Spark Plug Electrode Broken Off Inside Engine

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  #1  
Old 09-05-02, 12:45 PM
sschulte
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Spark Plug Electrode Broken Off Inside Engine

Has anyone ever heard of a spark plug electrode breaking off inside the engine? I have a 1996 Honda Passport 3.2 L V6 with around 85,000 mile. One morning earlier this summer I was driving to work when a LOUD ticking noise started from the engine that increased in speed as the rpms increase. Everything was running fine prior. I had it towed to a my mechanic to see I could get some type of diagnosis. They determined that it was more than likely something broken in the right cylinder head. They could only give me a ballpark estimate of between $1000 and $2000 depending how serious and if the head had to be pulled. Not liking the sound of that and having a extra car to drive, I decided to have it towed home and work on it in my spare time. After pulling the spark plugs I determined that the problem was an electrode that was broken clean off inside the cylinder. I pulled the head and found the electrode embedded on the bottom side of it. Apparently the piston had pounded it up there thus explaining the loud ticking. Several months later I now have everything fixed and put back together, but I am now wondering why this happened. The plug that broke was a Bosch Platinum that had only been in the engine about 20,000 miles. Has anyone else had this happen or heard of it? I am concerned that there is something wrong with my engine that caused the electrode to break, or do spark plug sometimes break like this for no reason? I certainly don't want it to happen again!

Thanks for any insight
 
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  #2  
Old 09-05-02, 04:43 PM
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Was any mark left on the piston?Plugs do not normally have electrodes fall off,it could happen but not likely.Usually a piston comes up too far in the bore and smacks the plug,or metal from another engine component ends up in the cylinder and hits the plug.If it was embedded it took force from something related to piston,valve or foreign matter in the cylinder.
 
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Old 09-06-02, 06:14 AM
sschulte
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Yeah, it left a nick and some scratches in the top of the piston. I am thinking that the electrode fell off and bounced around in the cylinder a little bit and the piston drove it up into the bottom of the head several times before it finally became embedded. I guess there is very little clearance between the head and piston when the piston reaches the top. At the point where it became embedded is the biggest nick in the piston. When I took the head off there was nothing else inside the cylinder that the piston could have pushed up and broke the electrode off the spark plug. I even had the head checkout by a machine shop, the valves and everything turned out to be fine and there were no broken parts. The guys at the machine shops acted like a spark plug electrode breaking off is just one of those things that could happen to anyone, just bad luck.
 
  #4  
Old 09-06-02, 10:00 AM
Dan Meyer
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...just bad luck.. OR whoever put the plugs in kept bending the electrode back and forth trying to get the proper gap and fractured the metal. Then the heating and cooling of the plug (expansion and contraction) plus the pressure, fractured it more until it broke.
 
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Old 09-06-02, 12:02 PM
svt
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what Dan says is probably the most likely answer .
 
  #6  
Old 09-06-02, 12:12 PM
svt
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but just in case,
look at the photos of plugs in this link and see if anything looks like yours did

http://www.xs4all.nl/~ekieboom/spit/plugs.html
 
  #7  
Old 09-06-02, 01:35 PM
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a chance you used the wrong plug, maybe it was too long?
 
  #8  
Old 04-21-10, 06:21 PM
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Exact same thing happened to me, same Bosch plugs too.

The exact same thing happened to me. I bought Bosch Platinum plugs about 2 years ago. A few weeks ago, my car suddenly started to be sluggish and the OBD code reading was 304. I checked the spark plugs and the electrode had broken off inside the engine.
Now that I see that another person had this exact same problem with the exact same spark plugs I realize one thing: Never buy Bosch spark plugs!
 
  #9  
Old 04-21-10, 06:37 PM
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Not Necessarily.....

Aside from just breaking off, there is a large HOST of things that can happen to cause this. I'm not by far a fan of Bosch plugs, and I do firmly believe in using what the MFR installed at the factory......Chrysler gets champions, Ford gets Motorcraft, Asian imports are usually NGK, and unless you owm a Euro.....There is really no reason for Bosch.

Anything from excessive alcohol content , to a backfire, to overtorqued plugs, to a sticking valve, to worn wristpin,, The list goes on and on.....Just consider, these issues will cause a problem with any plug that is installed.
 
  #10  
Old 04-22-10, 04:47 AM
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I agree!

I've seen a *lot* of problems caused by people installing things other than what the factory specifications call for.

I figure they have a gaggle of engineers designing these things and THEY say to use a certain part... Well I figure there is a *reason* they say to use that part. Otherwise they would say to use anything!

It used to be that you could get aftermarket this and that and things would run better. But these days with fuel injected engines and computers everywhere, it seems to me the closer to factory spec your engine is, then better it will run.

A lot of thinking and testing goes into the design of this stuff. Spark plug wire problems for example...
Truth About Ignition Wire Conductors
 
  #11  
Old 04-22-10, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill190 View Post
I agree!

I've seen a *lot* of problems caused by people installing things other than what the factory specifications call for.
Bill....
--Finally someone understands---

Without naming names.....I work at chrysler, and on a regular basis, The local Big Box Auto parts store puts a certain brand of Plugs on Special.....99 cents a plug..(We will call them "JOES -PLUGS")...
Well now....There is a HUGE display, with prepackaged 4,6,and 8 plug "Blister-Pacs" and one of Those 8.5 by 11 Catalogs "Cable tied" to the display Rack. Next to the catalog is a sign that reads, Completely compatible with OEM designed plugs, at 1/3 the cost. The catalog states a number, the customer goes home with his new plugs, pops them in, and punches a hole in the piston, because they are 1/4 inch too long!!!!!! Chrysler wont warranty the engine damage , And Joe swears he 's never heard of this problem. But to make good on his product he sends you a new set of plugs, Free of Charge....You just pay the shipping.....
 
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Old 04-22-10, 05:01 PM
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"Completely compatible", yet 1/4 inch longer(down inside the engine?)? Seriously?
 
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Old 04-23-10, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by ecman51` View Post
"Completely compatible", yet 1/4 inch longer(down inside the engine?)? Seriously?
150 billion percent serious.-----In the next few days I will have my subpoena to appear in court, So I cant really elaborate at this time......But I will Gladly scream from the rooftops when it is all over.....

For those who didnt catch on yet....There is no such thing as Joes Plug Co.
 
  #14  
Old 04-23-10, 07:15 PM
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I've gone to auto parts stores looking for the correct tools/parts so I can do things right, then have a guy there tell me "anything will work".

I spent $600 on a brand new trailer axle and the manufacturer called for a *specific* bearing grease. The auto parts store did not have that type of grease and the guy told me anything else would work just fine. (I found the correct grease...)

Then I have a log splitter on which the hydraulics get to be *very* hot. The manufacturer calls for a specific type of hydraulic fluid (to withstand the high temperatures). Another auto parts guy told me anything would work. (I found the correct type elsewhere.)

And I was working on an A/C system and needed a set of gauges which showed vacuum for when I evacuated the system. An auto parts guy said his gauges would work fine (did not also show vacuum) and that I DID NOT need to evacuate the air from the system first before filling with refrigerant! (Had been open to the air.) This guy wanted to argue with me and insist I repair my vehicle HIS half a## way rather than going by the recommendations in the service manual. He seemed to get mad at me when I told him that I wanted to "do it right"!

So YES I believe they would sell spark plugs which can damage an engine...
 
  #15  
Old 04-24-10, 06:19 AM
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Spark plugs

Can't beleive no one has mentioned heat range of plugs. I put a used engine in a customers grain truck and asked him if he wanted it tuned up. He replied no just put it in. Three weeks later he was back,the plugs were melted and he had a hole in one piston. They were about five numbers too hot.
 
  #16  
Old 04-25-10, 01:34 PM
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I have never had a problem with Bosch plugs myself and will ever buy the 99cent plugs even for the lawnnmower. Aren't the 99cent plugs like free sushi with an 8 gallon fillup at the gas station (in other words, IGNORE)?
 
  #17  
Old 04-25-10, 04:33 PM
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NE....

Im sure there are plenty of people who have had large success with Bosch plugs. As I mentioned, A host of issues could contribute to the OP's dillemma. If say a wristpin was worn , and the piston traveled up higher than normal, The plug WILL be damaged, whether factory installed, 99 Cent budget plug, or anywhere in between.

A while back, when Rapid fire, and "Split-Fire Plugs were introduced , there were all sorts of claims as to benefits in Horsepower and fuel economy increases, and all kinds of technical hogwash about the size and directional stability of a flame kernel, by diffusing the spark in different directions simultaneously.

Now ..The auto manufacturers employ engineers, who design and test various parts. These guys make more in a week, than most of us make in a year. So I ask...
" if you could add fuel economy or horsepower by Cutting a V-Notch in a spark plug.....wouldnt the Factory be using them already???
 
  #18  
Old 04-29-10, 09:23 AM
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Spark plugs

I agree Unc I have played around with the "miracle plugs" in a spark plug tester and they will fire from one point,,the one closest to the center electrode, thats all any of them can do. With all the pressure from the govt for milage if there was a magic bullet they would grab it in a heartbeat.
 
  #19  
Old 11-19-11, 10:42 AM
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Same thing happened to me - Bosch Platinum

I've got a 99 Mustang and half the ceramic insulator of a Bosch Platinum broke off in the cylinder the other night, split right down the middle. I'm afraid this might have just killed my car which also needs a transmission.

Come on Bosch wtf!?
 
  #20  
Old 11-19-11, 02:38 PM
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There are a lot of companies out there praying on the people that don't know any better. They just take your money and run. I have seen rebuilt spark plugs for sale when I was younger. All they do is sand blast them to make them shinny again. And the left over sand, is really good for your cylinder walls, and rings. And there is the pre-gapped spark plugs. And the points you didn't have to screw the lead in, there was a clip to hold it.
 
  #21  
Old 11-20-11, 08:52 AM
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This is an interesting thread although an old one. All auto manufacturers have relationships with suppliers and some go back decades. Remember the uproar with Firestone tires on Ford Explorers? That problem lead to Ford severing a very old relationship. I remember when the Motorcraft name came along. Prior to that time, all Fords came from the factory with Autolite plugs and before that, Champion was the Ford factory plug. Today, I suspect Autolite manufactures Motorcraft plugs to Ford's specs although I have never seen any documentation on it. I have, however, read that Purolator manufactures Motorcraft oil filters. Not so long ago Bosch oxygen sensors came from the factory on Ford products, but I believe there is a Motorcaraft branded oxygen sensor now, but who manufactures it? As far as I know, Motorcraft manufactures nothing and just sources their private branded components from other suppliers to manufacture their Motorcraft branded parts where GM used to manufacture all of their components under various names such as AC, Delco Remy and Fischer (remember Body by Fischer?). GM seems to have learned their lesson and now does the same thing.

I've got a 99 Mustang and half the ceramic insulator of a Bosch Platinum broke off in the cylinder the other night, split right down the middle.
I suspect that plug was damaged before it was installed and just eventually failed.
 
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Old 11-20-11, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by rm198101 View Post
I've got a 99 Mustang and half the ceramic insulator of a Bosch Platinum broke off in the cylinder the other night, split right down the middle. I'm afraid this might have just killed my car which also needs a transmission.

Come on Bosch wtf!?
there is no ceramic insulator inside cylinder on any engine. ceramic insulator is outside the engine head.
 
  #23  
Old 11-20-11, 09:20 AM
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Uhhh ukrbyk? Whats the stuff around the center electrode on a spark plug? Looks like ceramic to me...
 
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Old 11-20-11, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Gunguy45 View Post
Uhhh ukrbyk? Whats the stuff around the center electrode on a spark plug? Looks like ceramic to me...
ohh, the insulator tip.. yes indeed. my bad. can't see it killing the engine, but guess it can.

actually, let me correct this. it's not "my bad". once in a while I do have to make an idiot out of myself. That's the way to put it.
 

Last edited by ukrbyk; 11-20-11 at 07:45 PM.
  #25  
Old 11-20-11, 09:39 PM
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The only time I have ever encountered a broken spark plug tip, inside an engine, was when a customer brought his own sparkplugs in for me to install, after I rebuilt the transmission.
Upon removing them from their boxes, I noticed one of the plugs had the ground electrode pressed down and slightly sideways.
I suggested that he get me another one and he informed me that it would be ok because it had to be gapped anyway. He admitted to dropping it
Three days later he returned with one dead cylinder. Lucky for him, the number three cylinder was ok after removing and replacing the plug.
Yes, I had installed the damaged plug in number three cylinder and it was documented on his ticket
 
  #26  
Old 11-22-11, 04:15 AM
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I have seen pistons drive sparkplug electrodes. Mopar 318. The journals were worn on the crankshaft. 5 out of 8 pistons were throwing too far, however the electrodes did not break off. They just got mashed. Sounds to me that you have two choices. Run it till it calfs, or by new heads. You will want replace both. Alot of work, and alot of money. Plus I would bet that there is more damage internally.
 
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Old 11-22-11, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by nailer247 View Post
I have seen pistons drive sparkplug electrodes. Mopar 318. The journals were worn on the crankshaft. 5 out of 8 pistons were throwing too far, however the electrodes did not break off. They just got mashed. Sounds to me that you have two choices. Run it till it calfs, or by new heads. You will want replace both. Alot of work, and alot of money. Plus I would bet that there is more damage internally.
Now that would be a "worn" engine
Only a Chrysler Product would run, with that condition, long enough to do that damage
 
  #28  
Old 11-22-11, 05:32 PM
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Held it together by adding gear oil to the crankcase. Keep in mind this was the late 70's
 
  #29  
Old 11-28-11, 05:55 PM
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Broken plug

Very unusual, esp. with a quality plug like Bosch. Heat range can affect reach of plug nose into combustion chamber. Champion had that problem a lot. Be sure heat range is correct for your vehicle. Piston travel, as others have posted, is a factor. Do you tend to run at high rpm? Is your timing set properly? Too much advance can cause overheating, and plug failure. Carbon deposit breaking loose or fragment from a broken ring may be the cause. Most likely its a defect in the plug, though. Try a set of NGK's.
 
  #30  
Old 12-01-11, 04:58 PM
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Looks like my brother was lucky then with his 2001 Daewoo.

Driving to work it sounded like he had blown it up. Turns out the whole insulator blew out of the engine into the recess in the valve cover.

Seems the plug kept firing because it melted a small hole in the valve cover which leaked oil all over the place.

Got a used one at the junk yard for $35 and away he goes. Never heard of that happening.
 
  #31  
Old 12-02-11, 04:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Giles View Post
Now that would be a "worn" engine
Only a Chrysler Product would run, with that condition, long enough to do that damage
I worked at the Windsor, Ontario engine plant in the mid-60's.. we built them like that.
 
  #32  
Old 02-28-15, 10:04 AM
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I had the same problem

For a cheap car to get to work I run a Vauxhall Corsa in the week, on my way home the car juddered then started rattling like nothing ive ever heard before. Turns out the coil pack had failed, somehow knocking the electrode off.

The car was my grand mothers, but due to lack of use she let me have it cheap, it had only done 800mile in the last 3 years, it was most likely due to lack of use it went.

the bit of plug is out, but has left the car with a bit of a rattle, run perfect though, so ive just left it, 2000miles later its still going strong.
 
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