Oil leaking on spark plugs?

I have a 2001 Pontiac Grand Am SE 4 cyl with 214,000 miles.

A few days ago my car was running rough and I got a misfire code. I opened the cover and took out the spark plugs and a few of them got oil on them. It looks like oil is leaking from the valve cover gasket. Can you all take a look and confirm?

I’ve been having oil pressure flashing on and off after driving 2,000 miles after oil change. It goes away after oil change but comes back after driving 2,000 miles. I thought it was oil burning. Maybe this is where the oil has been leaking? Maybe I got both oil burning and leaking? lol

If it is the valve cover gasket, it doesn’t look too expensive on Amazon. But I’m not sure about labor cost, maybe I can fix it myself. Looks like I just need to remove all 9 nuts on top and it comes right off?

Yes, it appears as though the valve cover is leaking. It also looks like some of the valve cover bolts are absent… missing. That could cause your leak all by itself.

Do you check the oil level when this happens? How low is it? Do you add oil when you see it is low? How often are YOU checking it?

Edit: Since paragraph above is exactly what I told you once before and since you did not follow that advice… Say goodbye to your engine and the car now, because it will be dead very soon.


Other than what Mustangman already said, it sounds like you are killing your little engine…

Ahh, the old Quad 4, lots of memory’s of the 1/2 and full Quad 4’s…

Question, was oil all over the coil connecter boots (spark plug boots)?? I am not seeing enough oil to cause a misfire…
That being said, I remember replacing lots of those Ignition Coil Housing’s, both Coils and even the Ignition Control Modules back in the 90’s…

Now about those Cam Carrier covers (valve cover gaskets), looks like you buy them as intake cam cover and or exhaust cam cover gaskets, so may not be sold in sets for both (unless head gasket set)… They also have a top and bottom gaskets/seals, and the bolts go through both into the cylinder head… Labor is 5.3 hours for the exhaust cam cover and 6.4 hours for the intake cam cover, or 7.0 hours for both cam covers…

I recommend having a Pro mechanic that is very familiar do them as the Quad 4’s not your normal little 4 cylinder of the day… But again, I am not convinced your misfire is oil related, rod going through the side of the block yes sooner or later, but not the misfire…

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My main concern would be the engine oil pressure light flashing . . . with luck, it might be due to a bad engine oil pressure switch/sensor

Have you verified the engine oil level is correct . . . ?!

As for those missing bolts, I sure hope they’re just missing and the female threads are okay

It’ll get ugly if the bolts have sheared off down below or if the female threads have stripped out


In a previous post about this car, he did not know HOW to check the oil. Below is the quote from the previous oil question about this car.

I have no way to verify the oil level other than looking at the max line on the dipstick. I don’t add oil between changes.


Probably best to hire this job out to a pro mechanic. First, they’ll know what to do about the missing bolts, and second, will use the correct torque when reinstalling the valve cover. It’s a pretty common mistake for beginning diy’ers to over-tighten valve cover bolts. Often bends the valve cover then it will never seal leak free, even with a new gasket.

BTW: Very critical to maintain the proper oil level in the engine at all times.

Kinda hard to bend a cast aluminum valve cover.


It is a waste of money to reseal the valve covers on a car that is in the condition you indicated in the past: check engine light on, traction control/ABS light on, oil pressure warning light on, loud exhaust.

The oil in the picture is insignificant, expected on a 23 year old engine.

The “missing bolts” are for the engine cover/coil housing, they are not lost.


I thought all pontiacs are resting in peace in the middle of a junk yard by now…
You are REALLY lucky, buy a lottery ticket!

I am sensing bad vibe from some of you posting in this thread. Why the negative criticism? I don’t post here that often so how some of you still remember me? And digging up my old posts to make me look bad lol.

The oil pressure light sometimes flashes on and off because oil is either leaking, burning, or both. It goes away after I do an oil change because the oil is full. But after more than 2,000 miles of driving, it comes back because oil is down to the level where it is affecting the oil pressure sensor, I guess. It usually happens when I make left and right turns because the oil is probably on one side and the sensor is not sensing enough oil momentarily.

I believe the problem is oil leaking from the valve cover gasket and maybe spark plug tube sealer. But it is NOT a waste of money to fix this problem. I am not the type of person to get rid of a car because it has some problems. Yes, I understand the car is old, year 2001, so 23 years old. And the mileage is kind of high, around 214,000 miles. But this car has sentimental value and I actually like driving this car anyway. I am just a Do It Yourself person who posts questions on forums and watches youtube videos to fix my car problems. I have been able to fix most of the problems myself. Whatever I can’t really do or too hard, my option is to take it to a mechanic shop, or a mobile mechanic if the mechanic shop is too expensive. I go to a mechanic only once in a while nowadays because I do most of my own car repairs.

So lets talk about what I have done on this car. Yes, I do have an annoying EVAP check engine light that keeps coming back for some reason. I already replaced the vent valve and purge valve a while ago and recently I got a OEM gas cap from online GM seller which I think is different than Amazon and Autozone gas caps. The check engine light doesn’t come on as often as before. Even if it comes on, I clear the code and it will be a long time before it comes back again (a lot longer than before)

You want to know how I fixed the traction control light? On this car, it is a Enhanced Traction System button switch next to the hazard light switch, both sitting above the radio. So apparently the lock tab on it broke so I guess the connection wasn’t in all the time. So when I was driving, it kept connecting and disconnecting from car movement. I put another switch in with a lock tab and no more traction control light. can’t believe this, right? lol

As for losing traction in the rain, I fixed it by getting new tires. My tires were 6 to 7 years old and it was down to 4/32 tread wear so I guess that’s why it was slipping in the rain. I was able to use the prorated manufacturer warranty which I was able to deduct from the cost of the new tires so it saved me quite a bit of money. I got some decent new tires so I didn’t really pay too much to fix this problem.

As for loud exhaust, I don’t think it is that loud anymore or maybe it doesn’t bother me anymore. I guess changing the vent valve, purge valve and gas cap helped to some extent. I also used some exhaust emissions cleaner which also helped I guess.

I do understand some of them are not completely fixed but I am a simple guy trying to get as many miles out of this car as possible. As long as I can still drive this thing, I can tolerate minor problems.

Ok so you believe my car will be dead very soon. But I believe my car will live a long beautiful life because I believe in my car and I will do everything I can to help fix all of its problems. Do you want to bet $300 that this car will get to 300,000 miles? If it dies before 300,000 miles and can’t fix it anymore, I will never post on this forum ever again. But if it does get to 300,000 miles, you have to take out your checkbook and write a big, fat check even if you don’t want to lol.

You want to know what I believe in? I believe this car can get to 300,000 miles. I believe I will still be here on this forum one year from now, asking questions about this car because this car simply refuses to die because of the power of believing.

Not this Pontiac. Because it is mine and I take good care of it. Yeah, I notice that I’m probably the only one, or one of very few people still driving a Pontiac in my area lol. I rarely see a Pontiac when I drive outside.

Not negative posts . Just reaction to some of things you posted like giveing the impression that you don’t check the oil level as often as you should . Complaining about traction when all that was needed was new tires.

First rule of web Forums ( if you can’t handle the answer don’t ask the question ).


I’m a firm believer that people should live their lives they way they want to. As long as your choices don’t affect me, do your thing.

Having said that…

Putting money into major engine work on a 20+ year old Pontiac is a little silly. Financially speaking, you’ll never get your money back out of the price of the repairs. Everything else on the car is likely 20+ years old, and will begin failing more and more. Pretty soon you’re going to have an expensive to maintain, unreliable car that will cause problems with you getting work and doing other daily tasks. Not to mention various safety issues, too. Parts availability may become a concern later, if not already.

It’s your car, and I support your right to pour money into it. Just know that the problems are only going to get worse and more expensive.

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… especially if–as it appears–he doesn’t bother to replenish the oil between oil changes.


1st of all, saying that all Pontiac’s are dead is a very stupid comment, especially coming from a self proclaimed expert, you have to understand the source… He would of had to say almost every GM (Chevrolet, Buick, Oldsmobile etc) ever built that shared a Pontiac Platform are dead…

Your vehicle is NOT based only on a Pontiac platform IT IS based on GM’s (that is general motors lol) N Body Code platform… Most of GM’s vehicles are based on an A-Z Body Code platform, meaning the engine, transmission, brakes, suspension, steering, frame, basically the rolling chassis (minus the sheet metal and interior) was all the same for a given A-Z Body Code Platform (and years)… Here are a few examples…

Buick: Riviera
Cadillac: Eldorado
Oldsmobile: Toronado
Chevrolet: Camaro
Pontiac: Firebird
G-Body (1982-85)
Buick: Regal
Chevrolet: Malibu, El Camino, Monte Carlo
Oldsmobile: Cutlass
Pontiac: Bonneville and Grand Prix
J-Body (1982-85)
Buick: Skyhawk
Cadillac: Cimarron
Chevrolet: Cavalier
Oldsmobile: Firenza
Pontiac: J2000 and Sunbird

A more up to date Body Codes…

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  1. I am a little confused, is it the red oil pressure light coming on, or a low oil level warning light/message coming on??

  2. How often do you check your oil level??

  3. Do you change the oil and then at 2000 miles when the “oil light” comes on, change the oil again?? But never check the oil level in between??


If you aren’t checking the oil regularly and adding oil as needed it will not last another 90K no matter how well you think you are maintaining the car. Every time you see the oil light flash you are removing miles of life from the engine.

If it lasts I give YOU a check? And if it doesn’t you leave the forum? Seems a very bad deal for me because I don’t care if you leave the forum or stay.

How about the reverse? If it hits 300K I’ll leave the forum and if it doesn’t you send me a check equaling the scrap value of the car. Of course, you’ll have to provide some proof it actually made it to 300K.


Actually it is a GMX130 platform. Really a better body and suspension design that the J, N and L bodies it replaced. But that’s splitting GM heirs. :rofl:


My guess, the reason the oil pressure light flashes when you turn is probably that the oil is rushing to the other side of the pan during the turn, preventing the oil pump pickup from getting enough oil to pump. Maintaining the oil level on the dipstick close to the “full” mark – by adding oil between changes as required — should help.

It’s easy to see a poster’s posting history. Try clicking on the big “G” to the left of this post, you’ll see mine. (You’ll have to click on the “G” a second time it seems.)