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2003 Saturn Vue V6 (cylinder 4 damage) and Bosch spark plugs

I am new to this forum and I sort of in an emergency. I need some opinion on my situation because it looks grim. Last Monday I was coming back from errand when my engine light came on and the engine started to studder and some intermittant rattling sounds coming from the engine and accelaration is decreased espcially trying to go over 35-40mph. The error code was showing a P0304 cylinder 4 misfired. I called up a local authorized saturn service center which turns out to be a Chevy dealer. They could not see till next week they are “booked up”. I decided to go to a pep boys which took me on Thursday. They told me that spark plug 4 the center element of the plug blow out into the cylinder and they could not find it in the cylinder. They only replaced the plugs and the coil and told me they could not deal with this sort of issue and that the engine would need to be replaced, go to the dealer. Turns out that Bosch plugs where put in there. I do have a friend mechanic and he told me the same thing basically and was surprised that Saturn would put Bosch plugs in there because those plugs are just awful. Usually GM vehicles should have AC Delco or Champion plugs. Anyway my friend mechanic has a bad opinion of this particuliar engine those crappy Saab engines and his opinion is not worth rebuilding. The thing is that the engine was fine it was the crappy Bosch plug that failed in it causing damage. I always had the vehicle serviced at Saturn of Philadelphia now extinct. I certainly didn’t put plugs in. I was routine with my service followed the book every 3000 miles. I still have the appointment set with the Chevy dealer for next Thursday (unbelieveable it’s that far off) but what can I do at this point in time?

I’m not sure about this, but your VUE might have a Honda Odyssey engine (I can’t remember what year they started using it). Either way, It is unlikely that the Bosch plugs are original equipment. I’ve seen a lot of people put fancy plugs of some sort or another in their cars, and they never improve anything. They usually just cause problems.

It sounds like the center electrode left through the exhaust port. Wherever it currently resides, it no longer poses a threat.

How is the engine running now that the Bosch plugs have been replaced?

How is the engine running now since Pep Boys replaced the plugs? Did they do a compression test? How did they determine that the engine needs to be replaced?

I am not going to delve into the never ending argument that company xyz makes bad yzx"s but I will ask, what issue are you asking for help on? I kind of think you are concerned that this missing piece of the spark plug should both be recovered and you think some damage happened from this piece bouncing around, but it is not clear what issue you are asking for help on. I do see you write “failed causing damage”, certainly possible a piece got under the valve and is causing a loss of compression (but much more likely it just got blown out) Do you have cylinder compression reading to report? (I guess if you did you would have told us, but I have to ask).

I am sure mine has the saab engine. They didn’t put the honda engine till two years later.
I certainly didn’t put those plugs in. I always had it serviced at Saturn of Philadelphia now extinct.

They did do tha compression test and it didnt pass. Besides the studder at idle and reduced power there is an intermittant rattle with in the engine too.

That new information changes things. It sounds like there was some internal damage, possibly to a valve.

Sincere best of luck. If it is a valve, using it this way would burn the valve, but there’s really nothing you can do right now other than wait for your appointment. Someone needs to look at it to see what’s really going on.

Seems like some of my replies are not posting for some reason I will try this one again.
I did not see a compression report. I was only told that it didn’t pass because of Cylinder 4. It just seem that the center peiee from the plug got lodged in a valve to bend it or something. There is an intermittant rattle too. I just looking for advice on what to do. I do have the service appointment next thursday at a authorized saturn service center. I do need to go somewhere on monday with it I guess I won’t be taking any highways.

I will try to post this again because it didn’t the first time.

To answer your question there studder at idle and reduced power there is an intermittant rattle with in the engine too.

Thanks for the luck. But tell me this is not a normal occurance is it? Back when they were marketing the Saturn Vue in 2003 they claimed they tested them to 150000 miles.

It may be possible to remove the part of the spark plug that may be in the cylinder by doing the following: Remove the spark plug and crank the engine over until the valves are closed on #4 cylinder. Use an air hose and see if blowing compressed air into the cylinder will force the object out of the cylinder. If damage has occured, this won’t repair the damage.

But they didn’t test them with those plugs.

A center electrode breaking off of any plug in any car is not a normal occurrance.

I appreciate your help. Actually when the vehicle was at pep boys they did try to blow with air the cylinder but did not find anything. I don’t know if they turned the crankshaft like you said.
This is not something I could do myself. The exhaust manifold is over the top of the engine and you can’t get to the plugs or coils without removing the manifold. I don’t know what the thinking was on this design but it like they thought one would never need to replace the coils and plugs ever.
I guess I will limit my driving to under 40mph if I have to go somewhere till I take to the Saturn service place on Thursday. It’s just frustrating this could not happen as worse time as I am unemployed and I really thought I reached bottom but this is bottom. I would have perferred a blown head gasket over this.

There is a tool, a fiberoptic device called a “borescope” (for looking into bored holes), that can be used to examine the insides of the cylinders in all but the most difficult places. It could be used to look for the center electrode. But I’d bet it got blown past the valve and out the port. It is possible that the valve slammed it a few times on its way by, leaving enough damage to the valve seat to cause your problems. If an engine is operating at 3,000 rpm, each valve is slamming open and shut 1,500 time per minute. That’s a bunch of opportunities to close on anything passing by.

Sincere best. Let us know what the Chevy dealer says. We do care.

So what were the compression readings and how many miles do those plugs have on them?

SAAB does not build crappy engines and the same engine was used in a number of other vehicles with no problem.
All SAAB engines use Bosch plugs and there is nothing wrong with Bosch plugs at all if the application is correct. It sounds to me like your mechanic is somewhat misinformed and repeating old wives tales.

As to why this one particular plug failed it could likely be nothing more than a sheer fluke.
As to this intermittent rattle that could be caused by:
A. Piece of the old plug imbedded in the top of the piston.
B. Old plug debris gone, piston nicked up, and a sharp edge exists in the piston top.
C. Cracked piston.
Any of those can create a hot spot and can cause detonation, which could be the rattle you hear.

Sounds like they simply did a 'power balance" test (as opposed to using and actual gague) and this is why we get a “did not pass” response instead of actual readings.

I find it odd they replaced the coil also as you never replace ignition parts on a car that has low compression. I suggest you get the money back for the coil as I suspect the mechanic figured the dead cylinder was caused by a inop coil and since he put one in you had to buy it. Doesn’t he know that stubbing parts in like this is the signature of an “oil changer”? :slight_smile: (NOTE THE EMOTION SYMBOL)

A true expert at “stubbing in” removes the test part if it does not fix the problem and does not leave it on the car for the customer to pay for it. neftv1, tell me this is not the case.

Thank you for your response. I do not know what the compression reading were. I was only told that it didn’t pass. Pep boys didn’t charge me for anything, they replaced three of the plugs and the coil.
My Friend mechanic is a family owned business. He only tells me from his experience. He don’t see Saabs (or any new vehicles for that matter) till their warrenties expire and he tells me the stories. I just know in my situation the engine was fine but the spark plug caused the issue. These Spark plugs were replaced when Saturn service called for them. I believe of the top of my head it was 30k 60k and would have been 90k. I have 88k on it now. I always when to Saturn of Philadelphia (now extinct) at my regular intervals.
I guess I will wait till I take it to the Chevy dealer who is an authorized Saturn service center next Thursday.
I appreciate the possible issue explanation.

Oh I was not charged for anything at Pep boys. They told me the put new plugs and coil for cylinder 4. Clean thottle and something to do with the gas line. My friend mechanic told me they really only replaced 3 spark plugs (2,4,6) and the coil. My friend did put a full set of plugs in there. I was not charged for anything to this point because this engine just appears to be bad news now. I guess its possible the “oil changer” did this work I don’t know it was not that much of a busy day for them when I went there.
I guess I will wait till I take it to the Chevy dealer who is an authorized Saturn service center next Thursday. It just frustrating me at this bad time for me.

Are you saying they gave you a new coil, put in 3 plugs and did a compression check,cleaned the throttle, did something with the gas line, for free? pretty good. But you add that your friend put a full set of plugs in. I really don’t care who paid for what but other readers may hope to get the same deal at Pep Boys. The “oil changer” reference was a “inside the Forum joke” It was not a reference in regards to who did your work.