snodge182

Glow plug tip stuck

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Hi all,

I have a 2007 Zetec S 1.6TDCi and I was giving it a service the other day. I decided to change the glow plugs as the previous owner had bought some and not done it. When trying to get the left one out (the one closest to the drive belt side, number 4 I think), I heard a lot of creaking and it wasn't particularly easy, before it released. When it came out the tip was not with it, and a wire was coming out of the end where the tip should have been. I realised that the tip must have become seized and stuck in the engine so I chopped the wire off and put the glow plug back in (I understand if that wire touches any metal part of the engine during operation then the glow plug circuit would short.

Long story short I need to extract the tip from inside where it is seized. I have called a garage who said because I've been using it still then the tip has probably fallen into the cylinder and the engine is f***ed. However if it hasn't they should be able to get a specialist to extract it, costing £130 to extract the seized tip, and £100 for any other seized glow plugs.

I've bought a borescope which should be coming tomorrow and I'm just wondering, if I was to remove that glow plug again (the one with the broken tip), and turned on the engine, would the explosions in that cylinder blast the tip out?

I know this is a tricky situation to be in, and its all dependent on if the tip is still there or if it has fallen into the engine (is there any easy way to determine this by hearing the engine or loss of power from that cylinder or something?). I know one method of testing that is to see if there is any air coming from that glow plug hole, to see if the tip is still in it or not.

Has anyone had any experience with this kind of thing?

Any help much appreciated 🙂

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Vacuum is created as the piston is pulled down in the first second when you turn the engine over, if you've run the engine at all, the tip will almost certainly have been sucked in.  

If you've got a whole plug stuck, you can use the compression stroke to pop it out, but it's too big a risk with just the tip imo.

If it's still running, the damage can't be that bad though...  If you're really lucky and it's a very small piece, it might have been blown out of the exhaust port...although it will probably now be stuck in the turbo instead. :laugh:

 

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On 10/15/2020 at 7:56 PM, TomsFocus said:

Vacuum is created as the piston is pulled down in the first second when you turn the engine over, if you've run the engine at all, the tip will almost certainly have been sucked in.  

If you've got a whole plug stuck, you can use the compression stroke to pop it out, but it's too big a risk with just the tip imo.

If it's still running, the damage can't be that bad though...  If you're really lucky and it's a very small piece, it might have been blown out of the exhaust port...although it will probably now be stuck in the turbo instead. :laugh:

 

Thank you TomsFocus

It would appear that the tip is really jammed in the 4th cylinder, I'm going to see if the other glow plugs come out without snapping to assess how bad this issue has extended.

I measured the resistance over the other glow plugs and they have a very large value, I plugged the electrical contacts from them and the car starts as normal so I'm wondering if any of them work at all.

Would you have any tips for removing the other glow plugs without snapping them? I've sprayed them in WD40 and turned them very slightly to hopefully penetrate with the WD40.

I also bought a borescope and had a look, there is a lot of black powdery carbon build-up around the snapped tip.

I hope no damage comes from all this :S

 

Also, if I spray WD40 into the hole with the snapped tip at the end, will it be bad for the engine?

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WD40 isn't the best penetrant for this sort of thing as it dries out too quickly, just touching the top of the threads.  A little bit of diesel or veg oil dripped in is better as it'll 'ooze' down the threads and won't dry out at all.  If that's not possible, try some Plusgas instead of WD40.

Ultimately though, if the plugs have been there that long, the seal will be air tight and you won't get any penetrant falling deep down enough before you make the first turn on the plug, which is probably the one that'll snap the tip.  You'll need to remove the head to get the broken tip out anyway so the correct course of action would be to clean up and apply penetrant to the inside of the plugs before attempting to remove any more.  I'm sure you know already but just 'wiggle' the plugs back and forth if they get tight to loosen any contaminants rather than going for a massive turn in one go.  And lastly, always keep the ratchet straight, don't allow any angle on it at all as old plug tips will just snap if sideways force is put on them.

Any WD40, Plusgas, diesel etc that falls inside the engine won't cause any problems at all.  It'll just burn up next time it's run.  Large pieces of carbon, rust, grit or especially plug tips falling inside the cylinder should be avoided though.

 

As the plug tip has remained stuck inside the head since running, you could try to run the engine with that plug removed in the hope of popping it out.  It is a big risk though and I don't take any responsibility if it goes wrong lol.  Obviously don't put your hands or face anywhere near it while running... :laugh: 

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