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Burning Oil??? Voltage Issue

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  • #580495
    Homer SimpsonHomer Simpson
    Participant

      I drive a 1995 3.1L V6 Pontiac Grand Am SE.

      Lately the voltage meter on my dash has been reading high so I took it to AutoZone to have the battery/charging system tested. They said I needed a new battery, so I had a new one installed. The voltage gauge on the dash was still reading about 15.5 volts, so I ran to Walmart to get a multimeter and test it myself. On the way home from Walmart, I came through town, where traffic was heavy and there were lots of red lights. While in town, my car was running much hotter than usual (about 200 degrees when it normally runs about 130-150 degrees) and my oil pressure was fluctuating much more than it usually does (usually about 20 when idling and 40 when accelerating) but today it was going down to about 10 psi when I was sitting at red lights.

      I stopped to get gas, when I noticed that my temperature and oil pressure gauges did not drop to zero when I shut the car off (I’m pretty sure they normally do, but not 100%). When I started the car back up, it was cooler and my oil pressure was staying above 20 psi.

      When I got home and shut off my car, I noticed the temp and oil pressure gauges didn’t drop again. I noticed a funny smell coming from the engine (almost smelled like burning rubber), so I popped the hood and what I saw is in the picture below. The black stuff where that cable hooks in to the right of the oil cap was still wet. It was black and very cruddy even though I literally just had my oil changed.

      Is that oil burning??

      Also, I used a multimeter to test my battery and alternator output. The battery is putting out 12 volts and the alternator is putting out 13.6 volts. Is this still too high? Either way I guess my dash gauge is screwed up.

      So I guess to compress these questions:
      1. Is that oil burning?
      2. What does that mean if it is oil burning? Is my car toast?
      3. My oil pressure used to be stead at 40 psi and now it fluctuates. I’ve heard this is normal wear (my car has 182k miles on it), but it worries me that it was steady a while ago and it’s not anymore).
      4. Is 13.6 volts too high for my alternator output?

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    • #580514
      Homer SimpsonHomer Simpson
      Participant

        After some research, it seems as though the PCV valve is leaking. I started my car and tested if the hose is getting suction. It is. And the PCV valve rattles. So why is oil leaking from it?

        #580522
        EricTheCarGuy 1EricTheCarGuy
        Keymaster

          I actually cover this issue in this article.

          http://www.ericthecarguy.com/faq/finding-and-fixing-leaks

          It may be that your engine is worn out and has excessive blow by.

          #580524
          Homer SimpsonHomer Simpson
          Participant

            Could this also be why my oil pressure is low at times?

            Is there some way I can remedy this or is my engine toast?

            #580526
            WayneWayne
            Participant

              1. Yes, it’s burning on the cover from the leak(s).
              2. No, gaskets, or a seal if it’s your PCV to the hose is shot is all.
              3. You have something systemic wrong with your gauge panel from the sound of it. Unless you were able to verify any of those readings.
              4. No, it should be around 13.8v when the car is running, plus or minus a bit.

              #580544
              Homer SimpsonHomer Simpson
              Participant

                I’ve attached photos of the PCV valve and where the crankcase comes out to the grommet. I tried to get the grommet off but I couldn’t with my bare hands.

                Could this be why I’m losing oil pressure?

                EDIT @Wayne613: I was inclined to believe that but my tach and speedometer work perfectly fine.

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                #580548
                WayneWayne
                Participant

                  Search on stepper motors. If they’re sticking as you’ve indicated, this is a common sign that the stepper motor for that particular gauge is having an issue (usually want to replace all of them even if just one or two are dieing). May also want to just get the cluster out and check the contacts themselves for corrosion. Perhaps have the cluster just out far enough to move the connector on the back around, and see if some movement on the connector or wires has any effect on the gauges.

                  There are some ebay sellers that specialize in cluster repairs to do this for you if you’re so inclined. Might even find someone locally. This is assuming you don’t want to take on this task yourself. Just count the gauges in the cluster, that’s how many stepper motors are there to replace.

                  You can also just get another off of a salvage yard or ebay as well and just live with the mileage difference. You’ll likely wish to verify you don’t have in-built anti-theft, if you do you’ll need to do the learn procedure for it before it will start again with the replacement cluster.
                  http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_would_your_instrument_panel_in_a_%2796_Grand_Am_go_nuts_with_no_speed_gas_temp_or_rpm_gauge

                  I’d still likely replace the stepper motors, but you’d have a spare in case you screwed up:
                  http://www.ebay.com/itm/1995-Pontiac-Grand-Am-Speedo-Cluster-/271425438089

                  #580586
                  BillBill
                  Participant

                    It looks form the pic that the valve cover bolt grommet is leaking a little. I don’t think you can buy them separate. They usually come with a valve cover gasket. If it bothers you I suggest that you remove the bolt and after cleaning it well place a small dab of silicone sealer on the grommet and reinstall it.

                    #580588
                    Homer SimpsonHomer Simpson
                    Participant

                      I’m not going to fret too much about the gauges right now. I’ve put $800 into this car in the past month and I don’t have much money to spare with my upcoming expenses for grad school.

                      I went to AutoZone and got a new PCV valve, but they didn’t have a specific elbow listed for my car (seems like no one does). So I had to just guess because I didn’t bring the old one with me for fear of stuff falling into the crank case without those parts in place.

                      Turns out I got the wrong elbow. No matter how hard I twist and pull I can’t detach the old valve from the elbow to reuse the elbow. Any ideas? Would spraying WD-40 on it to try to loosen it up be a bad idea?

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