By January 26, 20070 Comments Read More →

1998 Toyota Camry LE

Reader Question: Dear Austin,

I found your site tonight when I searched online.

My 1998 Toyota Camry LE needs a state inspection and oil change so I made an appointment with Firestone Shop.

Then they called me my headlight is not straight, it need to corrected for pass the inspection, they also told me I need replace brake shoes, although I don’t have to do that now for passing the inspection, they said it would need replace soon.

They also told me that I need to replace the air filter. I okayed them to do all these unexpected service. They also told I need to replace belts because of cracks although I never noticed that. Since it 8 year old, I thought it might need replace the belts. I Okayed that too.

But two day after service I found oil leak in my garage. I drove back to them, they told me there was gasket leak. I could not believe this!

Because I bought the Camry new in 1998 and always have scheduled service, it never had leak (otherwise, I would see it in my garage). I checked my all fluid under hood monthly and never find any leak.

So I asked that mechanic how could I never saw the leak if I have gasket leaking? Why it suddenly happened after your oil change? He said it is 8 year old it is normal to have leak.

I know my Toyota. I also just had oil change 3 month ago and have a 60,000 miles service last year. If there is cracking belt or leak gasket, they should notice that?

I am afraid this guy either intentionally did something wrong or unintentionally broke something? I told him, this could not be possible if it had leak without any drip in my garage. I also noticed they either refilled my brake oil or add to it. I saw the spray over the top and it is over filled above the full line.

Then the owner came to tell me he can spray some cleaner, added some color additive to the oil, and asked me to drive a few days to check later where the source of the leak is.

So searched for answers?

I would be happy to check with you on my insurance since I have been with GEICO for 15 years.

Could you give me some tip before I see them next Monday? I just felt they did something wrong. I even doubt not all these repairs might be necessary!

What do you think?


Hey Frank,

Since they just changed the engine oil and you all of a sudden have an oil leak I would suspect either the oil drain plug gasket is leaking of the oil filter is leaking. Both of these leaks DO happen from time to time when doing an oil change. In my shop, we have seen leaking NEW oil filters right out of the box, so I would stick my head under the vehicle and inspect these two items FIRST.

There are many gaskets and oil seals on the engine so the oil could be leaking from anywhere, but I would rule out the obvious easy places before I spent any money on repairs.

I also do not know if I would let THIS shop do the repairs, or let me say I do not know if I would PAY them to do any repairs. It sounds to me like they really over inspected your vehicle. You might want to call another state inspection shop and ask them if checking the headlight adjustment is part of the routine.

We used to check headlight adjustments in Texas 10 years ago, but that and a physical brake inspection is not part of the state inspection process anymore.

Topping off the brake fluid should be part of the oil change service and part of doing a brake job and is nothing to be concerned with. Keep me posted as to what they determine is the culprit of the oil leak.

On a side note, this engine uses a rubber timing belt which is inside the engine and not visible with an external inspection. Usually the recommended change interval is 60K miles and since the other drive belts supposedly had cracks in them I would probably suspect the timing belt is also starting to show signs of wear and you might want to consider having it changed as part of regular maintenance.

Austin Davis

Posted in: Fluid Leaks

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