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Old 03-01-2012, 09:10 AM   #1
Jaybrogs
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Dizzy Mysterious Oil Leak Pinpointed to Timing Cover

Hey guys, I'm new to Saturnalia, but have owned a Saturn since I could drive. I have a 2002 SL. Anyway, after visits to the dealer and a mechanic, I think I have pinpointed my slow oil leak to the Timing Cover. How much should I expect to pay for this? I know its a little too serious of a job for my taste.

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Old 03-01-2012, 10:11 AM   #2
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Default Re: Mysterious Oil Leak Pinpointed to Timing Cover

Welcome to saturnfans

If your timing cover has not previously been removed, a leak a the cover is very highly unlikely (it would be the very first that I have read of).

Is that the diagnosis of the dealer/mechanic?

I'd wipe it clean and try to pinpoint the oil leak myself, starting at higher points on the eninge and working down. The cam (valve) cover gasket is more likely. Approximately how hgh up (or low down) can yo pinpoint the leak to?

Timing cover takes some time to remove, clean up and replace - I'd guess in the $400~$600 range. A lot of novice home mechanics have successfully removed/replaced the timing cover, though... it's really just a lot of bolts in tight, hard to reah places

...
...Wait, what, I actually won that eBay auction?
Guess I now (12/2008) own a 1998 SL2, silver, 5 spd :p
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And now (7/2010), a Craigslist 1997 SC2, white, 5 spd

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Old 03-01-2012, 11:02 AM   #3
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Default Re: Mysterious Oil Leak Pinpointed to Timing Cover

Thank you!

And that is the diagnosis of my mechanic. The dealer said it could be valve cover gasket, or head gasket. I was going to replace the valve cover gasket soon myself anyway, however I don't see how the leak could be coming from there. Maybe a little seepage, but nothing close to the small spot I see in the driveway every other day.

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Old 03-01-2012, 11:33 AM   #4
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Location: Pacifica by San Francisco 5sp Engine rebuild with the help of people here at 177K due to 500mi/qt oil consumption. After 2yrs I am back to 40mpg+ after discovering the refirb head I used was bad. Car runs better than a top. Now at 205k.
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Default Re: Mysterious Oil Leak Pinpointed to Timing Cover

Clean the seam of the cam cover really well all the way around, spotless. Run the car again and go back over the area with a folded square of Toilet paper. This is the best way to pinpoint if/where you are leaking. The technique works just about everywhere.

Dont go by your mechanics gut feel if they have not put time into it. They can spend your money needlessly. It is easy enough to find out yourself, reliably.

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Old 03-01-2012, 11:44 AM   #5
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Default Re: Mysterious Oil Leak Pinpointed to Timing Cover

The cam cover (aka valve cover) is a far far more likely suspect. Check and double check that, first, before you go through the trouble or spend the money to have the timing chain cover re-sealed. It seems simple and straight-forward (and it's not too bad with a pulled engine on a stand), but because of the confined space, it's not a trivial job. The cam cover is a very common source of leaks (as opposed to the TCC, which is literally unheard of unless it has been rebuilt), and it's relatively easy to fix.

...
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Old 03-01-2012, 12:00 PM   #6
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Default Re: Mysterious Oil Leak Pinpointed to Timing Cover

Yeah I think I'm just going to replace the valve cover gasket and see where I'm at from there. Its just annoying that $110 dollars later, the dealer narrows it down to three possible areas...

Thanks for the help guys.

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Old 03-01-2012, 03:08 PM   #7
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Default Re: Mysterious Oil Leak Pinpointed to Timing Cover

When my valve cover was leaking, I was losing probably 1/4 quart every 250 miles or so. That was a pretty big spot on the driveway

It was at the usual spot, left (driver side) rear. But the drips can travel to the front and sides of the engine which make it hard to pinpoint.

...
...Wait, what, I actually won that eBay auction?
Guess I now (12/2008) own a 1998 SL2, silver, 5 spd :p
102k @ purchase, now 167k
And now (7/2010), a Craigslist 1997 SC2, white, 5 spd

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Old 03-01-2012, 09:18 PM   #8
ehunter
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Location: Pacifica by San Francisco 5sp Engine rebuild with the help of people here at 177K due to 500mi/qt oil consumption. After 2yrs I am back to 40mpg+ after discovering the refirb head I used was bad. Car runs better than a top. Now at 205k.
Posts: 1,450

1996 SL2
Default Re: Mysterious Oil Leak Pinpointed to Timing Cover

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaybrogs View Post
Yeah I think I'm just going to replace the valve cover gasket and see where I'm at from there. Its just annoying that $110 dollars later, the dealer narrows it down to three possible areas...

Thanks for the help guys.
Prove it is the cover first... else you are asking for potential headaches.

Too many here have been challenged in trying to get the cover to stop leaking.

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Old 03-03-2012, 03:24 PM   #9
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Default Re: Mysterious Oil Leak Pinpointed to Timing Cover

Quote:
Originally Posted by ehunter View Post
Prove it is the cover first... else you are asking for potential headaches.

Too many here have been challenged in trying to get the cover to stop leaking.
I am having similar symptoms and was wondering if anyone has tried to just snug the valve cover bolts down a little before changing out the gasket/reseal?

I was wondering what your statement about challenged in trying to get the cover to stop leaking meant?

...
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Old 03-03-2012, 04:48 PM   #10
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Default Re: Mysterious Oil Leak Pinpointed to Timing Cover

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlr33 View Post
I am having similar symptoms and was wondering if anyone has tried to just snug the valve cover bolts down a little before changing out the gasket/reseal?
NO! Do not do that! The gasket is recessed in a groove and the cover already contacts the head. Tightening the bolts any further will strip the threads out of the aluminum head (making a small problem a very big one). The gasket needs to be replaced and you need to be sure not to over-tighten it upon re-torquing the cover (those bolts should not be tightened very much at all). I cannot recall the torque spec off hand; you should be sure to look it up. If you tighten it too much, you will be in for a much more significant repair.

...
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Old 03-03-2012, 05:31 PM   #11
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Default Re: Mysterious Oil Leak Pinpointed to Timing Cover

Yes, but I have the SL1 and I thought it did not have a gasket after reading the cover replacment DIY? In the DIY, they say to not worry about using a torgue wrench but just snug the bolts since we are talking inch pounds?

...
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Old 03-03-2012, 05:47 PM   #12
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Default Re: Mysterious Oil Leak Pinpointed to Timing Cover

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlr33 View Post
Yes, but I have the SL1 and I thought it did not have a gasket after reading the cover replacment DIY? In the DIY, they say to not worry about using a torgue wrench but just snug the bolts since we are talking inch pounds?
There's still a gasket on SOHCs. Without a gasket, it would leak like crazy. http://shop.advanceautoparts.com/web...RPGASKAMS_____

Some stores will try to sell you tubes of RTV to make a gasket (it's cheaper than the real pre-formed gasket). Don't do that. It will work, if done right, but if you ever need to remove the cover again (if it doesn't seal well or if future work is necessary) it will be very difficult and frustrating to clean all that RTV out of there.

You don't need to use a torque wrench, if you're careful, but it's always a good idea (especially if you don't have enough experience to know how tight something is without one). Regardless of what tool you use, you need to know the torque spec to know how tight to make it (even if you're just guessing, you can't just be random).

...
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Old 03-15-2012, 08:36 PM   #13
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Default Re: Mysterious Oil Leak Pinpointed to Timing Cover

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlr33 View Post
Yes, but I have the SL1 and I thought it did not have a gasket after reading the cover replacment DIY? In the DIY, they say to not worry about using a torgue wrench but just snug the bolts since we are talking inch pounds?
I changed out my valve cover gasket but still have a leak somewhere around the timing chain cover area.

...
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206,000 MILES

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Old 03-15-2012, 08:59 PM   #14
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Default Re: Mysterious Oil Leak Pinpointed to Timing Cover

It might be the head gasket,clean the area off,put some tracer dye in with the engine oil. Then drive it and recheck for leak area. Sometimes the head gaskets on 99-2002 sohc engines leak oil in that area.

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Old 03-16-2012, 11:03 AM   #15
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Default Re: Mysterious Oil Leak Pinpointed to Timing Cover

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlr33 View Post
I changed out my valve cover gasket but still have a leak somewhere around the timing chain cover area.
You want to pinpoint the leak before you start replacing stuff, otherwise it can get expensive. ehunter gave good advice here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ehunter View Post
Clean the... really well all the way around, spotless. Run the car again and go back over the area with a folded square of Toilet paper. This is the best way to pinpoint if/where you are leaking. The technique works just about everywhere.
Could be one of the pulleys, or somewhere else.

...
...Wait, what, I actually won that eBay auction?
Guess I now (12/2008) own a 1998 SL2, silver, 5 spd :p
102k @ purchase, now 167k
And now (7/2010), a Craigslist 1997 SC2, white, 5 spd

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

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