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Old 10-25-2015, 11:46 AM   #1
Saturn9
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Default Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

For many of us, I presume one of the first, if not ~the~ first task we tackled when we began to service our own cars was an oil change. Not so hard, but a bit messy. Thanks to the excellent information and advice on this forum I have tackled many a more involved task I would otherwise have had a professional do for me.

Flash forward, and savings if any do not out weigh the benefit of someone else getting messy etc. A friend of mine insists on doing it himself, stating that it is screwed up too often. I have learned this the hard way too.

800 pound gorillas are alive and well and working in many service facilities; you can usually find them in the oil change dept. Though they have torque wrenches and settings on air tools, they prefer ‘too tight’.

On a recent oil change the tech couldn’t even get the cap off with out a breaker bar, the last person there having over tightened it. Oil change done, but I get home and find out the cap is leaking. Great.

I tried to remove the cap to see if I could remedy this myself, but the canister was rotating when I tried to unscrew the cap.

I went and got the following tools at harbor freight: a locking chain clamp $10 item#36813
and the 9 Piece Hex Socket Set $14 item#67880 for the 12mm S2 hex bit- cheaper than just buying the one bit. I also got a 24mm socket $5 and yellow gas teflon tape $4 at Lowes.

Holding the canister in place with the chain clamp, I was able to remove the cap without the whole canister rotating. Then using the 12mm bit I removed the center bolt that held on the canister. I cleaned the o-ring and engine surface, then replaced it and torqued it to 33ft-lbs.

Upon close examination of the cap it was clear that while the o-ring projected above the ridges that captured it, on one side of the cap, where the threads are discontinuous [see “oil filter housing” image by black dot. ] the o-ring was at or below the level of the ridges. Clearly this is why the oil was leaking.

I moved the o-ring out of its channel and wiped the cap clean of oil. I then applied three laps of yellow teflon tape. I made sure that one edge was within the channel, while the other was outside and towards the cap end. I then put the o-ring back into its channel to hold the teflon tape in place. The teflon gave just enough extra thickness for the o-ring to make a seal and the leak has stopped.

The yellow is thicker and better suited for this application. By making sure that the tape is under the o-ring and outside of the oil chamber, there is less risk of any teflon related mischief one hears about when used to help oil plug threads. Here and in this manner it should be safe from this.

For anyone else with this all too common problem I hope this solution helps.

...of course I could have just bought a new cap but...
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 12mm S2 hex bit.jpg (33.7 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg 24mm socket.jpg (31.2 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg cap with teflon applied.jpg (28.0 KB, 18 views)
File Type: jpg Locking Chain Clamp - Hrbor Freight $10.jpg (11.6 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg Oil Filter Housing.jpg (30.7 KB, 16 views)
File Type: jpg yellow teflon.jpg (24.6 KB, 8 views)

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Old 10-25-2015, 01:10 PM   #2
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Default Re: Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

For this fix if the OIL housing is rotating they broke the flange inside of the housing the secures it to the block you will have to buy a new OIL housing and with a chain wrench hold it in place while you bolt it back into the engine block. This will insure that the OIL housing is secure and won't rotate. There is also posting about this issue already and search will tell you about the fix for it. Also you want to get a NEW oil housing cap as well since it looks like they broke and damage both in the process. They don't cost that much to get from GM for the OIL housing and you can order the cap from eBay as well. So do the right fix and replace both units otherwise the leak will continue until you fix it the right way.

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Last edited by Russet; 10-25-2015 at 01:11 PM.. Reason: revise

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Old 10-25-2015, 01:54 PM   #3
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Default Re: Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

Saturn9, I too struggled with the thought of destroying my oil filter cap the first time I tried to replace the oil filter after buying my L300. I paid to have it replaced along with oil after a stern warning to the Saturn service tech to leave it snug and not gorilla tight. I have since replaced oil and filter many times and have never encountered a leak. Every oil filter element came with a new O-ring to discard the old one and provide a new seal against leaks. With a new O-ring used in each replacement, I simply turn my oil filter cap until it bottoms. Initial resistance is felt as the O-ring is squeezed and creates resistance against turning (oil lube is recommended) but this ensures the seal is working as the cap is tightened onto the housing. The O-ring being squeezed as the cap is turned assures a seal against leaks as opposed to gorillas assuming overtightening the cap works better.

When you buy oil filter elements, does it include a new O-ring? I've bought mine in bulk and renewed another bulk order and each filter comes with an O-ring. You shouldn't have to resort to Teflon tape unless the cap or housing is deformed.

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Old 10-26-2015, 07:07 AM   #4
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Default Re: Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

Russet,

I inspected my housing and it was the type *without* the flange, so nothing was broken off. I read those posts, the canister on my car is not that one.

Fdryer,

Yes the o-ring was replaced with the filter but it did not seal. Its quite possible that the last tech may have seen it start to leak and over tightened it to stop the leak.

As stated, my inspection revealed that the cap was not uniform all the way around, so that at one section the oring did not protrude enough to seal properly.

Since the oring was new, my choices were new cap, or some sort of nominal increase in oring contact. The teflon fit the bill perfectly.

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Old 10-26-2015, 07:33 AM   #5
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Default Re: Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

I misread your explanations as I tried to view each picture and cannot see anything unusual about the cap. If the cap was deformed from removal, it may have weakened. A replacement is probably due.

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Old 10-26-2015, 09:29 AM   #6
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Default Re: Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

"A replacement is probably due. "

Fdryer,

You may be correct. However my experience with orings is that they have a very close tolerance, and an imperceptible little deviation is often enough for a leak. Teflon is a blessing in this regard.

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Old 10-26-2015, 11:23 AM   #7
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Default Re: Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

When I bought my youngest his 2003 L300, the first I wanted to was change oil & filter. I looked at the condition of the cast nut on the filter housing top and knew that it wouldn't end happily. I bought the hex socket for that filter housing top, but the worn cast nut wouldn't budge. I ordered a new top and called at my independent mechanic to ask if he'd change the oil & filter element for me. He had to slam a screwdriver through the old filter cap top, but of course we had the new one.

Once again, the whole problem was the garage that had tightened the top with an air wrench or probably a 10' long prybar just to make sure no-one could ever get it loose. We endured the new O ring was properly lubricated with new oil and the top was snugged up but not too tight I can't get it off.

Not long after my experience I was in the local Walmart auto garage having a tire done. I was watching the mechanics one by one crowd round a Toyota Corolla that was in for an oil/filter change. Toyota also use the same system. Try as they may, the mechanics could not shift the over tightened filter housing top on the car. They had to call the customer and advise him to return to the garage that had last worked on the car and get them to remove the top. So it's not just Saturn owners who suffer from the morons out there!
w

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Old 10-26-2015, 11:35 AM   #8
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Default Re: Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

floridasl22002,

It must be that they let the most inexperienced do oil changes and replace tires. The cap says right on it: 15Nm!!! [ = 11ft-lbs ]

It has an oring for $## sake. anyone who knows anything about orings knows that the threads hold the cap in place, while the oring is what seals.

I've also had tires put on too tightly with air tools. I always ask them to change the tool to not put the lugs on too tight.

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Old 10-26-2015, 02:55 PM   #9
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Default Re: Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

I think the culprit is called an air wrench coupled with the idiot holding it. I don't know whether you can set an air wrench to only deliver a set torque, but everyone I have ever watched use one, just 'air wrenches' away and I never see anyone set any thing before starting the tightening process. So I guess with these airhead air wrench guys it's either Loose or TIGHT. Maybe that's what's the settings are on the air wrench??

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Old 10-26-2015, 03:38 PM   #10
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Default Re: Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

Yes, that would be another way to describe how someone uses pneumatic wrenches. Most are the heavy duty 5-10 lb monsters that are capable of (when new) applying close to 300ft-lbs of torque. Used in the wrong hands by inept tire jockeys and a recipe for overtightening things is easy. Experience separates the smart ones from the morons. I'm guessing from industry history the repeated damage from over use of air wrenches created torque sticks. I never heard of torque sticks until a few years ago. Each steel extension is color coded with a calibrated torque value that prevents overtightening when attached to air wrenches. I presume the industry suffered many broken/snapped wheel studs from inept people untrained in pneumatic tools. When I had my turn at using one from a relative working in the collision repair business, I was leery but learned how it stops anyone from overtightening when coupled with some basic skills to read the torque value stamped on each color coded stick to match requirements needed without concern about breaking things. It simply works and the genius that devised it deserves major thank yous from every repair shop using it to eliminate damage.

I don't know how anyone can use an air wrench on L300 oil caps as my exhaust pipe is less than a foot away and cannot accept a ratchet/socket. I use an adjustable or open end wrench, turning less than an eighth of a turn to loosen or tighten my cap. I would guess the repair shops would wrestle my cap on and off without regard to torque numbers. Fortunately, after the first incident, I don't use oil change places at all when I can still crawl under my car and dribble hot oil onto my hands..........

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Old 10-26-2015, 04:34 PM   #11
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Default Re: Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

floridasl22002

on a low setting, the air tool sounds like chuhchuhchuhchuh.
on a high setting it sounds like veeeeeeeeer.
...just because you put a tool in a gorilla's hand, doesn't mean that they know how to use it.

fdryer

the ones typically seen to remove lugs look like a drill, while there are smaller ones that look like a fatter ratchet wrench. These are available at Harbor freight; good only if you have a compressor with enough capacity to operate it though

Item # 47214 ~ $20.
Compressor $$$

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Old 10-27-2015, 08:13 AM   #12
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Default Re: Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

Color Coded Torque Sticks.....

I wonder how garages test the 'Technicians' for color blindness when they hire them??? You'd be amazed at the number of folks who are color blind to some extent and do not know it.

So I guess an illiterate and color blind 'technician' is an absolute recipe for disaster!!

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Old 10-27-2015, 09:44 AM   #13
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Default Re: Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

I'm on a third set of tires with new rims. I found a local tire shop dealing only with tires and aftermarket stuff related to suspension, brakes, rims, etc... I don't remember how they removed my wheels but I did notice when they mounted them back on they used a torque wrench. No air tools, no torque stick. In NYC, repair shops are everywhere so competition means quick turnarounds for more money. I was surprised to see anyone using an old school torque wrench. And I went there because they had lower costs for road force balancing tires than everyone else. I rarely find great bargains with technical expertise combined as I can hear almost every garage bay using pneumatic tools wherever I drive.

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Old 10-30-2015, 09:24 AM   #14
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Default Re: Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

Fdryer

"I did notice when they mounted them back on they used a torque wrench. No air tools, no torque stick. In NYC, repair shops are everywhere so competition means quick turnarounds for more money. I was surprised to see anyone using an old school torque wrench."

A knowledgeable friend tells me that some time ago, Ford had issued a service memo to their repair shops to use proper torque when tightening lug nuts as over-tightening would lead to warped rotors and necessitate rotor replacement.

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Old 10-30-2015, 11:02 AM   #15
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Default Re: Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

^ Unfortunately for me (and likely for many), if I walk into a dealer service department I'm lucky to be able to leave without emptying my wallet so I have avoided them for years. A hard copy of service manuals and the shared experiences of members here serve as my service department. My one and only visit to Saturn was when convinced I couldn't unscrew my oil cap without damaging it. As a business 'to give the customer the business' (puns intended), the overhead fees/service charges/whatever isn't any different from a plumber charging a minimum the second he appears at the front door. Time is money in business so I stay away from car service departments, recalls being the exception. By staying away from dealers I have no clue to how their mechanics or techs use tools. To state that Ford requires their people to use a torque wrench implies morons are givens when using pneumatic tools to tighten wheel nuts or bolts without familiarity with the definition of torque. My one cell between my ears learned about torque in high school along with the arithmetic to reinforce the concept. I somehow managed to retain this info among the few things my one cell can retain....... For whatever reason, promoting ignorance seems to be easier than reading, writing and arithmetic.

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Old 10-30-2015, 11:31 AM   #16
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Default Re: Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

Yeah, me too. service prices at the dealership always seemed punitive to me. though the presumption is that they know what they are doing for that price. mostly, i find they have access to special tools and more advance documentation, but **not** necessarily skills.

as an aside; I have often wondered why manufacturers can not decide on 3, maybe 4 bolt sizes, and one or two harness types. and there should be 3 sizes of oil filter. harrumph. puzzling over how to detach various harnesses, one task i did had 4 types, one of which was a real bear for me to figure out. all I suppose, to discourage one from working on one's car themselves.

now to figure out how to remove the heater hose connections at the firewall .i'm sure I have to squeeze something I cannot see. want to replace those hoses w/ new ones.

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Old 10-30-2015, 12:51 PM   #17
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Default Re: Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

If heater hose connections use the plastic equivalent of quick connects, try searching past threads about it. Although service manuals are great for reference, I'm disappointed with them; older manuals provided a rich source of pictures, photo illustrations, line drawings and basic engineering views appreciated at a time when vocational skills were taught for the next generation of blue collar workers. No more. My four very large paper manuals are just drawings leaving many details out requiring more imagination. Supplementing posts with pictures from Google searches helps with visual identification. My guess with fasteners is a combination of costs reduction, engenuity, engineering, adapting materials for less weight while retaining strength to allow restraining harnesses from tearing away due to weathering and vibration. Since plastic dries out to become brittle and breaks easily, its a means to an end to meet or exceed new car warranty and after that who cares? Its always a balance to reduce costs while trying to maintain some longevity. The devious methods to couple, restrain, connect, fasten and undo restraints can be a nightmare with 'clever' design. On one hand its great while on the other hand (us) it may take a classroom discussion on how fasteners are designed and how to unfasten them. Similar to picking a lock except we're trying to unlock/unfasten/disconnect a heater hose once clamped with an oem spring clamp...... If its a quick connect, think air tool quick connects using the same principle.

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Old 10-30-2015, 01:59 PM   #18
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Default Re: Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

Here's my 5 cents....
Check out new hoses and that should tell you how the old ones are attached. I just checked Rock Auto and they are mainly showing plain hoses, but one (Heater Outlet) has special ends. Some of the special quick connectors need a special tool to remove them. For example the fuel filter on the L300 needs a special split remover tool to disconnect the quick connects. I just did my son's. Boy it was certainly no quick job!!

I helped a mate of mine out a couple of months ago on his Ford Expedition on the very same thing - heater hoses that disappeared out of view under the scuttle. You had to feel the things, you could not see them. You had to squeeze them to remove them.

The new hoses came with new quick connects. The old hoses we took off were in good condition, but the quick connect end was broken . What we found out afterwards is that you buy replacement quick connects at the auto stores. So instead of $80.00 for a hose, he could have spent $10.00 on a new connector.

Don't you love it when that happens!!

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Old 10-30-2015, 05:28 PM   #19
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

When these plastic quick connects were new, parts are always exorbitant until the market is saturated and the vehicle has some years on it. The aftermarket sector tries to deliver an alternative solution and may be what you saw as a separate coupler. Ford or any car maker will not reveal business secrets or any short cuts like a separate coupler from hose. Just like the tpms sensors when they first debuted in 2008. Replacement can only be from OEM thru a vehicle dealer until the aftermarket sector advertised the same sensors initially at dealer retail prices and gradually reduced it as time passed until competitive pricing forced the market prices to lower costs for anyone to buy them outside the dealer network whether locally or online. And to rub it in, the exact same scenario when rfid (chipped) ignition keys were only dealer replacements at ridiculous prices. Anyone mildly interested in saving a few hundred dollars can buy rfid keys at very low cost and not pay the piper. I don't own or know anyone with these chipped keys but casual interest turns up lots of info when searching online........

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Old 10-31-2015, 02:02 PM   #20
floridasl22002
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
2002 SL2
Default Re: Oil Filter Cap Leak - FIXED!

This is what I meant by replacement quick connectors. Made by Dorman.

http://shop.advanceautoparts.com/p/d...ntent=22148124

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