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Discussion Starter #1
I BOUGHT A LEMON ! here's a little history:

had intake manifold water leak into cylinder 4. replaced intake manifold gasket. forgot to replace spark plugs. drove to Pennsylvania from Texas like this. a few days ago, started running rough. autozone read code and it was p0304, misfire cylinder 4. probable causes: vacuum leak affecting one cylinder, ignition system concern, blocked / faulty fuel injector, or mechanical engine condition.

note: spark plug in cylinder 4 had a pit in the electrode

i have replaced all 4 spark plugs with new ngk gapped at .044 by me with autozone coin shaped gapper. seemed to run better. a couple days later it started acting up again. this time, it ran good in on the way to my destination, and about 30 minutes into the drive, it started misfiring. it happened slowly. it wasn't like a flip of a switch.

replaced spark plug wires brand new from autozone. no difference. replaced distributor cap, no difference. HAVE NOT replaced rotor. when i pull spark plug in cylinder 4, it is wet and has gas all over it. i can also pull the wire on the distributor while running and engine stays running. i thought that was weird.

i swapped fuel injector #3 and #4. ran it for a few minutes. pulled spark plug in #3, dry. pulled #4 and still wet.
i did replace the crank shaft seal recently.

i had to take off the timing assembly / belt. i made sure both balance shafts, cam shaft, and crank gear were on their mark, so i feel confident it is not a timing issue, but who knows.

any help is appreciated.
 

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sounds to me like one of two things. Bad ingnition to that cylinder or you still have a coolant issue with that cylinder. Ignition problem could be bad wire, plug, or cap and rotor. I know you have changed them but you could have recieved a bad part.Coolant could be bad gasket, cracked head or warped head. Did you have head checked before you reinstalled with new gasket.What is making the spark plug wet? This is where I would start. Is it coolant or gas. good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
hey wcornutt,

thanks for the reply. the wetness is gas. it's definitely not water because i am not loosing any from the radiator and it smells like gas. no, i did not have head checked for being warped. i should have you're right. i guess today i will change the rotor and see if that helps. i don't think that's the problem because the other cylinders are firing fine and are not wet with gas.

what it appears is that the spark is not hot enough to that cylinder. i can pull that spark plug wire off at the distributor and it will keep car running. i tried pulling another wire and is shocked the heck out of me and the van died.

i don't know much about the internals of the distributor, but at this point, i'm thinking that is the problem. might try swapping around some wires today and see if i get any difference. will update later.
 

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take a known good plug and stick it in the #4 wire and ground the electrode to the block or something then have someone turn the car over for a little and check for spark across the gap. thats the cheapest way to check for spark and if your scared of shocking yourself just wrap the wire with some towels. best way to diagnose wiring issues is to start at one end and back track to the other dont start in the middle

also would hurt to check your compression
 

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Discussion Starter #5
ok, found the problem. no compression in cylinder 4. someone told me to open the oil cap with the van running and set a business card on top of the hole and if it pushes the card off, it's a bad intake valve. can anyone confirm ? if so, what's the next best step? i was told i can have the head acid washed. then i can replace the bad valve, which i have never done before.

this will be the second time i have pulled the head in the last 6 months. getting good at it, not happy about it though.
 

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Pull the valve cover off. See if the valves are moving. Maybe something did not get put back together correctly in the valve train last time the head was installed. Like a rocker arm not in the right place. Check valve clearances on that cylinder.
 

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Yep that will do it. No compression for sure. Other than your time its an easy fix. Make sure to check valve clearances with a feeler gauge when you go back together.Should run much better after you fix it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Alright, I ended up buying a remanufactured head from a company on ebay. They are located in Grand Prairie, Texsa. $275 free shipping. They have been doing rebuilt heads for a while and have a great reputation. I got the head put on yesterday and did my first valve adjustment job today. I thought the head would come with the valves preadjusted, but they were not. Without reading the little orange paper that says they are not preadjusted, i installed the head and fired it up. The noise was horrible. All the valves were clicking away, very loudly at that. I ran it for a few minutes assuming they would quiet after a few minutes, but they never did. I bought a feeler gauge at autozone for $7 and watched a few youtube videos from eric the car guy and off i went. the job was easy, just tedious and a little time consuming. they say if you adjust them too tight, you can burn a valve, so i was very picky and double checked every adjustment. this experience has made me become more familiar with how the head works.

-thanks to all for the help and advice.
 
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