A Neglected Minivan

I would say that most of the cars that come into the dealership I work at are regulars that take good care of their cars. A good number of the non-regular customers have taken care of their cars decently well, but then sometimes you get the really neglected ones, often for something like a recall or a check engine light that they couldn’t get fixed elsewhere. This Honda Odyssey was one of those.

It came in for a check engine light, and I’ll get into the cause of that, but before trying to sell the fix for that, I had to look over the rest of the vehicle to be able to let them know about anything else that might be wrong with it as well. And it turned out that there was a decent bit that needed attention.

Besides the engine air filter that had clearly not been changed in many tens of thousands of miles, one of the rear shock absorbers was in the worst shape I’ve seen one. Usually when a shock absorber goes bad it’s leaking oil out from the inside. I don’t know if this had any oil left in it or not but it there was rust all around the area where the piston works, and the plastic cover had fallen down the cylinder, leaving the shaft completely exposed.

As many alloy wheels become as they get older, the wheels had a lot of corrosion and the finish had been coming off, so somebody decided to do a cheap “fix” and just spray paint them, right over all the peeling finish. They also didn’t bother to remove the wheels, so the brake rotors and calipers were striped with silver paint where the wheels didn’t shield them from the spray.

Now on to the check engine light. The car had a code for a misfire in cylinder 3, so I started by pulling the ignition coil so I could then check the spark plug, as these often get fouled by oil. When I pulled out the ignition coil, it left the boot of the end down in the tube on the spark plug, because the valve cover spark plug tube seal was bad and letting oil into the tube. That is probably why there was a misfire, as oil will damage ignition coils. I checked all of the other coils as well, and the coil from cylinder 5 looked a bit toasted, which I discovered was because the spark plug was loose, letting some extra heat past it from the combustion chamber.

After I had written down and priced out all of the issues I had found, I turned my attention to removing the remainder of the cylinder 3 ignition coil. It wasn’t easy to access because cylinder 3 is on the firewall side of the engine, so I basically had to work by feel. I was just barely able to reach a small angled pick down the spark plug tube with my fingertips and grab the rubber boot left from the ignition coil. If it wasn’t something I could grab with a pick, I don’t know that it would be possible to get out.


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-Dan

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