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Old 06-24-2021, 09:25 PM   #1
PaulR
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Default Oil in spark plug well

The other weekend I decided to replace my leaking rocker (valve) cover gasket. I just got tired of the objectionable odors emanating from that area from oil being leaked onto the hot engine parts. It got to the point that it reminded me of my Corvair. You see most Corvairs leak oil from the various gaskets and seals unless you have just replaced them all. But that is another story.

Anyways, I removed the ignition coil pack and the valve cover and then found that one of the spark plug wells was almost filled up to the top with oil. It was the third over from the drivers side (as seated in the vehicle). So I just cleaned the oil out of the one spark well, took off the coil pack boot and cleaned all oil out of there and reinstalled the cover and coil pack. Before I was through with this job I repainted all of the rusty valve cover hold down bolts too. Oh they look nice.

Up to this point and currently the car did not display any CEL codes, exhibit any poor performance or poor gas mileage. That sure was a bad leaky gasket though. Here are some pictures, I had a focused of the spark plug well, but only the blurry one loaded.
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Old 06-24-2021, 10:58 PM   #2
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

We had a couple of oil soaked spark plug tops from valve cover gasket also.

We also cleaned up the oily coil pack thoroughly (the 4 rubber ends were removable on our coil pack).

We removed the 4 plugs for inspection, cleaning, and gap inspection. But in the end just replaced all 4 plugs.
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Old 06-29-2021, 08:00 PM   #3
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2008 Astra XR
Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

Quite a bit of oil. Amazing that didn't trigger a CEL.
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Old 07-29-2021, 04:43 PM   #4
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2009 Astra XE
Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

I had issues with my 09 Astra XR (117k km) last night. Kind of a chugging sound and feeling on start-up, incredibly sluggish acceleration with more chugging.

The CEL was intermittent while driving and gave me p0141 and p0302 codes once I parked. I replaced the ignition coil pack (with an aftermarket part) on this car about 3 years ago, so I thought it may be failing again. Opened up the cover, lifted out the coil pack and found that almost all of my spark plug wells had oil in them. Some of the plugs were nearly totally submerged.

I have noticed that the front right corner (driver's side) of the valve cover leaks oil and it may have become a significant leak recently.

I picked up some parts at the junk yard in hopes to get this fixed quickly:

- Valve cover with gasket (from an Astra that did not show signs of oil leaks)
- Ignition coil pack
- Thermostat

Will update when parts are installed. Any other suggestions/tips are welcome!
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Old 07-29-2021, 07:24 PM   #5
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

I don't think you should reuse a junkyard valve cover gasket. That is a weak point of the Astra. Call your local parts supplier and order a premium gasket.

The Astra does not have a normal PCV valve. It is a rubber flapper in the valve cover, and that is a popular failure item. Not sure how to test with a leaky valve cover gasket. A new valve cover will have a new PCV flapper. There are links here for a replacement flapper from some US guy. This may not be an issue for your car but while you are replacing the parts you may not want to redo.

Caution also with the junkyard coil pack. You can try it out but there is a decent chance it is knackered. If that does not work, you can remove the 4 rubber nipples on your coil pack, clean, and try.

When we had a leaky valve cover gasket, we cleaned and dried the wells, removed the old spark plugs and replaced with new ones. If you have fairly new iridium plugs you might just clean them. If the plugs are not iridium or exotic metal type, I would replace. The OEM plugs were ~25k mile replacement items per the owners' manual (perhaps worn OEM plugs caused all the coil pack failures).

The car is very sensitive to proper gap. You can't use a metal gaping tool on exotic metal spark plugs but you can eyeball.

Note there are a lot of pirate spark plugs, so it is risky to source from eBay, Amazon, etc. Go to a local reliable distributor.

Hopefully the coilpack, valve cover gasket, and spark plug work sort out all the codes.

Thermostat is super easy to change. I would also get a new gasket.

If you have a leaky flexpipe, that can cause some O2 codes fyi. But one thing at a time.

Good luck.
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Old 07-31-2021, 09:24 AM   #6
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Default Re: Oil in spark plug well

My main reason for getting the used parts was to get the vehicle back on the road asap, as I wasn't able to wait around for parts to get here.

I used RTV to help seal the gasket on the newly installed valve cover and will keep an eye on it over the next few weeks. If needed, I'll get a new cover with gasket. I've found some on Amazon.ca and elsewhere for about $100CAD.

Thanks for the tip on the coil packs. I will try swapping the rubber ends, as the rubber on the aftermarket coil pack was shredded. If that doesn't work, there are a bunch of options for coil packs on Amazon.ca.

I did not replace the spark plugs, as I had replaced them when I did the coil pack a few years ago. I used towels to absorb the oil out of the wells, then used a water bottle brush to scrub the wells clean. I also removed and cleaned off the spark plugs. The gap on them is still good.

The thermostat change went well, once I had some vice grips to loosen the clamp on the hose. I also changed the coolant temp sensor, as I've seen people on here suggest replacing it when doing the thermostat, just for sake of convenience.

Thanks for the tip on the flex pipe. I did have that replaced in March 2021, so I do not anticipate that being an issue.

I ran it in park for about 15 minutes and didn't have any codes pop-up. Going to do a coolant flush and try again. Hopefully, everything is fixed.
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