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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I just changed the oil & filter + did a ATF drain-and-fill on my 2004 Duratec Taurus. The car had just passed its annual inspection and had been operating well before this.

I drove it 60 miles afterward, and the car behaved fine - silky-smooth gear changes and nothing unusual in engine performance. However, by the time i returned home thin, stinky smoke was coming from under the hood. I thought at first it could be some spilled oil or tranny fluid from the change.

I let it sit overnight and checked the oil level. It was down a bit but had been a bit below full when I finished the oil change; it also looked brand-new (not discolored). I saw no fresh oil visible in easy-to-see areas. I put some cardboard under the engine and in a few hours there were several drip marks - one area at the rear of the engine, and a couple others closer to the front.

Then I drove it a few miles and returned home. Once again, the engine ran fine and the transmission shifted well. On parking I saw a larger cloud of stinky gray smoke emerging from the rear of the engine (see attached pic). No smoke coming from tailpipe.

Used a consumer-level OBDII reader and saw no error codes.

Is the smoke - and drips - from one or both valve-cover gaskets? Any other likely candidates?
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
First thing after experiencing a problem after doing some work is to suspect the work you did itself not a new area that wasn't a problem before!
Thanks! I'll crawl under and check the filter tomorrow; I used a Supertech ST-2 filter. It seemed all the smoke was coming from back near the firewall, though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
On the Duratec, oil will drip onto the exhaust and block when you change the oil & filter....
Thank you very much! I found a lot of old oil on the oil & ATF pans, which had obviously drained down from oil-filter replacement. I cleaned off everything I could, and don't see any fresh oil on the bottoms of those pans right now.

I placed some white paper under the car today, and will check in the morning to see if the leakage is oil or ATF.

I watched several YT videos yesterday that suggest valve-cover gaskets are the culprit, and I've read people's comments saying we should change the Duratec PCV valve every year because it's prone to clogging up and blowing out the valve-cover and/or timing-cover gaskets. I don't know that I've ever had this car's PCV changed!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Why? How much money will you save during your ownership of the car buying that filter vs. the FL820S on the next shelf? At my local WM, the FL820S is $3.50; I have NO IDEA what any other filter costs.
I prefer Motorcraft too, but bought the ST-2 because my Walmart's shelf had NO Motorcraft oil filters in stock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I took it into the shop. They replaced the intake manifold gasket and rear valve-cover gasket, and I had them replace the PCV valve while they had it all apart. They also cleaned all the dripping oil off the engine and added some fluorescent dye to the oil, so I'll drive it around for a while and see if more leaks appear.

I picked it up this afternoon and while driving home though the acceleration seemed peppier than before. Was it my imagination, or would replacing those gaskets and the old PCV improve engine performance so noticeably?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
On the Duratec, oil will drip onto the exhaust and block when you change the oil & filter. Did you clean all that off after you were done? If you do not find any evidence of oil leaking around the filter or drain plug, then I would suspect the valve cover gaskets. I changed mine out this past summer for the same reason. Could hardly stand driving it with the smell of burning oil and when I parked it smoke would billow from the rear of the engine just as you show in your photo. The gaskets were hard as a rock and had several breaks in them that allowed oil to leak out.
I cleaned off all the dripped oil I could reach, but the smoke continued. As noted in my new reply nearby, I took it in yesterday to my trusted shop, who replaced the intake-manifold & rear valve-cover gaskets; also cleaned the engine to get all the dripped oil. Drove home today with no smoke!
 
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