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  1. #1
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    Oil in spark plug holes: culprit?

    I noticed that the holes which house the spark plugs on my 93 accord are full with oil. I had changed the spark plugs over a year ago and noticed this problem then, but I didn't really care. I guess I've raised my standards
    I should note that the car is, to the best of my knowledge, not burning oil. I have a tiny oil leak somewhere, but not to the point where it leaves the puddle on the ground or even makes a noticeable decline in the oil level.
    What are the possible causes of oil filling the spark plug holes? This doesn't seem like a huge problem; the oil is obviously not making it's way past the threads of the spark plug, but it's still not correct and needs attention.

    Car has 282,000 miles on it. I have been told that a valve cover gasket could be a problem, but I thought I'd dig a little deeper than that.

    And an update to threads I have started recently: Since I've posted several threads here about a coolant leak I've been battling, I guess I should say that the problem has been resolved. It was a hairline crack in the upper plastic portion of the radiator, made evident when I squeezed the upper radiator hose and saw coolant oozing out. I replaced the radiator and both the upper and lower hoses. This has has remedied the problem entirely.
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  2. #2
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    how much oil do you add between changes? Most likely, you have either ring blow-by or valve blow-by. That means that something (either rings or valves) are worn out enough to let oil pass through and into the combustion chamber. A leak-down check will let you know.

    If you're adding a lot of oil, it's a problem. If you're only adding a little bit, its no big deal.

    I may have misread that. Is it on the outside of the engine?

  3. #3
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    I think you may have misread. The car takes four quarts per oil change, but I haven't had to add more than 1/4 of a quart within the last 6000 miles (since last oil change, which is done ever 7500 -- per owners manual recommendation). Also, I am not burning oil.
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  4. #4
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    So the oil is in the sparkplug depression? Sounds like the valve cover gasket is leaking.

  5. #5
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    Yup, the oil has filled the hole at least 1/2 way, though maybe more. The valve cover gasket is what I got from a google search, and I am willing to change this. Is there anything else that could be causing this? I just assume cover as many bases as possible, especially if I am going to go through the trouble of changing the valve cover gasket.
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  6. #6
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    It's the valve cover gasket.....not a big deal, just change that.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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  7. #7
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    Alright, I'll just change that. What exactly will I need for this?
    That RTV sealant?
    The gasket itself
    Bolts okay to reuse?
    Gasket scraper?

    And of course, a torque wrench with the appropriate fittings, all of which I have.
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  8. #8
    Non Tribuo Anus Rodentum and off to the next adventure (RIP) Stacey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe View Post
    It's the valve cover gasket.....not a big deal, just change that.
    +1 Listen to what they're sayin'.

  9. #9
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    10 mm wrench (Socket), Scraper, gasket sealant, a punch to remove the bolt dimple if you have steel valve cover, and maybe a torque wrench to get the correct torque spec on the bolts. Yes, you can reuse the bolts, no big deal, it's not like head bolts that are torque stretched. They are very low torque requirements. One hint.....tag your spark plug wires for easier reattachment.

    This is one of the easier jobs you will ever do on a car.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

  10. #10
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    Okay, thanks. I have all tools I need except the sealant the scraper. Spark plug wires are already labeled, .

    I keep hearing that this is really easy. I guess I'll have to see that for myself to believe it!

    Now I do have a question. 9 months ago I had a more severe oil leak addressed: My camshaft seal (I think that is the right name for it) was hardened, cracked, and popping out of place. This saturated my timing belt, worrying some mechanics that it could weaken the belt significantly. Since this is an interference engine, and my belt already had 85k miles on it anyways, I had my mechanic change it. Well he replaced all of the accessory belts, the seal, the water pump, the full deal. So, I know he had to remove portions of the engine to gain access to this. Should he have also changed this gasket as well, if he had to remove the valve cover anyways? I guess I should correct myself: Should I have requested he do this as well?
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  11. #11
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Look at your invoice, he may have changed the valve cover gasket as well, and it didn't seal for whatever reasn. It may just be that the bolts need to be retorqued under this circumstance. I haven't seen your engine, so I don't know if there is a cam seal hump on your valve cover or not.
    Quote Originally Posted by phantomcow2 View Post
    Okay, thanks. I have all tools I need except the sealant the scraper. Spark plug wires are already labeled, .

    I keep hearing that this is really easy. I guess I'll have to see that for myself to believe it!

    Now I do have a question. 9 months ago I had a more severe oil leak addressed: My camshaft seal (I think that is the right name for it) was hardened, cracked, and popping out of place. This saturated my timing belt, worrying some mechanics that it could weaken the belt significantly. Since this is an interference engine, and my belt already had 85k miles on it anyways, I had my mechanic change it. Well he replaced all of the accessory belts, the seal, the water pump, the full deal. So, I know he had to remove portions of the engine to gain access to this. Should he have also changed this gasket as well, if he had to remove the valve cover anyways? I guess I should correct myself: Should I have requested he do this as well?
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

  12. #12
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomcow2 View Post
    Okay, thanks. I have all tools I need except the sealant the scraper. Spark plug wires are already labeled, .

    I keep hearing that this is really easy. I guess I'll have to see that for myself to believe it!

    Now I do have a question. 9 months ago I had a more severe oil leak addressed: My camshaft seal (I think that is the right name for it) was hardened, cracked, and popping out of place. This saturated my timing belt, worrying some mechanics that it could weaken the belt significantly. Since this is an interference engine, and my belt already had 85k miles on it anyways, I had my mechanic change it. Well he replaced all of the accessory belts, the seal, the water pump, the full deal. So, I know he had to remove portions of the engine to gain access to this. Should he have also changed this gasket as well, if he had to remove the valve cover anyways? I guess I should correct myself: Should I have requested he do this as well?
    You should always request gaskets be replaced -- otherwise they tend to do only what they ask (or what they say) to keep the cost down.

    You may not need sealant -- this varies by vehicle. Just get the valve cover gasket, make sure that all surfaces are clean, and lube the gasket with a thin layer of clean oil as if you were changing a filter. Use a torque wrench when you put the valve cover back on -- these things require very little (on my car, it is 12 ft/lbs) and overtorquing will strip them. Not torquing enough will cause leaks.

    Like others say, this is a very easy job. While you have it off, if your valves need adjustment this is a good time to do that and that is easy, but you should get a manual to walk you through the procedure.

  13. #13
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    I do have a Haynes manual for my car. I also have an electronic copy of the factory service manual...somewhere.

    The suggestion to do a valve adjustment is a good one. However, I won't do this if I don't need it. What are symptoms of a need for a valve adjustment?

    12ft pounds -- that's not very much. 10mm socket, this sounds like an m6 bolt -- into aluminum?
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  14. #14
    De Lurker MeMyth's Avatar
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    I have a 93 Accord as well and be very careful on putting the nuts back on the botls are small and snap easy...

    Ive having deja vu, I have had all those same issues with my Accord within the last year and a half except my camshaft seal popped out when I was in Kansas...

  15. #15
    Senior Member Eagle Kammback's Avatar
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    OIl in the cylinders is an indication of bad piston rings, cheap to buy, but the engine has to be taken apart to do so, unless you want to keepo the original engine, I suggest buy a new engine, unless you enjoy working on cars (as I do)
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    most cars these days do NOT require valve adjustment because of their design. Some engines require replacing shims, think of washers in varying thinknesses, to adjust the valves...which is a major PITA.

  17. #17
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MeMyth View Post
    I have a 93 Accord as well and be very careful on putting the nuts back on the botls are small and snap easy...

    Ive having deja vu, I have had all those same issues with my Accord within the last year and a half except my camshaft seal popped out when I was in Kansas...
    Haha, indeed. I don't know of 'except' is the right thing to say though; my camshaft seal was popping out, as it had hardened and even cracked. The difference between us was that I had caught it BEFORE it completely popped out

    My mechanic said that this is a problem among older Honda's
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  18. #18
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eagle Kammback View Post
    OIl in the cylinders is an indication of bad piston rings, cheap to buy, but the engine has to be taken apart to do so, unless you want to keepo the original engine, I suggest buy a new engine, unless you enjoy working on cars (as I do)
    I think you misread my original post.
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  19. #19
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomcow2 View Post
    I do have a Haynes manual for my car. I also have an electronic copy of the factory service manual...somewhere.

    The suggestion to do a valve adjustment is a good one. However, I won't do this if I don't need it. What are symptoms of a need for a valve adjustment?

    12ft pounds -- that's not very much. 10mm socket, this sounds like an m6 bolt -- into aluminum?
    Symptoms might be noise in the valve train, but there are other problems that can be caused by having them out of adjustment such as reduced fuel mileage and not running as smoothly. What you should do is just get a feeler gauge (costs a bit more than a buck) and then measure valve clearances according to the procedure in your factory service manual. If they are off, you should adjust them.

    If you already have the valve cover off, it will take you less than 5 minutes to measure your valve clearances. Since you've never done this before and need time to screw around and figure out what's going on, allow at least triple that so you can repeatedly consult the manual, rotate your crankshaft extra times, etc. If this hasn't been done for 15K miles or more, they will probably need it.

    Having said that, most of the time when I've adjusted mine, some valves are just fine, and others are just slightly off. Adjusting valves is fun and easy, but allow plenty of time the first time you do it.

  20. #20
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    The owner's manual states the valve-clearance should be inspected and adjusted very 30k-miles or every two years, whichever comes first. Look in the stack of records for your car (you do have a stack of services records right?), and see when the last time the valve-clearance was done. This single service procedure alone affects performance and fuel-mileage more than any other thing on the car. AND... without sticking feeler gauges in there and actually measuring the clearance, there's absolutely zero way you can determine if the valves need adjusting or not. Just do it.

    Use a little razor blade and remove all of the old gasket material from the mating surfaces after removing the valve-cover. I find that having the blade close to parallel to the surface and using a cutting motion rather than scraping gives a cleaner surface and doesn't take off any metal.

    As for gasket-sealer, there's heated debate on both camps. But I'm kinda middle-of-the-road kinda guy and find that appropriate application of the correct sealant really helps. Avoid silicone sealants whenever contact with gas or oil is possible, although RTV can be OK. A better sealant to use is Yamabond-4 (available at your local Yamaha motorcycle dealer). It provides a tacky seal that never fully hardens. This flexibility allows it to seal longer and fill larger gaps. On an older car, it's a miracle with oil leaks.

    In extreme cases where Yamabond-4 doesn't work, like oil-pan gaskets (who can get an oil-free surface to apply sealant when the entire engine above is dripping oil down on the inside and outside?), I've found that 3M Fastak Super Weatherstripping adhesive is the cure. On certain foreign cars with supposed "German Engineering", the oil-pan gasket doesn't have a ridge and doesn't sit in a groove in either the block or the oil-pan. Just two parallel metal surfaces with a rubber gasket in between. Imagine what the crankcase pressure and oil being flung at 7000rpms will do to that gasket... yes that's right, >POOF< instant oil-pan leak.

    With 3M Fastak, I've been able to seal the gasket on the top and bottom surfaces. As a test, I've even removed all the oil-pan bolts and driven the car around.. it holds and doesn't leak!!! Of course, removal the next time will require cutting off the gasket with a razor..
    Last edited by DannoXYZ; 07-13-08 at 03:59 PM.

  21. #21
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    Okay, I will check and adjust the valves. I guess it makes sense, given that the cover is off anyways. I've already got a feeler gauge for the .010" and .012" as specified by my repair manual.

    And no DannoXYZ, I have almost no records for this car. It was owned and maintained by a friend of mine (mechanical engineer). Since he had the tools and knowledge, he did all maintenance/repair himself.

    Thanks for the suggestion about the Yamabond. The strongest adhesive I have used is Plexus Methacrylate, a two part epoxy. http://www.gluguru.com/Methacrylates.htm#ITWPlexus

    This is truly an outstanding substance. There was once a time when I accidentally milled off too much of a piece of steel. Rather than do the right thing waste that block of steel and start over, I decided to hack something up. I milled a nice square block of steel and epoxied it in with this stuff. Then I milled it all flat. 1 year later, nobody has any idea Epoxies are great
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  22. #22
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    Since this thread has gone so well, I guess I'll post another problem:

    If I step on the gas from a stop or am coasting, I will feel a thump. If I lift my foot completely off the gas, I will feel the same thump. I find that if I ease my foot on or off of the gas, there will be no thump.
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  23. #23
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Check your motor mounts and mount bushings.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

  24. #24
    don't misunderestimate me BoSoxYacht's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe View Post
    Check your motor mounts and mount bushings.
    +1. That's normally the problem, but I have seen it be the upper strut mounts.

  25. #25
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Agreed, that would be my second choice as well. Greater probability though is the motor mounts. That's a job I'd leave to a mechanic, though PC2, unless you have a god floor jack and a lot of patience. You may have to drop the drive axles and such to be able to replace the mounts (Clearance issues).

    Quote Originally Posted by BoSoxYacht View Post
    +1. That's normally the problem, but I have seen it be the upper strut mounts.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

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