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Old 10-21-2009, 11:29 AM   #1
Slammin96
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1996 SC2
Default Frustrating oil leak

Well, I'm sure my questions about my mysterious oil leak are getting very old at this point, but no matter what I do the damn thing wont go away, and I'm really getting quite tired of this car and its constant state of needing repair.

I mean, seriously, bought the car and drove it 2 weeks, shifter bushing broke.

Fixed it. 1 week later, shifter cable broke.
Fixed it. 2 days later, car keeps overheating. Thermostat stuck closed
Fixed it. The very next day, cam cover started leaking oil.
Fixed it. Car is still leaking oil?

The point of this thread, is trying to get some suggestions on my oil leak and how hard it will be to fix. I fixed the cam cover, and you better believe I fixed it right .... checked for ANY warpage with a straight edge, no warping present.

Followed the gasket installation and cam cover installation EXACTLY off of differentracing.

Car now leaks less oil, but still leaks enough to where I honestly dont want to drive it. And I mean its a pretty good drip I got going on down there.

The weird thing is, it seems like its leaking from two places, the bottom of the bellhousing, and the frontside of it right below the ignition coils. Strange, I know, its looks like a good amount of oil is leaking from what seems to be right underneath the coils, which probably has something to do with why the car is running like crap.

Another weird thing, I cant get a clear reading on my oil dipstick. No matter how many times i try, every time the dipstick just comes back up with oil everywhere... no tangible line for oil, its just smeared everywhere, like someone put a ceiling fan in there and its blowing all the oil around.

Oh, and my check engine light just came on for a lazy 02 sensor.
so, any suggestions on my oil leak?
car has 134k miles.

Seriously, if its the rear main seal, Its getting a for sale sign tomorrow.
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Old 10-21-2009, 11:58 AM   #2
Saturndude82
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Default Re: Frustrating oil leak

Well, just a quick question, when your checking your oil level your engine is off correct?

Your 96 Saturn is 13 years old, and depending on where you live in the U.S. if you have harsh winters and salt on the roads well a lot of gaskets simply go much faster especially ones that are at places which are external and are hit hard by the elements like bell housing gaskets. In California we have no salt on the roads and no real winters so I am assuming its less likely to delevope serious leaks like that but thats besides the point. Leaks happen, I had a leak on my wifes 2000 monte carlo, chevy simply made a bad gasket and the replacement was an updated design and solved the problem.


Your saying its a pretty good drip... do you mean when you park the car you see a puddle after say 30 mins, or if you look under your car with engine on or off you actually see oil comming down, if this is the case you might just have something loose somewhere, lets hope so.

About selling the car... now would be the worst possible time to sell any car, specifically a Saturn, your best bet is too find the leak, isolate it and either tighten or replace whatever gaskets need to be changed. I dont know if you have access to a pressure washer or steam cleaner but covering up the electronics and cleaning the engine bay out nicely will help you find the leak after a couple days when everything else is clean as it should be. Good luck!

Oh and the average life of 02 sensors if I am correct is between 90k-120k... so your overdue either way..


I see your in Florida, so lets count the winters out and blame the humidity! Or just bad gaskets...
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Last edited by Saturndude82; 10-21-2009 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 10-21-2009, 04:00 PM   #3
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Default Re: Frustrating oil leak

As referring to the amount of oil leaking, its really bad enough where i dont drive the car unless absolutely necessary.

I check the engine oil with the car off. Still cant get a reading.

And when I stop the car, I mean puddles form fast, like within 20 sec of me driving the car and stopping ill have a puddle about the size of the palm of my hand, and a very rapid, steady drip.
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Old 10-21-2009, 04:17 PM   #4
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Default Re: Frustrating oil leak

I had a 1994 Saturn that had a leak. Mine came from the Rear main seal. I dont know if this is helpful or not but it might not hurt to look. I know this is a long shot but do you think you have a crack in the oil pan?
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Old 10-21-2009, 04:32 PM   #5
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Default Re: Frustrating oil leak

I'm not sure, but im almost dead positive its not the oil pan. After all, I notice oil leaking from right below the ignition coils ... leads me to believe it is indeed the rear main seal.

OldNuc, what do you think about that rear main seal repair stuff they sell at FLAPS?
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Old 10-21-2009, 04:46 PM   #6
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Default Re: Frustrating oil leak

Those are seal swellers. You have a seal on the front and back of the crank and only one you want to seal up. These swellers do not work real well or for very long. Oil by the coils is not originating from the main seal. To ID a main seal leak you can remove the bottom 2 small bolts on the dust shield spring it out about 1/8" and then slip a Q-tip up inside and swipe the back of the flywheel. If there is a main seal leak you will find clean fresh oil on the back of the flywheel. If it comes back with dirty thick old oil on your Q-tip the main seal is not leaking. To get out of the engine the oil has to run across the back of the flywheel and be slung off of the ring gear teeth.
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Old 10-21-2009, 04:47 PM   #7
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Default Re: Frustrating oil leak

if it is the rear main, i would check crankshaft end play before installing a new seal, as a bad thrust bearing will cause the seal to leak again, worn thrust bearing are more common on the 5 speed
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Old 10-21-2009, 07:06 PM   #8
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Default Re: Frustrating oil leak

The worn thrust bearing is the result of using the clutch pedal for a foot rest while whizzing down the road. Good idea to check it. That being said I have seen them worn to the point that the actual crank web is running on the block and cap, ruins the crank. That particular engine had the original seal and it was not leaking.
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Old 10-22-2009, 05:43 PM   #9
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Default Re: Frustrating oil leak

is there a picture of this dust shield on here? Can you further describe the location of it?
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Old 10-22-2009, 07:03 PM   #10
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Default Re: Frustrating oil leak

A side note: I drove the car a little bit today after cleaning up some gunk on the oil pan/bellhousing, and after driving for only about 2 miles and letting the car get to operating temp, I pulled in the driveway and shut the car off and got out as fast as I could and looked under the car, and BEHOLD! I already had a puddle forming, with a flow of oil so rapid it was probably only a few drops away from being a complete steam of oil leaking from my engine.

I still cant get any tangible reading from my dipstick, oil is strewn about in random patterns on the dipstick every time I put it in. And fresh oil is clearly seen leaking from below the coils .... but oldnuc said its not the rear main if its coming from below the coils.

Well, by god, where could it be coming from then? I just replaced the cam cover gasket, and it aint leaking. I checked the little ridge in the head by the EGR, no pool of oil. Did the toilet paper check all the way around the valve cover, nothing resembling fresh oil.

OldNuc, Fdryer, Madpogue, anybody, please help.
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Old 10-26-2009, 06:40 PM   #11
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Default Re: Frustrating oil leak

I know you guys are out there, and I know this fix can be done with your help.

I found out another interesting thing today: when the car idles, and its not moving, absolutely no oil will leak out. nothing. I let it idle for almost 20 mins earlier today and it did not leak a single drop.

but as soon as I moved the car, and drove it around the block, oil was leaking, and every time i start coming to a stop, its like the oil just spills out of wherever its leaking from, i mean it leaks hard and fast and then stops after the car stops moving for a while.

any ideas? I'm completely stumped.
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Old 10-26-2009, 06:52 PM   #12
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Default Re: Frustrating oil leak

I'd love to help, but you're the eyes.. You gotta get under there somehow and find the leak. It's a leak, you can find it if you can just get under and look around.. No access to ramps or a jack and some stands? find some.. We can keep suggesting things, but you have to confirm where the oil is coming from.

I was reading the thread and just thinking to myself, if it was me, I'd be out in the garage with a trouble light, under the car, finding the source of the leak.
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Old 10-26-2009, 07:09 PM   #13
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Default Re: Frustrating oil leak

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slammin96 View Post
is there a picture of this dust shield on here? Can you further describe the location of it?
Put car up on ramps. Slide under. Find the bottom of the bell housing. Look right at the bottom right hand edge. See the little gap? See the little bolts in the face of the bell housing tight on either side of the gap? Take out the bolts and pry the cover out about 1/8" and swab the back of the flywheel. Fresh oil is a main seal, dirt and dirty oil is from above.
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Old 10-26-2009, 07:28 PM   #14
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Default Re: Frustrating oil leak

do I have to let the car run before performing this check?
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Old 10-26-2009, 09:05 PM   #15
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Default Re: Frustrating oil leak

I would run it up on the ramps and let it cool for an hour or 2. Then crawl under and find the cover and swab for oil. If that is not the source then teh next place that performs as you describe is the oil pressure switch. They leak like a sieve when you have elevated pressure if the diaphragm get s a hole in it. Oil will collect on the back area of the block and then run off when you start to move.

The flywheel check is just for a bad main seal. The only way to get fresh oil on the back of the flywheel is from a main seal leak. If that is the source as you describe the leak you will find no dirt and clean oil on the back of the flywheel.
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Old 10-26-2009, 09:15 PM   #16
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Default Re: Frustrating oil leak

try swabbing out your dipstick tube before you check you oil level, if you swab it out real good and still get a funky reading you have real issues. If it works then you start it, shut it off, then check, and its a mess again... um thats not good.
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:46 AM   #17
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Default Re: Frustrating oil leak

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slammin96 View Post
I still cant get any tangible reading from my dipstick, oil is strewn about in random patterns on the dipstick every time I put it in.
Even after the car has been sitting overnight and checked before starting for the day - and the dipstick has been pulled out once and wiped clean, then reinserted?
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:58 PM   #18
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Default Re: Frustrating oil leak

I cant get a reading whatsoever, even when it sits overnight ... leafy said thats not good. What exactly does it mean?
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Old 10-27-2009, 10:03 PM   #19
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Default Re: Frustrating oil leak

something is happening in your bottom end that isnt supposed to be happening and its making the oil go up the dipstick. when something is happening in your bottom end that shouldnt be happening something is not good.
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Old 10-27-2009, 10:09 PM   #20
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Default Re: Frustrating oil leak

well, the car runs great and doesnt make any weird noises, no harsh driving, weird pedal feel, or anything. Like OldNuc said, it could be this oil pressure switch. Exactly where on the back of the block does the oil gather?
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