1998 Camry LE Oil Leak - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums


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3rd & 4th Generation (19921996 & 19972001) Toyota Camry Discussion for years: 1992-1996 & 1997-2001 Topics of discussion range from fuel economy, safety, modifications, performance all involving America's favorite family car, the Toyota Camry.

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Old 01-29-2009, 08:27 AM   #1 (permalink)
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1998 Camry LE Oil Leak

Car has 120K miles on it. Over the past few months, there has been an oil leak from the engine. The leak is under the right front passenger side of the engine, about a foot inside the right wheel well. Last week, I took it to the dealer, and was told there was too much oil leaking to determine the source. He recommended a "step-wise" approach to find the leak. The first step was to replace the valve cover gasket (parts + labor = $200). Then, after 1-2 weeks, I would need to bring the vehicle back in to see if it was still leaking.

This morning, after a quick drive, the oil leak is still there. And, it seems to be heavier than before! At the initial repair estimate, I was told the problem could also be the right axle shaft seal (parts + labor ~$220) and/or front engine seals (parts + labor ~$450). Now, I have a few questions I hope someone can answer.

1. Is this stepwise-down approach correct to determine the source of the oil leak and also to fix it? Or, could the leak have been identified in a different way? I just have an awful feeling that I am being fleeced for unnecessary repairs (since the cause of the leak hasn't been identified, I have to fix EVERYTHING).

2. Are those parts and labor estimates accurate? Or, are they inflated?

3. I was told the front engine seals replacement would be the longest. This is because they are inside the engine. Is this the same as a timing cover seal? Now, I had my timing belt and water pump replaced 2 years ago at 90K miles at the same dealership. Should the seals have been replaced at that time? When I queried them about this, they said they only replace them if they are or look bad....?

4. Does anyone have any other ideas or suggestions as to the cause of the oil leak? A google search also mentions things such as crankshaft oil seal, oil pump oil seal, oil pump o-ring, etc, etc. Are these similar to what was mentioned in the initial repair estimate, or completely different?

This fix isn't quick, and the repair is getting to be complex and expensive. All responses appreciated. Thanks!

Last edited by tbone1114; 01-29-2009 at 10:32 AM. Reason: water pump
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Old 01-29-2009, 09:47 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm have the same problem, oil leaking from the back side of the motor. I'm unfamiliar with Toyotas, but I don't see why the the dealer or any mechanic wouldn't degrease the motor. Then look for the leak and fix the problem, instead of throwing parts at it.
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Old 01-29-2009, 09:59 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You will save $$ if you diagnose the oil leaks (yourself)

Here are the steps..

1) Go AutoZone buy Degreaser (come with liquid red color )
2) get yourself an empty container (like glass spRay cleaner that you normally clean your windows). you put about 3/4 degreaser liquid inside the container glass spay
3) identify the the area oil leaks ( you said the leaks come from right side (passenger)
4) jack the car up and MAKE SURE YOU HAVE GOOD SUPPORTS BEFORE YOU GET UNDER THE CAR
5) YOU NEED A DRAG AND 3/4 CONTAINER
6) WEAR GROVE PROTECTION FOR YOU EYES (DIRTY GET IN YOUR EYES)
7) NOW, YOU GET UNDER THE CAR...YOU PROCEED SPRAY THE SPOT YOU SEE OIL AND CLEAN IT OFF WITH YOUR DRAG CLEANER... KEEP DOING ALL THE AREA YOU SEE OIL LEAKS....
8) ASSUME YOU CLEANED ALL THE OIL SPOT UNDER THE CAR... YOU CAN LOW THE SUPPORTS DOWN..AND CRANK THE CAR AND LET IT RUNS 5 MINS OR MAYBE MORE TO DUPLICATE THE OIL LEAKS... IF YOU FEEL THE CAR HAS RUN ENOUGH, YOU TURN OFF THE ENGINE...AND JACK BACK UP AGAIN... CAUTION.. CAR IS HOT SO JUST BECARE NOT TO TOUCH THE EXHAUST PIPE OR HOT SPOTS..JUST LOOK AROUND IF YOU CAN SEE WHERE THE LEAKS MIGHT BE..
9) GET UNDER THE CAR AGAIN (ASSUME YOU HAVE GOOD SUPPORTS..) LOOK AROUND SEE IF CAN TELL WHERE THE LEAKS COME FROM...
10) THIS IS ONE WAY TO FIND OUT IF YOUR LEAKS ...
11) POSTED BACK AND WE'LL HELP..


WARNING! MAKE SURE YOU HAVE GOOD JACK SUPPORTS BEFORE YOU GET UNDER THE CAR...
I ASSUME NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR THESE PROCEDURES AND YOU PERFORM AT YOUR OWN RISK!!

Last edited by 1996camry; 01-29-2009 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 01-29-2009, 10:30 AM   #4 (permalink)
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1996 camry - I appreciate the advice. Unfortunately, i am not that "mechanically gifted" and what you suggest is likely out of my area of expertise. Thus, I have to maintain and fix the car at a mechanic or the dealership...

For a frame of reference, things I can do are change a tire, replace fuses/lights, change air filter. Very simple things only...

Last edited by tbone1114; 01-29-2009 at 10:32 AM.
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Old 01-29-2009, 10:38 AM   #5 (permalink)
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GPER - That's a good thought.

When I had the dealer service it, I was told that there was too much oil in the engine and that it was spilling everywhere. Thus, they couldn't determine the cause of the oil leak and suggested the 3 possible repairs, with valve cover gasket first. They did clean the engine block AFTER replacing the gasket cover, and wanted me to return after some driving. If the oil continued to leak, they could then isolate the cause? At first, I thought this made sense, but after time, I'm beginning to wonder. If it continues to leak during the drive period, then wouldn't the whole scenario repeat, and then I STILL wouldn't know how to fix it.
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Old 01-29-2009, 12:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
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When I'm working on my Jeeps, I find the problem first even if the area needs to be cleaned first to find the problem. Then a clean area is always easier to work on so I think it should be cleaned first then diagnosed.

I'm going to a manual for mine, I'm in no hurry since it is cold and snowy here.
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Old 01-29-2009, 12:59 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Tbone, take a look at dz63's timing belt replacement How-To... It's IMPOSSIBLE to mess it up with the way he laid it out... He also changed his front seals and "rebuilt" his oil pump in that how-to... You'd have to be completely retarded to mess it up... Trust me, I'm a girl, and I did it in one whole day never having been inside a motor before...

Before you shell out any more money for this "troubleshooting" repair, please check out the sticky in the DIY section... It's not as bad as you might think... Just follow the steps to the letter and you'll be fine... Trust me, I did it!!! And for the love of God, DO NOT take it back to the STealership...

Heck, you're in Ohio, and if it's in Northern Ohio, drive it up here and I'll help you with it!!! It's worth the drive to save a few hundred bucks!!!

Last edited by nevanerviss; 01-29-2009 at 01:04 PM.
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Old 01-29-2009, 08:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Don't go to Stealership...Mechanic with a Rack

I have bought and sold used Camry's for 2 years now and I have NEVER taken a car to the dealership...EVER ... that is your first mistake (Sorry to be so firm) even a rip off mechanic can do what THEY SAID for a whole lot cheaper.

or

If I we you I would take her up on the offer..She is my kinda girl and sounds pretty cute

THIS WHAT I HAVE DONE..... But I am mechanically enclined...
  1. I rolled the car up on to $20 ramps. Set brake or chocks!
  2. Turn OFF engine & put keys in your pocket
  3. Get some old rags and dry off the under part of the engine (if it is a 4 cylinder it has tons of room and you can see all the way up to the top) If it is a V6 Take it to a meachanic ...not the stealership.
  4. use a bright light or lamp and make sure you get ALL the moist looking oil dry.
  5. Remove all rags and any loose things. Run engine for 20 minutes then turn off. Staying flat slide under the car NOT TOUCHING ANYTHING.. Just looking...next is some things I found...
On most cars that were puddling 12" from passenger tire it was the seal in the rear of the oil pump. I could see it seeping right at the bottom of the timing belt cover.

All others most of the time it was the Valve Cover leaking on the passenger side rear corner leaking down the face of the engine and dripped on the ground. I saw a wet track going all the way down to the oil pan.

Now if you need to do the oil seal have the mechanic do it. and replace the tbelt AND water pump while your there.

If you have not found the 'Front Engine" leak as above the mechanic needs to try his luck while car is running on his safe rack and if not exterior obvious further take off the tbelt cover to see OBVIOUS cause under cover.

Hope this helps and just be glad it is not leaking between the engine & tranny as this would be $20 seal and $500+ Labor

I have done ALL the above my self and it
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Old 01-30-2009, 07:00 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malayan View Post
If I we you I would take her up on the offer..She is my kinda girl and sounds pretty cute
Well, Thank you...

Quote:
Originally Posted by malayan View Post
On most cars that were puddling 12" from passenger tire it was the seal in the rear of the oil pump. I could see it seeping right at the bottom of the timing belt cover.

All others most of the time it was the Valve Cover leaking on the passenger side rear corner leaking down the face of the engine and dripped on the ground. I saw a wet track going all the way down to the oil pan.

Now if you need to do the oil seal have the mechanic do it. and replace the tbelt AND water pump while your there.
That's the beauty of DZ63's DIY; he does that from start to finish, and it really is not all that bad... The only problem I had when I did it were those two STUPID bolts at the bottom of the aluminum motor mount... I could only get them to turn 1/8th of a turn at a time...

Tbone, I'm more than willing to help you out... Just bring me your car and the parts (I have all the tools we'll need), AND your willingness to learn, and we'll git'er done!!
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Old 01-30-2009, 08:10 AM   #10 (permalink)
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A girl with tools and great advice, you can't beat that. Thanks for the info I'll do a search for the write up myself.
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Old 01-30-2009, 08:46 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Took a little while but I found it here is the link
DIY: GEN3 Timing Belt + Waterpump + Oil Seal Change - Part 1

Part 2 since I know where to look for this stuff now
DIY: GEN3 Timing Belt + Waterpump + Oil Seal Change - Part 2

Last edited by GPER; 01-30-2009 at 09:01 AM.
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Old 01-30-2009, 09:19 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Thanks for the replies and the offers of assistance. However, I don't think I can take you up on it. I went through the DIY thread(s), and there are some very helpful links. Maybe in the future when I have the time, tools, and equipment I can become more of a mechanic. As of now, though, I just can't swing it.

This morning I am currently back at the dealership. I have pressed them if "they can identify and isolate the problem". Of course they say "yes", but the 3 possible sources of the leaks are the right axle seal, the engine seals, or even the oil pan gasket. Depending on the actual problem and the cost of repair, I will probably then have a local mechanic that I trust fix it, instead of the dealership. I will post updates as they occur.... Stay tuned....
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Old 01-30-2009, 09:33 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Another question

I was told the valve cover gasket was definitely leaking when it was replaced. But, the car still leaks oil after it was replaced. Is it VERY LIKELY there were 2 oil leaks at once or is this HIGHLY UNLIKELY? I don't know enough of the inner workings of an engine to make that assessment. But if it's highly unlikely, then I have to question the validity of the repairs. And like one GPER responded, it seems like they are "throwing parts at the problem" without actually fixing it...
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:04 AM   #14 (permalink)
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So here's the final update....

The dealership told me that the oil leak was most likely coming from the engine oil seals. But, they STILL couldn't rule out the right axle seal as the source. Estimate of parts/labor for engine seal repair was $530. I said, let me get a second opinion. Suffice to say, I'm having a local mechanic I trust look at it, and probably fix the engine oil seals. His cost? ~$350.

In summary, I knew better than to have anything other than an oil change done at the dealership. However, I relented on this one, and should have stuck with my gut and the local mechanic from the beginning when he said it was probably the engine seals after a quick look underneath the car. Live and learn....
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Old 02-03-2009, 09:55 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Your axle is filled with transmission fluid, a red dyed oil. If you are seeing motor oil, then it comes from engine.
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