Oil in spark plug tube

2001 Camry, 4 cylinder, 92000 miles. I found black oil in #1 and #3 spark plug wells. It was particular bad in #1 well, where the oil totally socked the end of the wire rub hood. I heard the noise just like pulling your foot out from mud. I smelled burning rubber from #1 wire. I cleaned up both and installed new spark plugs anyway. I took particular attention to clean my tools and the spark plug wire and made sure no deposit was on the electrical contact either on the wires and the new park plugs. Fortunately, the car still starts, idles and runs fine. How oil can get in there? Any suggestions?

Hopefully, you didn’t remove those two plugs with the oil (+dirt,etc) still in the well.

Oil from leaking valve covers usually causes this problem.

Actually, I didn’t know that until I pulled the plugs out. But I think I cleaned it pretty good. The new plugs worked OK. How can I fix a leaking valve cover?

You’ll have to change the cam cover gasket. It’s not that big a job. It’s a fairly common issue. Or you could blow the oil out of the sparkplug wells every few hundred or a few thousand miles with compressed air. It depends on how bad the leak is.

You should always be sure the sparkplug wells are clean on ANY CAR. Use compressed air before pulling the plugs so that no dirt can get into the cylinders. The caps over the wells that are part of plug wires do an excellent job of sealing out dirt so yours is probably fine.