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CdnSarah

Engine Coolant In Spark Plugs - Have 2 Different Opinions As To What Is Wrong

46 posts in this topic

Hiya! I've just had a second opinion on my car and am completely confused now. A bit of back story...

Car started juddering and losing acceleration a few weeks ago. Called the RAC, who diagnosed water in the spark plugs. It was brown and yucky, with a few pebbles. He recommended new spark plugs and HT leads, which I had done by my usual mobile mechanic.

A week later it started juddering again. Again called the RAC, who discovered pink liquid in with the spark plugs this time, identified as engine coolant with his Hydrometer. My usual mobile mechanic came out and identified it as a cracked head. He quoted £1000 for the work to be done and would get back to me when he could source second-hand parts.

Today I had a second opinion done by another mechanic. He discovered that the first mechanic had snapped 3 bolts off on the head. His opinion is that it's a core plug problem, as I drove it for a week before having any other problems. He's also said that I need an engineer to drill out the bolts, but it probably won't work and I'll need a new head now regardless.

I went back to my usual mechanic with this. He's agreed that the bolts did snap off but that they can be drilled out. He stands by his diagnosis of a cracked head.

Now this is what I'm confused by. Two separate diagnoses for 1 problem. And a disagreement over how it can be done, as my second mechanic said he couldn't diagnose a cracked head without completing a compression test and a cylinder test (which he can't do now with the rocker cover off).

I'm hoping someone with more knowledge of engines could shed some light on this for me please?

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either way, the head has to come off

once the head is off it can be visually checked for cracks or core plug problem...but

i take it the first mech broke the head bolts after diagnosing a cracked head..ie..diagnosed, then he started to strip it down but then abandoned the job because of the bolts snapping....if so

the fact the bolts snapped, suggests they are corroded to the head, this alone suggests that water has entered the head bolt recesses, as the bolts are located under the camshafts,

in my opinion, the only way water can enter the recesses is via a cracked head or blown gasket...not a core plug

also, dont think it would pay to source replacement parts till the engine has been stripped and broken bolts removed. that way you will know exactly what is required rather than buy a head only to find, for eg, its a gasket problem/ cracked block or bolt threads cannot be removed from the block without damaging beyond repair.

if you stick with the first mech, strongly suggest work is prepared for rebuild BEFORE paying out for parts

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The core plugs do leak and rot especially if the washer jets are leaking into the spark plugs which is also common and by youre description of brown yucky water this is whats happened the fact the regular mechanic snapped the bolts and didnt tell you says it all so steer clear of him and take the car to a reputable mechanic you should get the original mechanic to foot the bill the core plugs do leak into the spark plug ports and can be replaced ford dealers do it i do not agree its a cracked head the focus uses a unique system where if the engine had overheated which would be necessary to crack the head the car would have went into limp mode the ecu would then cut power and use 2 pistons to pump air to cool the engine the coolant would have boiled away there would be steam coming out of the engine from the coolant amoung a few things the juddering was the Water from the leaking washer jets allowing rain into the plugs clearly for a long time between plug 1 and 2 is the first core plug between 3\4 is the second plug the water rots these and allows coolant into the combustion chamber fouling the plugs the water shorted the coil pack so new leads plugs and coil pack should have been fitted

Cracked heads on the focus are not common nor are head gasket issues in my opinion the mechanics a jolk and i wouldnt allow him to touch the car

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.arts,

i know this is the www, and we can only guess using information supplied, but how would washer fluid going into plug recess then turn pink and contain antifreeze, as tested for by RAC not first mechanic

plus, we can only guess again, but why would bolts snap from corrosion caused by washer fluid/rain etc, the bolts are under the cam cover/shafts so are oil soaked, not water

its weird that antifreeze is in plug recesses, so may well turn out to be coil plug, plus can only guess the bolts snapped due to corrosion, but head has to be removed now either way and although the first mechanic has, in my opinion, let her down by not completing the strip down to confirm everything, i think its wrong to slaughter him for a bad diagnosis when we have been given no info on how he got to that diagnosis in the first place.

that maybe the question worth asking, what tests were done to come to that conclusion?

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Thanks for the input. Am still unsure as to which mechanic to believe. I know the second mechanic, who believes it's a core plug issue, wasn't able to complete any testing without the rocker cover in place. He mentioned it would need a compression check and a cylinder check.

I've just sent a text to the original mechanic asking how he diagnosed the cracked head and will let you know his response when I get it.

Just for information though, how are cracked heads usually diagnosed? I've been trying to research this on the web with confusing results (many mention exhaust issues, which I've never noticed).

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cracked heads/blocks can give a number of symptoms depending where the crack is and what caused it in the first place, so hard to answer....one other question though, the second mechanic said head will need replacing now whatever the original cause was.

any idea why?

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The washer jeys allow water into the plugs rotting the core plugs the coolant then flows through to the plugs and into the rocker cover its a bad diagnosis trust me core plugs are the first place a mechanic woukd look and im 100% confident its core plugs from the description alone the bolts snapped likely from over tightening its not strange take youre leads out and look between the plugs youll see the core plug right there thats all thats stopping the coolant getting to the plugs leaky washer jets let rain water into the pkug ports rusting and siezing plugs and ruin the core plugs add engine heat then more water more heat for a long enough time and youre in trouble spark plugs have blown out due to this

Its such a known issue the car doesnt even show symptoms of a cracked head so it doesnt matter how he diagnosed it hes put 2 and 2 together and got 10 hes that far off

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The washer jeys allow water into the plugs rotting the core plugs the coolant then flows through to the plugs and into the rocker cover its a bad diagnosis trust me core plugs are the first place a mechanic woukd look and im 100% confident its core plugs from the description alone the bolts snapped likely from over tightening its not strange take youre leads out and look between the plugs youll see the core plug right there thats all thats stopping the coolant getting to the plugs leaky washer jets let rain water into the pkug ports rusting and siezing plugs and ruin the core plugs add engine heat then more water more heat for a long enough time and youre in trouble spark plugs have blown out due to this

Its such a known issue the car doesnt even show symptoms of a cracked head so it doesnt matter how he diagnosed it hes put 2 and 2 together and got 10 hes that far off

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wase - he only said it would need replacing if the bolts couldn't be drilled out. And he's not hopeful that they can, due to their position (I believe).

What he also said, that got me thinking, was that the first mechanic should have told me the minute the first bolt snapped. The face he'd carried on and not told me, in his (the second mechanic's) opinion, was dishonest.

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thats why we should allow him to answer how he got diagnosis.

no offence bud, but ive lost count how many times i get calls having a go at me for being wrong on diagnosing a car because someone on the www or the geezer in the pub said otherwise....my usual response is let him do the job then,

if the guy is confident in his diag, then he wont have a problem answering the question

plus, if head bolts were overtightened rather than corroded, then that opens a whole lot of other scenarios with regards to a poor repair in the past....trust me mate, ive seen it all over the years, nothing is cut and died...

you could well be right about the core plug, but if he has done a cyl check/gasses check then that wouldnt explain just a core plug, the core plug could just be another symptom rather than a cause...

not having a go, but it does my head in when mechanics get grief based on very little info...this causes a lot of headaches for us, trust me

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Ok, so to accurately diagnose a cracked head he couldn't just use a visual check? He'd have to have completed other tests then?

I really want him to be correct, much as it would cost my bank balance, because he's my usual mechanic and I've always trusted him. But the second guy I've used is also highly recommended as well...

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The second mechanics correct in all he said they are unlikely to drill out steel bolts alloy head and no margine for error if im honest even with easy outs i doubt it the head will have to be removed to replace the core plugs he may still have to remove the head it all depends if he can get the core plugs out with just the rocker cover off hopefully he can and youll just need the core plugs some new rocker cover bolts and coolant and a new coil pack he should have called and informed you before carrying on why did he need it off anyway the water can be vacumed out cola used to clean it up and sucked out with the old plugs in

Honest truth hes taking the mick usual mechanic or not he wont be right im sorry to say he was dishonest and he did a poor job and a poor diagnosis of course he will say the heads cracked so he could replace it and have an easy way out of his mistake

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No it cant be visually diagnosed unless you can see the crack in which case water would have been pouring through it with clouds of steam coming from under the bonnet

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When the first mechanic removed the rocker cover, I believe he was still trying to diagnose the problem. He's a mobile mechanic, so was working on my driveway. I've assumed that's what he was doing anyways. The second RAC guy had just been the day before, leaving a note that he thought it might be the core plugs or a cracked head, amongst other possibilities. My first mechanic was just there to diagnose the problem.

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Sarah

if a head bolt snaps, this wont stop being able to remove the head

if the bolt is corroded in the head, then its a major headache but head can still be removed, if the bolt is snapped in the block then this would be perfectly ok to remove the head without any issues, giving much easier access to the broken bolt in the block....

so dont really understand why he would feel it necessary to try drilling out a bolt with head in place....even if he is correct in diagnosing just the core plug, removing the head would make things much easier to repair broken bolts rather than trying to do it through the head.

if he is correct that its just the core plug, then you do have a cause to reimburse some costs from first mechanic to cover repair to broken bolts.

i wouldnt go as far as dishonest, but it isnt what i would call good practice, did he quote you before or after he started stripping/break the bolts

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The first mechanic removed the rocker cover before speaking to me. I thought it was necessary to make a diagnosis?

After he'd removed it, he then came and knocked on my door telling me that it was a cracked head. I'm pretty certain he told me that he could see a faint crack, but I'm now hoping he'd actually used some type of test to decide this. That was when he said it would cost approx. £1000, but he wouldn't know until he could source parts. At no point did he mention the snapped bolts.

My second mechanic said that, judging by the amount of rust there was, it was likely to be a core plug problem. His issue with the bolts was that he wouldn't be able to get a proper seal with the rocker if they weren't removed. And he's not convinced that they can be. He was going to contact his engineer to see what he could manage.

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are we talking head bolts or cam cover bolts

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Oh, I don't actually know the answer to that. The second mechanic showed me 3 snapped bolts, still attached to the head. He said they were used to fasten the rocker cover securely. He compared them to a few that had come out without a problem, to show me that they had indeed snapped.

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right, talking about something completely different

sounds like cam cover bolts, will be a pain to repair but wouldnt condemn a head for this....there are tools about to make the job do-able but would recommend an engineer rather than mechanic unless they are kitted out to do this.

does shed whole new light to problem, what purpose was cam cover removed and where i is this small crack he thought he saw...not starting to sound honest now as this sounds highly unlikely

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why not get 2nd mechanic to repair core plug, refit cover and then he can retest for further problem...if head is given all clear then start to deal with cam cover bolts...seems fairly straightforward to me

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Second mechanic seemed to think that the bolts needed to be sorted first? He said an engineer would need to drill the bolts out, otherwise the rocker cover wouldn't seal properly. I'm trying desperately to remember his exact words, as that's the part I foolishly didn't write down.

Firstly he wanted to replace the core plugs (he felt they're leaking on top of the head causing coolant onto the spark plugs). Then he also wanted to do a compression test and cylinder leakage test to diagnose the head.

He felt that if the bolts couldn't be removed then I'd need a new head regardless. So this part isn't exactly accurate?

Thank you so much, btw, for being so incredibly patient with me. I really appreciate it!

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Core plugs can be diagnosed by removing the spark plugs coolant there would indicate core plugs since its common its even more of a guess so the rocker didnt need removed at all to diagnose to say its a cracked head from a visual inspection when its likely its not is dishonest and poor practice to then snap bolts and not tell you is hiding the fact hes done it again dishonest and bad practice you need a good mechanic to diagnose then claim the repair from the first mechanic and have a decent mechanic do the job hes proved he cant be trusted what else might he hide none of what he did makes sense

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happy to help

as a temp refit, in order to test for further problems, i really dont see any problem refitting cam cover with bolts missing...tests can be carried out in minutes and worse case scenario would be a minor oil leak whilst carrying out those tests.

dont see the point of repairing cam cover if tests do indeed show further problem which would then entail removing head anyway.

get the core plug done, refit the cover using a small amount of silicone around broken bolts area if necessary, then carry out tests for head/gasket problem and go from there.

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Again, thank you so much!

One last question though - can the car be driven with its 'temp refit'? I'm only asking as the car is currently on my drive and the second mechanic is not mobile and would like to complete the work in his workshop.

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arts...yet again you slaughter first mechanic yet know nothing about how he got his original diag....you have no idea if he discovered loss of compression or gasses in coolant...

lets keep perspective...agreed, if he claims he's seen a crack then that would seriously concern me....and i would go with 2nd mechanic for now...do as i suggest and then we can all call the 1st mechanic all the names under the sun as we would then have the full info :)

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