Also in regards to the cut wire, turns out it was the 'pulse sensor' cable from the spark plug leads. When I got the car, it has aftermarket leads on without the pulse sensor wire. So whoever installed those would have just cut the wire from the OEM leads (even though it is easily just unplugged...) Since I installed new factory leads recently with the extra wire, just had to plug it in and disconnect the cut one.
Would you recommend that I get a new heat shield gasket? How long until it starts to wreck my spark leads without the heat shield?