: 97 oil leak from a newbie

02-09-06, 11:08 PM
Hey all. New to the forum. I did search out this problem( found 51 posts) but nothing that fully answered the question.

My 97 Catera (93000 miles) is leaking oil from both valve covers, enough that every now and then, the headers will be smoking for a minute or two when the car shuts off. When the spark plug wires are pulled, they are covered in oil, which I know is affecting the way it runs.( a little rough at idle) Is the valve cover gasket all that needs to be replaced or are there gaskets or o-rings at the bottom of the spark plug tubes that need to be replaced as well?
Dealer wants 450 to do the valve cover gaskets. I found new gaskets on ebay for 100 bucks. Just looking for a few answers as to how involved this might be. As for my mechanical ability, i would rate it a 5 on a scale from 1-10.

Thanks for the help

02-10-06, 03:10 PM
I did the Valve cover gaskets not too long ago. The gaskets come in a pack that includes all the o-rings needed. You will need to buy a tube of RTV silicone sealer to put on the ends of the valve cover gaskets.

I removed the grey intake peice and throttle body. There were a few vaccum lines that I unplugged and I had to move some wires around. Once the valve cover gaskets were off I cleaned off the surfaces with paint thinner and a blade to make sure the gaskets had a smooth surface to go onto. Overall the gaskets went in fairly easy.

When you have the valve cover off, just loosen the spark plugs and let the oil drain into the cylinder. You should also clean up your spark plug boots with carb cleaner or something of similar nature. It wouldn't hurt to also clean out of the spark plug wells with the carb cleaner. When you are going to perform the install do not use a torque wrench to tighten the valve cover bolts. Tighten them by the feel. Dont over kill them just tight enough. They will snap if you over tighten the bolts and that sucks.

Start her up and burn off the excess oil in the cylinder. The I'd driver her around for awhile and check the sparkplug boots for oil. This should fix your leak.

02-11-06, 10:31 PM
Thanks for all the great info. I am sure it will help.

02-24-06, 03:03 PM
Well, the gasket change went well. I was amazed at how many parts had to be removed to get the valve covers off. Not really too bad, and I could do it in about 3 hours now. Lots of oil sitting on top, so I siphoned(sp?) it out before removing the spark plugs. It was a little to much to let it drain in to the cylinders. Put in some new spark plugs since I was in there. Running great now. No little misfires at idle, just nice smooth power all the way up. Time to put her up for sale.