Question concerning dark residue around engine

Hello all, I have a manual spark with 29,200 miles on it. I don’t drive it like crazy but I have been neglecting the cleanliness of the engine bay. I am very concerned about what I’m looking at, is this just buildup of some kind or is it a leak or potentially a gasket issue? Thank you.

I do not see what you are referring to.

Sorry, there is dark residue on the mid to bottom right where the cylinder head meets the engine block. I was just wondering if that looks to be about normal and I should just give the engine bay a good clean. The car runs just fine with no trouble or codes.

It does not look normal, cleaning is for your peace of mind, but it will not fix the underlying cause. It does not look major, my guess a leaking gasket, Perhaps the valve cover just needs a little snugging up.

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Okay, thank you sir.

It’s dust!!!

Hey, I know the majority of the engine bay is just dust, but you’re saying that in between the cylinder head and engine bay is just dust and build up too?

That looks like dust sitting in some minor oil seepage.

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Okay, I’m trying to figure out how this happened. I’ve never had a signal that my car was close to overheating, oil changed every 3000 miles. If it’s a worse issue than the valve cover I should just abandon hope I imagine?

I would just keep an eye on that apparently very minor leak, and hope it doesn’t worsen.
Probably not worth worrying about.

If I’m not mistaken, the worst birth defect of Spark is timing chain premature wear and breakage.
Given @Ryan-119 is very diligent on oil changes, hopefully his chain will not suffer from this.
As for the minor oil seepage on the picture… hey, if it is how it looks after 30K miles with zero cleaning under the hood, it’s [almost] sparking clean and I would not worry about this at all.


Also, I cannot see the joint between the head and block in this pic, just the seam between the valve cover and head.

As the others have said this looks like a very minor valve cover gasket leak. As long as you’re changing the oil and checking it between changes, and not experiencing significant oil use, I wouldn’t worry about it. Wipe it down with some paper towels, keep an eye on it.


Things just happen. Automobiles and their components don’t last forever. This is one reason I get a new car every three years.


Thank you guys for your responses, I cleaned it up and it looks pretty good now. I do plan on selling it in about 3 years or so, I just want it to make it that long. It actually runs fine so I was just worrying, thanks everyone.