I have a 1990 Honda Accord. Sometimes, when starting up after sitting for a long time, I get blue smoke from the exhaust. This only lasts for a minute or two, after that, there's no smoke whatsoever. I've also found that if I let the engine idle for a minute after parking, instead of shutting it off immediately, then there's no smoke when I start up again.

The signs point to a faulty valve gasket. But since this is fairly complicated to fix, I'd like to first eliminate any other possibilities. Is there anything besides a faulty valve gasket that could be causing this? (On another forum, someone suggested a PCV valve replacement for a similar problem. Does this make any sense?)

  • 1
    I assume you mean "valve stem seals" and not the valve cover gasket? Sep 28, 2011 at 15:26
  • @Brian: that's right, the valve stem seals. (Since it's an old car, I'd probably replace the valve cover gasket while I'm working on the valves, but obviously that's got nothing to do with the main problem.) Sep 28, 2011 at 17:22
  • Side question: is "valve gasket" not the right term? I thought "gasket" and "seal" were synonymous. Sep 28, 2011 at 17:23
  • 2
    Generally, seals are used on moving parts where gaskets are used on non moving parts.
    – Jaime
    Oct 4, 2011 at 19:55

1 Answer 1


Most likely it's the valve stem seals. It's not a super expensive fix, any engine shop should be able to do it, it's just time consuming. It could be bad rings on the pistons, but there would be other problems if that were the case.

The sitting and idling helps the oil drain back out of the head. Higher rpms will pump more fluid up there and the idling helps it drain back.

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    Side note, Toyota 5S-FE is notorious for this problem. Right around 60k miles you'll get the blue puff (or even cloud) of smoke on startup. Many a person has sold their 5S-FE powered car way too cheap due to thinking they had a bad engine when it's actually just an annoyance... Oct 4, 2011 at 20:28

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