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Mike S.
Mike S., ASE Certified Technician
Category: Pontiac
Satisfied Customers: 7433
Experience:  ASE certified
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i have a 2003 pontiac vibe and it burns oil not all the time

Customer Question

i have a 2003 pontiac vibe and it burns oil not all the time but on and while driving and when you crank it up. I have checked compression i am holding 125 psi all across the board. it runs real good. does this cancel out bad piston rings. I need to get this thing fixed asap
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Pontiac
Expert:  Mike S. replied 7 years ago.

Well, the oil control rings are the bottom rings on the piston and do not hold compression, so if they are worn or stuck due to crud the compression test would still show good but them oil control rings could not be doing there job and allowing too much oil to enter the combustion chamber. Other then disassembling the engine to clean the oil control ring grooves in the pistons and freeing up those rings you could try some engine degreaser or seafoam to clean up carbon and gunk and free deposits on the rings and grooves.

Usually if an engine smokes blue smoke when first started up and then the smoke goes away as the engine warms up indicates worn piston compression rings because when cold the pistons and smaller in diameter and when warm they expand to fill cylinder. If it doesn't smoke blue untill the engine runs for awhile usually indicates oil entering from between the valve stem and guides, due to being worn or bad seals because it will take awhile for the oil to buildup on the top of the head under the valve covers in order to leak down into the combustion chamber.

Although, another cause is oil left over in the combustion chamber after shutting down the engine and getting burned during the next startup.

If the valve cover gaskets are leaking then that is a good sign that the oil return holes in the head are clogged and oil is building up and getting sucked into the combustion chamber past valve guides and stems. If that is the case you can use a metal coat hanger and clean out the holes.

What I would do is do an engine oil flush with some engine degreaser such as seafoam and also change the filter and make sure you are using the correct weight of oil and maybe consider changing brands of oil if the problem persists.

A vacuum gauge hooked to the intake manifold may indicate worn valve guides if the gauge is not steady.

You may also want to consider stepping up to a hotter spark plug to help burn off that extra oil at least untill you get it all burned off, after the engine flush. Check the PCV valve also for being clogged, that will cause oil to backup into intake and get burned.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
yeah i forgot to mention i got a head gasket kit online and replaced the valve guide seals and i put a new pcv valve on it. I checked the pcv valve earlier today and it still looks new and it still rattles. I put the pcv valve on about four months ago and still looks good. I didnt know this until i had the new valve seals installed but there are two different engines for this year vibe one is a 1zz and the other is a 2zz. I dont know which one mine is all i know is its a 1.8 with a vin # XXXXX 8. I am worried thar i may have installed the wrong kit and maybe the seals arent the same size. The car dont act like it has the wrong head gasket on it. IT does not overheat it stays in the cooler section.
Expert:  Mike S. replied 7 years ago.

I see the available engines as 4 Cylinder vin8 1.8L EFI DOHC and the 4 Cylinder vinL 1.8L EFI DOHC for the 2003 Pontiac Vibe 2WD.

The head gasket for the vin8 is part # XXXXX from Velpro.

The head gasket for the vinL is part # XXXXX from Velpro. It also states Built to 05/01/2003 and part # XXXXX Built from 05/02/2003.

I don't really think it is the head gasket though or you would most likely know from having more problems.

Did it burn oil before the new head gaskets and did the new head gaskets help at all with the oil burning? Was that the reason for new head gaskets?

Has the oil and filter been changed on schedule? Is there any crud under the oil fill cap? Or did you notice any crud on the inside of the valve covers?

Expert:  Mike S. replied 7 years ago.

Gm vin cards says the vin L engine is a sfi (sequential fuel injection) and the vin 8 is a mfi (Multi-port Fuel Injection).

Also the rpo code for the vin L is LNK and the vin 8 is LV6.


it says the vin L LNK is Available 2003 to 2007 ENGINE GAS,4 CYL,1.8L(1.8-L) L4, DOHC, ALUM, YAMAHA 1.8L(LNK).

The vin 8 LV6 is Available 1990 to 2008 ENGINE-GAS, 4 CYL, 1.8L(1.8-8),MFI 1.8-8(LV6).

Expert:  Mike S. replied 7 years ago.

The valve stem seals for the vin 8 is Felpro SS728782.

The valve stem seals for the vin L is Felpro SS71053.


Expert:  Mike S. replied 7 years ago.

Here are the specs on the valves.

Valve Specifications


YearEngine Displacement Liters (VIN)Seat Angle (deg.)Face Angle (deg.)Spring Test Pressure (lbs. @ in.)Spring Installed Height (in.)Stem-to-Guide Clearance (in.)
Stem Diameter
20031.8 (1ZZ-FE)4544.531.3-34.8@1.323
1.8 (2ZZ-GE)4544.5?1.516
? Intake:[email protected]
Exhaust:[email protected]
? Intake: 1.831
Exhaust: 1.830

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
sorry i had something come up. i replaced the head gasket just because it came with the kit and i already had the head off. It smoked like crazy before i put the new head gasket kit on. It smoked the whole yard out. I just put this engine in. I threw a rod in my old engine. I got this engine from a respectable junkyard with only 70 something thousand miles i was told. I know it probably sat on it side for a while there. We have been running this engine for about four or five months hoping it would burn off. You can see the oil inside the exhaust pipe dripping out of the tip
Expert:  Mike S. replied 7 years ago.
Ok I have one question and one comment. Is that a turbo? The comment is I have been looking at the difference between the 2 engines and it appears for some reason the 1zz does have an oil ring but the 2zz does not.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
no its non turbo i wanna say mine is the 2zz but not for certain
Expert:  Mike S. replied 7 years ago.
The Engine Identification Number is XXXXX on the lower left engine block as indicated by number 1.

The Engine Identification Number is XXXXX on the lower left engine block as indicated by number 1.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
ok i have the 1zzfe motor so i installed the right head gasket kit. It come with new valve cover gasket,head gasket,valve guide seals,a a few grommets.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
do i have to fill the gas tank all the way up to put seafoam in it. does it say on anything you have what fire plugs I have. I put new ones in about two months. I know they were platinums but dont remember what size. Should i go up one size?
Expert:  Mike S. replied 7 years ago.
Do you have a vacuum gauge? Hook it up to the intake and see if the needle is steady.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
no i sure dont. I forgot to mention this also. When i pull out the dip stick with the engine running the car stalls and dies. You can hear a loud suction coming out of it. The same thing with the oil filler cap. I can barely get the cap off because its sucking in so hard. Is this normal? I was checking to see if there was any blow-by coming past the rings but there isnt
Expert:  Mike S. replied 7 years ago.

The engine degreaser or flush should be added to the engine oil in order to flow through the oil galleries to free up those rings.

Autozone sells a motor flush from STP for $3.99.

Features & Benefits

Removes gums

  • Removes varnishes and sludge from internal parts
  • Releases sticky valves
  • Treats engine 5 minutes
  • Flushes motor

They also have the seafoam for $9.99.

You may want to go ahead and add seafoam to both the oil and fuel tank. Maybe even slowly pout some down the intake to immediately clean the combustion chamber. Just don't allow the treatment in engine oil to stay in there for more than 5-10 minutes at idle and a warm engine, then drain and replace the filter. If pouring in tank it may take a while to clean. If slowly poured down intake once done take it out on highway and punch it a few times and blow that stuff out exhaust untill all gone. Just keep an eye on the coolant temp and oil pressure and don't do anything over any dry grass or it may catch on fire cause the exhaust will get extremely hot.

They explain how to use their seafoam products here.


Expert:  Mike S. replied 7 years ago.

To lubricate upper cylinders, add 1 oz. Sea Foam to each gallon of fuel.

There is supposed to be a slight pressure inside the crankcase. If you has blow-by past rings it would not only smoke out tailpipe blue but also smoke out the oil fill cap, but you have the opposite a vacuum at the oil fill cap. It sounds like you have an internal vacuum leak.

Expert:  Mike S. replied 7 years ago.
Did you torque the heads down in sequence and to specs and also the intake? Once the engine warms up I like to let it cool a little a recheck the torque.
Expert:  Mike S. replied 7 years ago.
You said you threw a rod. Why did it fail? No oil, overheating? Did the piston hit the head or valves? Which rod was it? Do you have dual exhuast and if so does it smoke out both tailpipes or just 1? Did you start off the torque on heads at lets say 5-10 lbs than work you way up in steps to final torque? Did you check the head surface and block for warpage?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
i took the vibe to shop because after i put the gasket kit on and put the head on i couldnt get it to fire off. So they said it was out of time. So they fixed it(so called). I got it back home and it was idling funny. I hooked my little code reader and it had ten codes. Every cylinder had a misfire and one code said two things either a coolant passage was blocked or the VVT timing was off. I put a timing light on it and it was off slightly. Instead of being on the -0- mark it is off the left at the first timing mark. I know that has nothing to do with oil burning but would that be a result in bad timing for all of the cylinders to be misfiring. Here are the codes p0300,p0301,p0302,p0303,p0304,p0125,p0325,p01349,p0300 pending,p0301 pending,p0304 pending, and p0130 pending. wow
Expert:  Mike S. replied 7 years ago.
Expert superbovine adds, "VIN 8 is the standard 1.8, 1ZZ engine. VIN L (which he doesnt have) is the Yamaha head 1.8, 2ZZ engine, equipped with variable lift. There are two probably issues. The intake and exhaust valve guide seals are different on this engine, and will smoke if they are reversed. Considering he used an aftermarket set, there is the possibility that they have one generic size that is supposed to seal both, or he could have just gotten them backwards on some. These engines with age wear out the cylinder bores making it impossible to control oil entry into the combustion chamber. To further complicate things, the cylinders have a taper and are not rebuildable, can't just go to a larger ring etc. Realistically though, from the desription of when the problem occurs etc, I would lean towards a snafu with the seals first."
Expert:  Mike S. replied 7 years ago.

Well, all them misfires could be due to the huge vacuum leak.

p0300,p0301,p0302,p0303,p0304 are all misfire codes.

p0125 refers to ECT (Engine Coolant Temp) Excessive Time To Enter Closed Loop. Check the operation of the thermostat (it may be stuck open), ECT sensor signal circuit has high resistance, ECT sensor has failed and Inspect for low coolant level or an incorrect coolant mixture.

p0325 refers to Knock Sensor 1 Circuit Malfunction. Knock sensor signal circuit is open or shorted to ground, Knock sensor signal circuit is shorted to VREF or system power, Knock sensor is damaged or has failed or the PCM has failed.


p01349 or most likely p1349 refers to Intake Camshaft Position System Performance. Camshaft is incorrectly installed or incorrectly timed, CMP System actuator is damaged or has failed, Check the oil passages to the actuator for a restriction or the Timing chain has jumper or is worn out.


p0130 refers to HO2S-11 (Bank 1 Sensor 1) Circuit Malfunction. HO2S signal circuit is open between the sensor and the PCM, HO2S signal circuit is shorted to sensor or chassis ground, HO2S signal circuit is shorted to VREF or system power (B+), HO2S is damaged, contaminated or it has failed or the PCM has failed.



Expert:  Mike S. replied 7 years ago.
Were all the codes cleared once the shop fixed the timing issue?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
no i noticed it was slightly off the -0- timing mark and scanned all of those codes about two weeks later and they wouldnt warranty their work.
Expert:  Mike S. replied 7 years ago.
Clear the codes and see if they come back.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
i have done that a few times and they keep coming back.
Expert:  Mike S. replied 7 years ago.
I don't know what else to try except if you can get the valve covers off and let the engine idle and pour some oil directly over the seals and see if the exhaust smokes more. Other than that do you know if the seals were all the same size like superbovine said.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
i can try that. will it hurt anything running it with out the valve cover on.
Expert:  Mike S. replied 7 years ago.

I don't think it will if too much oil splashes around to prevent the oil from leaking on exhaust manifolds get some splash clips.

Mr. Gasket 1015 Rocker Arm Oil Deflector Clips