Triton V8, Water in spark plug holes

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I had a leak from the heater core (where the hoses connect) that put water into the #4 spark plug hole. I cured this a few months ago, but recently got
a P0303 MISFIRE CYLINDER 3. I pulled the plug and found the hole was full of water/coolant. (Difficult to tell which.) I also pulled the #1 and #2 plugs and found there was water/coolant in these as well. Not as much as in #3, but still more than there should be.
What are the possible sources of water in the spark plug holes?
My experience with this is that the only source should be external -- leaking heater hoses, water from the car wash, that sort of thing -- but I wonder if there is a more sinister issue I should be looking for.
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On Mon, 3 Mar 2014 13:51:18 -0800, "Jeff Strickland"

My bet would be a cracked intake manifold. Had to replace the one in my 97 Crown Vic last year after exhibiting the same symptoms. Cost me about $700.00, P&L.
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wrote:

Cracked intake manifold? I'm having trouble following the route that water would take from the manifold to the spark plug holes. There isn't a direct connection from the intake to the spark plugs on the outside of the head, which is where the water is accumulating.
I think that for the time being, I'm gonna work on the idea that the water got there from the leaky heater connections, and it just took this long for the water to seep around the boot and get to a point where it could short the spark enough to cause the misfire. If the misfire repeats, then I'll look for more serious conditions. I just can't see the path where water can get into the spark plug holes. On my BMW, oil can fill the spark plug holes if the valve cover gasket is leaking, and if I take the valve covers off of my Ford engine, I assume I will find that the same thing can happen, but I'm not chasing an oil problem, yet.
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Jeff Strickland wrote:

that is almost always from a bad head gasket
GW
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Crossing my fingers that this does not repeat. I have no other symptoms of a blown head gasket, so crossing fingers seems like the best plan so far.
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On 3/3/2014 4:51 PM, Jeff Strickland wrote:

What year? Which engine?
I know that the 5.0 engines in the late 90's had issues with the plugs, but that was more them getting blown out. I have the 4.6 Triton in my 99 F-150 that has been solid. Anyway, I had your situation happen to me before on another engine, that turned out to be a blown head gasket. Every now and then, the engine would "stumble", then started getting the P0303 misfire code and started getting coolant on some of the plugs. Was trying to nurse it home when white smoke poured out the back. Needless to say, it's never a good thing when you see green coolant dripping out your exhaust pipe. :)
Not saying that's it, but just a possibility you may not have considered?
OT regarding plugs: I had a self inflicted issue years ago when I changed the plugs for the first tune up and replaced them with aftermarkets (Autolites I believe). Needless to say, the truck didn't enjoy them too much and started having all sorts of problems, including a flashing check engine light. Luckily, my brother-in-law is a master mechanic and when I told him what was happening over the phone, he told me to get motorcraft plugs (from the dealer if I had too), and never put aftermarkets in again as the generics don't burn hot enough. Went and got the original motorcrafts and the truck loved me again. The difference when I compared the plugs was substantial. The aftermarket spark tips were massive compared the motorcrafts...
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Sorry, a '97 F150 with the Triton 4.6.
I'm actually getting pooling of coolant on the outside of the spark plug holes. It's difficult to see, but the water/coolant is deep enough that it seems the spark has a path to ground that does not include the electrode of the plug, and the result is the misfire reports.
I have no evidence of coolant coming out of the exhaust, my entire issue is pools of water in the holes where the spark plugs live. The water/coolant is on the outside of the engine.

I think I'm having exactly this problem, Autolite plugs. I bought the truck with 96,000 miles and thought I should have plugs at the ready for the 100,000-mile service so I got the Autolites and put them on the shelf to wait for the big day. I had heard that replacing the plugs was difficult, which turns out to be putting it mildly. In any case, I put off replacing the plugs until 145,000, and then decided I was flirting with disaster by doing nothing. I spent the better part of a day replacing the plugs, and have had trouble ever since. Not huge trouble, but just a nagging since that The System was not playing well with all of its component parts -- something is amiss.
Then the heater core started leaking into the cabin, and I set about replacing it. During this work, I used new connections where the hoses connect to the core, and these connections were leakers, but the leak was on the outside of the cabin instead of the inside, so at least the original problem was cured. Now, I have coolant physically leaking onto the engine directly above the #4 cylinder, and I had P0304 codes as a result. I replaced the connectors for the heater hoses, again, and this solved the problem with the P0304.
I few days ago, P0303 came up. There was liquid in the hole where the plug lives. I'm hoping it's from external sources, but there is no sign of leaking hoses in the area of the cylinder head.
But back to the Autolite plugs, that's what the auto parts guy said I should use, and I think nothing is right with my truck since putting them in. I'm in the process of getting the Motorcraft plugs that are called for, and I'm considering the possibility that I might have compromised the plug wires, so I'm getting some of these too. (DO NOT BUY THESE ITEMS FROM FORD, they are several times more costly than getting the exact same parts from other sources.)
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On 3/5/2014 1:01 PM, Jeff Strickland wrote:

Same engine as my '99. Get those Autolites out ASAP.... If you are not getting coolant inside your engine from a bad head gasket, but instead have an external leak that is running into the plug "well", that's another story. How long have the autolites been in? I too started having issues near right away and thought it was something I did wrong on the tune up, so I replaced all the wires with motorcraft wires, and the coil packs before I talked to my Brother-in-law as I was at wits-end. As soon as I changed the plugs to Motorcraft....boom - was like a new truck on the next start - up. All the codes went bye-bye. I know it sucks to pull them out after just doing it, (esp. the rear passenger plug) but I bet that solves your misfires. Regarding the coolant - could be possible its traveling from someplace else externally. It might even be dripping someplace else onto your #4 wire and running down into the plug well....I'm just throwing out things off the top of my head if your sure its an external leak.
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wrote:

If he has the RIGHT autolites in the truck, there is NO PROBLEM. Autolite 104 heat range.
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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

agreed. For a Ford of that era the correct Autolite and Motorcraft plugs are identical.
GW
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wrote:

(quite possibly even came off the same assembly line)
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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

from what I have read and heard, there seems to be an on-again-off-again co-dependent relationship between those companies. At the very least they are sharing the spec sheets for Ford applications.
GW
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On 3/8/2014 2:35 PM, Geoff Welsh wrote:

Well - This was a few years ago, and I know that Autolite makes the motorcraft plugs, just different packaging...
The auto store that I got them from is a very good store, but perhaps there was/is some confusion in someone's cross reference book that was published at the time. I know for a fact several people since who have had the same issue. (wasn't just me).... I had noticed that they did not look identical when I had changed them, but didn't think too much of it at the time. How many times have you seen after market items that had a slightly different look to the OEM part but was triple F? (Form, fit, Function). At the time, this was the autolite that was cross referenced in the book they had. Quite possible a mistake in the book, (been known to happen), or just plain human error in that he read down off the wrong line... I've just heard it happen more that a couple times to be a coincidence....
Afterwards, I went to the dealer at the time to get the motorcrafts as I knew that they would pull the exact correct plug for me, and as has been mentioned, changing the plugs on this engine isn't exactly a 30 min job. I wasn't about to screw around with it again and was going to be confident that what I was putting in was the right plug....
The bottom line is, whatever the cause, the OP could have the wrong plugs in which could give him the misfire issues and conditions he's experiencing, which seem identical to what mine were on the same engine. (minus the coolant issue).
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wrote:

Possible but very unlikely this time because the misfire occurred, not after changing plugs, but after a coolant leak - and the plugs were wet.
When you hear hoofbeats, look for horses - not unicorns.
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On 3/10/2014 8:31 AM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Yes - but when you see horses, you see horses. I read what he wrote, perhaps you didn't, missed it or interpreted it differently... He clearly stated that he was having problems after changing the plugs. His next paragraph clearly states the word "Then" he started having leaking issues...
"I think I'm having exactly this problem, Autolite plugs. I bought the truck with 96,000 miles and thought I should have plugs at the ready for the 100,000-mile service so I got the Autolites and put them on the shelf to wait for the big day. I had heard that replacing the plugs was difficult, which turns out to be putting it mildly. In any case, I put off replacing the plugs until 145,000, and then decided I was flirting with disaster by doing nothing. I spent the better part of a day replacing the plugs, and have had trouble ever since. Not huge trouble, but just a nagging since that The System was not playing well with all of its component parts -- something is amiss.
Then the heater core started leaking into the cabin, and I set about replacing it. During this work, I used new connections where the hoses connect to the core, and these connections were leakers, but the leak was on the outside of the cabin instead of the inside, so at least the original problem was cured. Now, I have coolant physically leaking onto the engine directly above the #4 cylinder, and I had P0304 codes as a result. I replaced the connectors for the heater hoses, again, and this solved the problem with the P0304."
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wrote:

The OP is Jeff Strickland. He said after he changed the plugs at 145000 he had "niggling problems" = but no missfire codes until the coolant leak. He also said the plugs were coarser than the original motorcrafts - which means to me, as a professional mechanic, that he bought cheap standard autolites instead of the called-for platinums - which COULD cause minor issues - idle just a bit off, throttle response not as crisp, etc. But that's NOT an autolite plug problem. That's a WRONG plug problem - and he could just as easily put wrong motocraft plugs in.
Re-reading the thread, it was someone else who stated their Autolites were chunkier than the motocrafts.
And he has replaced the leaking hose connectors, and dried out the engine - solving his PO304 problem.
New proper plugs may give him an improvement (and will definitely last longer) but he could very well have poor plug wires too. Using normal plugs instead of Platinums will increase the firing voltage by a couple thousand volts - exaberating any issues with poor plug wire insulation. So I think he's on the right path with having damaged the wires. Definitely won't hurt to check the plugs and replace with the proper plugs - but if he has the RIGHT autolites, it is unlikely to be the problem. If he bought them from "Bubba's Auto Parts" or some other backwoods purveyor of parts that almost fit, he quite likely did not get the RIGHT plugs.
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I have the Autolite AP104, or something like that. They are definitely 104, the AP part is questionable.
Since installing them, my truck has run poorly. Admittedly, some of the poor performance is my fault for allowing the heater hose connections to drip directly onto the #4 plug, and other plugs as well -- maybe. But the leaks have stopped and the poor performance remains, even without the misfires, the performance is not as good as before the Autolites went in.
There's a reason the charge to replace plugs on the Triton engines runs to about $225. It's a bitch, and that's the easy ones.
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On Mon, 10 Mar 2014 17:12:56 -0700, "Jeff Strickland"

Actually Honeywell makes them both. And the Autolites you want are the APP104 dual platinums. Or Motorcraft SP413 I think was OEM

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My manual calls for Motorcraft AGSF32FM, which is substituted to SP432. The AP104s are supposed to be a suitable replacement, but I had nothing but trouble since putting them in. The trouble was exacerbated by the coolant leak, but even before the leak started, the engine ran poorly.
I really wasn't looking to point my crooked fingers at the plugs, I only wanted to know if there was a way for the head to fail that resulted in coolant pooling in the spark plug wells, or is that only possible due to external causes. I think the answer is that only external causes can fill the plug wells with coolant.
I have a new set of AGSF35FMs (SP432s) to put in.
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My bad, I hit a wrong key. I have a set of AGSF32FM (SP432) to put in, and I just finished putting them in.
The Autolite plugs were all over the ballpark on the gap, the Motorcraft plugs were all at about .055, give or take .001 or so. (Difficult to be sure using the gap gauge that I have, but clearly the tolerance was much tighter.)
I note that some of the Autolite plugs have cracks in the porcelain, as if they were not in all of the way and the exhaust gas was getting past and cooking them. The boots did not appear to be cooked, so I don't think the exhaust was getting by, and I'm usually not so dumb as to allow a plug to be loose to the point that the exhaust can leak by. I can't tell if I did something wrong or the quality is just not what I was expecting.
The Autolites were AP104, by the way. These are supposed to be okay for my engine, but my own mistakes notwithstanding, I am not thrilled with them. I put them in at 145,500 on Apr. 7, 2013. Today I have 152,700.
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