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Toy Nut
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145 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I'm the original owner of a 98 Lexus ES300 with 290,000 miles on it.
She has a small oil leak that looses about a quart each oil change.
I can live with that but the small oil puddles on the driveway is getting ugly.
The engine started to leak about 80,000 miles or so ago. I changed the oil from regular to synthetic at about 70,000 miles so I am not sure if the leak was a result of the change. I took the car to the dealer and they estimated the cost to repair at about $2000 which is not worth it as the cars value is about $3000-$4000.
I would like to drive it for another 100,000 but wonder if there is anything I can do to fix this leak.
Any ideas or suggestions?
Oh, I am posting this here cause it seems the members here are more knowledgeable than people in the Lexus forums.
 

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Where is it leaking? It's ALWAYS fixable. And if you do it yourself, it'll be worth it. It won't cost you $2000...you can get a new engine for that price...
 

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What Toyota?
2008 Saab 9-3
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10,477 Posts
Perfectly fine to post here. You have the same engine as the camry obviously. :)

Switching to synthetic can sometimes aggravate a leak. It just doesnt act the same way that conventional oil does. So as Chris said, where's the leak coming from? And yes... $2000 is WAYYYYY too much for a simple leak fix. You could have all of your gaskets replaced AND your engine built for that. :)
 

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Toy Nut
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145 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thanks guys,

I have several leaks.
Valve Cover Gasket
Both Cam and Crank Seals are Leaking
They said it may be possible for other leaks but can't tell until the get in there.

I would love to work on the car myself but I have never done anything this extensive and I only have basic tools.
 

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What Toyota?
2008 Saab 9-3
Joined
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10,477 Posts
Ouch. Leaky. Maybe it's time to step up and get a engine hoist and stand! If you have extra time and another car, it's doable. I'd just have the engine pulled, replace all the seals, water pump, spark plugs, and timing belt. Then it should be fine for another 100k or more easily.
 

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抵抗しても無駄だ
2002 Solara SLE V6
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9,091 Posts
Thanks guys,

I have several leaks.
Valve Cover Gasket
Both Cam and Crank Seals are Leaking
They said it may be possible for other leaks but can't tell until the get in there.

I would love to work on the car myself but I have never done anything this extensive and I only have basic tools.
start with replacing the gasket under front bank valve cover. this one is fairly easy, but you will need some tools.

check the DIY/FAQ section on top of our forums, i'm sure there is a guide for replacing the front and rear valve cover gasket on 1mz-fe.

you can get cheap tools (3/8'' ratchet and metric socket set, 1/4'' racthet and socket set, 3/8'' torque wrench, 1/2'' torque wrench) from Harbor Freight and the more special ones (rarely needed) you can borrow from local Autozone (they refund the price after you bring it back intact).

the rest is more difficult as the rear bank valve cover has a terrible access.
leave it for later.

leave cam & crank seals for experts only, it requires to remove the timing belt and pulleys. it's advisable that the timing job be done while there (new timing belt, water pump, idler pulley, new gaskets and seals everywhere including the oil pump)... or if you don't want to do it (local shop rate probably around $800 with aftermarket parts that are NOT really recommended unless you want to come back to this job sooner than later) just live with it if leaks aren't that serious over there.
 

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VC gaskets are easy. Cam plugs can be done while you're doing VC gaskets. Crank plugs are a different story...but still can be done!
 

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2002 Solara SLE V6
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9,091 Posts
also get a Haynes manual for 1997-2001 camry (includes Lexus ES300 and Solara), it helps too at least to get an idea what needs to be done and get the torque for botls on re-installation.

also check this out, the Factory Service Manuals:
LINK REMOVED (yours will fall into gen4 Engine, SFI, Transaxle, Brakes and Diagnostics).

Sadly, we can't post that link. Send it via PM. :(
 

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Honestly if you've got more time than money, I would pull the engine out and overhaul it. You'll be able to do some serious work without much trouble at all. Timing belt and valve covers become a sinch with the engine out.

If you've got the time and patience, I would seriously pull it out. It's not as hard as it sounds...really. I'm actually about to pull my engine out...for the 6th time! and I just put it in at the beginning of the summer with a transmission put in at the END of the summer! haha
 

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抵抗しても無駄だ
2002 Solara SLE V6
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9,091 Posts
also check this out, the Factory Service Manuals:
LINK REMOVED (yours will fall into gen4 Engine, SFI, Transaxle, Brakes and Diagnostics).

Sadly, we can't post that link. Send it via PM. :(
ahh, sorry :)
I forgot we'got a new mod on watch now :D

so we can't post even a general link now? formerly the fuss was about linking directly to PDF documents over there ...
 

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What Toyota?
2008 Saab 9-3
Joined
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10,477 Posts
ahh, sorry :)
I forgot we'got a new mod on watch now :D

so we can't post even a general link now? formerly the fuss was about linking directly to PDF documents over there ...
The one you posted is debatable... but i'd like to say better safe than sorry. I'm not hunting down any existing links, but new ones I like to grab If i see them. It sucks. Useful site. :thumbsdow And of course, PM's are fine.
 

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抵抗しても無駄だ
2002 Solara SLE V6
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9,091 Posts
The one you posted is debatable... but i'd like to say better safe than sorry. I'm not hunting down any existing links, but new ones I like to grab If i see them. It sucks. Useful site. :thumbsdow And of course, PM's are fine.
ok gotcha
 

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2001 Camry XLE 1MZ-FE
2001 Camry XLE
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1,661 Posts
I'm the original owner of a 98 Lexus ES300 with 290,000 miles on it.
She has a small oil leak that looses about a quart each oil change.
Any ideas or suggestions?
Oh, I am posting this here cause it seems the members here are more knowledgeable than people in the Lexus forums.
The first thing I would do is to get a couple cans of degreaser at Autozone and then head over to the self service car wash and give the engine compartment a real good cleaning. It's senseless to guess what to fix if you don't know where the leak is coming from. Get every nook and cranney, clean it like you were going to show it off at a wedding. ;)

Once the engine compartment is clean you can isolate the leak. Go get yourself some cardboard boxes. Autozone has a bin full of them. Lay the boxes under the clean car. The next morning you will have your answer.

Note the location where the leaks are coming from. And also note whether the leak is motor oil, (black/brown) or transmission (usually red), radiator (color varies) Well you get the idea.

With almost 300,000 miles you are due for some serious maintenance.

The most likely place is the rear valve cover. It always leaks. The design of the valve cover hold down bolts is not very good. I've changed both of them myself and it's a bitch to do, no doubt about it. You have to remove almost everything from the top of the motor. You can have it done at a Toyota/Lexus dealer for $350. Shop around.

The crank/cam seals hardly ever leak. Mine didn't at 200,000 miles but yours might with 300,000 miles on them. You can check them by taking off the two belts, power steering and Air Conditioner, then remove the two black timing covers. It's not that hard to do, and you can see immediately if the cam or crank seals are leaking. I'm betting they aren't.

While you have the covers off you can check the timing belt and the idlers. But if you do have a leak from one of the seals, the belt will be soaked with oil and will need to be replaced. I've done all that as well, and it's not easy, but it can be done with a few special tools. You can get a dealer to do the timing belt for $350, shop around, wait for coupon specials or go to an independent mechanic.

If you have the timing belt done, you might consider replacing the water pump as well. I didn't replace mine till 200,000 miles, but if your's is leaking, you will have to replace it. If you've never replaced the water pump, then it is time. The labor will be reasonable, once all the timing belt stuff is removed. Figure another $200 for parts and labor for the water pump.

And then there's the idlers and tensioner. They last a long time, but since everything is apart, might as well replace them, eh. Figure another $150 parts and labor for that stuff.

While everything is apart, now would be time to change the seals if they are leaking. They are cheap, maybe $50.00 for all three, and they are easy to replace. I did it with a center punch and a screwdriver. The labor should be minimal. Figure maybe $100 total.

The next place that a leak could happen is the power steering pump and rack. You will see it right away once you clean your engine compartment. If the power steering system is leaking, it's expensive to fix. But usually, it's just the big rubber hose that connects from the resovoir to the pump. I got one for $20 and did it myself and fixed the power steering leaks.

So there is lots to do, lots to fix. But you won't know anything for sure until you clean everything up.

You could end up spending $1,000 to fix all the things I've outlined, or you could just spend $350 to fix the valve cover gaskets. Or you might have to do as some others have suggested, is to pull the motor and rebuild or replace it. Big job, lots of time, lots of money.

Keep us posted


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The first thing I would do is to get a couple cans of degreaser at Autozone and then head over to the self service car wash and give the engine compartment a real good cleaning. It's senseless to guess what to fix if you don't know where the leak is coming from. Get every nook and cranney, clean it like you were going to show it off at a wedding. ;)

Once the engine compartment is clean you can isolate the leak. Go get yourself some cardboard boxes. Autozone has a bin full of them. Lay the boxes under the clean car. The next morning you will have your answer.

Note the location where the leaks are coming from. And also note whether the leak is motor oil, (black/brown) or transmission (usually red), radiator (color varies) Well you get the idea.

With almost 300,000 miles you are due for some serious maintenance.

The most likely place is the rear valve cover. It always leaks. The design of the valve cover hold down bolts is not very good. I've changed both of them myself and it's a bitch to do, no doubt about it. You have to remove almost everything from the top of the motor. You can have it done at a Toyota/Lexus dealer for $350. Shop around.

The crank/cam seals hardly ever leak. Mine didn't at 200,000 miles but yours might with 300,000 miles on them. You can check them by taking off the two belts, power steering and Air Conditioner, then remove the two black timing covers. It's not that hard to do, and you can see immediately if the cam or crank seals are leaking. I'm betting they aren't.

While you have the covers off you can check the timing belt and the idlers. But if you do have a leak from one of the seals, the belt will be soaked with oil and will need to be replaced. I've done all that as well, and it's not easy, but it can be done with a few special tools. You can get a dealer to do the timing belt for $350, shop around, wait for coupon specials or go to an independent mechanic.

If you have the timing belt done, you might consider replacing the water pump as well. I didn't replace mine till 200,000 miles, but if your's is leaking, you will have to replace it. If you've never replaced the water pump, then it is time. The labor will be reasonable, once all the timing belt stuff is removed. Figure another $200 for parts and labor for the water pump.

And then there's the idlers and tensioner. They last a long time, but since everything is apart, might as well replace them, eh. Figure another $150 parts and labor for that stuff.

While everything is apart, now would be time to change the seals if they are leaking. They are cheap, maybe $50.00 for all three, and they are easy to replace. I did it with a center punch and a screwdriver. The labor should be minimal. Figure maybe $100 total.

The next place that a leak could happen is the power steering pump and rack. You will see it right away once you clean your engine compartment. If the power steering system is leaking, it's expensive to fix. But usually, it's just the big rubber hose that connects from the resovoir to the pump. I got one for $20 and did it myself and fixed the power steering leaks.

So there is lots to do, lots to fix. But you won't know anything for sure until you clean everything up.

You could end up spending $1,000 to fix all the things I've outlined, or you could just spend $350 to fix the valve cover gaskets. Or you might have to do as some others have suggested, is to pull the motor and rebuild or replace it. Big job, lots of time, lots of money.

Keep us posted


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You're just trying to tell the person in a nice way, sell it and get something else.
 

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2000 Solara
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252 Posts
in addition to the mess on the driveway, leaking oil if very bad for your car. The rubber and plastic parts were not designed to have oil on them - oil can degrade a rubber part at a 30-40% faster rate.

worth fixing. in addition to ajkalians good advice, I would suggest going to pep boys and seeing if they have a leak kit (it's a dye you put in, drive the car, let it sit overnight, and find the leaks very easily).

Congrats on that mileage!
 

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What Toyota?
2008 Saab 9-3
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10,477 Posts
Uh, it's not that much work and it's not all that expensive to have it done. Any car this age needs that kind of maintaince... some even NEWER. And of course.... usually cheaper to FIX what you have than to buy something else.
 

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Toy Nut
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145 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Chris Crash - 6 times? wow, you must be an expert now.

ajkalian - I think I will take your advice and clean the engine. This is the first step I need to do so that I can determine how extensive the leak is.
I've replaced (at the dealer) both the timing belt and water pump at 100k and 200k.

fenixus - I just bought the Haynes manual, thanks!

Many great ideas and advice here, thank you all! :clap:
My regular Forums that I visit are a bit more uppidy and the usual reply I get is, "just take it in to the dealer and spend the money, you paid so much for an expensive car so you should not be cheap to maintain it" :disappoin

I really like Toyotas, I think my experience with my first truck with the 22R engine made me realize just how well these cars are built and I've always known they will last a long time and trouble free compared to other brands so I keep driving my ES.

I love to learn new skills and I get the satisfaction from doing something myself. I have the "if he can do it, so can I" mentality. But there is a point where somethings don't make sense as in time and money to do it myself.
So I am trying to get an idea if this task is worth it for me to do.
I do have another car I can use so I can take my time to do this job but I will need to buy some tools like an engine hoist, stand and anything else I don't have. Honestly, if the tools I need will cost me $500 and the parts another $500, it might be better to have an indy do the job. But then I will have the tool if I ever need to do it again (possibly on my Mercedes).

I am not in a hurry but I would like to tackle this job in the next 12 months so I will be researching and evaluating.

Again, thanks
 

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2001 Camry XLE 1MZ-FE
2001 Camry XLE
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1,661 Posts
I love to learn new skills and I get the satisfaction from doing something myself. I have the "if he can do it, so can I" mentality. But there is a point where somethings don't make sense as in time and money to do it myself.
So I am trying to get an idea if this task is worth it for me to do.
If you look at the message stats on this thread, you'll see that there are 16 replies, and 140 people looked at the thread. So there are plenty of people just waiting for you to say "I need to fix so and so" and then watch out. The links and advice will be forthcoming quite promptly, I'd imagine.

Since you had the timing belt/water pump done at 200,000 miles I'm even more sure the cam/crank seals aren't leaking. The dealer techs would have jumped all over the extra charges to replace the seals at the last timing belt change if they were leaking. No matter, you have 100,000 on the belt now and it's time to change it. You will then see whether you need to change the crank/cam seals one way or the other.

Tell your uppity friends that you have a part time job that pays $100 per hour. When they ask you what that would be. Tell them you do all your own work on your car. Because that's what they have to pay, and instead of paying the dealer shop rate of $100 per hour, you can pay yourself. In pizza and beer. :lol:

Look at it this way. The mechanic isn't any smarter than you are. So you can do anything he can do. It's just that he has done it many times, and maybe you have done it only once, maybe never. But that doesn't mean you can't do it.

There is probably nothing you could do to your car that hasn't already been done here. Just search the forum's threads. It's all there.

There is a forum rule on fixing things. You must take pictures and post them. ;)


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Chris Crash - 6 times? wow, you must be an expert now.

... but I will need to buy some tools like an engine hoist, stand and anything else I don't have.

Again, thanks
It's all just nuts and bolts, my friend. Nothing more. Anyone can do it if they put their mind to it.

I got a hoist off craigslist for $100 and the guy even delivered it to my house. I didn't use a stand, you can change everything with the engine on the hoist or just put the engine on the ground with a tire or two under it.

As far as tools...you'll be surprised to hear you really don't need more than basic tools.

Socket set and breaker bars and pry bars and wrenches.

Only special things I can think of are a 30 mm socket for the axles and whatever you need for the transmission/differential.

But all you gotta do is look at whats holding the engine in, and remove it. Then pull the engine out. Installation is the reverse.

Of course you'll make mistakes (I've ripped PS hoses, motor mounts, and even the flex pipe) but usually they need replacing anyway.

You can do it. :thumbsup:
 

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2001 Camry XLE 1MZ-FE
2001 Camry XLE
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1,661 Posts
It's all just nuts and bolts, my friend. Nothing more. Anyone can do it if they put their mind to it.

As far as tools...you'll be surprised to hear you really don't need more than basic tools.
Yep, you don't need anything fancy. Here's what a three of my friends and I did one weekend, in the alley behind his house.

Swapped out a 6cyl for a junk yard V8. Quite a boost in performance. :D

 
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