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I started to change the spark plugs on a 1998 Ford Contour LX with a 2.0L Zetec (4-Cylinder) recently. It's got just over 100,000 miles on it. According to the service schedule, they're due at 100,000 miles. I removed the plastic cover on the valve cover and pulled the plug wires to access the plugs and was surprised to find oil pooled around two of the plugs.

I suspect this is not normal /expected. Where is the oil coming from and what do I do to stop that leak?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

The most likely cause is the valve cover gasket. You can try to tighten the bolts that hold the cover, but most likely the gasket or seal needs to be replaced.

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Be careful retightening... Some valve covers are quite low torque. I was used to higher torque valve covers but ran across a low torque one once and accidently tried to torque it to 11 ft-lbs instead of the indicated 11 in-lbs!. – Brian Knoblauch Apr 3 '12 at 17:23
Any idea what the proper torque spec is for this application? – Mark Johnson Apr 6 '12 at 1:27
stage1 1.4ftlbs stage2 5.75ftlbs start in the center and work toward the ends. – mikes Apr 6 '12 at 1:45
The factory service manual says 7 newton meters, which is 5.16 foot pounds, or 62 inch pounds. – Mark Johnson Apr 16 '12 at 18:18
Valve cover gasket replaced. After a few miles, including a couple exits on an interstate, the spark plugs are dry. – Mark Johnson Apr 16 '12 at 19:12

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