Need help fast, spark plugs drenched in oil.

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by liveforspeed98z2, Jul 24, 2006.

  1. I have a 1991 Saturn SL Sedan 1.9L DOHC. I read a similar post about
    this but wasn't sure. I pulled out the number 1, 2, and 3 plugs and
    they were covered in oil, number 1 being the worst and the number 4
    cylinder being completely dry. Could this be the valve cover gasket?
    I replaced the plugs and it would start for half a second and then die.
    After it died, I pulled out the plugs and the electrodes were covered
    in oil, which is why it died. When the number 1 spark plug was out, I
    looked with a flash light into the cylinder and there is quite a bit of
    oil in there. How should I go about getting the oil out? and could
    the valve covers leaking cause that much oil to fall into the
    cylinders? Cause everytime I clean the plugs and fire it up, it shoots
    oil onto the plugs and it dies. Let me know what you think. Thanks
    I hope its not the rings or valve seals. :/ I am worried

    liveforspeed98z2, Jul 24, 2006
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  2. Sean,

    Sorry, but it sounds like rings to me. I'd do a compression test.
    How many miles are on the engine? Has it been using oil?
    Any bluish smoke out the tail pipe?
    Buzz Lightyear, Jul 24, 2006
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  3. Nah, it was perfectly fine, I was driving on the highway going about 60
    and then it just died and coasted to a stop. So I had it towed to my
    place. I was wondering if it would be possible for the valve cover
    gaskets to leak down the plugs into the cylinder and thats how the oil
    got there. Cause usually the rings will all go out at the same time.
    I am sure there are a lot of miles on the motor. If it is the rings,
    how challenging will it be to pull the cylinder head off? Another guy
    that posted here said he had the same problem and someone said it was
    the valve cover gaskets, just trying to see what everyone else thought.
    Thanks for the replies. Also, what PSI should each cylinder be at?
    What will indicate it being rings or valve seals? Do i just screw the
    compression tester into the spark plug socket and have someone kick it
    over? Thanks.

    liveforspeed98z2, Jul 24, 2006
  4. liveforspeed98z2

    wavy Guest

    I had something like that happen with a leaky gasket which eventually
    left the plug almost submerged in oil. When removing the plug, of
    course it got drenched - as there was a small well of engine oil on all
    sides of the plug.

    What stopped your engine from running - I suspect might not have
    anything to do with the condition of those plugs or maybe it does...

    Not sure what the cylinder pressure is supposed to read, but each
    cylinder should be within 5 psi at most.

    I think that if the pressure builds up over a series of cranks, theres
    a hint of leakage.
    If a little motor oil down the plug hole doesnt alter this, the leaking
    might be through the valve seats.

    There is far more definative and expert material relating to this
    science than I can come close to relating half as well.
    wavy, Jul 24, 2006
  5. liveforspeed98z2

    marx404 Guest

    I would definitely check the head cover gasket first, replace it, then check
    out the rings.

    marx404, Jul 24, 2006

  6. Are you saying 'covered in oil' on the cylendar side, or was the
    ceramic post covered?

    I had a 1996 SL2 that filled up the sparkplug hole(the ceramic part,
    with the boot). It caused the engine to misfire, and I found it after
    I decided to check the wires.

    I first retorqued the cam cover gasket. Removed the oil as best as
    could be. Temp fix till I got a new cam cover gasket. I later
    replaced the cam cover gasket, and when that proved to work, I
    replaced all the spark plugs and wires.

    Nww this worked for me, and cost minimial time and money. Your
    results might not be the same, especially if you oil problem wasn't
    the same as mine.


    tom @
    Tom The Great, Jul 24, 2006
  7. I see. well, I am going to have to do a compression test. The oil is
    hitting the electrode side of the plugs. Any way to get the oil out of
    the cylinders, cause the pistons are throwing oil up onto the
    electrodes causing them to stop working and the car to die after a half
    of a second. Thanks.

    liveforspeed98z2, Jul 24, 2006
  8. liveforspeed98z2

    CBrooks Guest

    If you haven't already done so, I'd try to soak up most of that
    excess oil in the plug wells prior to removing the plugs. I used
    torn up strips of old t-shirts and worked that down into the
    wells with the plug still in place to soak up that oil. It
    worked well for me. Then I cleaned everything up and put on a
    new gasket and the plugs are staying dry ever since. Think this
    is a common problem.
    CBrooks, Jul 24, 2006
  9. liveforspeed98z2

    Linda Guest

    How many miles are on it?
    Linda, Jul 24, 2006

  10. If the engine's cylinder is flooding with oil, maybe having your
    engine quit is a good thing. You don't want some type of hydraulic
    lock occuring.

    Sounds like time to visit the dealer. If it was the boot side, then
    you might have had the same problem I had, a bad cam cover gasket. But
    you are describing the oil being a problem on the inside of the engine

    Good luck on you fixes, and feel free to repost what you did to fix


    tom @
    Tom The Great, Jul 24, 2006
  11. Yeah, I havent done the compression test on it yet, but I am sure it is
    probably the rings or valve seals, since down below the plugs its got a
    puddle of oil. I will post my compression readings and let you all
    know what I find out from the test.

    liveforspeed98z2, Jul 24, 2006
  12. liveforspeed98z2

    Steve B. Guest

    First, no.. there is no way a leaking valve cover gasket can get oil
    inside the cylinder. Think about it logically, on the compression
    stroke you have 150psi+ in the cylinder. If you have 150psi pushing
    out and it can't get loose how in the heck is gravity going to get oil
    to drip in there? As others have said the valve cover gasket can leak
    and cause the outside part of the plug to get oily, but not the

    Second, I wouldn't expect rings or valve seals to be your problem.
    Both of these items are failures that build and build... If either
    were the problem you would have been burning oil for thousands of
    miles before it got bad enough to kill the engine. A ring could break
    or a seal could fail and cause a sudden problem in one cylinder but
    three rings or three seals failing at exactly the same moment in time?

    I would be looking for some way that oil is getting in to the intake.
    I'm not familiar enough with your engine to have any clue how that
    might happen but it would seem to me that your engine is still fine,
    it is just sucking in massive amounts of oil in three cylinders from
    some common source.

    Steve B.
    Steve B., Jul 25, 2006
  13. Do you think it could be a head gasket? The leakage into the cylinders
    is mainly in the number 1 and 2 cylinders (closest to the passenger
    side). Like I said, the number 4 cylinder looked brand spanking new.

    liveforspeed98z2, Jul 25, 2006
  14. liveforspeed98z2

    Lane Guest

    First, no.. there is no way a leaking valve cover gasket can get oil
    Unless the owner pulls the plugs out to see if there is oil inside the
    cylinders, and in doing so, dumps a load of oil in there that was sitting in
    the plug wells from a leaking valve cover gasket...

    I've replaced the valve cover gasket a number of times on my '94 in the 145k
    that I've owned it. I'd be EXTREMELY surprised if it is not the gasket.

    Nobody asked this, so please consider and answer this question first. When
    you notice the problems starting to occur, pull the spark plug boots off of
    the plugs but do not remove the plugs. Shine a flashlight down into the
    plug wells. If you see any oil in them at all, your valve cover gasket is
    leaking and you should replace that first before continuing any speculation
    or starting any costly repairs. Then drive and observe.

    Lane [ lane (at) ]
    Lane, Jul 25, 2006
  15. I wish I could just get it started. Ever since it died on the highway,
    I havent been able to get it to start. I need to get that oil out of
    the cylinders somehow, any ideas? Every time I try to start it, it
    starts for half a second and dies, cause the piston throws oil up onto
    the plugs making them not spark. I was wondering, maybe if I can get
    the oil out of the cylinders, it will start. and run long enough for me
    to figure out if I let the oil fall into the cylinder or if the rings
    are bad, I am going to do a compression check tomorrow.

    liveforspeed98z2, Jul 25, 2006
  16. liveforspeed98z2

    Steve B. Guest

    The only thing I can think of would be to crank the engine with the
    plugs out. The compression may be enough to blow the oil out of there
    although it will be a bit messy if it works.

    Steve B.
    Steve B., Jul 25, 2006
  17. liveforspeed98z2

    BläBlä Guest

    That has worked for me in the past. Lay a rag ontop of the plug holes
    to catch the splatter. One should also disconnect the "coil pack"
    otherwise there will be no place for them to ground to which can ruin
    them. Also to keep from throwing fuel all over the place turn the
    ignition key on, press the gas pedal ALL the way to the floor for WOT,
    then crank the engine. This is the clear flood mode and will keep the
    fuel injectors from pulsing.
    BläBlä, Jul 25, 2006
  18. Hell yeah, thanks man, I will do that. Never knew the computers in
    these cars were that smart. I am doing it tomorrow night. Getting it
    towed to my work tomorrow morn at 10.

    liveforspeed98z2, Jul 26, 2006
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