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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, I'm new here - have read lots of posts...this is quite a site.

I know my car well and do all my own maintenance, but have a question for you Escort geeks. 1991 LX, 1.9L standard, 380,000 km (original clutch and muffler!). On the coldest night of the year this past winter (-25 deg C), I had been driving merrily along in my sweet ride for 20 minutes, when the smell of burning oil filled my face and smoke started billowing out from under the hood. The check engine also light came on. I limped the ol' girl home to discover I was down 2 L of engine oil and I had effectively undercoated my entire engine compartment. Using a trouble light, I could not see where the oil came from. The next day, I cleaned everything up, added oil and all was well. Haven't had a problem since. I normally burn/lose only a small amount of oil (1 L every 2500 km) and that has not changed.

Any thoughts??? I do use the block heater on cold nights but had not that night (was at work). Many thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Tito.

A bit more history may help, but maybe not. The car has always had low compression in two cylinders (2, 3) which I concluded is due to worn/sticky rings. However, I burn almost no oil at all (slow oil pan gasket leak is the main source of loss). I do get a fair bit of blow by; as a result I have to change my PCV filter every oil change. However, I am a complete loss on this one. I only mentioned the block heater because it's possible there's a seal there that went bad, however, the problem simply came and went in one night. I was only 2 km from home when it happened, so I lost 2 L of oil in about 3-5 minutes before I shut the engine off. It was too dark at the time to see the geyser.

It remains a mystery to me. Sure as God grows little green apples, it'll happen again this winter, so I'd like to deal with it now. Any input would be greatly appreciated. I'm waiting for Siragan to show me the light.

My wife hates me spending time on this site. I think I'll post a pic of my little red rocket. It looks like hell, but it just keep on going.
 

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highanddry said:
I'm waiting for Siragan to show me the light.
haha - He couldn't tell the difference between an oil leak and a coolant leak if you told him what the answer already was. He's a waste of space. Don't listen to a word he has to say. :D

I've spoken to a few friends and we've all agreed it sounds like a crankcase ventilation problem. When was the last time you changed the PCV valve? It sounds like there was an extreme amount of pressure somewhere in your longblock, and the oil was forcefully "squirted" through/past a gasket. Most likely your valve cover gasket, but maybe your oil pan gasket. Make sure you don't have any vacuum hoses clogged, and that you have a new PCV valve (they're supposed to be replaced every 10-15k miles), and that should solve any over-pressurized crankcase problems you may be getting.

If anyone has any other ideas, by all means, let us know, but this is the only thing that made logical sense to me.. :)
 

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TitoElSpicco said:
If anyone has any other ideas, by all means, let us know, but this is the only thing that made logical sense to me.. :)
Not really and idea.. but a contribution to the cause. An old car buddy of mine had been known to blow out an oil filter gasket every year on his BMW when he'd get lazy about switching from his summer weight oil (20w-50) to his winter weight (10w-30). The thick oil would resist flowing through the oil-filter and on through the block when the temps were much below freezing and the oil filter gasket would be the first thing to go.

Weren't there some issues with some of the exhaust manifold mounting studs on the CVH motors that would allow oil to leak past them? The cold manifold studs + hot head + cool oil might have created enough of an issue to spew high pressure oil through the studs and onto the exhaust manifold. *shrug*
 

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Beaverboy said:
Not really and idea.. but a contribution to the cause. An old car buddy of mine had been known to blow out an oil filter gasket every year on his BMW when he'd get lazy about switching from his summer weight oil (20w-50) to his winter weight (10w-30). The thick oil would resist flowing through the oil-filter and on through the block when the temps were much below freezing and the oil filter gasket would be the first thing to go.

Weren't there some issues with some of the exhaust manifold mounting studs on the CVH motors that would allow oil to leak past them? The cold manifold studs + hot head + cool oil might have created enough of an issue to spew high pressure oil through the studs and onto the exhaust manifold. *shrug*
Hadn't even thought of the oil filter gasket.. what weight oil are you running?

I don't think the manifold studs would leak enough to cause 2 liters to leak in 5 minutes, butcha never know.. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Tito:

I think you and your friends must be right. The first thing I checked in the morning was the PCV valve, filter and lines, but all seemed to be in order. I was expecting to find a line blown off or the valve popped out of its housing, but nothing.

I happen to live right beside a big stinking lake, so the relative humidity is always high. I suspect that enough moisture/oil/fuel mixture froze within the PCV valve/housing that it wouldn't lift and the pressure kept building until something gave. Like you say, that's about the only logic I can apply to this and the very cold night is somewhat consistent with this. However, there were absolutely no symptoms prior to this happening (enginer ran fine). I also believe the Check Engine light was purely coincidental (ie some sensor got drowned in oil and temporarily shorted).

That's all great pontification, but I still don't know what let go; it should have been the PCV valve popping out of its housing, but that didn't happen. I'm sure it'll come back to haunt me at some very inopportune time.

I'll take your advice and replace the PCV filter regularly. I had been in the habit of merely checking its operability and cleaning the valve, housing and lines periodically.

Many thanks for your prompt responses. And still no Siragan or Fix It Matt, a fellow Ontarian.

SIDE NOTE - A bit of other cold weather experience for you Escort lovers - O2 sensors don't seem to like temperatures below -25 deg C. Mind you, who does?
 

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highanddry said:
That's all great pontification, but I still don't know what let go; it should have been the PCV valve popping out of its housing, but that didn't happen. I'm sure it'll come back to haunt me at some very inopportune time.
Usually, the valve cover gasket, oil filter gasket, and oil pan gasket are all rubber, and I have actually witnessed pressure build-up to the point the the valve cover gasket actually pops out of place, leaks some oil, then manages to seal itself back up once the engine is turned off.

Good luck - hope it doesn't happen again.

May want to invest in an oil pressure gauge.. :)
 

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highanddry said:
SIDE NOTE - A bit of other cold weather experience for you Escort lovers - O2 sensors don't seem to like temperatures below -25 deg C.
Mine's never had any problems at cold temps :?

Matt 8)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Like any other self-respecting Escort lover noth of the border, I run 5W30 in the coldest months (January and February). Otherwise it's 10W30; only Quaker State goes in the little beast.

I hope the next time it happens (and it will) it's during the day so I can see the spray with my own eyes.

Thanks to all of you for your replies. You guys keep a good forum going.
 

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Hey everybody!

I must have missed this post... sorry bout that. I've been kinda busy the last few days.

If I were in your shoes, I'd first try to figure out where the oil is coming from. I realize that most of it has probably dripped down the block and accumulated on the pan by now, but just work your way back up the engine until you reach a point that has (relatively) no oil on it. It could be a lot of stuff. But the main thing that does it for me is that you got a plume of smoke. Unless you're really pushing the engine hard and have heavily retarded timing and are lighting the oil on fire on the exhaust manifold, the only time oil will smoke like that is if it enters the cylinders and is combusted with the gasoline. And the only way to get in the cylinders is if you're entering from the top (valves) or from the bottom (pistons). I personally feel that it could be a problem with the valvetrain, namely one of the valve tappets. If I were you, the first thing I'd do (after visual inspection of the exterior of the engine), I'd pull off the valve cover and make sure that you don't have any obvious damage to the cams or anything. When you burned all that smoke, did the engine shut off of bog down? Were there any noises associated with it?

Also, a good thing to do would be to pull off the intake plenum or the intake tube. I'm not sure where the PCV hose routes in the LX, but in the GTs it hooks up halfway up the intake hose. Pull that off and check for oil in the hoses. Good luck.
 

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highanddry said:
the smell of burning oil filled my face and smoke started billowing out from under the hood. The check engine also light came on. I limped the ol' girl home to discover I was down 2 L of engine oil and I had effectively undercoated my entire engine compartment.
This is NOT a valve problem. Don't listen to siragan. :)
 
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