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Old 10-15-2010, 09:13 PM   #1
Dan400Man
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Default Oil in spark plug well

So, I went to replace the spark plugs and wires on my '97 SL2, figuring to be done in 15 minutes. I pulled the boot off of the plug to my left, and came up with oil. Took about 5 paper towels to "sponge" it out.

The other three wells were dry.

What am I dealing with here? Is it just the cam cover gasket?

...
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Old 10-15-2010, 09:18 PM   #2
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

Yup, valve cover gasket. Fairly common problem, not hard to fix. Get the pre-formed gasket. Do a search on here & read up on putting a dab of RTV on the joint between the timing chain cover and the head.

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Old 10-15-2010, 09:34 PM   #3
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

Seems like that #1 cylinder, closest to the timing chain, is the first one to strike oil in every case. It won't be too too long before the Valve Cover Gasket starts leaking elsewhere -- another 2-5 K miles....

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Old 10-15-2010, 10:46 PM   #4
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurdueGuy View Post
Yup, valve cover gasket. Fairly common problem, not hard to fix. Get the pre-formed gasket. Do a search on here & read up on putting a dab of RTV on the joint between the timing chain cover and the head.
"Pre-formed"? Is that what I ask for? Will the parts stores carry this or only the dealer?

Once I have the cover off, is it SOP to clean the entire cover, or just the gasket contact surface? (I didn't see a Richpin video for that.)

Are razor blades the preferred tool to get the old gasket off?

...
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Last edited by Dan400Man; 10-15-2010 at 10:49 PM.. Reason: addtnl ?

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Old 10-16-2010, 11:37 AM   #5
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

The only gasket for the gen-2 DOHC is "pre-formed", so you don't have to ask for anything special. You shouldn't need more than an opposable thumb to remove the old one. There might be a bit of RTV to remove at the two points where the timing cover meets the cylinder head.

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Old 10-16-2010, 01:00 PM   #6
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

Quote:
Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
There might be a bit of RTV to remove at the two points where the timing cover meets the cylinder head.
Does "timing cover" = valve cover???

If not, the reference to "two points"... I presume this would be IN ADDITION TO the block it sits on?

Sooooooo... what am I going to see when I remove the valve cover? Anyone know of a picture online?

TIA!

...
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Old 10-16-2010, 01:48 PM   #7
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

The timing cover is the vertical flat piece in the front of the engine.

valve cover = cam cover

diagram of the cam cover, gasket (note 4 circular grommets for the spark plug well) attached

diagram showing top of timing cover attached, red circles show where it would meet the head and where you put the dab of RTV

The "how to" http://www.differentracing.com/tech_.../camcover.html Note the torque is in INCH pounds

I used acetone to clean the surfaces, cuts right through the grime and dries quickly without residue.

You can get the felpro gasket at advance auto. the numbers on the side of my box are VS 50454,
UPC is 84113 56432
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 1 cam cover and gasket.JPG (155.1 KB, 175 views)
File Type: jpg 2 timing cover.JPG (26.3 KB, 178 views)

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...Wait, what, I actually won that eBay auction? Guess I now (12/2008) own a 1998 SL2, silver, 5 spd :p 102k @ purchase, now 169k
And now (7/2010), a Craigslist 1997 SC2, white, 5 spd

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Old 10-29-2010, 11:57 PM   #8
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

Thanks to everyone for all the advice! Additional question below:

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
diagram of the cam cover, gasket (note 4 circular grommets for the spark plug well) attached

diagram showing top of timing cover attached, red circles show where it would meet the head and where you put the dab of RTV

The "how to" http://www.differentracing.com/tech_.../camcover.html Note the torque is in INCH pounds

I used acetone to clean the surfaces, cuts right through the grime and dries quickly without residue.

You can get the felpro gasket at advance auto. the numbers on the side of my box are VS 50454,
UPC is 84113 56432
Picked up the gasket tonight. When I asked for RTV, the guy at Advance Auto suggested I didn't need it for this gasket. I bought a tube anyway. Will I use the RTV along then entire surface of gasket or just at certain points you provided?

Thanks again!

...
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Old 10-30-2010, 05:31 AM   #9
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

If you put it all along the mating surface on the head you really don't need the preformed gasket. It just goes on the joint between the head and timing cover because it's a joint that may not be filled in with the preformed gasket. You'll also have a heck of a time getting the valve cover off in the future with RTV everywhere.

Be glad you don't have a SOHC. Despite what everyone on here says and what the part description says on the order page at each parts store all I ever got was a tube of RTV and a couple grommets for my '97 SC1.

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Old 10-30-2010, 11:10 AM   #10
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

You ALWAYS use a preformed gasket with the composite cover. Therefore you only use the RTV at the two joint points. This accounts for the possibility of the level of the top of the head and the top edge of the timing cover being slightly different.

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Old 10-30-2010, 09:48 PM   #11
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

^ ^ ^ +1, what madpogue said. Just a dab will do ya

Skip the RTV if you believe:
1) the guy at Autozone knows more than the Saturn engineers, and
2) the guy at Autozone is right and the Saturn Field Service Manual is incorrect, and
3) the guy at Autozone is right and all the fine folks here at Saturnfans, which includes former Saturn technicians, professional mechanics, and experienced DIYers, are wrong


...
...Wait, what, I actually won that eBay auction? Guess I now (12/2008) own a 1998 SL2, silver, 5 spd :p 102k @ purchase, now 169k
And now (7/2010), a Craigslist 1997 SC2, white, 5 spd

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Old 10-31-2010, 02:42 AM   #12
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

Well, that was a lot easier than I imagined it might be. The hardest part was cleaning the baked-on oil residue.

The old gasket came off easy and the new one went on easy. There were dabs of RTV at the two points described earlier in this thread. (BTW, thanks for that graphic, alordofchaos!) I removed those, of course, and put new dabs on before putting the valve cover with the new gasket on.

This mid-novice declares this to definitely be a DIY project.

BTW, remember how this started out as a quick spark plug and wire change? I did that as well after I got the valve cover back on. One surprise with the Bosch Platinum Plus plugs was that each plug came with an extra tip, seemingly identical to the one already on the plug. I called 3 different parts stores; no one had a clue. I've done numerous spark plug changes before, but this is the first time I'd seen this. Anybody know?

This was my first experience with a torque wrench. I wondered why alordofchaos emphasized INCH pounds. The torque wrench I have has SAE (specifically INCHes) and metric units of measure. When I installed the spark plugs, the Bosch box spec'd 21 Ft Lbs torque. But the Ft Lbs didn't click in my brain, and I first tightened to 21 INCH Lbs, which wasn't much after I had hand-tightened the plugs. I immediately knew that wasn't tight enough, and I had to look at the Bosch box again before the Ft Lbs clicked. Did the math (21x12) and tightened to 252 INCH Lbs. I mention all this for the benefit of any other novices who might miss a Ft Lbs spec while using a wrench with inches and metric measurements.

...
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Old 10-31-2010, 07:23 AM   #13
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

Sorry for the confusion - the 89 inch lb spec is for the cam cover, not spark plugs. Several first-timers have stripped the threads by missing the torque, or by using the spec in the Haynes manual for this (which has a typo for the DOHC engine, iirc, something like 22 ft/lb)

You may want to do a search on platinum (or any fine-wire) spark plugs on this site... most people who have used them end up with misfiring down the road.

Switching back to copper (NGK BKR5ESA-11 is the recommended plug for the DOHC engine, having a wider heat range than the autolite and champions)

...
...Wait, what, I actually won that eBay auction? Guess I now (12/2008) own a 1998 SL2, silver, 5 spd :p 102k @ purchase, now 169k
And now (7/2010), a Craigslist 1997 SC2, white, 5 spd

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Old 11-01-2010, 09:22 AM   #14
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

Actually, *you* didn't confuse me. I just didn't understand the emphasis on INCH pounds. I thought you emphasized this so I wouldn't use the metric measurements. "FOOT pounds" did not click until I realized that 21 INCH pounds was way too light.

Would it be too much to expect the Champion Plats to last until spring? Or do they go pretty quickly? I really want to avoid an emergency plug change when it's 20 degrees outside.

...
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Old 11-01-2010, 12:23 PM   #15
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

I have no experience with using platinum plugs in the Saturn.

There does not seem to be a pattern that I could tell... some people experience problerms fairly quickly, others go for a while without... though I don't recall off hand any longterm (e.g., two years) people saying they had no problems.

Here's a more extreme, recent case
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=160263 Note the poster does not say there were any problems withe the way the car ran, which I thought was interesting.

...
...Wait, what, I actually won that eBay auction? Guess I now (12/2008) own a 1998 SL2, silver, 5 spd :p 102k @ purchase, now 169k
And now (7/2010), a Craigslist 1997 SC2, white, 5 spd

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Old 11-01-2010, 01:52 PM   #16
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan400Man View Post
Would it be too much to expect the Champion Plats to last until spring?
Don't know where I came up with Champion on that last post. As mentioned previously, these are Bosch Platinum Plus plugs.

But point well taken. Thanks for the linky to the other thread. I noted this from OldNuc:
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
Hmmm, wonder why the center electrodes all went away? Do not use platinum plugs. Do not use Bosch plugs either.
Figures I got Bosch Platinums!

...
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Old 07-06-2011, 06:53 PM   #17
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

Hey guys should I replace the cam cover gasket AND the cam cover? Not sure I have the same exact problem as this guy.

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Old 07-06-2011, 08:55 PM   #18
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulclawson3 View Post
Hey guys should I replace the cam cover gasket AND the cam cover? Not sure I have the same exact problem as this guy.
I replaced only the gasket. I can't imagine that you'd have to replace the cam cover unless it was somehow bent such that the gasket couldn't seal.

- Dan

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Old 07-06-2011, 09:22 PM   #19
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulclawson3 View Post
Hey guys should I replace the cam cover gasket AND the cam cover? Not sure I have the same exact problem as this guy.
Year and model?

Edit - '98 SC2, as per your other thread? When you remove the cover, get all of the old gasket out, incuding the rings around the spark plug holes, make sure it's clean of any old RTV, and find a super-duper-flat surface on which to lay it. Move it around, lay it down in different positions. See if the area aroudn that #1 spark plug hole doesn't quite sit flat with the rest of the cover. If it doesn't, then the cover may be warped. Preferred fix is to replace it with a '93-'95 aluminum cover, and a gasket to match.

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Old 07-06-2011, 09:24 PM   #20
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulclawson3 View Post
Hey guys should I replace the cam cover gasket AND the cam cover? Not sure I have the same exact problem as this guy.
Paul,

Insert the gasket in the grove then place the cover on a perfectly plane table and look for areas where the cover might be bowed. The more pronounced bowing you have, the higher the chance you will experience leaking.

If you have bowing, and leaking, consider replacing the cover with one that perfectly plane. The bowing may also affect the oil you do or don't get in any of your cylinders.

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