Theres been a long run of nothing but oil changes on the big ass station wagon as far as maintenance is concerned. Thats a good thing. Oh sure I have a weepy rear tire that gets filled once a week and I need to feed its oil drinking problem every other week but otherwise its been holding together. When we needed to decide which vehicle to take for an hour and a half ride to our daughters wedding it really was a toss up. The Beemer gets better fuel mileage but the Jimmy is more comfy. Gas is cheap these days so the big ass station wagon got the nod.
Twenty miles from home while sitting in the bank drive through my wife turns to me and asks what the heck was that? "That" was a misfire. It was followed by many more. In fact it was kinda always happening but not in rhythm like a polka beat. I guess it had more of a Ted Nugent or Jimmy Hendrix kind of randomness to it. BTW, mechanics love it when you describe a problem like this. So now what? Do we back track 20 miles and swap cars or head out for the hiway and let things sort themselves out? "When in doubt, throttle out" has worked well for me in the past so we continued on.
At cruising speed the misfire either isn't happening or can't be felt. Much of this trip was to be interstate travel so no big deal, right? A little while after my confidence was back up we got to a newly paved section of road that felt bumpy. Those aren't bumps and my wife knew it. Soon after, the check engine light came on. No biggy, we were still under power and the gauges were normal. I figured there must be an elf under the hood that counts misfires. When he ran out of fingers and toes to use he said screw it and hit the bullshit button. I was taking this much better than my wife was. To be stranded on the side of the road would have been a disaster and I'm pretty sure it would have ended up with her taking an uber to the wedding and me dealing with a broke ass station wagon. While I was letting that last thought sink in the traction control light came on.
The traction control light came and went a few times and was finally put to rest by turning off traction control. Because traction control can cut power it has to be linked to the engine and when the engine misfires traction control may not work right. Right? Sounded good to me. All that shit is connected so it was safe to assume I still only had one problem-a misfire but was it a plug, coil, sensor or connection?
We made our destination and lived with the problem. By the next day when we were heading home the misfire was treated like an old friend. Hey, there you are. Haven't seen you in a few miles.
Would you like to meet our culprit? Here he is.
A little closer...
These are AC Delco plugs. The big ass station wagon has 180,000 on the counter. Is it possible they are original? Maybe the second set but no newer than that I'd guess. The plug in the pic is on number one cylinder. Its the easiest to get to and was the first one I pulled. Based on the way the engine was jerking I was expecting to find more that looked this way. I didn't. In fact I'm sure this is the only one creating all the fuss.
A week before this all happened I was experiencing a slight loss in power. There was no misfire and the loss just felt like a dirty air filter. I was so confident the air filter was the problem that I just bought one without checking the existing one. I was bummed out to find it didn't need an air filter but changed it out anyway just because. A few days later my power was back and I forgot about the whole ordeal. I wonder now if the loss of power was maybe that piece or part of the piece of broken spark plug lodged under the exhaust valve. After it worked its way through I had normal power again. Thats my story and I'm stickin to it.
You know what the funniest part of this story is? If I would have taken this to a shop then some technician would have pulled this plug and run over to a coworker saying something like "Look what I found. What an idiot, I bet this guy never looks under the hood".
Ya I'll go easier on dumbasses that bring me neglected equipment. At least for a while.