Monday, December 28, 2009

Lessons learned...

Let me tell you a little story about a recent maintenance event that I had to deal with. Performance went to poop more or less while driving to work one day. I figured I got a hold of some bad gas, so I purchased some Sea Foam and dumped that into my tank of gas. Though it served some benefit I am certain, it didn't resolve my issue. So I decided to get the Fuel System Cleaning service performed. Ugly mess internally it appeared. Did that resolve the issue... maybe a little, but still running like a pig, almost to the point of being embarrassed to drive the car. So if its not the fuel, and its not the fuel system... what next ?

Then it hit me, check the O2 sensors and there I find that the wires had been nicked or melted on the secondary sensor. The question was by what. Did some research on and discovered that as a special gift for those of us with racing headers and angled defoulers for our O2 sensors, we get the privilege of having melted wires. The solution is to rotate the retaining clip around 180 degrees to keep the clip away from the sensor wires. Great solution, but what I was unaware of was that this had been abusing my sensor wire for nearly a year. I figure odds on chance that my performance was getting progressively worse over time and finally hit some threshhold.

So I went to Autozone for the sensor and they wanted something like 200 bucks. Checked online and found that College Hill Honda had it for 68 bucks plus 20 in shipping. Now thats more like it. So I order it and install it on a Sunday afternoon. Not too hard, but kind of a pain because the wire connection is actually inside the cabin and underneath the center console. Weird in my opinion. Anyways, I get it installed and take it for a spin, and I think its work so much better. Till it warmed up, then back to poop. Great.

So what next, and here is the learning lesson... called my Dad who had a long career as a mechanic. He was said check the plugs or better replace them because they may have been impacted by the bad sensor. So I pull the plugs and they are glazed over, a sign of running hot. Which is starting to make sense. The bad O2 sensor had the engine running lean, which made it run hot, which dirtied up the fuel system, which affected the fuel mileage, which glazed the plugs... and here it is... increased the gap from .040 to .060. The tolerance range is .039 - .044. Ouch!

So I took about 30 minutes with a steel brush, some brake cleaner, and some emory paper to clean the plugs up. I re-gapped the plugs back to .040 and reinstalled the plugs. Closed everything up and took it for a spin again. The CEL came on briefly and went away just as quick. I am guessing it had to recalibrate and close things up a bit since it was getting a proper spark now. Ran around that evening and opened up a few times, so much more life in the engine now. The big test was going to be heading back and forth to work over the remainder of the week.

I will say that it has been running great since then. So I have added to my calendar of things to do, is to check the plugs, wiring, etc. at least once a year and definitely before I get back into the drag racing seasons come Spring 2010. The other lesson learned is that one does not always have to replace plugs if they are suitable for cleaning instead and regapping.