Major Damage?

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Apr 9, 2003
San Rafael
Got a BIG problem...need some help. My Cruiser imploded today on the freeway...what gives??

Freeway cruising, 70mph, all gauges looked fine, I get a jolt, engine stutters and vibrates in a major way, loss of power, stuttering, major vibrating and clunking..I pulled over and shut it all down and got towed. Pictures show, where this piece, Plug? blew out of the top, cracking that thick plastic screwed on cover. I don't know the name of any of this stuff, so sorry for the wrong terminology. I briefly started it, like 5 seconds, and looked at the engine, it is shaking all over the place.

Cruiser is a 97, 60,800 miles. All fluids were fine. No s/c or turbo, no prior problems. Also not driven vey hard. Warranty says 60 months/60k so I assume I am hosed. It is at a reputable shop that will look at it in the morning and give me the low down.
Due to my work sched. I had to leave it at a shop I've used before as i have no time to work on it. A plug did blow out, the tech said the heli coil should be the fix, unless the heads threads were stripped in an odd way. He said the threads will be stripped, just a matter of bad, he said 9 out of 10 times the heli coil is the problem. My question to anybody, anything i should look out for with this type of repair, Anything in particular I should inquire or check out. Like, what caused this....anything preventative I overlooked that could have contributed to this?

Also, will the use of a heli coil to fix this cause any types of issues down the road when changing plugs, like will the threads always be weak in that area...etc etc...hmmmmm?
If I were you I would ask to see the damaged threads BEFORE repairs commence. Often plugs work out and "blow" without permanent damage to the threads. They will be full of carbon but it may be possible the chase them and be ok. I suggest you replace the spark plug wires and all 6 plugs with matching components. In addition, be certain that the spark plug tightening torque DOES NOT exceed 14 lb-ft. My bet is the plug was not tightened to spec in the first place.
IIRC proper helicoiling requires removall of the cylinder head. Mucho bucks.

Helicoil does make a kit for doing it on the car. I've done them. It works. THe major issue is getting metal shavings down in the cylinder area. Also the depth of the 80s spark plug hole is going to be a problem, although I would bet they make a kit for center-mounted spark plug holes as well. I would also bet that at least some of the threads are damaged. If you chase them with a tap, you may or may not have to helicoil, but if you don't I doubt it would be a strong as it once was. The best repair short of replacing the head would be to pull it, have the hole TIGed, drilled and retapped to spec. Short of that very expensive solution, a Helicoil should work.
Thanks C Dan,
I was hoping to hear from you...the Tech I deal with said it worked loose, how he does not know, and blew out, threads are fine, no helicoiling necessary. And he recommended to gwet the spitfires out of there and replace everything.

My guess is the PO, as I've only had this rig for 10k, replaced the oem plugs with these spitfire 100k plugs, and didn't re-torque properly. I was waiting for 60k, which I just hit, to replace them with the recommended product, but got this surprise instead.

I am having all new plugs and wiring done, along with a full 60k service, minus the knuckes which I want to do.

In all, it sure seemed alot worse at 8 pm last night, after partying all night long for a Bachelor party. I had plugs in the rig, but no wiring, so I was hosed no matter what.
Tech said he ran a tap just to be sure, and he was quite surprised and thought I was Damn lucky cuz the threads were fine....I am not very edumacated in this arena, I'm a photographer not a mechanic, but he emphasized that it could have been really ugly. Hopefully he's right, my concern was that it would forever be weaker than it should be, with damaged threads.
Glad to hear you got best news possible.

See Dan - here's another fine upstanding board member that fully admits to not knowing squat about mechanics. To take it a step further:

Hi, my name is Brent and I don't know squat about car mechanics. :flipoff2:

Anyone else?
Hey...I did the OME lift Damnit...that takes a tool or two

AND I installed the CDL and factory cup POS!!!

I can change plugs, but when they frickin' blow out???? I run for cover and get a pro....

I can't believe I haven't had my balls busted by Junk.....
Ok - way beyond me and you've stated you are going to do your birf's yourself as well. I'll have to leave that right of passage to others.
Gentlemen of the board,

I appeal for your combined assistance in getting Brent's hands of of those Dang Calloway clubs long enough to teach him how to enjoy the Cruiser :flipoff2:
I think that if we can sink the hook just once, we'll have the lazy sod right where he wants to be but is afraid to go :flipoff2:


Another problem correctly deduced by the IH8MUD crew!!!

Photo Cruiser,

I'm assuming that the plug didn't go from almost tight to blowing out the hole in a matter of seconds. As it loosened, did you feel any loss of power or rough running as the compression dropped in that cylinder?

Did you smell gas when you opened the hood?

Hope I never find out for myself...

Glad it's a minor problem. When I first read your post I was thinking leaking head gasket. Water doesn't compress and something has to give - usually a rod. But I guess a loose spark plug could blow out.

My mini had a tick when I first got it. It also didn't have a lot of power. I adjusted the valves one afternoon and the tick was still there, but I noticed one of the plug wires was moving. WTF? The #4 plug was so loose it was losing compression around the threads. :whoops: Ran a lot better after a quick turn of the wrench.
If I had such a problem then


I had three separate plugs blow out on a fjord ranger...the metal part of the plug would stay in the head, and the rest of the spark plug would end up in the boot...

I could see maybe one, but three of them? bad plugs man....

and no, they weren't ND

Cruiser is back on the road, all went well, threads looked fine, I'm freakin stoked it came out well.

Ed, I did notice that it felt a little sluggish, but I was a) really hung over from a bachelor party in Reno NV, and b) was screwing around on a trail near Fordyce on my way home when I noticed it, which was at 9500 feet, so I was attributing it to the elevation. As I roared into sacramento, it felt absolutely fine, just like normal, then all hell broke loose in about a 2 second window.

Big Beers to all you guys with the excellent advice, it is SO SWEET to be able to get this info, prior to a repair. It really makes all the difference!!!

The tech who worked on my rig new all the good stuff, as I had him do the 60k while he was working on it. Toyota Red....Absolutely...oem parts...nothing but...nd got it...mobil 0w30 synthetic all the way per says, "great choice, I love that stuff", and he added...nice to see a cruiser in the bay area with some ******* scratches!!!!

And Damn I love my cruiser!

Thanks again....great resource here!!!!
[quote author=Photo_Cruiser link=board=2;threadid=7639;start=msg64693#msg64693 date=1069180037]
.mobil 0w30 synthetic all the way per Cary...


I usually recommend the 0w-40 :), but the 0w-30 won't hurt anything. Leave until the next change, by then the new Mobil 1 5w-40 may be out.


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