Oil leak from distributor assembly - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
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#1 Old 09-02-2009, 04:56 PM
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Oil leak from distributor assembly

I recently bought a 1997 Previa with 179k miles. It runs well, but I noticed a small oil leak. I get about 1 or 2 drops per day.

The mechanic tells me the oil leak is from the distributor assembly. Looking under the car, I can confirm that seems to be the case. He says the distributor is leaking oil internally (though I'm not sure exactly how the distributor works so I don't know what that means). The car had a major tune up about 5 months ago, when I assume the distributor cap was replaced. The oil leak, I've now found out, was noted even at that time. So I don't think the tuneup itself has led to the oil leak. I did an oil change last week, and so far the leak has definitely diminished, maybe from the heavier viscosity of the newer oil?

The mechanic tells me I need to replace the distributor assembly ($500). I'm keeping my fingers crossed that maybe the problem can be addressed with less expense.

Is there any chance this leak could be caused by the O-ring that I've seen on some forum postings?

Is there a possibility that it can be fixed without replacing the entire assembly (such as replacing rubber seals or anything like that)?

Are there any oil additives that could possibly eliminate the leak? I've heard that these only work (if they work at all) in areas of high oil pressure, and I'm not sure the distributor assembly is a high pressure system.

Thanks! Here's a photo of the distributor:


Last edited by trailingedge; 09-04-2009 at 03:57 PM. Reason: Added photo
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#2 Old 09-12-2009, 09:17 PM
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I went thru this as well and wasn't convinced about it until this thread. The shop found this problem w/ my van when I was getting the valve cover seals replaced. I was suspicious and thought they might have damaged it themselves during the repairs. But I have some faith w/ the guys in there and didn't argue. I also remember them not finding a part number for the O-ring only so a ($$$) complete assembly was needed. Luckily I found a used one on ebay in time for less. I drove the van locally for a week until the replacement arrived and installed. I may need to check it again though.

Perhaps this is a design flaw on that part. If you can update us w/your issues, I'm sure we'll bebefit from it as well. Good luck
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#3 Old 09-25-2009, 12:19 PM
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Opinion from a different mechanic

I took the van to a self-proclaimed Previa expert. I can't confirm that he knows what he's talking about, but he tells me he has owned 5 Previas and he certainly sounds like he understands these vans.

Anyway, he assures me that the leak does not require replacement of the distributor assembly. He thinks maybe it only requires retorquing some screws, but admits it could be leaking from valve cover seals.

I'm pretty confused about the whole thing. I'm going to give this guy another opportunity to fix the problem, but otherwise I'll probably take it to the dealer for troubleshooting. I just want to be certain I'm fixing the right thing before I put my money into the repair!

p.s. not sure what happened to the photo I posted in my original posting. I tried posting it again and it doesn't show up. Might be my browser at work. Will try posting it again when I get home.

Last edited by trailingedge; 10-18-2009 at 01:08 AM.
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#4 Old 09-28-2009, 03:58 PM
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distributor leak

We just changed the distributor o-ring on my 95 previa. From what i have read, the previa has 2 common oil leaks, one at valve cover gasket and 1 at distributor. I did not change the valve gasket. To get at the distributor, you go from underneath. You have to remove a cover plate that for some terrible reason has philips head screws on it. Two hours later, we had removed the whole distributor assembly with the cover plate still attached. Any way, the oring that they are talking about should be available from any toyota dealer. Mine cost 3 dollars or so. This goes on the distributor shaft. When putting back, I could not get the distributor back on. There was no match marks made, because, like I said, we could not get that cover plate off first. I turned it 180 degrees and it slid right on.
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#5 Old 09-29-2009, 12:33 AM
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from what i see in the pics.....u have dist o-ring and valve cover gasket leaking......the reason i will say valve cover because u can see along the valve cover there is a blk dirt along it.....that means leak oil and dirt stick to it!....to remove the valve cover, u have to take out the pass seat and cover!

Note: if u remover valve cover....mind as well replace sparks plugs 2.....because u cannot remover spark plugs wire from under the car!

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#6 Old 09-30-2009, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trailingedge View Post
Thanks! Here's a photo of the distributor:

Get some rags and some 409 and clean your motor some. Then look for fresh leaks.

Can you take a full motor pic as well as a pic of your distributor? Thanks.

Think I may be able to help you with that distributor.

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#7 Old 10-04-2009, 06:51 PM
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1) replace VALVE COVER GASKET. - DON'T change the distributor seal(if u want to just do it) - wash the area with degreaser. run the car let it dry, you gonna need to pop the passenger seat out and the carpet pulled over. and the access panel off. once you're done replacing the valve cover gaskets . let it run, watch for any drips that might occurs. dont put the panel back.

i'm saying this cuz if u guys look at the picture closely. the oil traces goes all the way to the front of the engine. and the distributor assembly is at the rear of the engine, and the movement of air when you're driving is usually. FRONT TO BACK right? and of course. once you're driving, the air movement pushes the dripping oil from the front of the engine to the back of the engine, (which is the location of the distributor). hope this made sense.

if if still leaks, then it would be easier to replace the distributor/ or distributor o-ring with the access panel removed.

and yeah, if the dude claims hes a self proclaimed previa expert because he owned 5 previas. then consider me a previa guru LOL. i own 7 (all running)

and if you still feel like replacing the distributor O ring - I'd say DO IT. you're already there.

Last edited by awtomakina; 10-04-2009 at 06:54 PM.
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#8 Old 10-18-2009, 01:21 AM
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Problem solved!

Thanks to everyone for your help. Curiously, I wasn't notified by e-mail of the most recent responses. They would have been very helpful and reassuring!

awtomakina and Dacatz were on the ball with their diagnoses. The problem was indeed the valve cover gaskets. It wasn't a very expensive repair ($179) and the problem appears to be solved. It's been several days without any leaks.

There are at least two more mechanical issues I think the van has, which currently aren't a big deal but a little annoying to the ear.

1) Metallic noise from the air conditioner. It almost sounds like an empty can shaking around with a metal ball bearing inside. A/C still seems to work reasonably well, but could certainly be colder.

2) Screetching noise I think from the starter when I start the van.

I'll probably post these separately to increase viewership.

Thanks again!
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#9 Old 10-22-2009, 11:27 AM
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1. The noise may be coming from something under the van, like the exhaust system, so it should not be a major problem.

2. Sounds like a loose belt.


1995 Previa DX
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#10 Old 01-13-2010, 10:35 PM
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[quote=midnightrunner;2929974]We just changed the distributor o-ring on my 95 previa. From what i have read, the previa has 2 common oil leaks, one at valve cover gasket and 1 at distributor. I did not change the valve gasket. To get at the distributor, you go from underneath......./quote]


Hey there, do you have the part number of the distributor O-ring by any chance. The shop said I need to change the whole distributor assembly (AGAIN!).
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#11 Old 02-07-2010, 05:36 AM
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Mm.. its too bad mine is definitely a leak with the distributor. Went through the same troubleshooting steps as recommended, replaced valve cover gaskets and spark plug bungs then washed it clean and erm.. still leaky. Bought the o-ring from the dealership, but realised oh no.. distri has no markings for timing... what a pita.

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#12 Old 02-07-2010, 09:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 97ae102 View Post
Mm.. its too bad mine is definitely a leak with the distributor. Went through the same troubleshooting steps as recommended, replaced valve cover gaskets and spark plug bungs then washed it clean and erm.. still leaky. Bought the o-ring from the dealership, but realised oh no.. distri has no markings for timing... what a pita.

...if you can, I just need the part number of the distributor O-ring. I'd appreciate the effort. Tnx...
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