2001 Ford Taurus Spark plugs/catalytic converter

Tiny
DANIELLESICARD
  • MEMBER
  • 2001 FORD TAURUS
  • 3.0L
  • V6
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 178,000 MILES
Hi, so I discovered recently after my car broke down that someone has installed my spark plugs poorly and they were loose to the touch when we went to check them. We replaced those and are still in the process of fixing the water pump because of a leak. When the car broke down, it made a loud sputtering sort of clanky noise from the passenger side of the car. What I want to know is if lose spark plugs can cause excess fuel to get into he system, and if so could this have caused a failed catalytic converter which was the noise?
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Monday, October 19th, 2015 AT 7:55 PM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Nope. If you bang on the catalytic converter and it rattles inside, the substrate has broken loose. That's a mechanical problem. When a converter fails from too much raw fuel, it becomes so overheated it will turn orange. That's a chemical failure. Neither will be caused by loose spark plugs. At most what could happen is excess air can get sucked in during the intake strokes, and that will cause a lean mixture. There would be insufficient fuel to go with that air so you'd have hesitation or stumbling problems and perhaps reduced power. At first the Engine Computer will see the lean mixture from the oxygen sensors and it will add fuel to the calculations in an attempt to correct the mixture. If that gets bad enough to where the needed correction is beyond the computer's capability, it will set a diagnostic fault code and turn on the Check Engine light.

You didn't say what the breakdown was or involved. The engine will still run with a rattling catalytic converter and loose spark plugs.
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Monday, October 19th, 2015 AT 8:14 PM
Tiny
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Well, when the car broke down it was during a complete downpour, during which time I had a leak in one of the pipes of my cooling system, it was behind the engine right up against the dash area, so I was using water in the system to save money, (this was in August) I opened the hood at a gas station to make sure of enough water still and to add a little oil, I drove the car about 8 miles further and it misfired and then lost all power so I pulled over. The engine was steaming a rattling sort of fluttering noise was coming from the passenger side of the car right before it stopped. The car starts just fine but idles pretty bad, as I had said we discovers my plugs were extremely lose and my dad assumed that opening my hood got them wet in the downpour and caused the breakdown, the car is still not running well and the exhaust is thicker than most I would say, and the car seems like it is fighting to stay at a decent idle. I have gotten new plugs a new water pump and fixed the leak but I'm not sure what the noise was or what is still wrong with my car. I can only assume I did damage to something else when it broke down? I'm not really sure though. On a side note I forgot to mention that the water system got sluged up from using high iron water in the car which is why we replaced the pump and I now have antifreeze in the system
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Monday, October 19th, 2015 AT 8:26 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
You didn't cause a problem by opening the hood. Water sprays through the radiator when it's raining. If that were to cause a problem, it's the boots on the spark plug wires that aren't sealing properly.

Before you spend any more money. Have a chemical test performed at the radiator to test for a leaking cylinder head gasket. That involves drawing air from the radiator, while the engine is running, through a glass cylinder with two chambers partially-filled with a special dark blue fluid. If a head gasket is leaking, the fluid will turn bright yellow.
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Monday, October 19th, 2015 AT 9:03 PM

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