5 Symptoms of Bad Valve Seals in Your Car

The internal combustion engine generates its power after a mixture of air and fuel is ignited in its cylinders. The air and fuel get mixed first before entering the cylinders, though. Only a certain amount of the mixture is transferred to the cylinders for combustion purposes. It all depends on how much power needs to be generated for the vehicle.

For example, if the driver steps on the gas pedal or if the vehicle carries a heavy load, the engine will need to generate more power to keep the vehicle moving. This means that more of the air and fuel mixture must enter the cylinders. The valves are the components which enable this to happen. They regulate how much of the mixture goes into the cylinders. Meanwhile, the seals on the valves prevent oil from escaping the valve cover area and ending up in the engine.

Valve seals are made from a highly durable rubber material. However, this material will not last forever. There will eventually become a point when the rubber material wears down completely. That is when some unusual symptoms will present themselves which could impact your ability to operate your vehicle normally.

5 Common Symptoms

If the valve seals of your car have gone bad, then you need to recognize the symptoms before they get worse. The sooner you catch the problem, the sooner you can replace the valve seals without having to worry about replacing any other components.

Below are the top 5 symptoms of bad valve seals in your car.

1) Lots of Smoke 

As the valve seals further deteriorate, you will see a lot of exhaust smoke emitting out of the tailpipe in the back. This will be most noticeable after you first turn on the engine. The smoke will appear to be whitish and bluish, so it should be easy to distinguish from normal exhaust smoke. You’ll see this smoke whether the vehicle is idle or accelerating quickly down the road. However, acceleration will cause the smoke to get worse. After 10 or 15 minutes of the engine running, the smoke should finally subside

2) Too Much Oil Consumption 

If the valve seals are damaged because of wear and tear or other reasons, then your engine will consume excessive amounts of oil. You can use a dipstick to test the oil level on a regular basis. This will help you discover the problem faster. You’ll know the valve seals are the problem if you have normal engine compression and no oil leaks.

3) Off-Throttle Braking 

If you do off-throttle braking and then burnt oil emits from the tailpipe, then you’ll know your valve seals have gone bad. The same thing will happen if you drive your vehicle on a declining road and don’t put your foot on the gas pedal. This just won’t be tiny amounts of burnt oil coming out. It will be huge amounts of burnt oil.

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4) Cold Engine 

Colder temperatures outside will give you a “cold engine” if your vehicle is left out there for an extended amount of time. This causes the oil in the engine to get thicker, which makes it more difficult for the oil to circulate and then lubricate the components. And if the valve seals have holes or gaps in them under these conditions, the thick oil will seep through the seal openings and fall into the internal combustion chamber. You’ll know this has happened when a large white smoke cloud emits from the tailpipe as soon as you turn on your engine.

5) Idling for Too Long 

Your vehicle may stay idle for too long after you brake the vehicle to a complete stop. This could signify that a bad valve seal exists and must be replaced. Basically, if you are driving in “stop and go” traffic and you notice large smoke clouds emitting from your tailpipe each time your vehicle is idle, then it definitely means that your valve seals are bad.

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