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Thread: Oil in there

  1. #1
    Ridin Dirty dom's Avatar
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    Smile Oil in there

    Hey Don! Didn't want to lose your post.

    I have cut and pasted the replies below.

    Hope you don't mind.


    Today, I changed the spark plugs in my 1996 Saturn (1.9L). The plugs are down deep in the valve cover but where very easy to remove and replace. They have very long boots on the wires because the plugs are deep down.

    The spark plug for the number one cylinder (nearest drive belts) was filled up with old engine oil all the way to well above the tip! The entire plug was under oil! Any guesses on where all that oil came from? No trace of oil with the other three spark plugs. Leaky valve cover gasket near there or is there something else? I will check my books later.

    Anyway, I could not pump all the oil out with the spark plug in the way, so I removed all four spark plugs and let the old engine oil fall into the cylinder. Then, without the plugs installed, I tried to "start" (crank) the engine so the oil will have a place to escape out. After I got done replacing the plugs and wires I went for a test drive and it started right away and ran fine.

    That oil could have been in there for a very long time. Perhaps since the last time the plugs were changed by the previous owner many years ago. So I think what I will do is drive it a couple of hundred miles and see how much oil is in with the number one spark plug. If the oil returns, I will start to worry about it then.

    -Don-



    It's possible the plug was loose enough that some oil leaked past the threads; alternatively, it may have seeped from a leak in the cam cover gasket....

    - Eric

    The leak is somewhere above the plug (gravity), so I would look at the cam cover, or the spark plug well seals.

    Chip H.

    I have the same engine. There are four small valve cover seals that insert into the valve cover. You might be able to get away with tightening your valve cover, but once it is already leaking probably not. You need to remove the valve cover and order the kit (valve cover gasket, with the four seals). Get some RTV for insurance too.

    Taking your time, should be a 45 minute fix.

    - dom

    "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato "
    -Mussolini
    All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

  2. #2
    DonTom
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    "I have the same engine. There are four small valve cover seals that insert into the valve cover. You might be able to get away with tightening your valve cover, but once it is already leaking probably not. You need to remove the valve cover and order the kit (valve cover gasket, with the four seals). Get some RTV for insurance too."

    Thanks!

    The spark plug as well as all valve cover screws were tight. I checked all that as soon as I discovered the problem.

    BTW, the car now starts in less than a second when I crank the cold engine (after I replaced the plugs and wires). It used to take a few seconds of cranking under the same conditions. However, I doubt if I was running on three cylinders before as that would be quite noticeable, wouldn't it? I have all the service manuals and taking the cover off looks like a simple job. I will check for the oil in the same plug hole after I drive it a couple of hundred miles and if there's oil again, I will take the cover off and see if I can find the problem and replace all gaskets and seals as you mentioned.

    As for RTV, my Jeep water pump replacement called for it too, but instead I got a can of sealant that works very well, holds the gasket in place and resists gasoline, coolant, oil and can take a high temperature. I used it on the thermostat gasket too. It's less messy than RTV too. I don't remember the name of the stuff, as it's at my other home, but I think from now on, I will use it on all gaskets from now on, even the ones that call for RTV. I assume it will work well everywhere on any gasket. At least my Jeep has not leaked a single drop since I changed the water pump. It's supposed to be easy to remove too, if necessary to work in the same area again. Seems like a perfect gasket sealant to me.

    -Don- (Reno, NV)

  3. #3
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    Just a thought...

    This is a common problem with Alfa Twinspark engines. It's caused by careless oil topping-up. The oil filler is adjacent to the No 1 cylinder - if oil is poured in too quickly it can overflow & run down into the spark plug recess. Because there's a plastic cover over the top of the engine, such overflows are not obvious.

  4. #4
    Ridin Dirty dom's Avatar
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    Insurance

    If you have a sealant that works well, that is great. I just use RTV is a catch all. When I was learning to work on cars in a shop, the lead tech (my mentor) just called it "insurance." The best stuff I ever found, as corny as the name may be, is called "Right Stuff." It is expensive, but you could make entire gaskets with it, if need be. I actually made one for the front and rear of my performer intake manifold on my hot rod, that was eight years ago and it's still tight.

    "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato "
    -Mussolini
    All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

  5. #5
    DonTom
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    "It's caused by careless oil topping-up."

    Oh, perhaps I don't even have a problem. Perhaps I caused the problem a long time ago. I will check after a few hundred miles and if no oil in there, I will forget it other than be more careful when I add engine oil.

    Thanks, -Don-

  6. #6
    Ridin Dirty dom's Avatar
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    Don't know

    I know on my Saturn the spark plug boot over laps a tapered area around the circle hole which makes it hard for oil to seep in.


    ___|1|__|2|__|3|__|4|<---has a lip that raises off the cover a few millimeters.

    Then then the spark plug boot is pressed around it making an air tight seal.

    My buddy's unit had the same problem a few months ago, but he had a leak for sure.

    My cover may be different from yours though..

    "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato "
    -Mussolini
    All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

  7. #7
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by dom View Post
    I know on my Saturn the spark plug boot over laps a tapered area around the circle hole which makes it hard for oil to seep in.


    ___|1|__|2|__|3|__|4|<---has a lip that raises off the cover a few millimeters.

    Then then the spark plug boot is pressed around it making an air tight seal.

    My buddy's unit had the same problem a few months ago, but he had a leak for sure.

    My cover may be different from yours though..
    Come to think of it, my Saturn is like yours. There's no plastic thingie above the engine and the plug boot should stop the oil from getting in there.

    But the real check will come in a week or two. I won't be adding any oil and I will check to see if I have oil in with the number one plug after I have a couple of hundred miles on it since I found the problem.

    Perhaps I do have a real problem, but even if so, it should be an easy fix.

    -Don- (Reno, NV)

  8. #8
    Ridin Dirty dom's Avatar
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    Don't not add oil

    If your unit needs oil, give it oil. Just be mindful not to spill over.

    FYI. My Saturn is an SC2 with an automatic transmission.

    Over 350k on it. Second transmission and engine.

    "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato "
    -Mussolini
    All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

  9. #9
    DonTom
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    "If your unit needs oil, give it oil. Just be mindful not to spill over."

    Of course. But I am unlikely to need any in the next few hundred miles.

    "FYI. My Saturn is an SC2 with an automatic transmission."

    Mine is a SL2 and five speed manual tranny.

    "Over 350k on it. Second transmission and engine."

    Clutch needed in mine at 90K miles. No other problems other than the alternator crapped out at around 60K miles.

    -Don-

  10. #10
    DonTom
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    Yesterday, I checked the spark plug hole. I have not added oil to the engine (it still has plenty). Besides, the oil filler hole is closer to the number four cylinder than the number one (where the oil is ) so that cannot be the problem. My 1.9 L is a DOHC. I see the gasket set costs $40.00 on line.

    There is oil again in the number once spark plug cavity, but not as much. It's less than an inch high after about a thousand miles or so. No doubt it will fill up again in a few more thousand miles. So it looks like I will have to fix it by buying the valve gasket with the four seals. Perhaps in a couple of days. There's no real hurry.

    -Don-
    Last edited by DonTom; 11-25-2008 at 09:10 AM.

  11. #11
    Ridin Dirty dom's Avatar
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    Cool.. It's a gravy fix, two beers at the most.

    "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato "
    -Mussolini
    All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

  12. #12
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by dom View Post
    Cool.. It's a gravy fix, two beers at the most.
    Was yours the 1.9 L DOHC too? They also make a 1.9 L SOHC for the same year & model car.

    I looked it up in one of by dozen or so Saturn books. It says to disconnect the battery (but I don't see why and then I have to find the code for the radio somewhere) and remove the EGR valve. Then it all looks simple.

    Does The EGR valve gasket come with the valve cover gasket set? I will buy the gaskets tomorrow and might even start the job then too. In fact, I might even complete it in the dark, as I always get up very late and there's not much light left. I work nights, in fact, I am at work right now, if we can call this sinecure as "work".

    -Don- San Francisco, CA


  13. #13
    DonTom
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    Smile

    Job is now completed. This must be the easiest repair job I have ever done, but I do have some comments.

    1. The Factory service manuals (many) does not mention a word about the valve cover. It is as they pretend it does not exist. Even a cylinder head replacement does not mention the valve cover. I think that's because it's too easy and obvious.

    2. The Haynes Manual covers it, but it's not at all like my engine. The Haynes says the EGR valve must be removed (it doesn't) says to remove the battery negative cable (a waste of time for this job). It says it has Torex bolts on the valve cover (but they are really just eleven "normal" 10 mm bolts that cannot be removed from the cover (a good thing). No small parts to get lost.

    3. The Haynes book says to pry it off with a screw driver if the cover sticks. My valve cover has a little handle that seems to be there just to remove it easily in case it sticks, no screwdrive should ever be required for this job.

    4. The $40.00 gasket set is only two rubber gaskets. One for the four spark plugs and another for around the cover. The new one is blue and thicker than the old black one. I think the new one is a better design, but it could be that the old one is worn from being compressed in. However, I could not see any difference in the old number one spark plug gasket compared to the other three in the same gasket. But the differences between the old gasket and new one is obvious.

    I did not use any sealant on this new rubber gasket. I don't think it requires it. I think oil is all that it needs, much like an oil filter gasket. This makes me ask a question. Why do we put oil on an oil filter gasket? I mean, if it starts to leak it then has its oil to stop the leak!

    BTW, I did this job in our car port, (it's raining here) in the dark using this handy rechargeable flashlight that comes with both an AC and car charger. It has a bracket plus a movable magnetic clip. Has a switch to use 30 LEDs on the side or to pin point the light, switch to the six LEDs on the end. They last for hours on a charge and are drop proof. There are more expensive larger models for more light, but then it might not fit in some tight places where you need light. I find it to be a handy portable tool where you don't have much light.

    Now, after another 1,000 miles I will check all four spark plug holes for any oil. I again got the old oil out by removing the spark plug.

    It took longer for me to post this message than to complete the job.

    -Don-

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    This makes me ask a question. Why do we put oil on an oil filter gasket? I mean, if it starts to leak it then has its oil to stop the leak!
    I think it's so that it can be tightened up properly - if you've cleaned the mating face, without oil on the gasket you'll get a lot of drag which may make it feel as though the filter is on tight enough when there is, in fact, not enough clamping pressure to ensure that it will not leak under pressure. At the very low torque specified, that drag will have considerable effect.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Mase's Avatar
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    This makes me ask a question. Why do we put oil on an oil filter gasket? >>

    I assume two reasons. 1) so you can tighten it properly and 2) helps create a good seal. Well make that 3 reasons, 3) makes it easier to remove, later.

  16. #16
    Ridin Dirty dom's Avatar
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    I would imagine it provides a similar effect as a lock washer. Oil allowing the gasket to compress a bit more, resulting in a lock washer effect.

    At least this is what I have always thought.

    Note: so that would mean if you hand tighten it, the rubber retains its elasticity. On the other hand if you wrench that thing down the risk of bulging the o-ring increases, the rubber is also bottomed out (all give has been taken). Not even to mention how fun it is to remove an oil filter that has been wrenched on.

    Personal note: I ALWAYS put either RTV, guerrilla snot, or whatever high temp. sealant you may enjoy on ANY gasket I install aside from an o-ring deal.

    Some things, like the oil filter, I just get German tight.

    "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato "
    -Mussolini
    All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

  17. #17
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by dom View Post
    Personal note: I ALWAYS put either RTV, guerrilla snot, or whatever high temp. sealant you may enjoy on ANY gasket I install aside from an o-ring deal.

    Some things, like the oil filter, I just get German tight.
    I usually just follow what the books say. But I just looked it up in my Haynes manual and now I see it says ""Apply a small amount of RTV sealant to the line (what line?) where the front cover contacts the cylinder head".

    Perhaps this doesn't even apply to my year as the book does not match my valve cover. I did not notice where any RTV was used with the old gasket or valve cover. If I get a leak in the front of the engine, I will know why and also know it's an easy fix and the book even says it's okay to reuse the old gasket if it's in good condition. So far, no leaks anywhere, after a couple of hundred miles already.

    -Don-

  18. #18
    Ridin Dirty dom's Avatar
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    I don't think you are going to have any problems. I am just always paranoid about leaks and like to do the bit extra every time. I wasn't always like that, but had a few repairs (back in my wrench at the shop days) and for whatever reasons had some strange leaks that I know I did perfect repairs on. My lead tech said, "Dom, always use insurance and you don't have to worry so much about comebacks." That was all it took for me. I like to send all my repairs out now with insurance.

    "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato "
    -Mussolini
    All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

  19. #19
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by dom View Post
    I like to send all my repairs out now with insurance.
    What would you use on rubber gaskets?

    BTW, why would these two gaskets cost more than $40.00? Isn't that expensive for a couple of little gaskets?

    -Don-

  20. #20
    Ridin Dirty dom's Avatar
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    Just black RTV, mostly on curved areas.

    $40 is a lot for those. All depends who you purchase them from.

    "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato "
    -Mussolini
    All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

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