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Discussion Starter #1
I had my Cruze at a dealer, they did some diagnostics but didn't take the cylinder head off for $300+ as I didn't authorize.

I was idling the car, it started idling erratically, started ticking louder and louder, then started what I thought was knocking but according to the dealer wasn't a lower end knock. I also had a Service Stabilitrak and Traction Control notifications. The car has no power at all and is running extremely rich. Since it's not a rod knock, thankfully, I've never been inside one of these Ecotec engines and don't have a service manual yet I'm thinking the camshaft has jumped a tooth. Is this even a possibility? Am I on the right track without taking the head off? Any suggestions before I dive head first into this engine?

All of the ticking with those notifications I've seen in the search have been checking the ground connections. But I don't think this applies here.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Did they do a compression test ?
I don't know, they didn't put anything on the paperwork and the service guy had left by the time we got there to pick up the car. I can make that one of my first tests before I unbolt much. The guy that I was speaking to at the dealership didn't tell me much about what the service tech was doing.

With the loud ticking and the very rich smell I'm hoping I didn't drop a valve into the cylinder.
 

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Incredible that it is even considered service that a consumer asks for diagnostics to identify what's wrong and they have no problem creating a bill but can't supply any results.
Also check the pcv valve, which is built into the valve cover.

 

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Discussion Starter #5
Apparently Chevy ran out of Ecotec engines and stuck a Ford Triton engine in this Cruze.
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I'm kidding of course. But the number 3 plug was essentially blown out of the head. I attempted to screw another spark plug into the number 3 spot and it just spins. I know with the Ford engines you could rethread without taking the head off, is a similar kit available that would let me do that for this engine. The ground electrode is missing from the spark plug. I could take the head off with a lot of work that I'd love to avoid if feasible. What options do I have? I can think of possibly rethreading in situ, take the head off and rethread, and replace the head all together. The last option seems unnecessary, but I'll wait for the more experienced minds to chime in.
 

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Apparently Chevy ran out of Ecotec engines and stuck a Ford Triton engine in this Cruze.
<snip pic>
I'm kidding of course. But the number 3 plug was essentially blown out of the head. I attempted to screw another spark plug into the number 3 spot and it just spins. I know with the Ford engines you could rethread without taking the head off, is a similar kit available that would let me do that for this engine. The ground electrode is missing from the spark plug. I could take the head off with a lot of work that I'd love to avoid if feasible. What options do I have? I can think of possibly rethreading in situ, take the head off and rethread, and replace the head all together. The last option seems unnecessary, but I'll wait for the more experienced minds to chime in.
Looking at the plug, it's missing the crush ring. AFAIK, the plugs for the 1.8 should all have a crush ring at the top of the threads.

Not sure if yours has somehow become separated - broke off, eroded, or was intentionally removed - or perhaps someone had installed the wrong plug. I can't help wondering if the missing ring is related to the failure of the plug hole. If it wasn't sealed properly, the escaping gases can have a very erosive effect, enough to damage the threads, I would think.

Doug

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Looking at the plug, it's missing the crush ring. AFAIK, the plugs for the 1.8 should all have a crush ring at the top of the threads.

Not sure if yours has somehow become separated - broke off, eroded, or was intentionally removed - or perhaps someone had installed the wrong plug. I can't help wondering if the missing ring is related to the failure of the plug hole. If it wasn't sealed properly, the escaping gases can have a very erosive effect, enough to damage the threads, I would think.

Doug

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To me it looks like a crush ring is there, but also in the hole where the spark plug goes it looked like there was a crush ring so it may have broken into 2 pieces or something. I will check that out more when I go back over to the garage. This car was never in for any kind of service and I never had the coil pack off so if it is missing it was missing from the factory.

I found a thread about a similar issue back in 2016 and a user Gus_Mahn recommended Timesert for repair. I had this site bookmarked but completely forgot they existed. I believe the 1.8l Ecotec would use kit number 4412E since the spark plug sits about 6 inches down into the head. Can someone confirm this? Also, I didn't measure the spark plugs, does anyone know which length insert is needed? I won't get back over to the garage until tomorrow morning.

EDIT: I was itching to get more information so I went back over and looked at the car. The number 3 plug does have a crush washer, it is blackened from the partial combustions that took place in that cylinder and darkened the coil pack and the rest of that plug. The bore that the plug threads into is smooth but it is not sloppy loose.
 

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Any recommendations? Is the TimeSert a good solution to this issue?
My tiny bit of understanding on those is in the context of the F-150. One mechanic, who I respect greatly, told me, after they had drilled and tapped the new threads, they would crank the starter (with the ignition disconnected) and blow the shavings out the plug hole, then install the insert.

I'd like to think these type devices could be used in your case. Beats the heck out of pulling the head.

That said, it would be nice to hear from someone who has done this on a Cruze. It's a bit forward, but you might drop by a dealership and chat with a service writer about it. Maybe they can share some experience. Or maybe stop by a local independent garage and see what they have to say. Some guys might blow you off while others will gladly discuss it with you.

HTH.

Doug

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I believe the 1.8l Ecotec would use kit number 4412E since the spark plug sits about 6 inches down into the head. Can someone confirm this?
I looked up the 4412E, but can't really add anything useful about it.

I will agree, working down in those plug wells, you need some long tools :) My brother in law wrenches for a living, and, when I bought a used F-150 several years ago, his first comment was for me to buy a ~6" long plug socket. No doubt, that has proved handy on the Cruze as well.

<aside> In the context of long plug sockets, a ~3" socket with a LOCKING extension might work just as well. It can be a pain to fish the socket out of the well if it comes off the extension. </aside>

Doug

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Discussion Starter #11
My tiny bit of understanding on those is in the context of the F-150. One mechanic, who I respect greatly, told me, after they had drilled and tapped the new threads, they would crank the starter (with the ignition disconnected) and blow the shavings out the plug hole, then install the insert.

I'd like to think these type devices could be used in your case. Beats the heck out of pulling the head.

That said, it would be nice to hear from someone who has done this on a Cruze. It's a bit forward, but you might drop by a dealership and chat with a service writer about it. Maybe they can share some experience. Or maybe stop by a local independent garage and see what they have to say. Some guys might blow you off while others will gladly discuss it with you.

HTH.

Doug

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I looked up the 4412E, but can't really add anything useful about it.

I will agree, working down in those plug wells, you need some long tools :) My brother in law wrenches for a living, and, when I bought a used F-150 several years ago, his first comment was for me to buy a ~6" long plug socket. No doubt, that has proved handy on the Cruze as well.

<aside> In the context of long plug sockets, a ~3" socket with a LOCKING extension might work just as well. It can be a pain to fish the socket out of the well if it comes off the extension. </aside>

Doug

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Thank you for your input, I ordered the 4412E-111 kit and some of the oil they say to put on the installer tool. If I screw it up, what's the worst that can happen? I have to buy a new head.

I think I will hook a small hose up to the shopvac and suck out as much of the shavings first then I will spin the engine over.

Fortunately the spark plug wells in the head are pretty wide, so a decently long pair of needle nose will pluck anything out.

I don't really even know which dealers or independent shops around are worth anything, to date all work on my vehicles has been done myself. This issue happens to be new to me and getting these heads off is pretty complex compared to the old Chevy small blocks most of my experience is in. By the end of the week I'll either be driving the car out of the garage or trying to purchas a new head.
 

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I think I will hook a small hose up to the shopvac and suck out as much of the shavings first then I will spin the engine over.
Here's something I've use a few times under the hood. The small hose is ~½" OD. I used a bunch of tape to build that up until it just slips in the white adapter where several more wraps secure the clear hose to the adapter.

At the other end is a piece of stainless scavenged from a wiper refill, used to stiffen the hose.

HTH.

Doug

vacuum_attachment.jpeg


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Discussion Starter #13
I finally received new spark plugs, the new coil pack, and the TimeSert kit. I followed the steps in the very small manual. Prep and installation of the TimeSert only took about 15 minutes. The TimeSert kit was pricey but how much would it cost to have a machine shop, dealer, or other repair shop do something similar, plus all the effort of taking the head off and the tools needed to keep the camshafts aligned?

After the TimeSert was in place I vacuumed all of the chips out of the cylinder and the spark plug hole/well. I used a small USB bore scope to make sure there were no pieces inside the cylinder and to be extra certain I spun the engine with the starter without any plugs in place.

The new plugs gapped and installed, the new coil pack in place, and everything put back to normal I started the car and it ran like I had done no repairs minus the horrible knocking sound. I disconnected the battery for a minute or 2 and upon starting the engine post computer reset the engine ran like it did before this fiasco.

Time will tell if the TimeSert holds up, but I don't foresee any issues from its design. Part of me thought to just do a preemptive strike and TimeSert all 4 spark plugs but I decided I'd just stop while I'm ahead. If another one blows out I'll go ahead and fix the last 2 holes before they become a problem but I'm hoping this was either a fluke or that the factory didn't install that plug correctly and it failed from that.
 
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