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Old 12-05-2009, 09:45 PM   #1
MrSL2
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Default Saturn oil leak

What are the most main causes for an oil leak? I can never catch it in the act, but today when I was putting the old harmonic balancer back on there was a little oil leak. I thought I was burning the oil but maybe I am leaking it. Its a 96 with 126xxx miles. Is it possible to be burning oil without anykind of symptoms? It doesn't smoke a lot or anything ever since I fixed the CTS. Also I did notice some sludge build up on the sub frame of the car when I was under there today.

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Old 12-05-2009, 09:49 PM   #2
elitemarksman
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Default Re: Saturn oil leak

I know my SC2 burns a bit of oil, though there isn't any smoke. I usually use about 1/4 of a quart during a 280 mile highway trip, usually running at about 3200 rpm the whole time. I forget how it does around town, been awhile since I've driven around town.

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Old 12-06-2009, 03:02 PM   #3
hholbein
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Default Re: Saturn oil leak

Since yours is DOHC, eliminate the possibility of a Valve Cover gasket leak.

Take some paper tissues or TP and wipe around the back and sides of the head looking for fresh oil seepage. Might also be worth peeking in the spark plug wells with a flashlight (particularly #1) to see if there's a mini oil sump in there.

You might also want to check whether the oil drain plug is tight and that the oil filter (above the balancer, I think) aren't leaking/dripping.

You don't need to be leaking a whole bunch of oil to make a mess in the engine compartment, from my experience.

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Old 12-06-2009, 08:40 PM   #4
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Default Re: Saturn oil leak

I did the valve cover gasket, and that didn't seem to help any in terms of oil loss. I was thinking maybe the oil pan gasket, but I got to examine that one before I start pulling it off. I'm losing like 1/2 qt for every fill up probably. Honestly I want to rip the whole motor out of the car, replace all the stupid things like gaskets, and what not and not have to worry about anything for a while. I love my Saturn, but all of these little quarks are getting annoying.

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Old 12-06-2009, 09:53 PM   #5
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Default Re: Saturn oil leak

That level of burn isn't unheard of. If it's "leaking" 1/2 qt per tank you should be seeing a lot of fresh oil on the engine if it's a leak. Look closely at the rear passenger side of the VC around #1. Any oil in the plug holes after changing the gasket?

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Old 09-01-2010, 11:34 PM   #6
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Default Re: Saturn oil leak

same thing with me
im shure some is due to burning of oil but i know im leaking most of it
it gets on the belt and ends up spraying all over the engine so its hard to find
i replaced the front seal re torqued all the timing chain cover bolts nothing fixes it so far but its helped a little

im about to re seal the chain cover and the oil pan just need the time to do it
ahh the pain of it all

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Old 09-02-2010, 08:18 AM   #7
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Default Re: Saturn oil leak

If it's getting on the belt, the likeliest culprit is the harmonic balancer (aka crankshaft pulley bolt). like the OP from 9 months ago.

Remove the bolt, clean the back of the washer and the front of teh pulley where the washer would contact with acetone, and put a very thin finger smear of RTV or similar sealant on both contact surfaces. reinstall, torque to 159 ft/lbs.

Clean up the area, leaving the car up on jackstands, run for 30 seconds. Get out and look for leaks. If no leaks, run a little longer and check again.

Might also be right below that, where the timing cover meets the oil pan, or the cam cover where the timing chain cover meets the head (you are supposed to put a dab of RTV there when putting on a new gasket). Those are the only places I can think of where a leak would end up on the belt.

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Old 05-22-2011, 08:48 AM   #8
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Default Re: Saturn oil leak

Alright guys I'm new to the forum here, and also new to Saturns. I just bought a 96 Saturn SL1 a couple of days ago. Unfortunately it has an oil leak. I took it back to the dealer I bought it from and had them look at it. After 9 hours yesterday they told me "they couldn't find a leak anywhere." Drove it home, guess what, oil leak again. I'm losing about 5-6 ounces after it's been parked, and I know I'm losing it while driving.

It is dripping from passenger side of the engine, and low and behold, after about 5 minutes I found the leak myself. It's coming from where the oil pan meets the motor behind the crankshaft pulley. I have pictures and everything. What I'm wondering is if this is a DIY fix. I noticed there's a brace underneath the car that covers a large part of the drivers side portion of the oil pan. I'm guessing a brace or support for the trans?

At any rate, I'm new to saturns, and I want to do this work Right the first time. I was reading elsewhere that there's not a gasket for this part. What's the correct sealant to use on this if I were to replace it?

Thanks in advance for all the help. I tried to attach some pics but had trouble. I think I may need to replace the whole pan because the edges I can see behind the pulley look warped. I'll try again in a bit.

BTW, I'm a technology geek, so if anyone has computer or smartphone questions (which I know is off topic) I'll help any way I can. Thanks again and I'm looking forward to my time here.

J

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Old 05-22-2011, 10:10 AM   #9
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Happy Re: Saturn oil leak

I had a similar leak of the pan below the harmonic balancer recently. I thought it was the balancer or its bolt at first, but when I pulled them I discovered that the pan bolts had worked loose. When I tightened them it only squished out the old sealant, so I had to pull the pan. That's relatively easy to do, requiring only to jack up the pulley end of the engine and insert a 2x4 piece or something between the upper motor mount and the body end of the mount to hold it up (for bolt access and so you can drop the pan down past the suction tube).

You will have to drop the brace piece (no big deal) and also have to disconnect the exhaust pipe from the header, otherwise there is pretty much no possible way to get the pan past it.

After cleaning ALL of the old sealant from the pan (a wire brush and propane torch works nicely) and using the Permatex sealant in a cheeze whiz can, it seems to have stopped.

I also used the same sealant on the balancer bolt.

It is definitely a do-able DIY job, you just have to be willing to get dirty and have the tools of course.

Oh, and of course replace the balancer seal while you're at it just for good measure. It's only a few bucks. A seal puller pry bar works wonders.

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Old 05-22-2011, 11:25 AM   #10
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Default Re: Saturn oil leak

I had this same exact oil leak type of issue. The first and only thing I did was tighten the oil pan nuts. There are lots of them and some are hidden under the brace piece.

You have to be careful not to over tighten the nut heads as I understand it they are easy to break.

A 1/4in ratchet with different extensions reached many of the nutheads. Then many of the others I tightened with a small boxend where the ratchet would not go.

This got rid of the oil accumulation points but soon learned after I needed to concentrate my major oil consumption search in other areas.

Again, be very very careful not to break the nutheads.

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Old 09-10-2013, 10:39 AM   #11
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Default Re: Saturn oil leak

so i have an oil leak. it is not a bad leak...i've been on this oil for about 2300 miles and still says it is topped off. here is a picture of the 2 verified leaks i've seen. the smaller circle was about 5 days ago...between then and today i've checked a few times when parked at work for 12+ hours, and seen nothing. go out there this morning, and saw the second picture, much larger puddle, but can't be but a few ounces. i jacked up the car and i don't think it is from the drain; i think it is from the filter. filter is m1-209. would it leak if i tightened it too much? i always hated how it would say turn the filter til the gasket touches and give it another 3/4 turn or whatever

the smaller puddle is about 4 inches in diameter, the larger puddle(the one under the car in the picture) is about 12 inches in diameter

i tried tightening the filter and it barely moved. if i tightened it too much(used my hand of course) would it cause a leak?
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Old 09-10-2013, 11:54 AM   #12
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Default Re: Saturn oil leak

Recheck your drain plug. Do you remember if you have a gasket on it when you last changed the oil?

If the leak was from the oil filter flange you would see oil on the drip guard, drive axle or cradle. If you changed the oil recently it may simply be dripping out of the cradle.

Hand tightening the filter will not cause leaks unless the filter is defective, improperly installed or has a damaged seal.

Look around the valve cover also as the leaks can drip down. This is much more common than the oil pan leaking.

The crank pulley bolt seal is also another vector for leaks but not as common.

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Old 09-10-2013, 12:07 PM   #13
jhonky
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Default Re: Saturn oil leak

i saw a drip forming on the surfaces directly below where the filter comes into contact with the engine. i'll try to get a picture of where the drip originates from later. i don't think i had a gasket on my drain plug, in both my saturns i just unscrewed the plug to drain the oil. haven't had the problem in the prior 5 oil changes with this saturn so i thought maybe i tightened the filter too much.

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Old 09-10-2013, 12:37 PM   #14
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Default Re: Saturn oil leak

There is a drip guard just below the filter. Wipe that out and see if the oil returns. If gets wet again it may be the filter gasket. You did wet the gasket with a light smear of oil when installing correct?

If the guard stays dry and there is still a drip on the ground in that area, check the cradle for any spilled oil that may be leaking out from the last filter change.

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Old 09-10-2013, 05:05 PM   #15
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Default Re: Saturn oil leak

i did wet the filter gasket. if the drip guard is what i think it is, that is where it is. cars been parked where it is now for slightly more than 4 hours and its dry underneath. when i first noticed the 4 inch diameter puddle, i looked about 5 different times after the car had sat for several hours and saw nothing, which made me think it wasn't from my vehicle. the puddle this morning was new and certainly mine. just don't get how it will leak sometimes and sometimes not. and how it didn't leak for the first 3 weeks on the new oil. don't think the oil leak is from the previous filter change

just sucks cause i was about to buy all my exhaust stuff and now i'm hesitant because i might have some issue. but i guess if it keeps leaking i can just top it off regularly. a 12 inch diameter puddle is not much oil

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Old 09-11-2013, 01:17 PM   #16
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Default Re: Saturn oil leak

That last oil change, the filter gasket stayed on the old filter, not on the engine flange (ie double gasket ='s leak)?

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Old 01-31-2014, 03:48 PM   #17
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Default Re: Saturn oil leak

My 97 SL1 is leaking about a 1/2 quart per 400 miles or so. The front of the engine is wettest on whatever pump is below the AC compressor. There are oil stains around the first 2 spark plug wells though they are more filled with crud as if the oil leak has happened over time. Much fresher oil is dripping from that lower pump (what is that?). Is this a valve cover gasket leak or crankshaft seal? I easily drive 100 miles a day so I'm getting tired of worrying about the oil level every 3-4 days.

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Old 01-31-2014, 09:45 PM   #18
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Default Re: Saturn oil leak

Quote:
Originally Posted by carfreak09 View Post
My 97 SL1 is leaking about a 1/2 quart per 400 miles or so.
That is almost an expected oil consumption rate for a SL.

Quote:
The front of the engine is wettest on whatever pump is below the AC compressor.
The pump below the AC (with the three bolt pulley) is the water pump. Are you sure what you are seeing there is oil? Are you slowly losing any coolant?

...
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Old 01-31-2014, 11:00 PM   #19
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Default Re: Saturn oil leak

I once chased an oil leak for months, only to find I hadn't tightened the crank pulley bolt tight enough.

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Old 02-01-2014, 02:31 AM   #20
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Default Re: Saturn oil leak

Quote:
Originally Posted by off-track View Post
That is almost an expected oil consumption rate for a SL.



The pump below the AC (with the three bolt pulley) is the water pump. Are you sure what you are seeing there is oil? Are you slowly losing any coolant?
Definitely no coolant loss. It is definitely leaking oil. When I park it, it immediately starts dripping oil on the ground. It doesn't leak a huge puddle, but its enough that I park it in the grass and not on my driveway.

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