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What could this oil leak be?

 
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Old 12-09-2016, 01:34 AM
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What could this oil leak be?

So I've had this H23 4th gen for awhile now and it's developed a slow oil leak down onto the exhaust down pipe and it really stinks when you come to a stop. I found that there was oil all up the backside of the motor and the oil pan gasket was pretty chewed so I replaced the oil pan gasket, the drain plug, and the oil pressure sensor making sure to use proper high temp thread sealant and giving it a full day to cure.

The leak seemed to have slowed substantially but whenever the car had a proper amount of oil in it it would still occasionally drip onto the exhaust and stink. Once the oil level got low enough, say to about 1/4 way down to the low mark the leak would stop entirely and the car would stop smelling. and of course the oil wasn't low enough to cause any serious harm as I was sure to top it up right away, but as soon as I did it would start dripping and smelling again.

I am not sure if this is an oil cooler o-ring as the mating surface around the cooler between the block and the filter is bone dry and most of the oil crud is above the cooler, like its coming from higher up on the motor and leaking around it down onto the cross members and exhaust. Most leaky o-rings I have seen guys say they have seen massive puddles of oil everywhere and they lose almost all of their oil. That's not the case with me. I keep enough oil to run the car as long as I keep on top of it before long road trips and such, and it doesn't leak a DROP when it is parked. I have let it sit on pavement for a few days and none dripped down. I even got under it and nothing seemed to even be new or have any new oil pooled up on it.

So what could this possibly be? Do any of you guys have any recommendations for me? It already has weak piston rings and gives a little puff every now and again if I be mean to her and I would really like to keep as much oil as I can. Continually dumping top ups down the fill cap is getting annoying.
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Old 12-09-2016, 02:13 AM
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Re: What could this oil leak be?

could be oil cooler, oil pressure sensor... valve cover seal is intact?

have you considered to do some rebuilding there if piston rings are bad?
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Old 12-09-2016, 02:28 AM
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Re: What could this oil leak be?

I would soak back of the motor in Simple Green,Rinse and Trace. There really are not many sources above the oil cooler. It could be coming from the head (Valve cover gasket, cam seals, distributer gasket)

Possible head gasket leak as the main orifice for the oil feed to the head is located on the center and rear of the block.

Possible Oil pressure sensor.
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Old 12-09-2016, 04:11 AM
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Re: What could this oil leak be?

The cam seals and distributor look okay. The valve cover looks a little greasy but its just a small sweat. I was planning to replace that eventually too, but its definitely not the source. I don't think I will be doing a rebuild on this motor as it only puffs a tiny bit blue if you really take it to rev limiter after like a long hard drive it's not like its constantly pouring blue. I would do it but I've researched the machining that goes into it and I live in rural Canada. A full rebuild kit is like $600-$700 just for the rings and bearings and gaskets. The machine work I can't even imagine what it would cost or if they would even do it right!

Besides I'm not planning to build or anything. I just want a car that doesn't leak its guts out. If I drive like a normal person it isn't going to bother me until I am ready to move on.
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Old 12-09-2016, 03:58 PM
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Re: What could this oil leak be?

The great thing about oil is that it can drop out of something and onto something else and get flung all over the place. Usually if you see oil, it will look fresher near the source.
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Old 12-09-2016, 06:42 PM
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Re: What could this oil leak be?

The vavle cover seems to be fine around the back. Its just on the side it has a little sweat if you wipe your finger. And its like black and cruddy too. Doesnt even look like the oil in the motor. But I haven't even checked the headgasket or the head oil feed orifice as I didn't know they existed. That's why I started this thread lol. To see if there was some magical oil related thing between the oil cooler and intake manifold that could leak. I will have to check everything out next spring I guess as she's sleeping for the winter.
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Old 12-09-2016, 08:44 PM
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Re: What could this oil leak be?

The oil orifice is sandwiched between the head and block and is the passage where oil passes from the block up to the head. The orifice controls pressure to the head. You will not see this unless you take the head off the block. Only reason I thought of it is because it is possible you could get a leak in the head gasket around the orifice. I doubt this is the problem though.

It is also possible that you have a leaking CV boot and it is slingin grease up the back of the motor.
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Old 12-09-2016, 08:44 PM
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Re: What could this oil leak be?

The oil cooler has a seal at the block, it is a rubber o-ring on the backside.

Last edited by H22TURBO; 12-09-2016 at 08:52 PM.
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Old 12-09-2016, 08:47 PM
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Re: What could this oil leak be?

Also, if this is an older leak, the oil is going to have all kinds of dust and dirt in which would make it look greasy.
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Old 12-09-2016, 11:44 PM
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Re: What could this oil leak be?

I just wanted to save the oil cooler oring as a last resort because the oil filter and oil cooler themselves look dry. The oil seems to be coming from elsewhere, and I dont have a 30mm deep socket and I have been having trouble finding a place online that sells the proper oring as no place out here has it. And I dont wanna screw around and go out and buy all this junk unless I am certain it is leaking. I dont think the oil pressure sensor is leaking because I changed that out. But I guess I will just have to get under there and check everything in the new season.

Do you think overfilling could be an issue? Because my dipstick tends to give very inconsistent readings. Whenever I check it I check in very flat level ground. I follow the owners manual and let the car run up to heat and shut it off for 15 minutes. Check the oil and its still low. So I top up. I repeat. It reads normal now. But if I let it sit for longer than 15 mins it reads slightly fuller than usual. Not a lot but slightly. If I check it and it reads low, then check it again when the engine is stone cold the oil reads full..... so what is going on here?
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Old 12-11-2016, 01:55 PM
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Re: What could this oil leak be?

You should check the oil when the engine is cold. It will read lower if the motor has been recently fired because the oil that is circulating up to the head will take a while to drain back into the pan. This would explain the list reading when you check the level after the motor has run. The oil level will also read slightly higher if the motor oil is hot, this is due to thermal expansion.

Hope this helps.
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Old 12-12-2016, 01:37 AM
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Re: What could this oil leak be?

The owners manual says to check the oil hot and just let it drain down for 15 minutes. But that's what I don't get. It reads normal cold but it reads low when I follow manufacturer instructions. When I top up it leaks and smells for awhile. Do you think slightly overfilling could be causing this slow leak?
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