Hole in 96 Grand Am Rocker Cover

02-28-2012, 03:31 PM
Hey guys. I'm trying to get an old 96 grand am running for my son and ran into a bit of a problem I really need assistance with. The only background I have on the car is it just quit running. I replaced the battery with a good one, shot a little (not alot) of starting fluid in it to see if it would fire. After a couple of cranks it popped and fire shot out of the intake AND the front rocker cover. After a little investigation, I discovered a hole in the rocker cover right under the strut mount. I have been looking at the haynes manual and I need a little guidance here. If there is a hole in the rocker cover with fire shooting out, does this mean the entire head is blown as well? By looking at the manual I'm assuming so, but I would greatly appreciate any input you guys may have. I have zero experience with type of problem. Thank you in advance.

02-28-2012, 03:40 PM
Ya might have gotten a little aggresive with the starting fluid. Remove the spark plugs and see if you can turn the engine over 2 full revolutions by hand with the proper size socket and a breaker bar on the crankshaft pulley bolt.(in the direction of engine rotation). If not ya might have broken a valve.

02-29-2012, 08:02 AM
Welcome to AF!!

If fire shot out from under the rocker cover there are a couple of possibilities. First remove the plugs and make sure that they are all in good shape and properly seated. A loose plug could cause this to happen. Second, there is a good possibility that a valve or valves are bad and allowing the flames to shoot from the head out into the rocker cover. To check the valves, once you remove the plugs do a compression test on the engine. If you don't have a tester you can rent one from an auto parts store for a few dollars a day. If you get low or no compression on one or more cylinders then the valves are probably damaged and the will be need to be replaced.

One other possibility is that the car had jumped time due to a bad timing belt an that is causing the issue. Check the timing belt to see if everything lines up. If not re-time the engine and replace the belt. You didn't say what engine you have so these are just some general things to check.

Good Luck!

Tech II
02-29-2012, 01:34 PM
If this has valve covers, it's probably a 3.1 with a timing chain......

But I agree......disable fuel and spark, remove plugs and do a compression check....

03-04-2012, 11:38 PM
Thanks to all of you guys for your input. Turns out that this problem is only the tip of the iceberg. We discovered that the engine doesn't always fire. The day after this incident we tried it again and the starter would turn, but it refused to fire. We also discovered that the interior lights are finicky about shutting off, the headlights don't work, and the tail lights stay on. This one is going to the junkyard. Thank you all for your input.

Add your comment to this topic!