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99 Legacy Outback. Cyl 1 & 3 misfire. Think I failed dollar bill test :(

misfire engine exhaust cylinder valve legacy EJ25 EJ25D

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15 replies to this topic

#1 kevinrse

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 07:09 PM

Long story short, read the title. I'm worried that this might be yet another damned expensive repair. Some background below. Hoping to get some advice from seasoned Subaru owners.
 
Me: I'm a poor grad student, at least one year from graduation. Must have a car. If this one dies I've gotta go find another. Hoping to keep this one, since I just spent a bunch of time and money replacing clutch and doing front end work.
 
My car: 1999 Legacy Outback, 2.5L DOHC, think that means it's an EJ25D motor. I bought it in 2011 at 198,xxx miles. Now at 227,800.
 
Previous owner told me he replaced head gasket and some other major work---really wish I'd written it all down.
 
I replaced ignition coil, plugs and wires (2 summers ago). Wires look OK visually at the moment.

 

Just a few weeks ago, I did my first major project---replaced clutch, rear main seal, oil separator pan. I removed entire exhaust system in order to do the repair. Dropped transmission, rather than pulling engine.
 
The problem: My exhaust started getting loud in the last week or two. Suspected exhaust leak. Also, the check engine light came on yesterday, indicating P0301 & P0303 (cylinders 1 & 3 misfire).
 
Took a look under the car this morning and realized a welded hanger hook had broken off and left a hole behind. I picked up some fiberglass exhaust repair tape and patched the hole. (Perhaps not relevant to the misfires, but including it just in case). I took a 20-minute cruise per the instructions on the exhaust repair tape. On my drive, CEL flashed & came on again. Codes were P0301 and P0303 again, plus 2 more codes: "P0301 P" and "P0303 P". (What's that extra "P" mean?)
 
I did some reading on these forums. Since the 2 misfires happened simultaneously, I suspect it's not the plugs or wires. Also, I've seen some talk about timing belts related to this kind of problem. I do not know when my timing belt was last replaced, so it was at least 30k miles ago (i.e. previous owner).
 
Finally, this thread indicated that it could be "burned valves." I tried the "dollar bill trick" someone recommended on that post. Seems like the behavior of the bill depends on where & how I'm holding it... but I'm afraid I "failed" the test. :-( I posted a video on Youtube of the dollar bill test. (below).

 

Based on these symptoms, have I definitely got burned valves? Could the "dollar bill" behavior be caused be a less severe problem? What should I do next...? Get a mechanic to diagnose further? Can I do this repair on my own? Given the age of the car, and the time & $$$ expense of a repair, what would you do in my shoes?  Thanks for any advice. Cheers.




#2 lmdew

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 07:29 PM

2.2 engine swap is the best way to go if you need a new engine.  

 

You can get one and install it yourself for close to or less than the costs of the HG and Valve work.



#3 kevinrse

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 08:15 PM

2.2 engine swap is the best way to go if you need a new engine.  

 

You can get one and install it yourself for close to or less than the costs of the HG and Valve work.

 

Do I need a new engine? What happens if I keep driving it? (Forgot to mention---definitely noticed loss of power today---but I mean it's still driving, for now).

 

Do I risk making it worse if I keep driving it? Or should I make repair/replace #1 priority?

 

HG = head gasket? Is there a problem with head gasket? Do you know that from the symptoms, or is it simply a possibility?

 

Can I do valve work myself? Can I do head gasket work myself?

 

Sorry if these are dumb questions. Just looking for more info. Newbie here.

 

Thanks again.



#4 MilesFox

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 08:27 PM

You would have to be certain of your exhaust repair to determine the dollar bill trick for troubleshooting. A slight leak int he exhaust would simulate the same conditions for the dollar bill trick.

 

Do a compression test.

 

Inspect your wires. Do a 'dark test' where you let the engine run in the dark and look for spark getting past the wires.

 

Observe for bubbles in the overflow tank when the car is at temp and running.

 

Not to rule out burned valve, as i have no experience with them, but do rule out the other possibilities by troubleshooting.

 

Doing the valves or doing the head gaskets is all in the same work.

 

The ej25d engine could be a write off. a 1995 ej22 plugs right in. check your build date and the ej25d as 99 was a transition year to the ej251 engine.

 

Dropping in a whole 2.2 would be less labor than valves or heads. You could consider replacing the heads with 2.2 for higher compression (premium fuel) and extra performance. You will need heads from90-95, and you must have a 95-98 intake and harness, pref. with EGR


Edited by MilesFox, 14 April 2014 - 08:27 PM.


#5 Rooster2

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 08:49 PM

I wouldn't write this motor off as being 'bad," requiring a rebuild or replacement. Yea, I am familiar with the dollar bill test, but I bet any car with a cylinder miss-fire will act the same way in the dollar bill test, but that doesn't mean the valves are bad. Cylinder miss-fire in 1 & 3 could come from a number of sources, such as bad coil pack, spark plug wires, or spark plugs.There are prolly other sources as well. Subarus don't burn valves, or at least I have never heard of one.

 

You wrote that you replaced the plug wires 2 years ago. Did you replace with expensive high quality wires, or with parts store cheapest price?? If you replace with cheapies, that could well be your problem. Subies run terrible on cheapie wires. I learned the hard way years back. My cheapie wires lasted only about 18 months before they started shorting out and miss-firing. Swap your plug wires from 1 & 3 to 2 & 4. If swapping out the wires moves the miss-fire to 2 & 4, from 1 & 3, then you will know that your plug wires are causing the trouble.

 

Keep us posted on your progress.

 

At some point, your will need to replace the timing belt. If you drive until it breaks, then you will have bent valves, requiring new valves, and maybe new heads. That gets expensive. Far less expensive to replace the timing belt, then replace the belt and damaged valves.

 

You can prolly still drive, but not for long distance. You need to get this issue fixed.


Edited by Rooster2, 14 April 2014 - 08:52 PM.


#6 MilesFox

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 08:55 PM

^^ What i mean about the ej25d being a write off is that it is least desired, usually, and can be replaced by swap. I didn;t mean that having one already is useless and should be abandoned. If you haven't overheated it already, it is salvageable. If it had been cooked replace it. Not to say that a misfire is a junk engine! Good luck.

 

Given the 2 years, it is possible the plug wires are failing. Use NGK or oem quality. Subarus are picky about which quality of ignition parts.



#7 kevinrse

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 09:01 PM

Thanks all for the good advice! Love this forum. I just talked to a former mechanic friend who has a compression test kit he can lend me. I'll try the dark test tonight and attempt switching wires to start out.



#8 Fairtax4me

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 10:25 PM

Burned valves are very unlikely to affect two cylinders simultaneously.
1&3 are the passenger side cylinders. When a pair on one side or the other is affected that usually indicates a timing problem.
Do not drive the car until you verify that the timing belt is in tact and has not skipped teeth. The 25D is an interference engine and will bend valves if the timing belt breaks or skips too far.

The "P" at the end of a DTC means it is a pending code. This is usually seen on the first occurance of a two-tip fault. The fault has to be present for two trip cycles in order to illuminate the CEL. With misfire codes it means the ECU has detected a misfire, but has not counted enough misfires within a certain period to light the CEL.

#9 kevinrse

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Posted 16 April 2014 - 02:26 PM

UPDATE

 

Just finished a compression test on 3 out of 4 cylinders. (Ripped off part of the boot on the driver's side, rear plug---I believe that's cylinder 4. Argh. I'll be trying to get that plug out after this post).

 

In the meantime, results. As I indicated above, my CEL code was reading misfire on cylinders 1 and 3 (passenger side).

Cylinder 1 (front passenger): 90 psi

Cylinder 2 (front driver): 190 psi

Cylinder 3 (rear passenger): 80 psi

 

I squirted some gear oil into plug sockets 1 & 3, as I've read to do elsewhere. Hard to know if I got it right since the sockets are deep and horizontal. But I'm assuming there isn't too much art to it. I was very liberal with amount of oil, just to be sure. There was no increase in compression after applying oil.

 

:-(

 

What should my next step be? Does this indicate exhaust valve &/or head gasket problems? Could it be a skipped tooth on my timing belt?

 

Thanks again for all of your help!


Edited by kevinrse, 16 April 2014 - 02:26 PM.


#10 Fairtax4me

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Posted 16 April 2014 - 05:10 PM

Pull the front covers and check timing. It has probably jumped.

Still having compression at all is a good sign that the valves may not be bent. Yet.

#11 Mattndew76

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Posted 16 April 2014 - 07:56 PM

Not that these engines are related but the symptoms are the exact same.

My 3.3L v6 was misfiring on 1 & 3 then throwing a P0301-P0303.

First thing I did was run a battery test to see if I have low amps/voltage. This is known to cause such issue.

Battery was good so now onto the leak test with a can of starter fluid. I sprayed all over the contact surfaces between manifold and heads. No increase in RPM so the seals are tight and no cracks. Air leaks will cause misfire codes.

So now was my fuel pressure check, as I was noticing a leak of fuel from the regulator. Bingo!!! I discovered a drop in pressure. Low pressure will throw misfire and cause misfire. Replaced the Fuel rail... But still had misfires.

So the next Move was the plugs and plug wires. Mind you I bought these a year earlier. So I did a visual on all and discovered broken insulation and 4 bad plugs from lean firing. Low fuel pressure killed my plugs. Replaced both wires and plugs... Problem solved.

If that had not worked I would have suspected an intermittent failure of the fuel pump.

I hope the story helps and hope you can find a nugget of direction with it.

Matt D.

#12 Gloyale

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Posted 16 April 2014 - 09:13 PM

Pull the front covers and check timing. It has probably jumped.

Still having compression at all is a good sign that the valves may not be bent. Yet.

 

+1

 

Do this now.... Do Not crank the engine over.......AT ALL.......not even a little.

 

The timing belt has skipped a tooth....possibly 2.........hopefully the valves may not have collided yet.



#13 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 16 April 2014 - 10:54 PM

agree, too suspicious having low numbers on the same side, cam timing likely off.

#14 kevinrse

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 12:21 PM

Pasting from my other thread for completeness / future Googlers....

 

It was the timing belt. I had a few loose ball bearings waiting for me when I pulled the timing belt cover off. I can wiggle one of the idlers with my hands; guessing they popped out of that one. I turned the timing belt along at least one full path using the crankshaft pulley. Never saw a hash mark line up on the top driver's side cog---closest mark was off by one as it came by. I pulled the pulley off again to get a look at the crankshaft cog, and it was off by two. Time to order that timing belt kit.



#15 Rooster2

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 01:04 PM

Pasting from my other thread for completeness / future Googlers....

 

It was the timing belt. I had a few loose ball bearings waiting for me when I pulled the timing belt cover off. I can wiggle one of the idlers with my hands; guessing they popped out of that one. I turned the timing belt along at least one full path using the crankshaft pulley. Never saw a hash mark line up on the top driver's side cog---closest mark was off by one as it came by. I pulled the pulley off again to get a look at the crankshaft cog, and it was off by two. Time to order that timing belt kit.

Finding the heart of your problem, you gotta be happy to know what's causing your trouble. I hope the timing belt kit fixes things.



#16 efseiler

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 06:59 AM

I'd use a 20 instead of a single.

 

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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: misfire, engine, exhaust, cylinder, valve, legacy, EJ25, EJ25D

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