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01 Burb 5.3 ~290K P0303 Bad Engine? #5284413 12/03/19 08:13 PM
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dogememe Offline OP
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Recently purchased this vehicle which seemed to run and drive great. I let it sit for a couple months and now I'm driving it again and I seem to have a problem. Everything was fine but the other day I had to merge into traffic using a lot of power and it started flashing the check engine light and felt down on power.

Had a P0161 code... hmm, whatever, o2 sensor... Ignoring that one. It now does this (misfire and flashing CEL) every time I am on the highway and give it a lot of gas. Around town it's fine. Finally it did set a P0303 code. I changed the coil and it did not fix the problem. I changed the plug wire and it did not fix the problem. Finally I removed the spark plug and found this plug. it's covered in oil, wasn't even tight, and I don't even think it's the right spark plug... the part number shows it's for 2011+ GMs not 2001. odd. So I put in a cheap copper ACDelco R44LTSM and still, same issue.

The engine sounds fine except when cold with medium application of gas pedal there is a sort of squeaking ticking sound, and when it's warm under high load (but not at medium load) it does the same noise. Engine oil looks fine and I haven't had to add any oil.

My friend who works at a GM dealer looked at the picture of the plug and told me I need a new engine, probably my valve springs/lifters are toast which might have resulted in piston damage. I'm not ready to spend like $5K on replacing the engine so I would like to do some further diagnosis. I'm thinking compression test and pulling valve cover?

Any input appreciated. Thanks in advance!

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


2010 Ford Escape 2.5 ~102K Miles: Castrol Magnatec 5W-20, Wix Filter.
2001 Chevy Suburban 5.3 ~289K Miles: Unknown Oil, Filter.
Re: 01 Burb 5.3 ~290K P0303 Bad Engine? [Re: dogememe] #5284430 12/03/19 08:32 PM
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MParr Offline
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The engine is most likely Shot.


2019 VW Tiguan SE Now: Castrol Professional OE LL IV 0W20 & OE VW/Mann
2017 Ford Escape SE 2.0T Now: Motorcraft 5W30 SynBlend & NAPA Gold 1348
Re: 01 Burb 5.3 ~290K P0303 Bad Engine? [Re: dogememe] #5284444 12/03/19 08:49 PM
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clinebarger Online Content
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I see oil on the exterior of the plug.....Valve cover gaskets.

If it's making ticking noises......Pull the valve cover & check for a broken valve spring & the Rocker Arms for dumping their Trunnion needles.

Also, Wipe the plug off & check for cracks in the porcelain!


I've seen too many engine's be deemed bad over over broken valve springs & compression testing is inconclusive at times!

Last edited by clinebarger; 12/03/19 08:54 PM.

2001 Chevy Camaro L92/4L80E
2006 Chevy 2500HD LBZ/Allison 1000
2010 Toyota Corolla 2ZR-FE/U341E
2000 Toyota Avalon 1MZ-FE/A541E
Re: 01 Burb 5.3 ~290K P0303 Bad Engine? [Re: clinebarger] #5284447 12/03/19 08:50 PM
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dogememe Offline OP
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Originally Posted by clinebarger
I see oil on the exterior of the plug.....Valve cover gaskets.

If it's making ticking noises......Pull the valve cover & check for a broken valve spring & a the Rocker Arms for dumping their Trunnion needles.

Also, Wipe the plug off & check for cracks in the porcelain!


I've seen too many engine's be deemed bad over over broken valve springs & compression testing is inconclusive at times!


Ok thanks I will pull VC when it stops raining. Safe to drive for now?


2010 Ford Escape 2.5 ~102K Miles: Castrol Magnatec 5W-20, Wix Filter.
2001 Chevy Suburban 5.3 ~289K Miles: Unknown Oil, Filter.
Re: 01 Burb 5.3 ~290K P0303 Bad Engine? [Re: dogememe] #5284449 12/03/19 08:53 PM
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clinebarger Online Content
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Originally Posted by dogememe
Originally Posted by clinebarger
I see oil on the exterior of the plug.....Valve cover gaskets.

If it's making ticking noises......Pull the valve cover & check for a broken valve spring & a the Rocker Arms for dumping their Trunnion needles.

Also, Wipe the plug off & check for cracks in the porcelain!


I've seen too many engine's be deemed bad over over broken valve springs & compression testing is inconclusive at times!


Ok thanks I will pull VC when it stops raining. Safe to drive for now?


If it does have a broken spring......The keepers can come loose & the valve will fall down in the cylinder & ruin the engine for sure!


2001 Chevy Camaro L92/4L80E
2006 Chevy 2500HD LBZ/Allison 1000
2010 Toyota Corolla 2ZR-FE/U341E
2000 Toyota Avalon 1MZ-FE/A541E
Re: 01 Burb 5.3 ~290K P0303 Bad Engine? [Re: clinebarger] #5284450 12/03/19 08:56 PM
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dogememe Offline OP
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Originally Posted by clinebarger
Originally Posted by dogememe
Originally Posted by clinebarger
I see oil on the exterior of the plug.....Valve cover gaskets.

If it's making ticking noises......Pull the valve cover & check for a broken valve spring & a the Rocker Arms for dumping their Trunnion needles.

Also, Wipe the plug off & check for cracks in the porcelain!


I've seen too many engine's be deemed bad over over broken valve springs & compression testing is inconclusive at times!


Ok thanks I will pull VC when it stops raining. Safe to drive for now?


If it does have a broken spring......The keepers can come loose & the valve will fall down in the cylinder & ruin the engine for sure!


OK thanks I'll check it ASAP!


2010 Ford Escape 2.5 ~102K Miles: Castrol Magnatec 5W-20, Wix Filter.
2001 Chevy Suburban 5.3 ~289K Miles: Unknown Oil, Filter.
Re: 01 Burb 5.3 ~290K P0303 Bad Engine? [Re: dogememe] #5284454 12/03/19 09:05 PM
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heynow Offline
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Tough to tell from your photo, but it doesn't appear that the spark plug is damaged, just oily. So I wouldn't condemn the whole engine.

I would start with a compression test.


1991 Acura NSX
2010 X5 35d twin turbo diesel
2005 BMW r1200GS
Re: 01 Burb 5.3 ~290K P0303 Bad Engine? [Re: dogememe] #5284472 12/03/19 09:29 PM
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clinebarger Online Content
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Compression tests are inconclusive with broken valve springs.....I recently had a 2008 Ford F-250 5.4L that returned great (150psi) readings on cylinder #4 three out of five times.....One time was 90psi & the other was Zero psi.

Now the Relative Compression test via a Scan Tool caught it!......It had a broken exhaust valve spring on #4 cylinder.

You can hear a dead/low compression cylinder by cranking the engine with spark & fuel disabled, But again inconclusive with broken springs. In fact I sometimes have a hard time with this on gasoline engines where diesels are really noticeable with their high compression.


2001 Chevy Camaro L92/4L80E
2006 Chevy 2500HD LBZ/Allison 1000
2010 Toyota Corolla 2ZR-FE/U341E
2000 Toyota Avalon 1MZ-FE/A541E
Re: 01 Burb 5.3 ~290K P0303 Bad Engine? [Re: clinebarger] #5284478 12/03/19 09:33 PM
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dogememe Offline OP
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Originally Posted by clinebarger
Compression tests are inconclusive with broken valve springs.....I recently had a 2008 Ford F-250 5.4L that returned great (150psi) readings on cylinder #4 three out of five times.....One time was 90psi & the other was Zero psi.

Now the Relative Compression test via a Scan Tool caught it!......It had a broken exhaust valve spring on #4 cylinder.

You can hear a dead/low compression cylinder by cranking the engine with spark & fuel disabled, But again inconclusive with broken springs. In fact I sometimes have a hard time with this on gasoline engines where diesels are really noticeable with their high compression.


if the valve spring is broken cleanly with no bits and bobs floating around can it be changed w/out removing head?


2010 Ford Escape 2.5 ~102K Miles: Castrol Magnatec 5W-20, Wix Filter.
2001 Chevy Suburban 5.3 ~289K Miles: Unknown Oil, Filter.
Re: 01 Burb 5.3 ~290K P0303 Bad Engine? [Re: heynow] #5284481 12/03/19 09:38 PM
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Donald Offline
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Originally Posted by heynow
Tough to tell from your photo, but it doesn't appear that the spark plug is damaged, just oily. So I wouldn't condemn the whole engine.

I would start with a compression test.


Compression test.

Do you have an endoscope to look at pistons through the spark plug hole?

Pulling the valve cover and examine each valve stem to be tight and where it should be.


2015 Subaru Forester 2.5 engine/CVT
2015 Ford F250 w/Powerstroke
2016 Subaru Crosstrek CVT (wife's)
Re: 01 Burb 5.3 ~290K P0303 Bad Engine? [Re: dogememe] #5284487 12/03/19 09:49 PM
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clinebarger Online Content
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Originally Posted by dogememe
Originally Posted by clinebarger
Compression tests are inconclusive with broken valve springs.....I recently had a 2008 Ford F-250 5.4L that returned great (150psi) readings on cylinder #4 three out of five times.....One time was 90psi & the other was Zero psi.

Now the Relative Compression test via a Scan Tool caught it!......It had a broken exhaust valve spring on #4 cylinder.

You can hear a dead/low compression cylinder by cranking the engine with spark & fuel disabled, But again inconclusive with broken springs. In fact I sometimes have a hard time with this on gasoline engines where diesels are really noticeable with their high compression.


if the valve spring is broken cleanly with no bits and bobs floating around can it be changed w/out removing head?


Yes sir...Requires a GOOD/Reliable source of compressed air of at least 125psi, A 14mm compression tester Whip, A good pencil magnet & a Spring compressor.

The always break clean & wind around themselves.


2001 Chevy Camaro L92/4L80E
2006 Chevy 2500HD LBZ/Allison 1000
2010 Toyota Corolla 2ZR-FE/U341E
2000 Toyota Avalon 1MZ-FE/A541E
Re: 01 Burb 5.3 ~290K P0303 Bad Engine? [Re: dogememe] #5284489 12/03/19 09:53 PM
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Sounds like what my 02 Ranger did when it plugged up it's y-pipe pre cats. Low power, flashing CEL, weird whistling noise, never set a catalyst code. Not saying that's it, but something to consider.


2002 Ford Ranger XLT | 3.0 V6 Auto 2WD | 235K miles
1994 Ford Ranger STX | 4.0 V6 Manual 4X4 | 202K miles
1994 Ford Explorer XLT | 4.0 V6 Auto 4X4 | 253K miles
Re: 01 Burb 5.3 ~290K P0303 Bad Engine? [Re: dogememe] #5284506 12/03/19 10:23 PM
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clinebarger Online Content
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With LSx engines.....You will have a whole bank misfiring per the misfire monitor (P0300) & MAF (Low) signal performance DTC's if a Catalyst is clogged.


2001 Chevy Camaro L92/4L80E
2006 Chevy 2500HD LBZ/Allison 1000
2010 Toyota Corolla 2ZR-FE/U341E
2000 Toyota Avalon 1MZ-FE/A541E
Re: 01 Burb 5.3 ~290K P0303 Bad Engine? [Re: dogememe] #5284683 12/04/19 07:25 AM
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If you don't have a good compressor and the spark plug adapter for it, I have used some 1/4 inch cotton rope thru the spark plug hole and then bring the piston up with a wrench to compress the rope against the valves. Guess that may be a red neck way to do it.


Don't waste your time on a slipshod repair.
Re: 01 Burb 5.3 ~290K P0303 Bad Engine? [Re: dogememe] #5284699 12/04/19 07:37 AM
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atikovi Offline
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Originally Posted by dogememe
So I put in a cheap copper ACDelco R44LTSM and still, same issue.


If I was chasing a misfire code, I would put in the proper spark plug from the get go.

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