Cam cover gasket -- 1996 Saturn



Hi everyone –

I drive a 1996 5-speed saturn.

I recently posted regarding some foaming coolant – that turns out to be due to a faulty coolant temperature sensor which was not turning on the fan. I am currently getting that replaced to deal with an overheating engine.

A second problem that has been highlighted is a leaking cam cover gasket. According to the tech, the whole motor is “bathed” in oil and the hoses, spark plugs, etc everything is just covered in oil. It is a “severe” leak of the cam cover gasket. And they say until they fix that leak - they won’t be able to diagnose if there are any other leaks because they can’t see anything else.

So I wonder, this car has 136K miles on it, it still seems to be running just fine despite the coolant system issue which should be fixed now and I have been adding motor oil since I knew the motor was burning oil (never had any leaking under the car though). Given it’s a 215$ repair, is it worth it for me to put that money in?

I’ve spent quite a bit this past year getting 2 new tires, new brakes, new brake drums, new tensioner/idler pulley, coolant system flush, etc. I don’t want to buy a new car, I just wonder if it’s worth adding motor oil every 2000 miles to avoid spending this 215$. Or, should I go ahead and get this leaking gasket fixed.

Thanks for any opinions.


Get a second opinion and if it matches with the first one, get that blown gasket replaced.

If the oil leaks out faster you may need more than a gasket replacement.


For 215, absolutely it’s worth it. That’s a leak that’s only going to get worse, not better, to the point where you’re losing oil faster than you can dump it in. Plus, bathing the soft rubber parts in oil is just going to make it all the sooner you’ll have to replace them as well.


You’re only adding oil every 2000 miles, and the engine is bathed in it? I think you definitely need a second opinion. Check out the mechanics files on THIS VERY website at to find a reputable shop near you.

A customer of mine was recently told that she should replace the rear crankshaft seal and front transmission sheal of her Jeep Grand Cherokee at a cost of $1500 because there was a little dust clinging to oil that had seeped out over the last seven years. Like I told her, don’t believe everything you hear.


The first thing I would inspect would be the PCV valve. The car is 12 years old and if the PCV is plugged up the engine crankcase will pressure up and oil can be forced out past seals and gaskets.

Checking the PCV should be step no. 1. Simply shake it and see if it rattles freely. If it does, it’s good.
I don’t know which model you have but PCVs are cheap as per the example below and easy to install…


The money spent is better than having a fire under the hood. It’s better than buying an extended warranty. You could also forget to check the oil when you fill up during a rainstorm. You don’t want to run low on oil. It’s the cheapskate that pays the most. The PCV recommendation aounds good too. Maybe it will suck some of that oil back in.


Is it strange that the dealer has told me that they cannot diagnose any other potential problems because of this leaky gasket?

I am adding oil maybe less than every 2000 miles, but I am not seeing any leaking outside of the car or on my garage floor… . so I think I am mostly burning. Would you all expect that if it were leaking as badly as they say it is leaking I should see a leak on my garage floor or something?

Thanks for all this information – it is extremely helpful.


IIRC, not all Saturns have a PCV valve. If this one does, do check it out.

If you’re adding a quart in <2000 miles, forget it. How many quarts @ $3 a quart can you buy for the cost of the repair? About 71. 71 X 2000 = 143K more miles. Will you still have the car in that many miles?