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P0303 attempted fixes - Running out of options...

 
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Old 24 Nov 2012, 05:03 pm
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Unhappy P0303 attempted fixes - Running out of options...

Hey everyone,

So, my GF's N/A '08 PT (75k miles) has been throwing a P0303 code for the past few weeks. I've done everything I can think of that's reasonable to no avail...

Story thus far: She went out of town in early October and left the car parked at a friends house for a week. During that week the battery died (somehow...). AAA comes out and replaces the battery for her and when she got back, on her drive home check engine light came on (P0303).

Since then I've monkeyed around with numerous things:

-Checked for vacuum leaks related to Cyl #3 (upper/lower interface seems fine, tried tightening lower intake bolts best I could).

-Swapped wires on Cyl #2 & #3 to see if it moved.

-Replaced ignition coil thinking it was spark related.

-Replaced fuel injectors figuring it was lack of adequate fuel to #3

-Replaced spark plugs (Autolite Platinums @ 0.040 gap)

Nothing has seemed to work and I'm out of ideas...


At idle, you can feel the stumble and if you let it sit for 30-60 seconds the CEL will sound and flash for 15-30 seconds than go solid again. At speed the CEL blinking never occurs, making me think it's related to idle only.

I thought IAC but that seems like it would give a generic misfire P0300. Same with O2's.

No noticeable loss of power under acceleration in my opinion as well, seeming to me that's it's still idle related. Doesn't feel like it's carrying a cylinder under power or anything.

I'm totally lost on whats next
I'm really hoping it's not something amazingly lame like a burnt valve or cracked cylinder or something.

Any thoughts would be appreciated
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Old 24 Nov 2012, 05:37 pm
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Default Re: P0303 attempted fixes - Running out of options...

Compression check will rule out the bad things you thinking of.
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Old 26 Nov 2012, 07:38 am
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Default Re: P0303 attempted fixes - Running out of options...

How'd you check for vacuum leaks? Tightening bolts won't do squat - it's gaskets that go.
Try spraying starting fluid along intake manifold seams - if idle smooths out, it's intake gasket.
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Old 26 Nov 2012, 03:44 pm
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Default Re: P0303 attempted fixes - Running out of options...

I did a visual inspect of hoses and what not to try and rule those out, though i suspect those wouldn't produce a specific cylinder misfire.

I've never done a compression test so I might try that out. But, I did the 'hold a rag in front of the exhaust pipe' and I don't have any vacuum on that end so I presume the exhaust valves are ok. And I suspect if I had a compression issue (bad intake valve, gasket, etc.) I'd see a noticeable change in power/MPG or water in the oil, neither of which are present.

I'll try out the gasket test. I have a set of lower intake gaskets that i might try and replace. That seems like the next reasonable (all be it a PITA) step and from reading other peoples issues with specific cylinder issues, may be the culprit.

Next stop, t-stat housing gasket to get that sucker out of the way and pull the lower intake

Thanks for the input, makes me feel a little more hopeful it's not something lame
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Old 26 Nov 2012, 03:54 pm
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Default Re: P0303 attempted fixes - Running out of options...

Just for fun have you tried resetting everything by unhooking the negative lead, hitting the brakes a few times to rid of any residual power and let it it sit about ten minutes and then hook it back up? Just really odd that this all started after a battery replacement.
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Old 26 Nov 2012, 04:06 pm
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Default Re: P0303 attempted fixes - Running out of options...

I've D/C the battery, but i haven't pressed the brakes at all, never thought about that. I've left it D/C for like 15 minutes, but never thought about any residual charge. BUT i figured if that were the case, it wouldn't blink the CEL and ding (like it's seeing a new error) as opposed to just showing a CEL with a stored code, nau I mean?

And I agree, VERY odd that it happened at the battery replacement. Makes me think that the PCM needs to be reflashed or firmware updated or something. Like it lost something vital and defaulted to something.
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Old 26 Nov 2012, 07:18 pm
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Default Re: P0303 attempted fixes - Running out of options...

I would look at the cam position sensor. It's *right there* by the battery and could easily see some ham-fisted AAA guy bumping it into when swapping batteries. Misfire detection is almost 100% the cam sensor's responsibility. Seems a likely culprit.
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Old 26 Nov 2012, 07:25 pm
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Default Re: P0303 attempted fixes - Running out of options...

Wouldn't that likely result in a general misfire though? It seems in my mind if it was 'malfunctioning' in some-way or another it would be a very general problem instead of ALWAYS cylinder #3?

I don't disagree and that was my first thought about things, is that the technician slammed the battery into something, but it seems relatively sparse. Not to mention the radiator hose is right there and would be the first thing to be hit i'd think
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Old 26 Nov 2012, 08:02 pm
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Default Re: P0303 attempted fixes - Running out of options...

Hard to say, since there's no guarantees with what happens to a spinning magnet. But it's unlikely there was a major mechanical failure with the car just sitting, so I'd look for something electrical. Injector, coil, wire, plug is pretty much the chain of events. If those are all healthy, I'd look at the sensor.

If the PT wasted spark? I think so. You should be able to swap spark plug wires 2 and 3 (at the coil) if they will reach to rule out coil position 3 as the culprit.

As a matter of recent, personal experience I am 99% sure a ham-fisted AAA guy is the responsible party for wrecking my weird tube thingy I just posted. Maybe check your weird tube thingy? Both the valve cover breathers are also right in the vicinity, and either could cause a wacky vacuum leak.

If you can't nail it down, before throwing parts at it, consider finding a good shop with an scope that can watch the misfire happening and a smoke machine that can quickly test for vacuum leaks. These are annoying problems, made all that much more annoying when you don't have the right, expensive tools to find 'em.
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Old 27 Nov 2012, 04:57 am
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Default Re: P0303 attempted fixes - Running out of options...

1. something the road service guy fubared (wiring, vacuum lines).

2. intake manifold gasket leak
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