Ford Ranger, Oil on spark plugs 800$

Took my 08 Ranger to dealer, had my spark plugs replaced among other things. The called me back saying there was oil on my spark plugs not sure if it was on the top or bottom, he wouldn’t say. They recommended changing the Valve Case Gasket and also the intake gaskets. The estimated cost was 800+ tax. This seems like a rip off. Any help would be appreciated!

Also is if the diagnosis is right which i believe it is, how urgent is it to repair and can a novice car mechanic feasibly do this.

Which engine does your truck have? Offhand, the price seems kind of high but a lot depends upon the locale, shop rates, parts sourcing, and so on.

What I do not like about what you’ve related is their calling you back and telling you they’re not sure if the oil is on the top or bottom of the plug and “wouldn’t say”.
This is not rocket science and they should not even consider calling you back with such a hokey diagnosis. For that reason alone I suggest you go elsewhere.

Oil on the top is not that big a deal; oil on the bottom (as on the plug tips) can be serious.

Sounds 'bout right for price at a dealer.
Oil seepage from the valve cover is a common occurance.
Likely some oil leaked onto the intake gaskets so they no longer look perfect, but still do the job.
Dealers want to change any part that doesn’t look near pristine.
Small oil leaks are a big money maker.
I would get a good independent shop to change the valve cover gasket, maybe $200.

“…how urgent is it to repair…”

Well, how’s it run? Check engine light on? Using any oil? Smell any oil burning when you open the hood after a good run? Oil on the ground underneath?

If the valve cover gasket is leaking, the shop should be able to show you signs of oil leaking from the seam where the valve cover meets the head and onto various engine parts. While valve cover leaks are fairly common, it’s not a good thing to ignore. At a minimum it causes a big oily mess and makes it hard to see if something else is on the fritz. And the oil can get onto rubber parts (like the spark plug wires and boots, various belts, etc) and cause them to deteriorate.

For an 08, I concur with circuit’s advice above, get the valve cover gasket replaced, but at a well recommended local inde shop. You could ask the shop to give a engine a cleaning, then you could inspect it for any signs of leaking from the intake manifold. There are UV dye kits you can use to make this job easier.

If you are low on funds, another idea is to simply tighten the valve cover fasteners. But you have to be very careful not to overtighten, as doing so will cause way more problems than a simple oil leak. Ask the local inde shop if trying the re-tightening thing might work? If so, they can look up the torque specs and do it properly, without warping something.

To give you some idea of the complexity of replacing the valve cover gasket, I did this job on my Corolla several years ago and it took me, a DIY’er who had never done that job before, maybe 30-40 minutes.

Check the procedure in a shop manual and consider whether you are up to the job. If you have access to a compressor you can occasionally remove the coils from the affected plugs and spray brake cleaner into the spark plug well and then blow the well dry with compressed air and reassemble it. That works if the leak is slow but sooner or later it the leak will get worse.

The “O” rings on the bottom of the spark plug tubes may be leaking allowing oil to get on the outside of some of the sparkplugs. The problem is that the valvecover needs to be removed to replace the “O” rings. Both the rings and the valvecover should be changed for two reasons; one because that ensures proper compression throughout the system and two because gaskets take a “set” and after six years under compression they’re unlikely to seal properly if reused. Compare a new gasket to a used gasket and the difference will be visibly obvious. Rubber under compression actually changes shape over time in a process called “cold flow”.

The rings and the valvecover gasket come as a kit. Some manufacturers, like Toyota, actually mold the valvecover gasket and the “O” rings as a single item. They should always be changed together.

Having said all that, I would not change anything at this time UNLESS the spark plugs were being changed for a misfire problem. If this was scheduled maintenance, wait until it’s being done again, have it done at a reputable independent’s shop, and ask his opinion. If he does find significantly oiled plugs, he’ll likely be hundreds cheaper than the dealer.

Thanks all for the help really appreciate it , the spark plugs were not being changed for a misfire problem just as a normal suggested maintenance. Upon calling back the oil was on the bottom of the spark plug (this is a week later so he may be making things up).

I have a 2.3L 4 cylinder, engine, I have been checking my oil since and so far so good. No smoke or smell of burning oil.

Side note, 5 yrs ago i got an oil change and they forgot to replace the oil cap on the engine and i drove3 home and oil sprayed everywhere. I Haven’t replaced plugs ever so could this be a contributing factor?

Yeah, it could be. It could be that oil got down into he spark plug tube and has been sitting there ever since.

When people hear that there’s oil on a spark pug they can get antsy. They envision their engine well on its way to total destruction. The truth is very different. The truth is that some oil on the outside of a sparkplug is a very easily correctable condition on most engines, won’t destroy the engine, and in your case may even have a totally human root cause.

But many (maybe most)dealerships IMHO are using people’s fears to extract money from their bank accounts for unnecessary work to make up for a car market that’s been weak for years and ever-rising operating costs. I truly think that’s what’s going on here. And that’s the reason I don’t think a vehicle owner of any vehicle that’s beyond warranty should be frequenting a dealer. Too many shenanigans going on.

Drive it for a year, change the plugs, and if you have a wet one think about changing the valvecover and spark plug tube gaskets and O-rings. The plug wire may need to be changed too, but that isn’t a big deal either.