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Discussion Starter #1
It wasn't a good day ...

I had been intermittently smelling burnt oil and thought maybe the valve cover gasket had failed again. The gasket looked fine, but I noticed oil was leaking around the PCV valve and valve grommet. I had replaced the valve previously at 100K miles and have 147K on the car now.

From other posts on the forum, I am told it is unlikely to have a leak here, but I could have a valve cover gasket leak. And a shop told me I have a valve cover gasket and an oil pan gasket leak. I don't see any visible valve cover gasket leakage. I do see oil on the oil pan and pan bolts seeping down onto the exhaust.

I called the Ford dealer to see if he had a PCV grommet and he said it was only part of a $500 oil-air separator, but he recommended I replace the valve (again) first, so I got a $2 valve from O'Reilly auto parts. (O'Reilly didn't have or show a way to get the grommet or the PCV hose.)

I took the old valve out, but when I tried to install the new one, the right-angle hose above the valve snapped off. (It seemed to break right at the barb for the metal line, but I didn't try to take the remaining part of the hose off.)

I thought this would be a major vacuum leak, but the car started and ran fine, so I'm thinking the system might have other issues.

I put the new valve in and put the broken hose piece on it - I considered duct-taping it, but wanted to ask on here first ...

I am not sure where the other end of the hose goes. (It was hard to see under the coil pack.) The Chilton's book says it goes to the air box, but I think that hose goes to the top of the valve cover. I think the hose turns toward the center of the car and goes to the intake manifold with an odd band clamp on it.

I confirmed that on here and also verified that it is collapsed at the intake manifold elbow.

Reference Posts:
http://www.focusfanatics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=190218
http://www.focusfanatics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=315711&page=2

General Questions:
  • How can I easily tell what is causing the oil smell (valve cover gasket, oil pan gasket, or PCV Hose)?
  • Is it normal for the car to run fine with basically an open PCV hose connection (not open, blocked)?

PCV Questions:

  • Other than the PCV system not cleaning the oil - is it safe to do nothing and leave the car this way (which is tempting)? (My gut feeling is the hose is collapsed, so I could basically throw away the PCV Valve at this point and not affect anything. OTOH, if I cut off the bad hose and can't replace everything upstream of it, I'll have problems.)
  • What is the best way to fix this? From other posts on here, it looks like motorcraft sells a better intake hose and the PCV angle. They would be $26.28 shipped from Tasca or RockAuto sells a Dorman 46030 which looks like the same parts (both hoses) and would be $18.19 shipped. If I am going to have to get the VCG or the oil pan gasket, I'd rather get everything from RockAuto to save on shipping. (Normally, I know MC is better than Dorman, but this likely failed 50K miles ago, and I only noticed it b/c of oil leaking on the PCV Valve, which makes me wonder why I'm bothering to fix it.)
  • It looks like this is pretty much a work on from underneath and look down from up top and work blind job - although I can remove the air intake hose from the air box to the throttle body if needed to gain access.
  • Even though I read a post saying to use a 4-inch screwdriver, I'm still not sure how to remove the clamp from the hose. (???) I suppose if nothing else, I can cut it with some snips.
  • Not sure whether to try to re-use the OEM clamp or just use a worm clamp? Gut feeling is just use a worm clamp. Deeper gut feeling is this is a vacuum connection, so the force should be pushing the hose onto the connection and no clamp should really be needed.
  • Is there any way to replace the PCV grommet on the oil-air separator? (Without buying or finding an oil-air separator?) (Should this even concern me?)

Valve Cover Gasket Questions:
The valve cover was replaced at 114K miles - 30K miles and 3.5 years ago. (Although I checked and the dealer replaced the original one at 48K miles, so this would be Number 4 for the engine). I used a Fel-Pro gasket which isn't popular on here, although that's what all the parts stores sell and all the repair shops use.
  • How can I verify if/that the gasket is leaking?
  • Should these typically fail at 30-50K miles, or did I probably not do something correctly last time? Does better quality last longer?
  • Originally, I thought the grommets for these were talking about spark plug grommets. I realized later that it means grommets under the bolts (like on Honda's). My car doesn't have these. I assume there is no reason to try to use them?
  • Prices on RockAuto range from $10.27 for a DNJ to $28.79 for a Victor-Reinz. How much should I spend and how do I know which brands are decent?

Oil Pan Gasket Questions:

There is oil around the oil pan bolts, so I assume the gasket is leaking. However, there is never oil on the driveway and the dipstick stays full. I'm tempted to leave this alone, but ... (I'm also caught with the fact that it doesn't make sense to do this anytime other than when an oil change is being done also.)

  • Rock Auto only appears to have the Fel-Pro one of these for $12.63. They have a Victor Reinz, but it doesn't quite look right and looks like it only goes inside or outside of the bolts and not around them. Is this correct and is the Fel-Pro one okay to use? (I'd prefer not to use a form-in-place RTV gasket like the Chilton's book recommends).
  • How difficult is this task to do in a driveway without removing the catalytic converter? (My main concern is the car isn't giving me issues now, even if it has a minor leak. I don't want to attempt to repair it and end up with a worse problem?
  • Is it as simple as remove the pan, scrape off the old gasket material, put the new gasket on the pan, and bolt it back together? (I realize there is a bolt tightening sequence in the Chilton manual). (The same book that says the PCV valve goes to the air filter box ...)
  • Is there anything else to do or check for with the pan removed (clean out the inside of the pan, etc)? Is there anything serious to watch out for that could be damaged?
  • Is there any reason to change the upper gasket while doing this? (In for a penny, in for a pound?) (I am assuming to change the upper gasket if it ever did leak, I would have to remove the pan and change its gasket again to do so?)

Thanks in advance!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Minor updates and remaining questions:

The PCV is supposed to reduce crankcase pressure, so it's possible when the PCV hose failed, it caused the issues with the pan gasket and valve cover gasket.

The front of the transmission is wet with black liquid, so I assume the valve cover gasket is leaking oil down that.

I'll probably go with the Dorman PCV hose. I've had good luck with Dorman in the past and prefer to get everything from RockAuto.

I think I can figure out how to remove the clamp from other threads, and I'll replace it with a worm clamp.

Not worrying about the PCV grommet at this time, but if anyone knows where to find one and a part number that would be appreciated.

Still need clarification on whether the grommets can be used with my valve cover and if I should bother with it.

I'm leaning toward the Magnum Valve Cover Gasket, but would like opinions. I like that it's made by MSI, it has the grommets if I need them, and mid-price between the DNJ and Fel-Pro or Victor-Reinz. But I don't know personally, so I could go with something else if needed.

I've seen conflicting posts on the pan gasket, but it seems like it can be changed without dropping the exhaust. I can probably handle that. The windage tray for the upper gasket has the AC compressor and other structure attached, so I'm not messing with that.
 

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Regarding the PCV Valve, I'd recommend going with a Wells/Airtex or Motorcraft unit. I am of the opinion that Fords are peculiar about PCV valves.

The Magnum valve cover gasket is pretty good. That is what I'm using after replacing cheap bulk gaskets twice.

Regarding the PCV grommet, remove it and go to the parts store and try to match something up.

The Dorman PCV setup is a good one. Serves same purpose as the the Motorcraft unit.

After replacing the gasket, take it to the car wash and clean the engine thoroughly to eliminate oil smells.
 

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Earlier zetecs used separate grommets, the later ones incorporated the grommets into the gasket itself. The covers, bolts and gaskets changed slightly to do that, buy correct gasket for your year model and cover material type. At least 3 different zetec valve cover gaskets I know of, may be more.

I got tired of special one off Ford PCV parts and dumped the steel tube bolted to head and now use simple PCV hose and steel bendable brake line to make my own PCV lines. MUCH cheaper and indestructible.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm getting a P0171 Code as of yesterday - http://www.obd-codes.com/p0171 - Cracked vacuum or PCV connection. So doing nothing isn't an option.

Regarding the PCV Valve, I'd recommend going with a Wells/Airtex or Motorcraft unit. I am of the opinion that Fords are peculiar about PCV valves.
Not sure I agree here. I think I had a Purolator valve since 100K miles (although it might not have been doing anything), and others have used the O'Reilly one I got (essentially a generic Fram FV349). (The Fram seems better than the Purolator). I think the biggest problem is the hose - and even bigger IMHO, is that the hose is buried at the failure point, so mine might have failed years ago, but there is no way or reason to check it.)

But I'll throw a $3.71 Airtek/Wells in the cart - can't hurt.

Thanks for confirmation on the Magnum Gasket and Dorman hoses.

Regarding the PCV grommet, remove it and go to the parts store and try to match something up.
How critcal is this? I'm not sure it's leaking, although having oil leak down on it can't help.

ford special order part about $50 for that rubber elbow as it comes with the piping.
Not sure where you got that ... If I were replacing only the PCV hoses:

Elbow - f8cz-6n664-aa - $8.49 MSRP, $4.39 Tasca
Hose - XS4Z-6N664-BA - $27.67 MSRP, $14.32 Tasca
Shipping from Tasca $7.57, Total $26.28.

But the Dorman 46030 has both parts for $12.85 (wihout the discount) and $5.34 shipping for $18.19.

I didn't check the pricing on the steel pipes, but they are unlikely to fail.

I got tired of special one off Ford PCV parts and dumped the steel tube bolted to head and now use simple PCV hose and steel bendable brake line to make my own PCV lines. MUCH cheaper and indestructible.
Yep - that is tempting!!! (Do you have any pics of what you used and where?)

Last question - one of the valve cover gasket threads recommended sealant on the corners by the cams - is this recommended, and if so, exactly where is it referring to?
http://www.focusfanatics.com/forum/showpost.php?p=3747901&postcount=20
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Steve at Tasca Ford came through for me on the PCV grommet:

F5RZ-6A892-A

But it is $21 and about $7 shipping, or around $30 at the dealer.

More than I want to spend right now (I might throw one in the cart when I order something else from Tasca), but so far, I can't find it aftermarket.
 

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Regarding the PCV Valve, it is very much true that others have used conventional shake and rattle PCVs and they probably worked. However, my observation is that the Ford one is spring loaded along with the Airtex/Wells unit (which I'm pretty sure is a Ford one with the part number ground off) and that has to account for something. When you get the new PCV, compare it to the one that's on there.

When dealing with PCV issues, my take on it is to leave nothing to chance. It has always been my experience that Fords are peculiar with PCV valves. Maybe not so much with the Focus, but my other Ford experiences have pushed me into this mindset. Your results may vary, but I'm just passing along my experience in the Ford arena.

With regards to the PCV grommet, when I removed my oil separator to replace the gasket, I wanted to replace the grommet, but after I was unable to quickly find anything, I just cleaned the grommet up and reinstalled it. It was a snug fit, so I just let it go and moved on.

Regarding the Magnum gasket, I didn't use any RTV in the corners and it worked like a champ for me. No leaks in about 10,000 miles. Main thing was I pulled out the in/lbs torque wrench and followed an inside out sequence.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
As I said - for $3.71, I'm not going to argue over the quality of the PCV valve.

The thing that bothers me is the design in this case. Conventional wisdom is if the valve rattles, it is good. But on the Focus, that won't tell you that the hose collapsed under the manifold 30K miles ago and the car ran on without activating the PCV.

On this Focus - you pretty much have to either disconnect the valve and see if the car runs normally (which would be bad), or feel around the intake manifold from underneath to see if the hose is collapsed (which would be inconvenient), or do like amc49 did and re-engineer the plumbing so it CAN'T fail.

If I could do the grommet for $10 or less I would - not would $30 to me right now - maybe the next time I change the PCV valve.

The Fel-Pro gasket I used before seemed to leak initially, and then I torqued it with a wrench and it lasted 30K miles. I'm just not sure if that is typical or if it should have lasted longer than that.
 

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Valve rattling can mean nothing. ALL PCV valves are spring loaded or they then must orient correctly up and down since gravity works them and a useless design. Most are loaded so lightly you can't feel the spring but it's there. If the minor bleed hole clogs the part is worthless even if it rattles.

I NEVER change PCV EVER, only clean it, there is a minor bleed hole inside sized to the engine size and why aftermarket over the counter parts can suck if not matched at that hole size right. They commonly combine part numbers to cut back on inventory there but then say they work fine. Maybe not. There is also a major bleed too, and what switches back and forth at high or low air flow there. The small hole feeds a certain calculated vacuum leak in effect at idle that PCM accounts for, then as engine speed ramps way up the poppet inside then drops back from spring to then flow the bigger bleed, usually built around the OD of the poppet. That flow can sometimes reverse as engine really revs high and the extra that can't flow out there then goes out the valve cover hose backwards as compared to most of the time. If engine backfires the valve goes completely bottomed out to seal off crankcase from a possible fire issue.

'Torquing' valve cover gaskets is pretty much worthless guys. If you don't understand positive stop gasket sealing technology and why so many stat housings get broken. If you have hit 'bottom' on the valve cover screws that is all you can do, torquing does nothing but tighten what is already tight. I submit that if a torque job cured the problem you didn't have bolts tight to begin with. I quit torquing positive stop bolts long ago and not one problem doing so. Simply run them in to the hit and go around once more to make sure and no torque wrench needed at all. Why the technology was invented.

I run my PCV hose further to driver side than the original steel pipe which hugs the head tightly, that allows more room to make that godawful turn right off the valve. I use a Dorman rubber fitting (around $5?) that fits correct on intake and other end fits either 5/16" or 3/8" brake line, thinking 3/8. The line is easily cut and bent to shape and steel from one inch off intake to maybe 8 inches from PCV valve.

FYI, much of my vent hose from stat housing top and rad top are brake line as well, with joiners made of trans cooler line, that rubber line is very expensive and I looked for a way to cut back on that cost too. Brake line is cheaper than spit, or it was, I notice someone is on to me and quickly increasing price of that too.

I used to swear by Felpro gaskets but recent issues and huge price increases due to management fat heads have damped that somewhat. My last one is leaking after 40K and I don't think that is Felpro quality based on what I paid. Got a Magnum to change out at timing belt time coming up. We'll see.

DON'T change bottom pan gasket unless the oil pressure switch has been fully cleaned and checked, common leak there makes you swear the pan is leaking. As well, you can change gasket w/o dropping exhaust but be fully aware that a couple of bolt notches made in a plate down there will sideload your socket to one side to easily strip the bolts out at reinstall, front side of pan toward driver side IIRC. The provided notches there are NOT deep enough.
 

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Cheaping out is not always effective is my two cents.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
At this point, the PCV was changed once previously - the Airtex will at least get me closer to stock.

I got the same life as you did on the Fel-Pro gasket, so I guess I can't blame myself.

DON'T change bottom pan gasket unless the oil pressure switch has been fully cleaned and checked, common leak there makes you swear the pan is leaking.
Now that I ordered the gasket ...

That switch is to the driver's side of the oil filter, correct? If that is the problem, do you just replace the switch or is there a repair for the leak?

(Also - I am basically seeing oil all around and between the pan bolts on the right rear of the pan - about 1/3 of the circumference of the pan. Would a pressure switch leak look like this also?)

As well, you can change gasket w/o dropping exhaust but be fully aware that a couple of bolt notches made in a plate down there will sideload your socket to one side to easily strip the bolts out at reinstall, front side of pan toward driver side IIRC. The provided notches there are NOT deep enough.
I'll have to look at that - they are on the front side? (Not the bracket on the rear side for the catalytic converter, then ???)
 

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'...it seems unlikely that oil would leak down from here and then flow around the oil pan...'

LOL, incorrect BTDT..............oil pressure switch cannot be repaired, the diaphragm has ruptured to leak.
 

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When I was in the midst of replacing valve cover gaskets multiple times before I found out about Magnum gaskets, the leaks always ran all the way down to the oil pan to give the oil pan the appearance that it was leaking.
 

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Diagnose oil pressure switch leak:
Put car on jack stands. Lie underneath oil filter area. Have a friend start up car.
If oil sprays out and hits you in the eyeball, you have a switch leak (it's just to the right of the filter, right being passenger side).
Disconnect wiring plug, unscrew switch, screw in new one, replace wiring plug.

Note: probably wise to wear safety glasses for this procedure.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Good new/bad news ...

I had a chance to get under the car over the weekend and the oil pressure sender connector and wire is covered with oil. Since the oil pan is mainly wet in the area directly below the sender, I'm thinking that is my issue and not the oil pan gasket itself (which means my buddies at NTB lied to me - imagine that!!!)

That's probably an easier job than the pan gasket, which I was NOT looking forward to tackling, but it means I wasted money on the oil gasket and need to spend money on the sensor.

RockAuto has a Motorcraft sensor for under $20.

Questions:
  • Proper tool for this is supposed to be a 24mm deep well socket, but I don't have one, (but they're inexpensive). Can anyone confirm that is the correct size? (I just ordered the wrong size for the rear axle nut, and now have a 29mm socket I will probably never use). Other options would be to wait until the new switch shows up and measure it and then order the tool (best, but delays the repair), or go to the parts store and take some sockets and look at their switches and hope aftermarket and OEM match, but that seems a bit cheesy.
  • Probably preference, but other threads mentioned Permatex RTV #2 on the threads of the switch. The PICTURE looks like the MC switch has sealant pre-applied. I don't want to overdo it, but I don't want to have to do this again for a LONG time.
  • How much oil comes out when you remove the switch? (Fast Times at Ridgemont High reference.) The Chilton book mentioned it, but it wasn't clear if it meant some oil might dribble out, or if it was similar to removing the drain bolt, so have a bucket ready and a few spare quarts of oil to top it up before you drive the car?
I still can't see where the valve cover is leaking and I'm not trusting NTB, but the PCV valve and the left front of the engine at the transmission joint was wet with oil, and that seems like a common valve cover gasket leak spot, so I'm still assuming it is bad.

It’s a bit frustrating, b/c there are really no parts of the engine that are dry, but there isn't any oil leaking to the ground, so I don't have a major leak, but I'm not sure if I have one, two, or more minor leaks. The plan at this point is to work from the top down - i.e.:

  • Fix the PCV hose, since that is giving me a CEL indication (and can maybe cause gasket leaks).
  • Fix the valve cover gasket, as oil could be leaking down from it to the oil sending switch and the pan (although I would think the filter would be wet then too.
  • I'll probably order the pressure switch before I wait to see if that dries up or not after the vcg is changed. I'll replace it next.
  • I'll then check the oil pan. If necessary, I want to replace the oil pan gasket at the next oil change, but that isn't due for another 2K miles.

    Regarding the oil pan gasket, I found the two screws that amc49 was referring to - rear screws under the bracket for the catalytic converter. The bracket looks too thick to effectively Dremel out a recess for the wrench to have access.

    Questions:
    • Amc49 mentioned cross-threading and stripping the bolts. If you remove and start the bolts by hand, I can't see this happening - although I WOULD be concerned about rounding off the heads. Is this correct?
    • How can you best remove these bolts? A box end wrench won't work. An open-end would, but I would be MORE concerned about rounding the heads that way.

    Thanks again!!!
 

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The bolts not hard to get out, rather harder to put in, not as much room in there as you may think. Getting them simply started straight helps the issue bunches.

Oil switch removal drains the up passage there and not a lot of oil, certainly not 1/4 of a quart. Just enough to piss you off and ruin a good shop towel.

Dunno about NTB (Tire?) there but here they were the biggest liars and idiots on the planet. I delivered to them all the time and the help there was below abysmal, even the shop managers did some really stupid things. They often took on extensive deep repair work that in no way were they able to do. The district managers there told them they could refuse no work at all even if they lost money on it, and it happened all the time. The store managers did good to make $10/hr. and worked like 14-16 hour days 7 day week mandatory. Complete employee turnover about once a month or so. We sold like $25/week in oil drain plugs to replace all the ones they stripped out.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Yep - NTB Tire: http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/1...e-platinum-used-2011-corolla.html#post8829705 - They've done well by me (I think) for balance and alignment, but not sure about anything else.

Can you confirm 24 mm deep socket to remove the switch? http://www.fordcontour.org/topic/11042-engine-oil-leak-1995-20-zetec/#entry64007 - This post mentions grinding down a socket, but that was for a 1995 Contour and a different switch.

Permatex #2 on the threads of the oil switch recommended or not?
 

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The Permatex will work, I use teflon tape making sure it starts a bit short (2 threads) of end of fitting to not let threads get in oil gallery.

I pretty much never measure the size of parts as to socket, just grabbing different sockets until one works. I have nothing showing the size either. Sorry.........I memorize the more common bolts but the old hard drive is getting fairly full and needs a defrag badly.............

IIRC I may well have used an SAE open/boxed end to do that, at that size the wrench can be a bit loose and still work fine. One incher maybe? Loosen only and it comes off by hand the rest of the way, at least that one did. Don't tighten super tight like a bolt, can crush the body even using correct size tool.
 
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