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The Chevrolet Cruze is a compact car made by the Chevrolet division of General Motors. The Cruze was first released in 2008 with a front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout.

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Piston rings suspected as problem, need advice on fixing options

My Mechanic did some work to address the hesitancy and unresponsiveness sometimes experienced when pressing the accelerator. This work included replacing the spark plugs. Afterwards, it still has this problem sometimes. It happens when the weather is very hot and the car has been used for an hour or two. I brought the car back to the shop and when I returned to pick it up they said that the plugs were fouled . I asked why this would happen again so quickly (in less than two weeks), but couldn’t get a straight answer. I thought it sounded like oil was leaking through from the crankcase. When I asked how much it would cost for a ring job, I was informed that they didn’t rebuild engines.

Assuming that the rings are causing this trouble and I decide to do the work myself, I’d like to find out the following: Is it worth trying to pour Sea Foam through the spark plug hole and let it soak as some YouTube videos (such as: “Will Sea Foam fix a sticky piston ring.”) advocate? Are there any other quick fixes worth trying? In terms of hours to complete and skills required, how big of an undertaking is it to replace the piston rings? What kind of tools are essential to do this work?

Thanks to all!

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There are multiple possible causes for fouled plugs. I can't say the seafoam will fix it… But it shouldn't hurt it. But if it is happening in all cylinders, I don't think it's a sticky piston ring. What are the chances of that happening on every single cylinder? Try it but don't be disappointedif it doesn't fix it.

As for what is involved in replacing piston rings… it is a VERY involved process which includes pulling the motor out and tearing it down. Not impossible for the average person, but very time consuming, and things can easily go sideways. Look up a few videos on YouTube. You'll get the idea of how to do it. If you DO tear into it yourself I recommend photographing everything before taking it apart. Take a pic, take off what you photographed. Take another pic, another part. Etc. So that you can go back and see ‘ah HA! That's how that goes there!

Worn or damaged valve guides or valve guide seals. Problems here can allow oil to dribble down the valve stems and enter the combustion chamber. Oil will form heavy black wet oily deposits on the spark plugs.

Worn or damaged piston rings, or worn or damaged engine cylinders. Badly worn piston rings, broken or cracked piston rings, grooves or scoring in the cylinder walls, or even piston rings that have been installed upside down can allow oil to get into the combustion chamber and foul the spark plugs.

Rich fuel mixture. This will produce black fluffy deposits on the spark plugs. If only one or two spark plugs are affected, the underlying cause may be a leaky fuel injector. If all of the spark plugs show heavy dry carbon fouling, the rich fuel mixture may be caused by too much fuel pressure (check for a defective fuel pressure regulator or a plugged fuel return line). A defective oxygen sensor that reads lean all the time can also make the fuel mixture run rich. Check fuel trim readings with a scan tool to see if the engine is running rich (negative fuel trim numbers that are -8 to -10 or more would tell you the engine is running rich). On an older carbureted engine, a rich fuel mixture can be caused by a leaky float, incorrect float setting inside the fuel bowl, a leaky fuel inlet needle valve, or incorrect jetting (too large).

Leaky Head Gasket. This is really bad news because a leaky head gasket can be very expensive to repair. If coolant seeps into the combustion chamber, it will form fouling deposits on the spark plug. A fouled spark plug may be an early sign that a head gasket is starting to leak.

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WOW!! THANK YOU³ What a great answer!! I'm still in the process of My Mechanic fixing the problem. It's just that they can't reproduce the trouble when I bring it in, so I've made arrangements to bring it in when it's acting up. Having at least some idea of what's going on is far better than going in clueless.

Pulling the engine block is too far outside of my comfort zone, so that helps narrow down my options. Also helpful was the part about fuel trim. I just got a cheapo OBDII scanner which connects with a smart phone app via Bluetooth. The app I got is called "Car Scanner" and I was just amazed at how many sensor options there were, too many to be useful to me. So knowing what to look at (fuel trim) and what numbers to look for means that I bought a tool instead of what might as well have been a light show with bright colors and fancy moves!

Thanks again!


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