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Old July 17th, 2018, 06:26 AM   #1
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#5 Cylinder spark plug blowout

For a few weeks now, I have been hearing a ticking sound coming from the top of my engine. It wasn't affecting performance and I figured it was just a valve that needed adjusting. Turns out it was actually my #5 spark plug coming loose. Well, this past Thursday, the plug blew out of the cylinder and took the spark plug seat threads with it.

This is a major issue. No dealer or mechanic will touch this problem without pulling the head and charging a minimum of 2 grand to do the job (too much risk for them to do the job with the head on, and risk closing up the engine with debris in the cylinder which will ruin the cylinder and then they'll be liable.) Many dealers I read about recommended buying a whole new head. Might as well buy a whole new engine at that price. And most people on V6P and other forums also said to just pull the head to do it safely. Well, I didn't want to do that. I've never done anything as involved as removing the head off an engine, and I can't afford to pay someone to do it.

After doing a ton of research, I settled on using a time-sert thread repair kit. If you are going to repair the spark plug threads properly this is the best way to go hands down (short of buying a new head). After even more research, I also found an awesome step-by-step guide on odyclub.com (the Honda Odyssey forum) that I am going to post below in case anyone else runs into this spark plug blowout issue. This guide will tell you how to complete this job without pulling the head, and the tricks used to make sure that you don't end up with a cylinder full of aluminum shavings work like a charm. I couldn't find anyone else on the web that uses the blow-air-in-the-intake trick.

How to fix a blown out spark plug for $3

I researched the problem and discovered a product called Time-Sert. It’s similar to a helicoil, but you don’t have to drill out the spark plug hole, only re-tap the existing one. This means you can perform the repair without removing the head, which is where all the $$$ is spent.

Below I have outlined what I did, which I hope will help other cheapskates like me save a little cash. Read the whole procedure first and familiarize yourself with it, especially the video from Time-Sert. It will make the repair go much smoother

Shopping list:
Time-Sert spark plug tooling TS4412E. There are other dealers, but this one was close to my house so shipping was fast (and free!)

Time-Sert inserts TS44111. At $3 a pop, I bought two, just in case.

Time-Sert Driver Oil. You can use another lightweight oil. I used Marvel Air Tool Oil because I didn’t realize I needed any when I ordered the tooling. It’s your call.

Six NGK IZFR5K11 sparkplugs. Might as well replace them all while the hood is up.

Ignition module. Mine was destroyed when the plug blew out. I assume yours was too. Check to confirm this same part is compatible with your particular vehicle.

White Grease. You can use other grease, but this is nice because it’s easy to see the aluminum chips

” Click stop torque wrench. I made the mistake of doing this job with a much larger torque wrench. It was okay for the cylinders in front, but for the ones it back this would have been MUCH easier with this. You may already have one, but I assume most people do not.

4 claw pickup tool. Any claw type pick up tool will work.

Fiber Optic inspection camera. A what? At first, this may seem a bit extravagant. Given how much money you are saving, this tool buys you a lot of peace of mind. At least that’s what I told my wife.

In addition to the tools above, there are other more common tools that you will need. If you don’t have anything on the list below, you will need to beg borrow or steal it for this job.

Tool list:
1/4” drive to 3/8” drive socket adapter
3/8” drive 5/8” spark plug socket
3/8” ratcheting socket driver
3/8” drive 10mm six point deep socket
13mm six point socket (1/4” or 3/8” drive fine)
3/8” drive 19mm six point socket
3/8” drive 22mm six point socket (7/8” six point will also work, as will the standard issue tire iron)
6” long 3/8” drive extension
3” long 3/8” drive extension (you will need two of these)
6mm allen wrench
Flat screwdriver
Air compressor
Two shop vac’s (if you don’t have two, one shop vac and a household vacuum will do)
2’ of 1/4"ID or 3/8”ID flexible tubing
Duct tape (because what job is complete if you don’t use some duct tape)
Plastic grocery bag
2 strong rubber bands

I was “lucky” enough to have the #5 cylinder fail, which makes this whole procedure much easier since the spark plug hole is on the front side of the engine. If your failure occurs in cylinders 1-3, it will be trickier to see what you are doing, but still possible.

1) Familiarize yourself with this video of how to use the Time-Sert tooling. https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ntiy8L97Nco

Now that you have watched how the tooling works, let me take a minute to explain what I did.

My main concern was dropping aluminum shavings into the cylinder. The piston, cylinder, and valves are not going to be happy about bits of aluminum rubbing between the rings and cylinder wall, or getting stuck in the exhaust valves, etc.

This solution is advertised as an “over-the-fender” repair, meaning you are not required to remove the head. The video says just spray some WD40 on the tap to catch the chips. I didn’t feel that was sufficient, so I did a couple things to further minimize the chance that chips will fall into the cylinder.
First, instead of WD40, I used the white grease listed above. The grease really holds onto the chips well. Also, and even more critically, I pressurized the cylinder. I did this by blowing air into the airbox, blocking off the exhaust, and rotating the engine until the intake valve was open. This was surprisingly effective at blowing any loose chips up and out of the spark plug hole.

2) Remove the plastic panel in front of engine and set the plastic fasteners aside. This step is really only necessary for improving the access to cylinders 4-6

3) Using the 6mm allen wrench, remove the remains of the destroyed ignition module on the offending cylinder.

4) Using the 10mm deep socket, disconnect the negative, and then positive cables from the battery.

5) Using the 10mm deep socket, remove the battery hold-down. Lift out the battery and the battery box.

6) Using the 10mm deep socket, remove the two bolts holding airbox to the van.

7) Leaving the airbox connected to the intake manifold, lift up the airbox and place duct tape over the drain holes on the underside of the box.

8) Stick one end of the shop-vac hose into the bottom of the airbox and wrap it in duct tape until the connection is as air tight as possible. Attach the other end of the hose to the blower end of the shop-vac.

9) Cover exhaust pipe with a plastic bag and secure it tightly with two strong rubber bands.

10) Jack up front passenger side wheel and remove it (22mm socket)

11) Take the inspection camera out of the box, install the batteries, turn it on, and stick the camera down into the open spark plug hole. Rotate the monitor around so you can see it from the passenger wheel well.

12) Put the 19mm socket on the 6” drive extension and push it through the hole in the inner fender and slide it onto the nut on the crankshaft.

13) Looking at the camera screen, rotate the crankshaft and watch the piston move. You want the piston to come up to the top of the cylinder and start to move back down.

14) Remove the camera and turn on the shop vac

15) Put your hand in front of the spark plug hole. Hopefully you will feel air rushing out of the cylinder. If you don’t, put the camera back in and rotate the crankshaft a full revolution until the piston comes back up to the top and begins to drop again. If you didn’t have air rushing out of the hole before, you will now.

16) Shut off the shop vac, remove the camera, and crack open a beer. Relax and take a few sips, because the fun is about to begin.

17) Open up the Time-Sert box, get out the tap, and coat the cutting threads and flutes with grease.

18) Install earplugs into your ears and turn on the shop vac. From here on the vacuum is going to be running for most of this procedure. If your shop-vac is anything like mine (really loud) you are going to want these.

19) Drop the tap into the spark plug hole and slide the tap driver over the tap.

20) Get the 13mm six point socket and ratcheting driver on the end of the tap driver and start cutting the thread, keeping track of how many rotations you have tapped. In my case the threads were so stripped that the first section of the tap had nothing to grip onto, so the larger part of the tap started cutting immediately. As you cut new threads, you should feel the chips blowing up onto your hands.

21) Once you have cut seven full rotations, back the tap out and look at the tap. Here is where you may need the 4 claw pickup tool. The tap driver comes off the tap and can be tricky to get out of the spark plug hole without it. Once you have it out, the tap should be covered in grease and aluminum chips. At this point you should clean off the chips. It’s difficult to do this with a cloth because the cutting edges grab and rip it, so I used an air compressor to blow the chip and grease into a trash can.

22) Re-grease the tap and start cutting again. This time you should be able to turn the tap by hand for the first seven turns, then you will need to cut another seven turns, back the tap out and clean it again. Note that at no time do you turn off the shop vac. You need to keep the cylinder pressurized to keep the chips out. Also, I should stress that those first seven turns by hand should be easy. You do not want to somehow cross thread the hole at this step.

23) Now you are ready for the final cut. I cleaned and re greased the tap, and threaded it in by hand until it stopped (14 turns). I then cut 5 more rotations (for a total of 19). Back the tap out and clean it a final time.

24) At this point, there will be some greasy aluminum chips stuck to the side of the spark plug hole. You can use the inspection camera to confirm this. Here is where I used the plastic tubing and a second vacuum cleaner. I cut one end of the hose about a 45 degree angle and taped the other end to the vacuum cleaner hose. I then turned on the vacuum and ran the hose in and out of the spark plug hole while rotating it to make sure I sucked everything off the side walls. Once I did this a few times I checked it with the inspection camera, and went back for any chips I missed. Again, don’t shut off the shop vac. Keep it blowing out of the spark plug hole to make sure any chips you unstick from the spark plug hole go in the vacuum hose or shoot out, not drop into the cylinder.

25) Now you need to cut the seat. This is a good time to watch the video again to refresh yourself with what you are trying to accomplish. You need to grease the tap and thread it in again for the full 19 turns. Then you slide the seat cutter over the tap and use the tap driver to rotate the cutter.

26) This next part is somewhat hard to judge. You will need to turn the cutter several full rotations before you really feel it bite in and start cutting the new seat. How much to cut is hard to judge. The video says to cut until you get a clean looking seat, and they show a picture. The problem is, even with the inspection camera and the cleaned out hole, it’s tough to see. I cut a few turns once I felt it bite in for good measure.

27) To get a look at the seat, you need to clean it up as much as possible. I removed the seat cutter and tap, and then I vacuumed the chips out again. The seat cutter is a little harder to get out than the tap, but if you keep the driver in there and wiggle it a bit, you can get it out far enough to grab onto it. Once that was done, I wrapped a cloth around a long thin flat head screwdriver and tried to soak up and wipe off as much of the grease from the seat as I could. Then I looked at it with the inspection camera. As far as I could tell, I cut a complete seat. (Knock on wood, the van is still running, so I guess I did it right )

28) Finish the beer, and open another.

29) Now you need to install the insert. Put some of the Driver Oil on the insert driver, and thread the insert onto it. Add some more Driver Oil to the outer threads of the insert.

30) Slide the insert driver with the insert down into the hole, and used the insert driver driver (for lack of a better term), to thread the insert into the hole. As you thread it farther and farther into the hole, it should get tighter and tighter. I kept count of how far I screwed it in, thinking I didn’t want it to go all the way through and drop into the cylinder (that would be bad). However, the driver got really tight as I went along, so once I felt it was nice and snug in there, I removed the driver tool.

31) Viola! You are done. The head is as good as new. Actually, it’s probably better than new, since the factory threads already crapped out on you. Now all you have to do is install the new spark plug and ignition module. Oh, and now it’s safe to turn off the shop vac and remove your ear plugs.

Once you have changed all the plugs, you can put the wheel back on the van and fire it up. Mike has been running as good as new for about a thousand miles now. So far, it appears to have been worth the effort.

A couple notes:

I followed this DIY basically exactly as posted, and it worked awesome; My car is back up and running at 100%. All the steps in this DIY are the same on my J30A5 compared to the Odyssey. The key here is setting the cylinder so that the intake valve is open and then blowing air into the intake to pressurize the cylinder. This trick prevents the metal chips from falling into the cylinder as you tap the head, and it works awesome. I could see the chips blowing out of the spark plug hole as I tapped the new threads, and not a single one got into the cylinder that I can tell.

Couple things I did different: I used an electric leaf blower to blow air into the intake. A leaf blower blows harder than a shop vac, and the more air pressurizing the cylinder the better.

Also, grease gets everywhere in the spark plug hole and around the seat. I used a long set of needlenose pliers wrapped in a couple paper towels to swap out the spark plug hole and threads after tapping. Then I used the small hose taped to a shop vac to vacuum out the hole and get any bits left over.

2 final thoughts:

#1: Check your spark plugs!! It costs nothing to check and see if they are tight, and may save you a whole lot of trouble. Plugs come loose on the J series.

#2: If you do blow a plug, don't pull the head or pay someone else astronomical amounts of money to do it for you! Just follow this DIY and you will save tons of money, and if you do it right a time-sert is a reliable fix that will last the life of the vehicle.
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Last edited by #1Gaza; July 17th, 2018 at 07:34 AM..
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Old October 12th, 2018, 07:59 AM   #2
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Posts: 44
Quick followup: I'm over 5k miles since this fix (I drive ~100 miles a day round trip to work) and zero problems with the actual fix. However, I'm pretty sure I fouled my precats by driving approx 10 miles with only 5 cylinders firing after the plug blew. If you do throw a plug, do yourself a favor and get the car towed. A tow is cheaper than precats.
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