Monday, April 5, 2010

Leaks and sparks

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The above shows a hose barely holding on to the water pump inlet. The hose clamps work better on the ends of the hose than the middle. It's no wonder it was leaking coolant (98% water by this point). This car keeps trying to teach me that one shouldn't put off fixes to nagging problems. I drove around for about 2 months with the hose barely hanging on. Granted I was keeping the driving in town for the most part because I knew there was a problem. But I got lucky that this didn't let lose on the freeway or somewhere inconvenient. Fix it right when you know something is wrong! The car is back together this time hopefully with all hose clamps in place and with the additional piece of mind that the radiator flanges are not cracked as I was lead to believe is common with the plastic radiator tanks. Perhaps the coolant leak gremlin has finally been slain?

Now I'm on to the intermittent missing problem. Occasionally, the Audi will misfire badly while driving under light to moderate load. Occasionally is once every 7-10 days or so. Going up a gentle hill, or even slowly accelerating on a flat stretch the engine misses with applied accelerator, and the check engine light blinks, indicating a misfire. I'm 90% certain that it is electrical, likely this means that it is a clogged fuel filter. It has some goofy 3 pronged spark plugs installed, that the previous owner was bragging about installing 2.5 years and 50k miles ago. (said previous owner is a rather ham-fisted mechanic however, and installed them 'real tight' with no anti-sieze, I was afraid the first one was going to come out with the treads attached ... not that I have much room to talk now that I go around leaving hose clamps off). I can't tell if these plugs are worn out or what. The gap isn't adjustable, but the gap seams very large, well over 0.032". Not sure how long they were supposed to last. The safe first step seems like replacing the spark plugs. Before replacing the $200 coil/pack ignition module combo. I went to Kragen with a spark plug part number from the audiforums scribbled down, and he told me that it was a $1.99 plug and 'not for my car' He said the recommended plugs were the Bosch Platinums that are $8.99 each. I should have just purchased them and been done with it. Now I'm being cheap. But. He got all "salesy" on me, and if there's one thing I hate it is a patronizing sales pitch. I have an irrational revulsion to being 'sold' anything, and he attempted to 'sell me' on the plugs. Proceeding to tell me how "These Audi engines aren't are your normal engine and that they need a hotter spark and a high performance plug and that you shouldn't just put cheap junk in there because it was a blah blah blah." He had to work on Easter and has to put up with jokers like me not wanting to pay and extra $20 for the spark plugs because they read some nonsense on a forum posted by some know-it-all college kid. That being said a poorly executed sales pitch keeps my wallet firmly in pocket, and apparently drives me to the internet to talk about it. Anyhow, moving on, I didn't buy any thing and now I need to figure out what spark plugs I really want / need. Again I'm sure the $8.99 would have been fine and I could have moved on to replacing the other components before I get around to changing that fuel filter that is likely the cause of these electrical problems.

At least one of the online suppliers shows that the installed plugs are same as what they sell as replacement plugs for my car. So maybe they really are the correct plug for the car. Ham-fisted or not the previous owner probably at a minimum purchased one of the recommended plugs and didn't just pick something at random.

Cylinder 1 picture below is what is reported by the computer as missing most frequently.

Cylinder 4 actually looks worse?

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