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Old 09-19-2009, 11:32 PM   #1
comanche
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Default SOHC Alternator bracket oil puddle - head or head gasket?

1998 SL1 SOHC
234k miles

Oil leaking onto the alternator bracket. I cleaned it up, changed the oil, now there's fresh clean looking oil pooling there. It's not the valve cover gasket. It Everything is quite covered in oil from the bottom edge of the intake manifold downward.

1. So... is it likely just the head gasket, and not the cylinder head itself?

There has never been any sign of coolant in the oil.

2. And anyone ever replace a head gasket without using new head bolts? Goes against what I've been taught, but...

Thanks... regardless the problem, sounds like work...
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Old 09-19-2009, 11:37 PM   #2
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Default Re: SOHC Alternator bracket oil puddle - head or head gasket?

I would suggest doing a very thorough cleaning back there and then actually identifying the source of the leak. Clean it all off, including the valve cover gasket area and then run the car at idle until the fan cycles on and off. Then carefully wipe the cam cover gasket area in small sections with a couple pieces of toilet paper. The TP will show oil you can not see. Work from the top down until you find the source.
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Old 09-20-2009, 12:08 AM   #3
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Default Re: SOHC Alternator bracket oil puddle - head or head gasket?

Quote:
Originally Posted by comanche View Post
1998 SL1 SOHC
234k miles

Oil leaking onto the alternator bracket. I cleaned it up, changed the oil, now there's fresh clean looking oil pooling there. It's not the valve cover gasket. It Everything is quite covered in oil from the bottom edge of the intake manifold downward.

1. So... is it likely just the head gasket, and not the cylinder head itself?

There has never been any sign of coolant in the oil.

2. And anyone ever replace a head gasket without using new head bolts? Goes against what I've been taught, but...

Thanks... regardless the problem, sounds like work...
Check for a stripe of oil on your hood or the firewall while you are at it. The power steering pump is known to distribute "oil" all over if the seal goes.

Either way, the best way to find the source is to get it real clean and go from there.
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Old 09-20-2009, 01:23 AM   #4
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Default Re: SOHC Alternator bracket oil puddle - head or head gasket?

If it is leaking onto the triangular area behind the PS pump above the alt then it is most likely the head gasket. The pressure feed to the head comes up there. If you have an engine oil leak in that area that you know is not coming from anywere else you need to replace the head gasket.
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Old 09-20-2009, 05:25 PM   #5
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Default Re: SOHC Alternator bracket oil puddle - head or head gasket?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Signmaster View Post
Check for a stripe of oil on your hood or the firewall while you are at it. The power steering pump is known to distribute "oil" all over if the seal goes.

Either way, the best way to find the source is to get it real clean and go from there.
+1 I found that a slowly leaking pulley seal on my Power Steering unit did fling oil all over the alternator, so see if there's a color/scent match with the PS fluid.... Also, if the PS reservoir is a bit overfilled, it tends to fling oil, best to clean the outside of the reservoir tank and use its guide marks vs. the dipstick.

I certainly hope it's not the head gasket, since that's a lot more work.... Fingers crossed!
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Old 09-22-2009, 07:23 PM   #6
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Default Re: SOHC Alternator bracket oil puddle - head or head gasket?

I'll double check tomorrow, thanks for the input. But I had cleaned it before and it came back in the same spot.

I don't have power steering, so that's not the problem.

So I'm thinking a head gasket... but I'll double check the valve cover gasket - it's definitely worth checking again! I'll post what I find out.

Car has high miles though.


So, since I don't think anyone really answered the question, what is more likely, head gasket or the head itself?
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Old 09-22-2009, 07:34 PM   #7
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Default Re: SOHC Alternator bracket oil puddle - head or head gasket?

Head gasket. Get the area very clean, use brake cleaner and dry paper towels. Test for oil with toilet paper. If it is the cam cover it will show up there first and if its the oil feed then you will find it seeping through the gasket. If its a crack, not likely, you will find it inbetween those 2 points. Five minutes at idle and you will know where its coming from.
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Old 09-22-2009, 08:17 PM   #8
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Default Re: SOHC Alternator bracket oil puddle - head or head gasket?

All good advice so far--and you MUST use new head bolts, unless you'd loike to do the head gasket a second time. The bolts are torque to yield-they stretch when torqued and can not be reused.
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Old 09-23-2009, 11:58 AM   #9
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Default Re: SOHC Alternator bracket oil puddle - head or head gasket?

Hmm

Unable to duplicate leak once area was cleaned. At least 15 minutes of running.

Well, I cleaned it last time and it showed when I looked at it a few days later.

So I'll check it every day for now, and when it shows up, I'll post what the problem was.

(At least the oil is perfectly clean, never a sign of coolant ever.)
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Old 09-25-2009, 09:45 PM   #10
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Default Re: SOHC Alternator bracket oil puddle - head or head gasket?

Okay, checked it again Wednesday.

It's definitely not the valve cover gasket.

And the leak is coming from that corner where the power steering pump would normally be located. Seems pretty definite that it's the head gasket, that's where it's coming from.

Thanks for the help and ideas!

Any major suggested service to do while the head is out?
-So far I plan to clean the intake manifold, TB, EGR areas..... any other recommendations??? Car has 234k miles on it....
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Old 09-28-2009, 05:42 PM   #11
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Default Re: SOHC Alternator bracket oil puddle - head or head gasket?

Okay let me ask one more question....

1. How long can I run the car with this external leak? It's going to be probably another 2 weeks at least before I have another car to drive...

It's been leaking for a while... the oil is perfect... I'm thinking I should be able to run another couple of weeks if I keep an eye on the oil...

2. Is there a coolant passage close to this oil passage that the leak is coming from?

3. And is it worth it to get the head checked? Expert opinion please. I don't have lots of money.


Thanks for the help, it is much appreciated.
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