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Toyota Echo 2001 with oil over the spark plug

Hi everyone. I have a Toyota 2001 Echo and after about 5 min of driving, it starts to stutter when I step on the gas and shake back/forth. It gets worse going up hills. Once it starts, it continues at any speed and doesn’t have the normal power but doesn’t die. Stepping on the gas harder doesn’t increase the RPMs like it should. Thinking it might be the spark plugs, I removed the cap on one plug and found the well with about 2 cm of clear, yellow oil.

Is this bad? if so, how bad?

From your observations can you conclude that this sparkplug was not firing because it was fouled by oil OR is this oil merely on the outside of the plug and not causing an oil fouled condition?

If your plug was oil fouling and causing a misfire this would be serious,but I doubt this is the correct description of what is going on.

Thanks for the questions. I’m not sure if the oil has fouled the plug. After removing the cap and seeing the oil, I didn’t want to remove the plug and risk contamination of the internal engine by this fluid I presume to be oil. So I don’t know if the internal end of the plug is affected but the exposed end appears clean above the “white” part of the plug.

If it’s not a spark plug issue, what could it be? It feels like the car isn’t getting the proper flow of fuel, air, or both but what do I know. I hope to sound somewhat educated and ask reasonable questions when I take this car into a mechanic so any thoughts would be helpful.

The oil on the outside of the plug indicates a leaking valve cover spark plug seal. Easy to fix. This does not indicate oil fouling of the spark plug inside the engine, and may not be related to the problems you’re having.

What’s the maintenance history of your car?

Be honest.

Honestly. . .the only maintenance on this 83,000 mile vehicle has been regular oil changes every 3000 to 5000 miles. That’s pretty much it. In fact, the check engine light has been on for approximately 2 years and I’ve been ignoring it. Moreover, the low coolant light stays on for about the first 2 miles despite having a full radiator.

I’m definitely taking the vehicle in for professional evaluation but from the comments posted here, I can at least feel comfortable when they tell me it is not the spark plugs. If they make the oil issue seem like a big deal, I will know to question him further.

Is there any maintenance in particular that would have prevented this problem from happening or is the question regarding maintenance more of a litmus test of the overall care for which I provide for my vehicle?

If those are the original plugs or they’ve been in there a long time then you need a new set of plugs, plug wires, and repair of the valve cover seals.

Without geting into the technnical explanation of how and why this is all tied together just suffice it to say it should all be repaired.
Two years is a long time to be puttering around with an illuminated CEL and it’s possible that even with a smooth running engine and those repairs being done you may still have a CEL on due to problems caused by the original fault. (clogged EGR system, O2 sensors out of whack, converter codes, etc)

Correction, plug boots, no wires, as this is a coil on plug setup.

Ignoring a CEL for two years?

Oh, that’s bad. Very bad.

At least you’re honest about it, and when things are worse than expected you’ll know who to blame.

Good luck.