left and I now know that the secondary plugs fire a split second after the main ones (not 180 degree afterwards) so to eliminate any complications I completely removed the coils and connections to all secondary plugs. With this setup, it is no better (I wouldn't expect it to be), but it is also no worse.

The strange thing is that with this simpler 4-plug connection setup, if I remove either of the coils (plugged into the left 2 cylinders) from the spark plug then the engine almost stalls. However if I remove the slave leads to either of the right 2 cylinders then ther is no change in engine running huh.gif To me, this suggests that BOTH cylinders on the right aren't firing. However, I have proved that a spark is being produced from those 2 plugs by removing the plugs, running the engine then placing the spark plugs (connected to the slave leads) close to a grounding point on the car.

The more I try and diagnose the problem the more confused I am getting blink.gif and I am now beginning to wonder if there is some electrical fault somewhere which is not firing the sparks at the correct time. Maybe I am just going to have to admit defeat and limp it down to the stealers sad.gif

The attachment below is the (not nice) sound the engine is making with all coils and leads attached...

Attached File  LumpyRunningEngine.mp3 ( 159.69k ) Number of downloads: 357


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Symon
post 12th March 2006 16:58
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Have you tried unplugging the MAF? To see if this makes any difference. The ECU will go into limp home mode, and if it was the MAF it should run better, although not as good as normal. Though others may say that if the MAF is totally stuffed it will make no difference if it unplugged. Maybe someone else here knows more than me.. ?
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hazeyblue
post 12th March 2006 17:09
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Another suggestion would be to disconnect the battery for an hour or so, it may reset the ECU.

Failing that, I would be tempted to get it hooked up to a diagnostic system. The going rate is about 50.00 - it could save you so much time and effort. unsure.gif
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jam
post 13th March 2006 21:20
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if you have prooved that you have sparks on the two cylinders that dont seem to effect the running of the engine i.e slow down any more. Have you checked to see if the injector's are actually squrting out any fuel, you may have injectors that arent firing or are blocked.

If you remove them one by one and get someone to try and start the car, they obviously should squrt some fuel be sure to catch it in something, like a rag or something
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GialloEvo94
post 13th March 2006 23:21
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jam...I will try out your suggession (unfortunately not until the weekend now) but looking down the spark plug hole, the tops of those two pistons were certainly wet so some fuel is definately getting into them. Whether or not there is some kind of intermittent injector fault though I couldn't really say so I will whip out the injectors and try them anyway to see if there is any kind of obvious problem with them. I wasn't really too sure about the safety of doing this but I guess it should be ok as long as I don't start squirting fuel all over the manifold blink.gif

Anyway, I actually bit the bullet this morning and booked it in with the stealers. The earliest they could fit me in was in 10 days time ohmy.gif and that was only because they had a cancellation. I guess the only consolation is that it will give me more time at the weekend to do some more of my own checks.

Cheers for everyone's help so far smile.gif


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Francophile69
post 14th March 2006 16:55
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QUOTE(GialloEvo94 @ Mar 12 2006, 03:33 PM)
The coils that fire all the main plugs are the 2 on the far left and I now know that the secondary plugs fire a split second after the main ones (not 180 degree afterwards) so to eliminate any complications I completely removed the coils and connections to all secondary plugs. With this setup, it is no better (I wouldn't expect it to be), but it is also no worse.
*

Are you sure about this?
You may have a different set up to me, but from memory on mine each coil produces 1 main and 1 secondary spark. (The secondary going to a different cylinder)
If this is the case then you dissed two coils completely, your car was then firing on 2 primary plugs on 2 cylinders and the other 2 on secondary plugs.
If one of the coils you dissed is faulty then you have completely removed it from the equation and your test leaves you none the wiser.
This is only a theory and could be complete b******s! if so I apologise for wasting your time.
It is possible that 1 of the coils is faulty, bearing in mind it could be an intermittant fault (at least initially until it fails completely) and I'm not sure in that case if a diagnostic test would leave you any the wiser. However it is also possible the fault has nothing to do with coils and is actually the Lamda, at least a diagnotic would tell you that and could save you time in the long run.
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GialloEvo94
post 14th March 2006 17:42
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QUOTE(Steve Hill @ Mar 14 2006, 05:55 PM)
Are you sure about this?
You may have a different set up to me, but from memory on mine each coil produces 1 main and 1 secondary spark. (The secondary going to a different cylinder)
If this is the case then you dissed two coils completely, your car was then firing on 2 primary plugs on 2 cylinders and the other 2 on secondary plugs.
*

Steve,

I was initially boggled when I took the engine cover off (the first time I've seen the electrics of TS spark plug setup) blink.gif but I worked through it logically...

Looking at the engine from the front of the car, assume the cylinder numbers are 1-4 from left to right. All larger primary plugs are on the left of all cylinders (I know this because I removed them all) and the secondary plugs are on the right.

The coil pack on cylinder 1 is plugged into the left hand plug (primary). The slave lead from this coil goes to the left hand plug in cylinder 4 (again the primary plug). The same goes for cylinder 2...the coil pack is plugged into the left hand plug (primary) and the slave lead goes to the left hand (primary) plug in cylinder 3. So 1 is connected to 4 and 2 is connected to 3 (all primary plugs).

This means that the coil packs on cylinders 1 and 2 (connected to the primary plugs) also power the secondary plugs on cylinders 3 and 4, and the coil packs on cylinders 3 and 4 (connected to the secondary plugs) also power the secondary plugs on cylinders 1 and 2. Simple(ish) biggrin.gif I hope you followed all that!! cool.gif

So...removing both coil packs in cylinders 3 and 4 along with their slave leads eliminates the firing of all the secondary plugs which I wanted to remove them from the equation. With the engine (badly) running on just the primary plugs, then by unplugging either of the 2 remaining coils, the engine nearly stalls, but unplugging either of the 2 remaining slave leads does nothing to the engine or it's sound. I know these 2 slave leads and plugs are producing a spark because I tested them out of the cylinders huh.gif ...so as you can understand I'm totally confused...unless it's the injectors, but the top of the pistons and the plugs in those 2 cylinders are definately wet with fuel. I unplugged the lambda and the MAF but it changes nothing. Maybe the timing has somehow been thrown out? unsure.gif

Anyway, I don't get home til late in the evenings so any further investigation on my problem has to wait until the weekend sad.gif and if I get no joy (not hopeful) then it looks like the stealers will be increasing their yearly profit margin sad.gif


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Francophile69
post 14th March 2006 18:01
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QUOTE(GialloEvo94 @ Mar 14 2006, 05:42 PM)
This means that the coil packs on cylinders 1 and 2 (connected to the promary plugs) also power the secondary plugs on cylinders 3 and 4, and the coil packs on cylinders 3 and 4 (connected to the secondary plugs) also power the secondary plugs on cylinders 1 and 2. Simple(ish) biggrin.gif I hope you followed all that!! cool.gif
*

Yeap I kinda followed it eventually! Except for the above paragraph, should that read :
"This means that the coil packs on cylinders 1 and 2 (connected to the promary plugs) also power the PRIMARY plugs on cylinders 3 and 4......"

If so then

I haven't time to check mine but from memeory I am not sure that yours is plumbed in right! Hopefully someone more knowlegeable than me will be able say I am talking out of my a**e and yours is doing what it is supposed to, however if my assumption is correct then it would explain your problem.
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GialloEvo94
post 14th March 2006 18:11
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QUOTE(Steve Hill @ Mar 14 2006, 07:01 PM)
I haven't time to check mine but from memeory I am not sure that yours is plumbed in right!
*

Because of that really annoying plate that goes over the spark plug holes which the coil packs bolt onto and the lengths of the slave leads it is pretty much idiot-proof (one thing Alfa did get right biggrin.gif) so it is physically impossible to wire it up incorrectly unless being done so by some complete buffoon I guess laugh.gif

I've had the car since July last year and it has run and performed perfectly until the incident at the weekend sad.gif so I it asume it must be plumbed in correctly.


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GialloEvo94
post 18th March 2006 13:48
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I have now removed the injectors and checked each one...they are all producing a powerful spray of fuel so that isn't the problem either.

With the engine running I have been round and unplugged any connector I can find in turn (just one at any one time) with exception of the ECU obviously. None of them unplugged change the running of the engine with the exception of the brown one which stops the engine completely so I can only assume this is to the fuel pump.

I now believe the car is actually only running on TWO cylinders sad.gif because if I unplug either of the injectors on cylinders 3 of 4 nothing changes, but if I unplug either of the injectors on cylinders 1 & 2 the car nearly stalls.

I am now beginning to think the problem is a lot more serious than I first thought sad.gif and WHITE smoke is puffing out of the exhaust sad.gif Is this a normal symptom of a car running on only 2 cylinders???? (i.e. is it just the unburnt fuel from the other two cylinders?).

It's booked into the stealers on Thursday but now I am beginning to think that my bank account is going to be rather empty by this time next weekend sad.gif sad.gif It's sods law...my other (Italian) car which I've had for over 9 years hasn't missed a single beat in the engine department even though it used to be my daily drive, but this 6 year old Alfa which has less miles on and which I've only had for 9 months has already broken down in what seems to be a serious way mad.gif


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GialloEvo94
post 18th March 2006 14:24
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I just did a bit of research and white smoke suggests blown head gasket or worse still, a cracked head sad.gif sad.gif Is there any way to tell of a dead head gasket without removing the head?

Does anyone know roughly what the damage would be for getting a head gasket replaced by a main dealer (assuming the head itself is actually OK)? I guess this is quite a labour intensive job sad.gif sad.gif

The top end was completely rebuilt only 15 months ago (previous owner) following a cambelt failure.


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