Smoking Ranchero. Will it catch on fire?

Discussion in 'Ranchero Tech Help' started by 79RANCHERO, Feb 10, 2014.


    79RANCHERO In First Gear

    I notice for years now my boss's 79 Ranchero 500 has had a burning, oil smell inside the cabin at times when one drives. The car has only 75,000 original miles, so I assume the engine is fine, as it had always been at least maintained on its fluids. Is the engine already starting to wear out? Is 100,000 too high for the cleveland 351. I was alarmed a little, cause I also now notice sometimes when I drive, I can see some smoke rising on either side of the car, but not a lot, and most of the time I can't even see it. I popped the hood, and notice a lot of oil seepage on top of the valve cover and somewhere behind the engine, so I guess I can only assume oil is dripping on something. It does lose about a quart every 250 miles. It just leaves a small puddle under the car. Where do these engines typically leak? Is oil burning normal with the Ranchero? How many miles has anyone here on this board gotten out of a late 70s Ranchero?
  2. burninbush

    burninbush In Maximum Overdrive

    near SF

    Taking a few wild guesses ... the motor is likely a 351m or a 400, not a Cleveland 351 unless someone changed it. They look somewhat alike, easy mistake.

    The oil leak is probably valve cover gaskets, and the smoke is likely because it is leaking onto the exhaust manifolds where it gets vaporized into smoke rather than making it all the way to the ground. If the smoke originated from bad rings it would be coming out the exhaust pipes.

    Take it to a mechanic and get a compression check done. That would be a way to determine how worn the cylinders might be.

    Replacing the valve cover gaskets is a fairly easy job, might solve all your problems.
  3. 72GTVA

    72GTVA Administrator Staff Member

    Chesapeake, VA
    ^^^x 2 and one other possibility...

    PCV valve may not have been replaced in quite a while and that can add to the oil blowing out of the engine.

    So... I'd suggest the valve cover gaskets need some attention and replacing the PCV.

    My .02, FWIW, your mileage may vary....
  4. pdw72

    pdw72 In Maximum Overdrive

    southeast MN
    don't overlook the intake gaskets, common area to leak too.
  5. Curlylobo

    Curlylobo In First Gear


    Concur with the above. Bad PVC is often the cause for leaking valve cover gaskets. Without good crankcase ventilation, crankcase pressure buildup forces the oil out under the gaskets. Once it starts, a PVC valve is not enough. You need to replace both valve and gaskets.

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