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Oil in spark plug well - now doesn't start

I’m working on my son’s 1996 Ford Probe SE (2.0 & A/T) and that suffered from hard starting and a rough idle. I was doing a compression test and found that the number four spark plug was doused in oil. I changed the valve cover gasket and tube seals, but now the car won’t start at all. I checked and I’m getting spark and fuel pressure. The compression was low-ish, but not much different than the last time I checked it .

Also, when I took the valve cover off, I noticed that the PCV valve was plugged up, so I cleaned it out and it rattles again. I plan to replace it, but I just cleaned it up for test purposes. Shining a flashlight down the spark plug well looks like there is quite a bit of oil down in the cylinder. I assume that it filled up and ran down in there when I removed the spark plug. Would the oil in there cause the car not to start? If so, how should I proceed to clean it up?

when you took spark plug from cylinder #4, did you notice oil burned-up to the insulator inside?

if not, likely oil is the one from the plug well

you said PCV valve was plugged… what if you pinch PCV hose (to return it back “how it was before”) and try starting it up ?


All the oil seemed to be fresh and very wet. Not burned that I can tell. And I didn’t see any evidence of arcing either. haven’t tried to plug up the PCV yet. I have all the plugs out at the moment and am trying to decipher how to clean out the excess oil (or if I should even bother). Thanks.

what is in cylinders, let it be there, it will fly out once you crank the engine
I would be more concerned not to let any “stuff” to get into cylinders, like nuts, bolts or dirt of any kind

while you are at it, it would be better to replace spark plugs altogether: for $10 you will get an assurance they are in good shape

when did you change your high-voltage wires and/or distributor cap/rotor (if you have them) ?
that would be another things, where relatively small $$ thrown go a long way

I misread your message.
I took it as you cleaned your PCV and still have problems.
No reason to try pinching the hose as you did not get up and running yet.

Based on my last [unlucky] experience, PCV can rattle, and still perform badly, throwing “lean” code due to vacuum leak.
I would rather replace it, as it is usually under $10 and does not cost troubles old valve can do.
At the very least, make sure you try blowing it with your mouth and see if it lets go in one direction, but not with another if you do not replace it.