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Discussion Starter #1
I've a problem with my 1979 Alfa Spider. A couple of days ago I noticed that it appeared to be running on only three cylinders. A local mechanic came over and changed the plugs and declared that oil was damaging the spark plugs. I've had a good look at the old plugs and I can't be 100% sure whether it is oil that has damaged them or carbon. Now, I live in Morocco and the mechanics here are not terribly good (not to mention a tad dishonest). He tells me he needs to take the engine apart but I'm afraid that if he does this, it'll never be put back together again. The plugs (NGK B7ES) were last changed in July last year and I've done approx 3500Kms since then, including a drive from Sussex to Morocco i.e long, hard and hot driving. The engine runs nicely now on the new plugs and I'm loathed to let this mechanic loose on my car if it is really not necessary.

Your expert thoughts would be very welcome.
 

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if it is running nicely now, as you say, then i would leave it alone!
Are you burning oil? does black smoke comes out the exhaust when you let off the gas?
You might just have had a shorted plug.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thanks for the quick reply. I don't think it's burning oil and there is certainly no black smoke, just the usual sooty water/carbon mixture that comes from the exhaust when cold.
 

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Can't see it being Oil, fouled plugs aren't un common but it's usualy carbon or unburnt fuel. Are you managing to get some decent Octane Fuel?.

I imagine it might be a bit dicy over there, I struggle in parts of Yorkshire!:rolleyes:;)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Actually, I'm just using unleaded in the Spider, and when I can find it I use super unleaded. Would poor unleaded fuel cause this problem?
 

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I can't be 100% sure whether it is oil that has damaged them or carbon.
try this link

Reading Spark Plugs

I had a similar concern last year and found the above website. It's all about the different problems an engine can have and the effect, with photo's, on the spark plug.

If the deposit on your plugs is powdery to the touch then it's likely to be carbon. If it's black and oily then it's probably oil.

Have a look at the photo's on the link and see which fits best.
Might not fix your problem but it might help narrow it down.
 

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check the ignition timing, if its off it'll exacerbate any minor oil burning tendencies and knacker plugs quite quickly. Moroccan fuel doesnt help.

Rabat's lovely, you lucky sod !
 

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Discussion Starter #8
cool photo Zimm, when were you here?

Thanks all for the advice. I think I'll see what I can do myself instead of letting a non Alfa expert loose on the car. If anyone else has ideas, keep them coming. Much appreciated.
 

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sometimes a failed plug can look as if youve described ,if engine running sweet after new plugs ,i wouldnt worry unless it happens again on same cylinder
 
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PJC, you beat me to it...I was thinking the spark plug wires might be getting a bit petrified as well. They are not too expensive, and are easy to replace (do them one at a time is my suggestion !)
Plugs are also not expensive...so if they last 3-4K miles, simply replace and carry on.
If there are no other signs of oil burning (excessive consumption, smokey exhaust), then I'd carry on in that fashion - no way in hell I'd let a non-Alfa expert tear down my engine - hell, I've had so-called Alfa experts doing work on the car recently, and even THEY made a hash of things !!!
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Thanks for all the advice. I've cancelled my appointment with the Moroccan mechanic and will just carry on replacing the plugs, and maybe the leads, as necessary and will monitor the situation. You guys were right, I must have been mad to even to consider the Moroccan overhall option!!!!!!!!!!

If anyone else has any ideas, keep them coming.
 
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