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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, all.

I thought I'd start my own thread rather than hijacking someone else's. I'm not sure my case is exactly the same as others I have read through.

I'm working with our 2002 Acura CL 3.2L. The engine is running very rough at idle (it sounds like a muscle car). I have two lamps illuminated on the dashboard. The Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) is flashing, and the Traction Control System light is solid. NOTE: Some bulletins refer to the MIL as the Check Engine Light (CEL) as well.

The MIL is providing the following Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC):
- P0300 Random/Multiple Cylinder Misfire Detected
- P0303 Misfire Detected in Cylinder 3
- P0304 Misfire Detected in Cylinder 4
- P0305 Misfire Detected in Cylinder 5
- P0306 Misfire Detected in Cylinder 6
- P1399 Honda Code - Random Cylinder Misfire

My wife reported it running rough after she refueled one evening. I dug into it as soon as I got home late that night, and noted the lamps. I drove the car a short distance to get feedback from the engine, and resigned to have the codes pulled the next day. At that point, I thought it could have been a bad mix on the fuel (however unlikely that may be).

The next day, I drove to my local O'Reilly and Auto Zone. Therein, I learned that California prohibits the auto parts stores from providing the free diagnostic code reading. Apparently, it's supposed to favor the licensed smog check establishments. Lucky me! As a coincidence, the car battery had been suspect for a while, and it decided to die along the way between stores. I took the opportunity to replace that while I was at it. For giggles, I threw some Lucas Upper Cylinder Lubricant and Injector Cleaner in the tank. Of course, the tank was full from the night before, so I ran it a bit throughout the day to see if I could circulate the fuel. I topped it off with some premium from another station to dilute any contaminant. No joy.

I went ahead and ordered myself a nice OBD-II reader with live data. While I was waiting for that to arrive, I began the diagnostic process without pulling the codes. Purely running off of the feedback of the lamps, I did some online research and found this to be common issue with Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) System Port Clogging. It didn't take much to pull the intake manifold cover plate off of the engine and have a look. Sure enough, the channels in the plate were significantly clogged as well as the ports on the manifold. A bunch of dirt and oil had accumulated in every crevice.

I spent a good amount of time, brake parts cleaner, and elbow grease cleaning the cover plate, gasket, and manifold ports through to the EGR valve itself. I took two passes at this with reassembly and testing in between each session. After the first session, I had received the code reader and noted the codes found above. I cleared the codes prior to the second cleaning session. Once again, no real improvement was gained in performance, and the codes reappeared shortly after drive testing.

While I've been waiting on other diagnostic feedback, I decided to change the engine oil and filter. I figured the contaminants from the clogged ports may have dropped into the oil, so I wanted to clear out the old debris. If I'm not available to do the oil change, my wife takes it to either Acura or Discount Tire Center to have the job done at regular intervals. We figure the last change was completed by Discount Tire. The oil filter was found to be significantly smaller than the manufacturer's recommended replacement (obviously the wrong one). Also, I removed about 5.5 quarts from the engine. The capacity specification is 4.6 quarts. I am sure the cleaner would not have accumulated in the pan (more likely would have evaporated) to that quantity, so I suspect the engine was overfilled. More on this in a bit.

As a further troubleshooting measure, I decided to swap the spark plugs as well. I had E3 plugs in the engine as I have run them in all of my vehicles for the past five years. I went ahead and replaced them with the NKG Iridium IX plugs which were recommended by several other owners. When I removed the plugs, I found them to be significantly burned with oil. Additionally, it looked like the oil pressure rose significantly enough to cause oil to seep out around the plugs and cover the base of a few of them. This all seems to point to too much oil.

The EGR clogging could have been completely caused by excess oil as well. As for the contaminant and debris within the oil, I'm guessing it came from the exhaust mix and general engine "stuff." Finally, I'm sure it wouldn't surprise anyone to hear that we didn't have a proper drain plug on the pan, and it had been leaking. We replaced that with a bolt and gasket (washer) from Acura (PN 90009-R70-A00 and 94109-14000 if you were curious).

After all of this work, the engine is still spitting out the same codes. The engine's running much more powerfully now, so it's like an amplified version of the original problem. If I continue down this path on the theory of the excess oil just getting "everywhere" in the engine, I'm going to have to start looking at the PCV system and other gas (air) flow channels to ensure they're not blocked up still. However, I would have thought that I would be seeing some DTC for air flow sensors, etc., and I have not seen a single one. I have cleared the codes a few times, and the same ones return with no deviation (except perhaps the cylinder numbers; I have seen cylinder 1 and 2 indicated at times).

I don't think it's the ignition coils as we didn't have a MIL up to this point, and I wouldn't expect failure in a group of four at the same time. I can, certainly, go down that path and replace them, but it would be a very significant coincidence for all of them to go at once.

I'm hoping someone in the community might have some feedback or recommendations on where to go from here. Any thoughts are appreciated!

- Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I wanted to follow up with a couple more notes.

The rough running of the engine seems restricted to idle. This is when the majority of the extra vibration and "muscle car" sound occurs. When the vehicle is driving at any speed, the rough running doesn't seem apparent. In fact, it seems to drive like normal. I'm sure it's not normal, but I think the "user experience" can provide some insight.

In this case, I would think it's valid to look at air flow or sensors as the cause. Typically, the idle is affected by electronic control of the air flow, throttle, etc. It would seem that one of these area would be logical from a performance basis. However, would that really create the "misfire" scenario?
 

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If an air flow sensor was the problem, you'd be getting a related code, and you're not.

The problem here in my opinion isn't a cascade effect of faulty sensors, the problem began as mechanical in nature, which in turn threw the misfire codes. Everything was clogged.

It's been my experience that in any situation where you hope you can get away with doing something from the topside, it never works. Ever. Ever ever ever :D . It's just the Murphy's law of automotive repair. If the car was in my driveway, as much as I might not feel like it, I'd order all new gaskets, then pull the whole intake, set it on my bench, and make everything clean as a whistle. Then, I'd probably just replace the EGR valve, and I'd take apart the entire system all the way back to the air cleaner, and make sure everything is spotless, using the appropriate chemicals.

After reading your in-depth posts, the only mistake that you might have made in the whole process is using brake cleaner. That stuff eats sensors alive. Use only sensor-safe carb cleaner, or if you do use brake cleaner, use it only when the bare component is off the vehicle. If it's got wires attached to it, DON'T use brake cleaner on it.

The whole process of teardown, cleaning, new parts, etc, will take a day and cost you < $200, but I bet it'll be fixed.
 

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What ended up happening with this situation?

I came home last night to "my MIL is on". When I put the scanner on it I had P0300 and all but 1 or 2 cylinder misfires. The car has 80K miles and has NEVER given a single issue to date. The car was driven to the store (no issues) and stopped on the way home for gas and then home. Next start it was running terrible and the MIL came on. I am told after driving it a bit it ran better when it warmed up. I checked the gas cap. I am guessing bad gas since there has been a lot of snow.

I'd love to know what this turned out to be from the original poster
 

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Valve adjustment and replace with oem spark plugs ..guaranteed it will solve your problem. and if you have extra$$ do fuel induction service. I recommend these to all acura and Honda v6 when you passed 90k miles. good luck
 

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Pulled the top to clean the EGR junk. It was not bad at all. I was surprised to see oil in there though. There was quite a bit of water droplets in the EGR tracking. I was surprised by that. Cleaned up the carbon and water droplets. Cleaned all the oil out. I am thinking I will replace the PCV as I think that is about the only place the oil could be coming from. Pulled the EGR valve. That was pretty good but cleaned the little bit of carbon in there. I am thinking I should replace it because of some salt corrosion but I have no EGR codes to justify replacing it.

I bought new Denso plugs but in comparison to the original plugs they were not as long so I did not install them. I'll get the origin NGK plugs. Btw, the stealer charges almost $20 each for them.

The engine is still misfiring but I feel pretty strongly its the gas itself as it seems to doing it less.

The biggest concern I need to look at is the 4th gear solenoid code that was hiding in there. The VIN is not in the extended warranty list. The transmission was service at 60K by the stealer so it only has 25K on the fluid. I'll worry about that later as its not slipping or anything.
 

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kwatt, do you drive a 99/00 tl? if so its possible is the winter gas . I remember this problem back in early 2000 . tl's are having problem with the winter gas and have to replace the computer. research more ull find something
 

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Its a 2003 CL

it was warm today and my wife drove the car. Lights out and she said it ran well, though the exhaust smells odd. I am trying to get my son to drive it around more to use up the gas and refil with fresh gas. I am leaning toward the gas still. She did tell me the lights were all off today - but i reset the codes when I did the work so it may just need to be driven more to set the codes of they still exhist. It will be warm this weekend so I will likely tak eit for a ride
 
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