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Old 08-29-2017, 09:29 PM   #1
The Other Guy
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2002 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Fluid Leaks: Oil Cooler To Blame?

I had my 2002 L300 in for an oil change a couple of months ago, and the mechanic noticed a slow oil leak coating part of the block. He suggested keeping an eye on the levels and he'd check it out for free the next time I was in for an oil change. Naturally, Sears closed that location before my next service was due so I never got it diagnosed, nor do I know where my mechanic went...

Anyway, the car has also developed a fairly rapid coolant leak. As in, I topped it off Saturday and the light is back on again today. There is no puddle, no smell, no indication of what might be causing this leak. I poked around on here (and on a couple of other sites) and read about the oil cooler seal problem. Is it possible that this could be causing both of my leaks, and if so, how much would it cost to fix?

If it matters, the thermostat was replaced a couple of years ago. I'm keeping the coolant full, and the temperature has remained steady. It's just expensive to keep throwing coolant in there, and I don't want it to suddenly get worse(er).

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Old 08-29-2017, 10:05 PM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Fluid Leaks: Oil Cooler To Blame?

The only common leak issue are the oil cooler seals. If you searched and found the threads, you have an idea of where a hidden leak occurs other than from a worn out water pump not replaced every 100k miles when the timing belt is recommended for replacement. Both are done at the same time due to inaccessibility and a prudent recommendation. When the the t-stat was replaced, the long extension tube from the t-stat outlet uses two replaceable O-rings that may leak if reused.

An inexpensive temporary solution for topping off coolant is to use a gallon of 100% antifreeze (as opposed to more expensive pre-mixed coolant). Have another gallon container filled halfway with potable and topped off with coolant to create a 50/50 mixture. The remaining antifreeze is filled with water to make two gallons of premixed 50/50 antifreeze. This should allow sufficient time for you to determine what to do.

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Old 08-29-2017, 11:43 PM   #3
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Default Re: Fluid Leaks: Oil Cooler To Blame?

I got the car with just under 100,000 miles on it, so it's likely that belt has never been replaced, nor has the pump. Gives me a starting point at least. Thanks for the info.

I managed to scare up the invoice for the thermostat, and it mentions new seals, so that theoretically shouldn't be a problem. Still gonna have to hunt for the source of that oil seepage...

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Old 08-30-2017, 09:45 AM   #4
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Default Re: Fluid Leaks: Oil Cooler To Blame?

Oil leaks from the valve/cam covers are fairly common on these cars. Check to see if the bolts are tight. Replacing the seals involves removal of the intake plenum and runners so it's a good idea to change the cooler seals at the same time.
The other leaky bit is the oil pressure sender. Passenger side of the engine, lower rear. Accessible from the passenger front wheel well. Quick R&R. Use sealant on the threads.

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Old 08-30-2017, 10:04 AM   #5
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Default Re: Fluid Leaks: Oil Cooler To Blame?

I should add:
The FSM says to use Loctite gasket eliminator on the parts of the cover that go over the "humps" for the cam bearing area. IMHO Permatex Ultra Black RTV is better. Regular RTV, not so much.

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