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Ok, I just purchased a 2001 Focus LX with engine trouble a few days ago. I priced engines at $300-$400 at my local scrap yards before purchasing and figured I could swap in a salvage yard engine if I couldn’t repair the one in it. Now that I have the car and know the VIN code of the engine it turns out the $300 engines are all DOHC and I have the SOHC and the price went to $1200 for a salvage yard engine – not doing that! I’ve been reading up on the common problems with these engines and decided to join the site to get some advice on my odd situation on this car.

This car has 230,000 miles on it, was smoking thick oil smoke out the exhaust, blowing liquid oil out the exhaust manifold to EGR pipe connection (bad gasket), but ran halfway decent. With the oil fill cap removed from the valve cover there was significant crankcase pressure – you could actually see the oil blowing up out of the oil return instead of draining back to the oil pan. I checked the pcv system and it is clear. I pulled the spark plugs and found #4 to have significant build up and oil deposits. I ran a compression check and got 190, 190, 190, 200 (#4). I then shined a flashlight in the #4 plug hole and could see pooled oil on top of the piston. I decided to pull the head fully expecting to find an obvious problem. I have the head off, the head gasket looks like it was fine, and the pistons have no obvious damage. The head has the banged up markings from dropping a valve seat in the past but has been repaired and appears to be in good shape. I can’t find any obvious problem! Are there any other problems these engines are known for other than the dropped valve seat that might explain what’s going on with this engine? Are there any common head failures (cracks) that would leak oil and not water? I’m totally confused on this one and I’m normally quite good at diagnosing and repairing engines all the way to full rebuilds.

Thanks for your input.
 

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You can have good compression but have a shot oil control ring. You have two compression rings and 1 oil ring per cylinder. So it could be this. Or the valve stem seals for those cylinders are shot and allowing lots of oil into the cylinders. These are the two main and likely sources of oil leakage.

I would have the head pressure checked at a machine shop to rule out a crack into an oil passage.
 

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Spew out the fill cap when running is pretty normal for most engines...

Excess oil in that one cyl. could explain the "good" compression numbers (higher in the bad cyl.).

Valve stem seals are a possibility, but the smoke usually clears a bit after it gets running unless they are REAL bad....

Jetrinka's ring guess sounds closest..

As long as the head is off already, did you check the bore measurements?? Could just be "worn out"...

Check the engine & tranny swap area, twin cams CAN be put in an SPI, but it's NOT just a "simple" engine swap....

Luck!
 

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I'm pretty sure I found the problem last night when I tore down the bottom end and pulled the pistons. Number 1 cylinder has a collapsed top ring land and stuck top ring. I guess the second ring must have sealed it up good enough to show good compression numbers, but not good enough to prevent blowby. I'm a little confused why #4 was the one oil fouled though. Anyway, looks like I'll be doing a full rebuild.
 

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Now that I have the car and know the VIN code of the engine it turns out the $300 engines are all DOHC and I have the SOHC and the price went to $1200 for a salvage yard engine – not doing that!
SPI (SOHC) engines are known for dropping valve seats and destroying the engine. Plus it's weak at only like 110 hp. Some of our SPI people have replaced the SOHC with a DOHC Zetec for more power and reliability. It is not a simple swap because the transmission and PCM are different. If you're interested in the swap- look in our Engine and Transmission swap forum. If not, then while you have the head out, you should have the valve seats (esp #4) replaced. I believe it's the exhaust valve that does it, but you'll have to ask around in the SPI Performance Forum or Technical Chat for more information. There's no point in doing more than you have to do to insure that your investment will pay off.

Best bet: repair, sell, buy DOHC Focus.
 

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I'm pretty sure I found the problem last night when I tore down the bottom end and pulled the pistons. Number 1 cylinder has a collapsed top ring land and stuck top ring. I guess the second ring must have sealed it up good enough to show good compression numbers, but not good enough to prevent blowby. I'm a little confused why #4 was the one oil fouled though. Anyway, looks like I'll be doing a full rebuild.
You might consider a 2.3 DOHC engine replacement instead. Might have to change ECU to match.
 

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i am pretty impressed at the mileage on that motor. spis are known to drop a lifter. i would look into a zetec swap. it would cost you less than that motor at the yard. or you could find one on ebay. but i still believe you would be buying a time bomb. Posted via FF Mobile
 
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