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Jim Grant Tech Tips Jim Grant Tech Tips
A collection of helpful articles based on reader submissions
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  Jim Grant's Tech TipsJim Grant's Tech Tips
Below is a collection of Jim Grant's Tech Tips sorted by Vehicle Make. These Tech Tips were answers to questions submitted to Jim by users over the course of many years.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email us.



Lincoln - Mercury
  Jim Grant's Tech Tips

93 Lincoln Towncar, Smokes When Idling
Q: My 93 Lincoln Towncar smokes after it sits at idle, but only after it warms up. When it is cold (engine) it doesn't smoke. As soon as the water heats a small amount and the temperature switch senses this the check engine light comes on and the smoking begins. Whenever you sit at a light and then accelerate there is a large cloud of blue smoke which comes from the tailpipe. The engine uses about 2 quarts of oil every 400 miles. I tried reading the engine codes and the closest I can come up with is the EGR system. This problem just started a few months ago and I'm stumped. The last time I had a problem was poor running and a thermactor code. It cost me $400.00 for a new mass air flow sensor and a cleaning( I think I got the cleaning ) of the EGR system. Any help would be appreciated....Rick

A: Something isnt adding up here. First, 2 quarts of oil every 400 miles is a major oil consumption problem! Its unlikely any computer codes are going to give you an answer to that. I would not recommend spending much money on that vehicle until you know why the engine uses so much oil. The way you describe the problem brings back some memories of problems wed see with older vehicles. Of course I was very very young at that time.

Heres what would happen. Because of poor oil quality, lack of proper maintenance and/or driving habits the oil drain back passages in the cylinder heads would plug up with deposits. This condition would cause oil to become trapped in the valve covers of the engine. As a vehicle is driven, oil is pumped up to the top of the engine to lubricate the push rods and rocker arms (in your application) that operate the valves. This oil is suppose to drain back down into the engine. When oil cannot drain back, it collects at the top of the engine in the valve covers. Once the oil reaches a high enough level the valve seals are overpowered with oil and eventually the PCV valve, which is designed to remove vapors, would have liquid (oil) available. Needless to say this condition would cause oil consumption to jump resulting in a marked abundance of blue smoke out the exhaust after a vehicle had been run a short time. This condition would also raise havoc with the vehicle emission controls, which could cause the computer to send out a desperate plead for help (check engine light on).

An easy way to check for this possibility is by inspecting the oil level in the morning after the engine has set overnight. Then drive the vehicle until it starts smoking good. Shut the engine off and check the oil level. If the oil level has dropped in that short of time then it is very likely that oil is trapped in the valve covers of the engine. The fix is removing the valve covers and cleaning the drains.

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