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#4615410 - 12/27/17 07:23 AM low compression one cylinder are spark plug broke
GON Offline


Registered: 11/28/14
Posts: 82
Loc: PA
Had a major problem on my 2007 Ford F-350 with a 5.4L Triton engine with 90k miles. The problem is my fault as I knew of a design flaw with the spark plugs and failed to address it. The flaw is the spark plugs collapse when being removed, leaving parts in the cylinder, etc.

Last week driving from South Dakota to Pennsylvania, the check engine light came on. I kept driving but had a bad feeling, so I stopped at a AutoZone for a scan in Fargo, ND. Scan came back misfires in cylinders 3 and 4.

Got back on the road, and truck performance seemed to degrade. I stopped at a Ford dealer just across the boarder in Minnesota. They looked at the truck and tried to pull plug number 4. The technician found most of plug missing. The tech did a engine scope and stated cylinder walls are scored and top of piston has some damage on cylinder # 4. He replaced the plugs in cylinder 3,4 and 5. He next performed a relative compression test and cylinder 4 is still low. The dealership was closing so they did not have time to replace the other 5 plugs.

The dealership wished me good luck getting home. The truck drove just fine on the 1,000 mile return trip home.

Trying to identify what is the risk associated driving the truck long term with low compression in one cylinder due to a scored cylinder wall and some damage to the top of the piston.

Any thoughts?

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#4615436 - 12/27/17 07:41 AM Re: low compression one cylinder are spark plug broke [Re: GON]
Superflan Offline


Registered: 04/28/15
Posts: 357
Loc: Reunion Island
Assuming the compression loss is from rings to wall sealing, or piston top cracking, the oil will get contaminated quickly by fuel and increased wear will occur, leading to premature engine failure.

Aside this, cat converter wear... bottom end wear from rocking torque, etc.
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#4615441 - 12/27/17 07:46 AM Re: low compression one cylinder are spark plug broke [Re: GON]
mk378 Offline


Registered: 09/27/15
Posts: 1414
Loc: USA
Well technically you already have engine failure. The cylinder damage will make it burn oil too.

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#4615452 - 12/27/17 07:57 AM Re: low compression one cylinder are spark plug broke [Re: GON]
Trav Offline


Registered: 11/20/06
Posts: 18832
Loc: MA, Mittelfranken.de
It will start using oil and have degraded performance, if the damage gets worse and it probably will it will probably have a permanent cat destroying misfire. The top of the piston is another story, it can be anything from just an ugly ding in it to damaging it so badly it has a crack and anything in between.
Personally I would just go with a short block for $1,300 if the heads are okay (have then done at a machine shop), put new cam chains and tensioners in and call it done, its cheaper than replacing an F350. Not a very Merry Christmas but if you DIY its less than $2500.

http://www.fordparts.com/Commerce/Catalo...r%20Duty#Search
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#4615460 - 12/27/17 08:05 AM Re: low compression one cylinder are spark plug broke [Re: GON]
Miller88 Offline


Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 12700
Loc: Onondaga County
I went through this recently with my 5.4, It ate a washer some how.

It was cheaper to get a junkyard engine in it. Rather than replacing the piston, head, cam chains, head gaskets. Granted I didn't have degraded performance, I had a completely dead cylinder and a washer and valve floating around.

I'd get a second opinion , though. Have them check the walls closely with a camera through the spark plug hole and confirm that's really a problem. The dealer could have been trying to sell you a new engine.
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#4615493 - 12/27/17 08:31 AM Re: low compression one cylinder are spark plug broke [Re: Miller88]
littleant Offline


Registered: 10/10/17
Posts: 388
Loc: Vermont
Originally Posted By: Miller88
I went through this recently with my 5.4, It ate a washer some how.

It was cheaper to get a junkyard engine in it. Rather than replacing the piston, head, cam chains, head gaskets. Granted I didn't have degraded performance, I had a completely dead cylinder and a washer and valve floating around.

I'd get a second opinion , though. Have them check the walls closely with a camera through the spark plug hole and confirm that's really a problem. The dealer could have been trying to sell you a new engine.
Agree on the second opinion.
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#4615508 - 12/27/17 08:40 AM Re: low compression one cylinder are spark plug broke [Re: GON]
Alex_V Offline


Registered: 04/10/16
Posts: 1155
Loc: Campbellsville, KY
If there is internal damage, it means a rebuild one way or the other and it's your call whether you run it until it starts running bad and making noise, or stop now. The cost difference between the two (as long as something doesn't come apart inside causing catastrophic damage that would void a core refund) isn't much. If you'd be rebuilding the existing engine, stop
now and it's more likely to be saveable, but a solid salvage engine or reman is what I'd do.


Edited by Alex_V (12/27/17 08:42 AM)
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#4615521 - 12/27/17 08:48 AM Re: low compression one cylinder are spark plug broke [Re: GON]
eyeofthetiger Offline


Registered: 11/18/17
Posts: 683
Loc: South Carolina
Coil packs will go bad on these, and the spark plugs sometimes fall apart when removing them. It is less likely that pieces of spark plug actually fell into the cylinder.Get a mechanic that will show you the actual compression numbers, hot and cold. Or do it yourself.
If #4 is toast, unplug the fuel injector and enjoy your V7 engine. grin
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#4615533 - 12/27/17 08:55 AM Re: low compression one cylinder are spark plug broke [Re: GON]
muddawgs Offline


Registered: 01/14/05
Posts: 203
Loc: midwest
Im not a ford expert but my cousin blew the #3 on his 5.4 all the way out. From what I understand this is super common for the plugs to work loose and strip on the #3 especially around 100k. They are also known to break when removing due to design. My guess is they replaced your blown plug and gave you a worse case scenario $$$$. I would change the oil and have a good indy tech check it out in warmer weather and get the rest of the plugs changed out. Many remove the plugs hot with a impact on those and then tighten down to ~25-30ftlbs. Check ford forums and youtube(fordtechmakuloco).

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#4615554 - 12/27/17 09:23 AM Re: low compression one cylinder are spark plug broke [Re: GON]
Iowegian Offline


Registered: 01/05/17
Posts: 273
Loc: Iowa
Originally Posted By: GON
Had a major problem on my 2007 Ford F-350 with a 5.4L Triton engine with 90k miles. The problem is my fault as I knew of a design flaw with the spark plugs and failed to address it. The flaw is the spark plugs collapse when being removed, leaving parts in the cylinder, etc.

Last week driving from South Dakota to Pennsylvania, the check engine light came on. I kept driving but had a bad feeling, so I stopped at a AutoZone for a scan in Fargo, ND. Scan came back misfires in cylinders 3 and 4.

Got back on the road, and truck performance seemed to degrade. I stopped at a Ford dealer just across the boarder in Minnesota. They looked at the truck and tried to pull plug number 4. The technician found most of plug missing. The tech did a engine scope and stated cylinder walls are scored and top of piston has some damage on cylinder # 4. He replaced the plugs in cylinder 3,4 and 5. He next performed a relative compression test and cylinder 4 is still low. The dealership was closing so they did not have time to replace the other 5 plugs.

The dealership wished me good luck getting home. The truck drove just fine on the 1,000 mile return trip home.

Trying to identify what is the risk associated driving the truck long term with low compression in one cylinder due to a scored cylinder wall and some damage to the top of the piston.

Any thoughts?


Did they do a leakdown test to make sure the exhaust valve wasn't the issue? Chunks of spark plug trying to get through an exhaust valve can do alot of damage on those.
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#4615557 - 12/27/17 09:24 AM Re: low compression one cylinder are spark plug broke [Re: GON]
Linctex Offline


Registered: 12/31/16
Posts: 6148
Loc: Waco, TX
A cylinder balance test (cylinder drop test) will tell the TRUE story.

NOT All cylinder walls with a little scoring have bad compression.
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#4615656 - 12/27/17 11:08 AM Re: low compression one cylinder are spark plug broke [Re: Linctex]
krismoriah72 Offline


Registered: 02/16/09
Posts: 1515
Loc: wv
Had two blow out on me while driving, limped it home sounding like a thrashing machine. Helicoiled two plugs in and drove it another 10K or so no issues.

I sold that truck and the guy still drives it i see it often.


I would keep an eye on consumption to see if the cylinder is really scored..also do a smoke test with a white rag at the tail pipe.. if its burning oil you will see it on the rag. I know not as scientific as a boroscope but it has kept me from buying a few oil burners over the years.

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#4615708 - 12/27/17 12:06 PM Re: low compression one cylinder are spark plug broke [Re: GON]
andyd Online   content


Registered: 09/25/04
Posts: 7131
Loc: Marshfield , MA
Horror stories like this keep me putting new pieces and parts into the Rat. You got the truck home. Thats the main thing. Please post the continuing saga of your F 350.
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#4615742 - 12/27/17 12:46 PM Re: low compression one cylinder are spark plug broke [Re: GON]
DoubleWasp Offline


Registered: 05/21/12
Posts: 5236
Loc: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Let's not get two issues confused. The older 5.4s eject spark plugs due to a lack of threads, and the 3V has spark plugs that break into pieces on removal because they're poorly constructed and dug in there like the knife Ford stuck in the backs of all 5.4 3V owners.

I went through this, gently using an impact gun to get them out.
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#4616334 - 12/28/17 04:54 AM Re: low compression one cylinder are spark plug broke [Re: GON]
GON Offline


Registered: 11/28/14
Posts: 82
Loc: PA
Thanks for all the great replies!!

Although I do most of my own maintenance, on this case I am returning to the local dealer after watching the challenges of spark plug removal on the 5.4 triton. Have a appointment at the local Ford dealer for the second Tuesday in January, that is the soonest they can get me in.

I will request the dealer recheck cylinder 4. Also, the servicing dealer mentioned heliocoil, they may have used one or more on the three plugs they replaced.

My big question- can I utilize this truck under load for another 25k miles if I watch for oil consumption? Looks like fuel may go unused from cylinder 4 (if I am reading the replies properly) and cause catalytic convertor failure))?

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