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Discussion Starter #1
2008 RTL with 78k miles on it.
In December I get a check engine code of p0305 cylinder 5 misfire while on highway @ 65 mph straight and level.
Light cleared itself after a day.
Had oil changed and inspection at Honda dealer and asked to have code investigated. No trouble found no codes or pending codes found.

2 months later, cruising @ 50 mph and suddenly the check engine light is flashing, engine misfiring badly. Multiple misfire codes shown.
Take it to Honda. They initially suspect bad coil pack and valve adjustments.
When they pull spark plug on Cylinder #5 they find that it is missing the center electrode and insulator. Cylinder # 5 has no compression. Initially suspect valve damage.
Pulling head shows badly scored walls and head damage.

I bought this in May 2011 w/ 43k miles on it as a CPO vehicle.
I'm well under the 100k miles of the CPO warranty but only 7 weeks away from the end of the 7 years!!
Waiting on Honda Care to approve a new short block under the CPO warranty.

I'm quite surprised to find that they won't cover a rental/loaner for a covered repair. :confused:
I've had two Chrysler CPO vehicles and always got a loaner when a covered repair took more than one day.

I don't know, and probably will never know if the plug broke and eating it chewed up cylinder #5 or if something bad happened in Cyl #5 and that broke the plug.

There are several other posts on this forum about cylinder # 5 plug issues. Most of them with broken plugs that require help in getting them removed.
Such as

Blew a spark plug from the head....

and

Ignition Coil + Spark Plug Exploded, Threads damaged...What do I do now?

When (if ) Honda approves the repair I will also have the timing belt and water pump replaced (free labor) as well as replacing all spark plugs and adjusting valve lash.

With the front manifold removed the mechanic notes that the throat to the catalytic converted is coated with powdered ceramic from the spark plug insulator that was ingested and pulverized by cylinder #5. He recommends replacing it now since it is already exposed but the part is over $400 from Honda.. I don't know that it is possible to tell if the honeycomb is plugged up from that ceramic dust. Service tech says Honda won't cover the cat since it isn't a covered part. I say that if it is damaged then it was damaged by their engine failure so they should cover it if they are recommending that it be replaced.

If they put it back together and the cat fails <80k miles then Honda would be on the hook for the replacement under Emission Warranty. But I've only got 2k miles left until I hit that mark. Would you replace it now while there is no additional labor to do it or would you risk it knowing that if it does fail > 2k miles from know I'll be out the same cost of the Cat plus likely $200 in labor.

I'm typically in favor of paying for as many parts as is practical to replace when someone else is paying for the labor.
It's tough being without my truck (no word on how long to repair) but it would be way worse if it happened 2 months from now and I was out of warranty.
 

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Holy SOCKS!!! Best of luck getting your truck back. I had a similar issue with #6, not the plug shattering, but blowing a chunk out of the valve. It sucked being without a truck for a week or so and not having a rental provided.

As for the Cat, I most definitely think they should be paying for it since it was their issue in the first place. And I'd do it now. But I'm no expert on cats. Cept the furry ones. My wife keeps bringing them home.
 

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Thanks for offering your story to the Forum. Please update us occasionally on your experience when as you go through the process. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Update: 2/20

FYI this is the J35A9 engine.

Went up the chain to the assistant service manager. She gave me a loaner, at their cost. I've been without my vehicle Tuesday -Friday this week. They are estimating that the repair will be finished next Wednesday. I'll set my expectation for Friday.

When I picked up the rental last night the Master Mechanic that had been working on it had left for the day but I spoke with another mechanic who had looked at some of the work as it went on.

The head has already been sent out to the machine shop so I could not look at it. I don't know exactly what the issue with the head is.
Center front cylinder, #5, has some deep scoring in it. Deep enough that I can feel it dragging my finger nail across them. Hence the need for a new short block.

The Cat had been removed and I looked at it. I can see the element from the exit end of it. No issue there, honeycomb is clear. Unfortunately I can't look at the input side as there is a 90 deg bend it the body before it flanges out to mate to the manifold. The mechanic who showed me around said that a small handful of white ceramic powder (from the spark plug) poured out of the cat when they dumped it out.

The openings in the cat element are very small. I'd estimate about 1mm to 1.5mm squares at most, so any foreign element can plug it up easily.

Has anyone else experienced a cat failure after ingesting a spark plug?
Suggestions?
The (I'm in New York State) emissions coverage requires them to cover the Cat up to 80k miles, which is only 2k away from now. I'd rather fight this battle now than put it back together and see if it fails within 2k miles.

Glad that they gave me a loaner while Honda Care insists on the slow road. I just purchased a 2013 CR-V, CPO, with 13.5K on it from them 3 days before this event with the Ridgeline occurred. Maybe that had something to do with their good will. I recently moved into the area and there are 3 other Honda dealers nearly equal distance from my home as this one. A 5th dealer is a few miles farther but is closer to my work location. So I do have options for Honda Care service.
 

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You can check the inlet of the cat with a borescope. I use a cheap one off Amazon that cost under $20 for a lot of projects.
 

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I had no idea they could be bought so cheaply. Any idea if they will work with a cell phone using a USB on the go (OTG) cable?
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
I had no idea they could be bought so cheaply. Any idea if they will work with a cell phone using a USB on the go (OTG) cable?
Yes, Ryobi has an entire line of sensors, including an inspection scope, that work with your cell phone. But I've heard less than great things about the phone app that you need to use to enable the devices.
http://ryobitools.com/phoneworks/

Home Depot carries them.
 

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Thanks for that. I see that my i337 is still in compatibility testing. ;)
 

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I had no idea they could be bought so cheaply. Any idea if they will work with a cell phone using a USB on the go (OTG) cable?
I don't know about working with a phone. The one I use just hooks up to the USB port on my laptop and works pretty good. I think the one I have is about 20' long and was supposed to be for sewer inspections, but I've used it for a variety of things. It's got 3 bright (but adjustable) LED lights on it. I've never used it for sewer inspection, but I have looked inside walls, and of course on cars to look for screws I dropped, etc.

It's kind of cool to use when I remember to use it. I found that some kind of animal dug a hole in my back yard. I put the scope down the hole about 6' and came face to face with some kind of animal. I never did figure out what it was, but it was fun to do.
 

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...and what happened next ?
I put a concrete block over the hole. Checked back in a couple of days and it had dug another hole right next to it. I think it figured out that wasn't a safe place and when I filled the holes in they didn't return. The holes were about 3" in diameter.
 

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My Honda garage will give you a loaner for nearly any kind of work. If it is any thing more than an oil change, they offer a loaner car. They are not the best cars you have ever driven, but it beats walking.
Rob
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
2/23 Update
Head is at the machine shop. Valves on cylinder #5 got nicked up with the ingestion of the spark plug.
The working theory is that plug #5 worked loose, got blown out, rattled back and forth on each compression stroke, broke the insulator, sucked the insulator in through the plug hole.

Service adviser says that this is 'fairly common' with 'these age engines' .
Scary! Wish I had know about it. The thing is, I had an oil change and State inspection done on Jan 2, and reported to them that I had seen a check engine light, VTM-4 light and code P0305 code in December. I asked them to check that out. The light had cleared since and apparently so had the code so they reported no trouble found. The Coil Pack for #5 did not look discolored BTW. Knowing what I know now about this series of engine I would have immediately checked spark plug tightness for any misfire code!!! The service advisers excuse ( quite lame imho ) is that they didn't have a code shown on their computer so didn't have anything to diagnose.

Replacing the CAT is $488 for the CAT, more for shields, gaskets, clamps, bolts ... would wind up being about $580.
I think I'm going to let them put it back together and if it fails past 80k (only 2k away) I'll look for a less expensive repair.

One piece of good new. The new block comes with the water pump on it. I was going to replace the pump so that's a part I won't have to pay for.



Called Honda about the Cat. CSR wasn't very pleasant to speak with. 1st he insisted that the engine damage wasn't their (CPO program) responsibility as it was caused by a loose spark plug and spark plugs aren't covered. Honda (not the CPO program) is paying for the repair out of good will. As for the CAT, he understood my desire to be efficient in repair, since it would be somewhat cheaper to do the repair now, but again insisted that the CAT is not a CPO covered item. If it is reinstalled and fails it can be replaced under the 8/80 emission program.

He seemed really concerned with what department in Honda Corp is paying for what. Maybe the CPO program is under a lot of budgetary pressure.

So far, Dealer is treating me well. I do wish they had reacted to and caught this when I reported the P0305 to them on Jan 2. The problem now is that I'm just gun shy about this issue. 40+ years of taking care of my cars, doing my own tune-up back in the points, plugs and distributor cap days, and I've never had a plug come loose. Yes a plug wire come loose, but never a plug.
 

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2/23 Update

The working theory is that plug #5 worked loose, got blown out, rattled back and forth on each compression stroke, broke the insulator, sucked the insulator in through the plug hole.

Service adviser says that this is 'fairly common' with 'these age engines' .
Scary! Wish I had know about it.
I think RTXTT has came up with a very good conclusion.You should mention this to your Honda service adviser and master mechanic and see what their comments are on RTXTT theory.
Hi i am new to this form but i had the same problem with my 2008 ridgeline at around 60k with the front middle spark plug. The plug backed out a few turns and oil was getting pass the plug. I replaced the plug and cleaned up the oil and everything has been fine. The truck has 92k now. After looking at the engine an the way it is set up i think the problem is with honda. You have an alumina block steal spark plug and all 3 exhaust ports coming together under the middle spark plug an expanding at different temps. I have check the temp on the exhausts after the engine has warmed up and there was about a 30 degree difference between the middle area from the 2 outer cylinder. I have not checked the temps after a good run on a hot summer day but i feel that there would be even a more difference in the temp of the 3 exhausts ports and the area of the plugs. I don't know if i am explaining this right but when you have 2 different metals expanding and cooling at different rates there is the possibility of being a problem. I be leave honda knows about this because this problem has been happening with other v6 honda engines.
 

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I agree the theory sounds good, but the actual failure rate appears to be so low that it may be hard to draw a parallel there.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
I like the theory offered by RTXTT. Why would Cylinder #5 Spark plug be more prone to working loose than any other one if not due to a thermal effect?


I agree the theory sounds good, but the actual failure rate appears to be so low that it may be hard to draw a parallel there.
Not sure that I agree with you on the low failure rate thing speedlever.
ROC registered users is <15% or the number of Ridgelines sold, so we are only a sample here. I'd bet that active participation is much lower than that. It isn't just the failure rate, it is the severity of the issue caused by the event. Dome light burning out is a high rate of failure, but not an event that has much impact.

A loose spark plug that leads to catastrophic engine failure, even if the rate is low, is a high impact event. I've crashed my Ridgeline less often than I've had loose spark plugs, but I wear my seat belt and and am glad that there are air bags in the car because even though the probability of the event is low, this adverse impact could be quite high.

If I were running the show I'd send out TSB's recommending.
- Check spark plug tightness for any misfire code.
- Recommend torque check on all spark plugs ever 30k miles.

I'd grant you that even though engines have gotten much more complex over the decades they have gotten more reliable and they generally last longer (I remember my father telling me that a car with 36k miles on it was getting long in the tooth) . BUT, in the olden days, when something broke, it often just meant that you limped along with degraded performance until you could get around to fixing it, and there was room under the hood to work and it was a lot more obvious how things went together and came apart.

Now, specs are tighter, systems inter connected and everything talks to the PCM which may decide not to allow you to move if it doesn't like the signals that it is getting.

A spark plug comes loose and scores up a cylinder.
Timing belt jumps and you bend all the valves.
Thermostat jams and you not only blow a head gasket you warp the head. (and I consider thermostats to be the least reliable part in a car. I used to have to buy a 1/2 dozen of them and drop them into boiling water to find one that worked properly)
10 cent washer corrodes and you lose all your transmission fluid and burn it up.

It is great to have cars that are safer, last longer, get better gas mileage and don't rust through after 5 years. It is distressing to me though to see them suffer sudden death when a simple sub-system wears out.

Can't we have sophisticated design that is still able to fail non destructively?
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
We can always hope!

The cylinder 4-5/loose spark plug issue ....
Wow! I counted at least 4 incidents in the single Odyssey thread alone.

I'm really questioning the failure mechanism now [we know that the failure mode is a loose spark plug, but what is that mechanism that leads to that ? ] . I had been thinking that the plug somehow worked itself loose (hard for me to imagine that given the compression washer built into them ) .

Now, after reading about galvanic reactions between dissimilar metals I'm wondering if this is just a failure of the threads and the plug just gets blown out without actually rotating itself loose. That would make sense given the accounts of thread damage reported. In that case the "failure" would not be the failure of a spark plug, it would be a failure of the casting. The same way a cracked block is a failure. (I recall a college chemistry lecture where the professor told us about rivets that reacted with the aluminum airplane wing skin skin they were attaching and lead to failure )

If it is a galvanic reaction leading to the threads weakening to the point of failure then torquing your spark plugs might not prevent the failure. In fact it might help to precipitate it.
 

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However, if galvanic reaction is the cause, it should also be seen in the other cylinders too. There seem to be relatively few (if any) reports of loose plugs for the other cylinders.

The heat soaked area of #5 cylinder is a logical explanation... but that may not end up being the cause, if Honda ever discloses their findings.
 
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