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How can i tell if it's the valves or the plug wires that are bad.

(1998 Toyota 4Runner)
in Jacksonville, FL on January 28, 2012
i took it back and the mechanic said i needed a valve job. 1,200.00. it accelerates fine but as soon as i let off the gas it starts sputtering/skipping. the wire he put on looked aftermarket. at first he said the wires that he installed were faulty and replaced them. how can i tell if i need a valve job? what are the symptoms of bad valves?
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Popular Answer
First check the valve clearances, the valves on that engine are shim adjusted and are often over looked at a "tune up"! If valve clearance is OK then check compression to make sure it is uniform and strong, perhaps do a cylinder leakage test. Distributor cap,plugs, plug wires and rotor do go bad over time. Inspect the plugs when you are doing a compression test.
With the engine running spray water from a spray bottle like Windoline/Windex on the distributor cap and plug wires if the insulation is good the idle speed should not change, if the insulation of the plug wires is bad you may hear sparking snapping sounds and hear the engine idle change .
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