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Old 05-18-2008, 12:25 AM   #1 (permalink)
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88 Toyota Cressida engine oil leak

Hi everyone,

I have an 88 Toyota Cressida (5M-GE engine) that has an oil leak coming from the bottom gasket in the engine. At first the mechanic said I should wait until the timing belt needs to be replaced and then replace the gasket at the same time. I now have over 75,000 miles on the car and took the car back to the mechanic and now he is telling me to get a new car. He said that the way the engine is designed that this will happen again. Something about the engine is made from an aluminum cylinder head and a cast iron block and when both metals heat up you will never get a good seal with the gasket. He also said that the engine was discontinued because of this design flaw. Another mechanic said the same thing. The way I feel is if I got over 75,000 miles from the first gasket I should be able to do the same with the new gasket. I love my Cressida and really would like to keep the car.

Is this guy right or is it that he doesn't want to be bothered with the job?

Also the engine seems to be smoking now. Could I be doing any damage to the engine? I never let the oil level get below the low level on the dipstick. I have to add 1/2 to 1 quart of oil about every 2-3 weeks.

Any info you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

mcm4bw
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Old 05-18-2008, 02:14 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Are you talking about the head gasket, or the oil pan gasket? The oil pan gasket is the very bottom gasket, but the head gasket is the one between the block, and the head.

If an engine is smoking because it's worn you're not doing damage as long as you maintain oil level. However, driving with a bad head gasket can cause engine damage.

A lot of cars have an iron block with an aluminum head. I don't think it's a big deal. While it is potentially more problematic than an all aluminum, or an all iron engine, new gasket should fix the leak, and last a while. As long as the head hasn't warped. I think the main reason head gaskets fail is from overheating, or old coolant corroding the gasket. Maintain the cooling system, and you shouldn't have problems.

Finally, it has to be re-assembled properly. One of our cars had a head gasket failure right after an engine rebuild, and they had to redo it.

I think these engines kick ass. The 7M-GE did have headgasket problems because of incorrect torque on the bolts, not because the head is aluminum, and the block is iron. And they were discontinued because they were in production for nearly 30 years.

Just my opinion.

Last edited by rty; 05-18-2008 at 02:37 AM.
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Old 05-18-2008, 05:12 PM   #3 (permalink)
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that mechanic is being a dumbass, i would go elsewhere. he just doesn't want to do it. almost all vehicles now have a cast iron block and an aluminum head, just like your 5M. and no its very unlikely that the 5M will blow its head gasket he is 100% wrong there. if it was a 7M it is well know to have troubles, but it is not because of the materials used. as rty said its likely just incorrect torque specs. they redesigned the head for the 7M and forgot to revise the head bolt torque.

as for the engine smoking that is worrysome. its either oil or coolant unless its just while its getting warm. oil smells awful and looks kind of blueish. if its the head gasket - although not common can happen with the 5M as with any car - you'll be burning the coolant so keep a close eye on your overflow tank. the smoke would be white and has a sweet smell to it.

as for the oil leak thats about the only trouble with the 5M and thats pretty minor. over the years the oil seals seem to dry out and start leaking. first figure out that smoking problem before you do much else. weather you want to get it fixed or not is up to you, but its a ridiculously tough engine and you've got very low miles on it for that car. it will last!

and no the 5M was NOT discontinued due to a design flaw! it was discontinued because the cressida shares the same engines as the supra. the 5M was for the mk2's and they decided to redesign it ( the 7M) for the mk3. it was simply outdated - or at least toyota thought so. that engine is some of their finest work, keep it if the damage isnt too bad and if you like it all the more reason.
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Old 05-19-2008, 09:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Get a better mechanic that gives you prices and lists parts rather than "get a new car" and "bottom gasket" and thinks in the 70s

-aluminum head/iron block engines are very common till production methods allowed block manufacturing to be cheap and strong enough for mass production in the late 90s/early 2000s. the 5M was discontinued, yes, in favor of a more powerfull engine that retains the aluminum head/iron block design which was also continued into the total redesign that is the 1jz/2jz which was used till 04 or 05 when toyota decided they wanted a more compact and powerful V6 engine. the 5m, 1jz, and 2jz almost NEVER blow head gaskets

if the mechanic told you to wait to fix the oil pan gasket....OK maybe. it IS a pain to do. if he told you to wait to fix the head gasket till you needed to change the timing belt (ie: it broke) which can last over 140k miles (tho the recommended interval is 40k miles) is like saying wait to do your single heart bypass till you need a quadruple bypass. aka just plain dumb and obviously malpractice or incompetence.

if you got 75,000 out of a head gasket in a 5MGE, someone f-ed up. 95% chance a 200k mile 5m has the factory head gasket.
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Old 05-22-2008, 04:01 PM   #5 (permalink)
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As for the -aluminum head/iron block problem: My mechanic says that there actually are a few engines that had problems with that combination, but the 5M certainly isn't one of them. LOL. I know personally several persons that put more than 300k miles on it - with the factory head gasket (one of them is my father - may he rest in peace). So yes - get a new mechanic. That guy is either too dumb or too lazy, both of which is equally bad for your Cressida.....

Kurt
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Old 05-31-2008, 12:29 AM   #6 (permalink)
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1988 Toyota Cressida Engine Oil Leak

rty, zero_gravity, kamesama980, and sapporillo,

Thank you guys for your input and help. I have been trying to reply individually to you but for some reason when I would try to post to you, it wouldn't let me. I am desperately needing your help! The smoke was coming from oil dripping on a heater hose at the back of the engine. I had my Cressida towed to a AAA approved shop because I was afraid to drive the car because the smoking was worse. I didn't know that it was the hose at the time. The mechanic said that there was a "substantial" oil leak. It is coming from the valve cover gasket and the gasket between the head and the block on to the hose. The previous mechanic had used some type of orange caulk to try to stop the leak and he made a mess and in one spot he put so much caulk that they are not sure if he was trying to plug up a hole some where on the engine. This last guy didn't even try to remove some of the caulk and he will not take the engine apart to replace the gaskets because he says that there may be warpage and something about with the new gaskets there might be more compression in the engine and that could open up a whole can of worms. He wants to put in a remanufactured Jasper engine for a price of $4461 and an installation kit which contains all tune up parts, belts, hoses and hose clamps, water pump, and radiator cap for an additional $325. Total $4786. I'm not sure that I need a new engine. I have had no other problems with the engine except the oil leaks. Is this guy just trying to sell me an engine? I am dependant on using a mechanic because I am not knowledgeable like you guys on repairing engines. It seems no one wants to be bothered to work on these engines -there difficult to work on. They want the easy way out either tell me to buy a new car or put in an engine. This last mechanic said that there is a mechanic that works for him who owns a Lexus and is working on a 7M-GE, the Supra engine, and he wants to buy my car. The engine can't be that bad if he wants to buy it. I bet he will not put in a new engine. He will just change the gaskets and have himself a nice car. I'm not sure what to do. I feel that what is out there in the way of new cars can't come close to the Cressida, but I'm dependant on these mechanics who don't want to do the job unless it has a $4786 price tag. Do you guys have any suggestions? I really don't want to buy a new car. I want to fix my Cressida but not have to put a new engine in it. I think the engine can't be in that bad of a shape. Any help you can give me will greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

mcm
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Old 06-01-2008, 12:45 AM   #7 (permalink)
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That's ridiculous. You can buy another Cressida for less.

The valve cover gasket is not a big deal, and is a pretty easy fix.

Is the car smoking from the exhaust or the engine bay? How does the oil, and coolant look? If it in fact has a blown head gasket (smoking from exhaust and milky oil) you definitely don't want to drive it like that.

I would keep looking for someone who can replace the gaskets properly.

Good luck.
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Old 06-01-2008, 06:55 PM   #8 (permalink)
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for almost 5k I'll leave tmw. shit, gimme 2k and I'll show up at your door and fix it this weekend and I'm not even kidding. heck, I'd look into doing it for 1k and a couch to sleep on.

the valve cover gaskets you could do yourself, the head gasket maybe maybe not. I fixed my 7MGE BHG in 2.5 days never having done it before and a 5M is easier (done those too).
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Last edited by kamesama980; 06-01-2008 at 06:56 PM.
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Old 06-02-2008, 01:37 AM   #9 (permalink)
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rty and kamesama980,

Thanks so much for making me see that I am not losing my mind! Rty, the car is smoking from the engine bay. I don't think that it is smoking from the engine, though. I think it's smoking from the heater hose where the hot oil is dripping on to it. The oil looks OK, not milky. The coolant is the Toyota red coolant and it looks a little brownish red but the coolant needs to be changed. I don't think it is smoking from the exhaust because of a BHG. Just the usual smoke when you start it up for the first time (condensation).

I wouldn't be surprised if some of the leakage from the valve cover is because the bolts are not tightened properly. How do you tighten them to the proper ft./lb.? I would like to do this myself but don't understand what ft./lb. is.

My problem is that the only other car I own is a 1972 Dodge Dart that is in the garage and hasn't been run in quite some time. It needs work too. So I am having to use a rental. It will take me awhile to find an honest mechanic to do the job but in the mean time I can't keep paying for the rental. I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place! The only thing I can think of is maybe lease a car and then it will buy me some time so I can find someone to fix the Cressida. It seems that any way I go I will be losing money.

Kamesama980 I wish you lived nearby I'd give you the job. I live in NJ, though. I'm not sure where I would be able to find an honest mechanic. They all seem to be crooks. Do you think the dealer would be any better? Would they want to install a new engine too? I think that they are even bigger crooks! Don't mind me, all this aggrevation is making me lose my mind. I wish I could do the job myself but I am a woman and I think it would be too complicated for me to do.

The car is still at the mechanic's shop. I am going to try to drive it home. I was afraid of the smoking but since I think it is coming from the heater hose and not the engine at least I will not damage the engine. I just want to get it out of there before they cause more damage. Could the heater hose catch on fire from the hot oil dripping on it?

Thanks for your help. If you have any ideas please let me know.

Thanks to you guys, you have really helped me and given me some good information and I have certainly learned a lot about my Cressida. It is an awesome car!

mcm
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Old 06-03-2008, 12:47 PM   #10 (permalink)
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no, the valve cover leaks are not from under-tightened bolts. the gaskets are VERY prone to leaking. these engines are prone to run damn near forever without needing major work so all the gaskets and oil seals get hard and start to leak. the valve cover gaskets and the round plates on the back of the cam towers are both the first to go. get new valve cover gaskets, new grommets, and replace the evil phillips head bolts with socket hex head or standard hex head bolts. they're only supposed to be torqued to like 6 ftlb and much more will just deform the grommet or strip the bolt hole. M6x1.25x25mm I think. take one to the hardware store and have them match it up. make sure they're stainless or black-oxide coated tho to prevent rust (black oxide works for only a few years tho)
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Old 11-30-2008, 11:23 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Howdy; I had similar problems, but I started leaking oil from all gaskets, literally. Replaced distributor and no change. Read on this forum that sometimes the breather tubes on the top of the motor (chrome, parallel to the air intake tube, and feeding in just before the injectors) get plugged, and as this is basically the (PCV) route that crankcase pressure is taken off, if plugged, oil will leak from damned-near everywhere. I tried a couple of garages, replaced the distributor, did oil dyes to find sources besides distributor--to no avail. Then I asked this forum. My bet is that your tubes are plugged, and you simply have newer gaskets than I did--we're talking oil pan, valve seals, distributor, everything that is connected to sump pressure....and that they will ALL leak soon.
I took off the breather tubes, ran some carb cleaner through them and VOILA!! no leaks anywhere, including the distributor. The two mystified garages asked me if I had solved the problem, and I told them about the advice on this forurm, so there you go..... Good luck... email me if you're not clear on this... Cheers, HM
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