Dropped something into the spark plug hole

Okay. Novice auto enthusiast here. Recently decided to do my own maintenance and so on and so forth on my 1993 Buick Park Avenue, starting with some desperately needed new spark plugs and ignition wires. When I went to install the new plugs- due to working completely blind- I managed to get some gunk on them. The engine would start, backfire and then cut out. I noticed some smoke coming from around one of the new plugs. I was fairly certain that the engine gunk I’d been trying to avoid was the cause. so I removed the new plugs and sure enough, a few of them(particularly the one that had been smoking) were filthy. I decided to clean out the holes they screw into and quickly learned that I should be fairly generous with my pipe cleaner. I dropped an approximately three inch long piece into the hole, and it has completely disappeared. I’ve checked with a mirror and flashlight and haven’t been able to see it. It hasn’t turned up under the car and I haven’t been able to find it anywhere else in the engine bay, though admittedly there are numerous areas that are impossible to see into. So I’m assuming it’s in the cylinder, though I’ve tried using a telescoping magnet and a rubber tube connected to a vacuum cleaner- both of which were able to pick up a similarly sized piece without any trouble- to no avail. It’s been suggested that I should try starting the engine without that particular plug in, possibly using the vacuum as well to try and pop it out, though I don’t really like the sound of that. I have manually cranked it, and the piston in that cylinder seems to be at or near the top of it’s stroke(not sure I’ve got that wordified quite right). Hasn’t helped with accessing the bit of pipe cleaner, though. Is there anything else I can do short of tearing into my engine to get at this thing? Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks much!

A pipe cleaner?? It’s a '93 Buick… Button it up and drive it. It’s tough enough to digest a pipe cleaner…The remains should just blow out the exhaust…

Engine Grime: A can of engine cleaner, a pressure washer and an air-hose. THEN you change the plugs…No pipe cleaners…

I agree with everything except the pressure washer. Water under pressure will go where you don’t want it. Spray degreaser on the engine (cold) and use a low-pressure garden hose to wash it off. Keep the water away from electrical things, and let it dry COMPLETELY before starting the engine.

Retarded guy here…
What does a pipe cleaner look like?

white slightly fuzzy wire. Pipe smokers use them to clean pipe stems.

One could carefully rotate the engine be hand until that cylinder is at the bottom of the intake stroke and with the plug out.
Bumping the starter motor may cause the pipe cleaner to be spit out of the spark plug hole when the piston rises on the compression stroke.

Odds are this pipe cleaner would be vaporized very quickly in a running engine anyway.

There is no sense in using a pipe cleaner anywhere under the hood.

If the engine runs clean, the plugs clean themselves. More than likely, the plug wires are on some of the wrong plugs. It would be about the 50 millionth time it has happened.

Use a retrieval magnet to check for a pipe cleaner, the wire is usually steel. It didn’t go into the plug hole anyway. It isn’t unusual for something to disappear under the hood only to reappear when the engine is removed and you can look under it.

Ever see those black chrome tools? Nobody has a complete set of them any more.

I would like to just have any of my 13mm or 1/2in. sockets when needed, I gave up on any complete sets along time ago. As for a pipe cleaner, I use them on chevy vacuum junctions because they like getting restricted. A plumber’s 1/2 inch copper fitting brush, or 12ga brass barrel brush both work great to remove heavy gasket service indicator coating from plug wells and mineral scaling in heater hose fittings, unless it’s a sub-compact then use a .410 brush. :wink:

You started your Car Talk career by adding irrelevant information to a 10-year-old thread. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


I figured if it is seen in another 10 years or read over like I’m sure more people than myself have. They will know an effective way to clear the wells, not drop craft supplies in combustion chambers, and not short out every uncovered electronic module in their car, nobody warned them about.