Question about 2000 Chevrolet Prizm

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Chevy Prizm or Toyota Corolla 2000 valve cover gasket problem? Right after oil change, engine check light came on & car started smoking & losing oil. I took out all 4 spark plugs: they were in very bad shape, black, burned, oily. Changed the spark plugs: it's still smoking. Beside valve cover gasket what else could be the usual suspect? Also, I'm wondering if changing the valve cover gasket is relatively easy - something that I can do it myself - or it's tricky and needs to be done by an expert mechanic?

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The valve cover gasket isn't hard to change. Oil on the plugs indicates a more serious problem. Smoke from the exhaust would be from rings, rich mixture, worn valve guides. It may be that the engine is overfull (that would show on the stick). Oil loss from a leaking gasket would smoke under the hood and leave oil on the engine and the ground.

Posted on Mar 25, 2011

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  • Orion Mar 26, 2011

    Thanks a lot. What is 'rich mixture', how does it happen, & how can be fixed? I guess, fixing the rings problem or valve guides wouldn't be an easy or inexpensive job. Any approximate estimate for each of them? I can't spend much on this car (unemployed). What can I do to keep it running & passing emission test? Just add oil & change spark plugs every once a while? What else? Any other inexpensive solution? Thank you all for your help.

  • Donald Tucker Mar 26, 2011

    The fuel/air mix is said to be "rich" if it has more combustibles than oxygen to burn them up. The extra carbon is emitted as black smoke. It happens when air intake is restricted like a closed choke or dirty air filter. The plugs become fouled and then misfire, causing even more smoke and the engine will miss at idle and smoke upon acceleration. The inexpensive stuff is the air filter, choke adjustment and tune up (you could do the labor yourself). There are helpful books at the public library that have emissions diagrams and tune up specifications. The smog information will give you help with the emissions test. Also some states allow exemptions and extra time if you show good faith.

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