Reader Question I have a 1997 Toyota Camry LE 4Cyl w/ 130K miles. Recently, it developed a pretty substantial oil leak, which appeared to be coming from the oil pan gasket (the OEM gasket was made of pure silicone). I replaced the gasket. It still leaks from same location. I replaced gasket again. It is the same thing, it still leaks.
I have eliminated the leak is coming from the pan gasket…what appears to be the oil is descending from above the oil pan and appears to be coming from the pan, but not. It is in the vicinity of the right rear corner of the pan (viewing from back to front), just right of the plug location. Someone said that a main bearing seal maybe out and spraying oil into the timing belt cover, which due to gravity is dripping down over the pan.
I cannot see any oil leaks from the top. I cannot get a finger up in the timing cover to feel for oil. So, being that the timing belt should be replaced now, and I pull everything out to do this, will I find the leak then? And would you agree that it maybe the main bearing seal?
Thanks so much for your time!
First thing that I always do in the case of oil leaks is thoroughly wash and dry the engine with Varsol or brake parts cleaner. Go to your local auto parts store and buy a few cans of CRC BrakeKleener. It is non-flammable and dries almost instantly. Do not use water to wash an engine!!
Once you get the engine clean and dry, get underneath it (or better yet have the car raised up on a lift so you can easily see) and with the engine running….look for your leak.
If the timing belt is due for a change…I would definitely go ahead and replace it and replace the seals inside the timing cover. Oil leaks can be VERY tricky to locate…as you are finding out. Oil can drip and follow all kinds of paths before it decides to drop off the engine.
They do make an additive you can add to the oil and use an ultraviolet black light to find traces of the glowing oil additive as it leaks out. You can sometimes rent this light system at your local auto parts supply house.