1990 Toyota Tercel Why did my spark plug(s) explode?

Engine Mechanical problem
1990 Toyota Tercel 4 cyl Front Wheel Drive Manual

It's happened 3 times now, within the past 2 months! Well, lemme correct myself. It really exploded once, the other time (a different socket), just came out (this time complete), and the wire needed to be replaced. So the wire and the plug were replaced, a day or 2 later that same plug came out (bad threading on extender), so the extender was replaced.
Tonight, my mother drove my car to work and on her way there (thankfully she was almost there) another one "exploded". I think so anyway, as the way she described it, it sounded the same as when it "exploded" on me the 1st time. It made a loud bang and then you could here that spattering/sputtering noise, making it sound almost like a push lawn mower. I know the sound is coming from the compression on the cylinder.
Anyway, this has happened three times in the past month and a half and all of the plugs were installed 3 months ago, along with a new distributor motor and new wires.
Do you think it's the plugs? My father seems to think so, he's been a mechanic for over 40 years and he says, he's seen "blown" plugs before, but nothing like that. The original plug blew up into 2 halves!
Do you think it is the engine? It is a 1990 Toyota Tercel Hatch, old engine, old car, burning oil all the time (I need to top it of from below the dip stick line, once if not twice a month), some sort of acceleration problem, when you step on the gas it hesitates (stick shift) almost like it's not getting a spark, bad idle, either idles to low (when it's started) or to high (after it's hot), you have to disconnect the pcv valve to get it to idle higher when it's cold. If you drive it with the pcv valve disconnected it runs beautifully, until it gets hot, then it idles to high, and you have to manually (foot on brake, letting off of the clutch at the same time) bring the idle down.
So the engine obviously has a few issues, but the question is, is that the reason?
Was is the installation of the plugs, wires, and cap and motor?
I don't know if my father put in the plugs to torque, or even if there are factory spec on spark plug torque. They should be gaped correctly (bought pre-gaped, I think), but I don't know, I didn't install them!
So please. Anyone!

Oh, by the way, not sure if it matters, but when the exhaust is disconnected, it runs better all around!

Just looked at the spark plug. It blew apart just like to 1st time. It's in 2 halves! It didn't come out of its seat, but the top half of the plug blew out/off of the bottom half! It's really wierd! It's a brand new plug! This is the second time this has happened!
Do you
have the same problem?
Friday, December 26th, 2008 AT 3:17 PM

1 Reply

[quote] Oh, by the way, not sure if it matters, but when the exhaust is disconnected, it runs better all around! [End quote]

It does matter, and I believe that is major part of your problem. Your exhaust system is plugged up. With so much pressure and the plugged up exhaust, the pressure has no way to go but up, through the plugs. Have it checked out.
Was this
Saturday, December 27th, 2008 AT 4:52 AM

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