Toyota Nation Forum banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
1997 Toyota Camry LE
Joined
·
182 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So on my dad's 1997 Camry LE I4 with almost 50k miles on it (yeah it's barely driven because he takes the bus to work in downtown), there is a puddle of oil sitting on top of what I think is the automatic transmission block and the car had some overheating problems. I took some pictures and was wondering if you guys can make sense of where the oil leak might be coming from.

My dad took the car to the stealership and I think he got pretty much screwed because they charged him $800 for parts/labor diagnosing the overheating issue and replaced the upper/lower radiator hoses along with a new thermostat. The overheating issues went away immediately after that, but there's more to this, which I will talk about later. They claimed the hoses were "soft" :rolleyes: and the thermostat wasn't operating correctly, which caused the overheating issues (that part I believed). They also went ahead and replaced the oil pan gasket and the valve cover gasket, which they said had oil leaking out from. I thought that changing the valve cover gasket would fix the oil puddle sitting right on top of the transmission block but nope, a new puddle has already formed since the last time I cleaned up that area, plus the oil looks new. And to my suprise, today I looked at the coolant reservoir tank and it was hitting "LOW". The dealer had just filled up the coolant after they replaced all the hoses and thermostat and there's no way the car could have drank so much coolant in one month so I looked around the radiator and near the bottom I saw red liquid (coolant) and realized the radiator was probably leaking. I know the radiator was replaced less than a year ago by a trusted mechanic and how did it already fail on me, except for a manufacturer defect? But I was thinking that the stealership probably did something and broke it intentionally/accident in order to charge me another $520 for the radiator/labor :eek:



They asked if I wanted the job done but I told them that I'm going to bring it back to the collision shop to see if they will replace it for free under their lifetime warranty plan but the shop said they will first have to see if it's a defect or if something hit it and broke, which probably will not be covered. In any case, if neither shop decides to fix it, I will probably take on the job myself.



So I took the car back to that stealership and asked them to double check their work and see what's going on with the oil leak. They said they didn't see that oil leak the first time the car was brought in (more like they didn't bother to check everywhere around the engine) and that it would cost $120 just to take apart the head and whatever is above that area to see what's going on, unless it's related to the valve cover gasket they replaced then it would be free of charge, but I doubt they would even admit that so I would have to be prepared to shell out another $120 or ask a reputable mechanic shop to take a look at it.



But before I do all that, what should I do guys? My dad plans to keep the car for another 2 years max probably. But if it costs an arm to fix, might probably keep the car longer since so much was spent on the car. The radiator definitely needs to be fixed but for the oil leak, is it worth it? Where do you guys think it's leaking from so that I can arm myself with some knowledge before I bring it anywhere else for service.

-If this helps in any way, the car puffs out bluish/heavy smoke during cold starts for 5-8 seconds. Don't know if this is related to an overfill of engine oil by jiffylube a while ago, causing valve seals to go bad and leaking oil into the cylinders, so when the car is cold-started, it burns that oil and causes the blue smoke?

-The idle is at 1800-2000 rpm every cold start for about 3 minutes (IACV?). After I put it in drive, car idles normal I guess. The car's engine also has a grinding sound until it's warmed up (not exactly sure where it's coming from, but also only during cold starts).

-During high speeds on freeways over 2500-3000 rpm, I smell rotten eggs inside the cabin if air is in RECIRCULATE mode (but not if it's in FRESH mode). Could this be caused by a bad cat converter or oil dripping onto exhaust manifold? That's most of the mechanical problems I can think of at the moment.

Gosh, this sure was a lot to read if you hanged through this far and I appreciate your time and any advice/comments you can give me to fix this issue! Thanks again for your time.
 
2005 Tacoma X-Runner
Joined
·
9,188 Posts
What I would do is get some degreaser and clean the area completely, then start it and see where it starts to leak. You might have to drive it a few miles. Also after you do this ask if they could have a mechanic just look at it. They shouldn't charge you since they just worked on the car.
 
2005 Tacoma X-Runner
Joined
·
9,188 Posts
From the pictures it looks like its leaking from that thing right there. Im not familiar with the 4 cyl camry engine too much but my guess is that that thing is the oil sending unit. It's not an expensive repair if that is the case. It also looks like that could be the speedometer cable going into the trans. If thats the case then you'll need to replace the gasket for it.
 

·
Registered
1997 Toyota Camry LE
Joined
·
182 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Okay first thing tomorrow I'll send some degreaser and elbow grease down there. Hope I can get most of it out since that area is so cramped. But I'll have to wait on this oil leak maybe for a couple of days and get the radiator fixed before I do any spirited driving for a couple of miles.

BTW, what exactly is an oil sending unit? Where does it send oil to? Does anyone have problems with the oil sending unit leaking oil before and how much would the parts/labor cost of that?

I'll keep y'all updated!
 
2005 Tacoma X-Runner
Joined
·
9,188 Posts
You can also get some brake parts cleaner, that will clean it spotless. The oil sending unit is an electronic sensor that sends info to the ecu and to the oil pressure gauge/light. The gaskets will deteriorate over a period of time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
312 Posts
the car doesnt have a distibutor. and the picture is the speed sensor in the trans. whats probably leaking is either the valve cover gasket and or, there is a plug in the head where the distributor use to be (behind the coils and bracket).

secondly. the smoke you are getting on startup is caused by the valve seals in the cylinder head leaking. as the car sits overnight the oil gets by the seals and leaks into the combustion chamber, causing smoke until it burns off. repairing it is costly. probably around 850-1100 dollars. however if you fix the valve seals this should include repairing the oil leak since those items will be taken apart. and the gaskets are included in the head gasket set.

The rotten egg smell is caused by poor gas quality and is most likely not even from your car, but a different one in front of you
 

·
Registered
1997 Toyota Camry LE
Joined
·
182 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
deekay140 said:
the car doesnt have a distibutor. and the picture is the speed sensor in the trans. whats probably leaking is either the valve cover gasket and or, there is a plug in the head where the distributor use to be (behind the coils and bracket).

secondly. the smoke you are getting on startup is caused by the valve seals in the cylinder head leaking. as the car sits overnight the oil gets by the seals and leaks into the combustion chamber, causing smoke until it burns off. repairing it is costly. probably around 850-1100 dollars. however if you fix the valve seals this should include repairing the oil leak since those items will be taken apart. and the gaskets are included in the head gasket set.

The rotten egg smell is caused by poor gas quality and is most likely not even from your car, but a different one in front of you
Yes I agree on the valve seals in the cylinder head leaking and that it's a costly repair. What causes the valve seals to leak? Overfill of engine oil? If my dad decides to replace the valve seals, what other parts can he ask to replace at the same time that would most likely prevent any oil-leak for a long while? Since I believe there will be many items taken apart might as well put all the repairs/replacements into one job. I just want to make sure that it will be worth doing the repair since my car is worth roughly around $7,000 tops, it would still be a pretty good investment to keep for another 2 years.

And also, the rotten egg smell I know for sure is coming from my car because I've driven alone on a road myself and when the air is in recirculate mode, I can definitely smell it. As for quality of gas, I doubt it's that because I've tried different brands of gas from Shell, Costco, and 76 and I still have this problem. But this doesn't bother me that much because I just leave the circulation in fresh mode so I don't smell it at all. Fixing the oil leak and radiator is my number one priority right now.

Ahhhh all these troubles are giving me second thoughts of ever owning a camry (or even toyota), since I always thought they were reliable cars that can be driven over 200,000 miles without any major repairs involved and made to last, or maybe it's just my dad's car and it doesn't get driven enough? :rolleyes:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
312 Posts
that is correct, he needs to drive the car. the rubber on the valve seals dries out, usually from lack of oil changes or lack of lubricant from not driving the car. there are 2 ways to replace the valve seals, head on the car, or head off the car. Either way the valve cover gasket will be replaced,my suggestion is to talk to the technician directly, ask if he can seal that distributor plug when he has it apart. If he is a decent tech, he will do it for no charge.

Most oil leaks on toyotas result from lack of oil changes. the rubber seals get to hot and instead of being lubricated by the oil, they get boiled, once the oil has lost its vicosity. Change the oil every 3000.
 

·
Registered
1997 Toyota Camry LE
Joined
·
182 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Update on camry: Shop that repaired my car from accident decided to replace my radiator under their lifetime warranty so now I've got a new thermostat, two new radiator hoses, new radiator with coolant which should last me at least for another two years.

For the oil leak, I still am not sure what to do. Fix it or not? My dad is planning on keeping the car for 2 years max so would it hurt to leave it and just monitor the oil level weekly? If I should fix it, can I do this myself (if it's a oil sending unit/oil pump or whatever else it may be) or how much would it cost to fix that? I probably will not bring the car back to the dealer where they replaced my valve cover gasket and ask them to take a look at it because I'm afraid they will try to screw something up so I will have to get it fixed. They said if the puddle of oil (pics above) is related to the valve cover gasket, they will fix it. If not, I will have to pay $120 for diagnosis after they look at it. So how can I be sure they won't just deny it has anything to do with the valve cover gasket?? HELP ME PLEASE! Thanks.
 

·
Not so Noob now!
Joined
·
564 Posts
It sounds to me like they are setting you up for the charge. I would skip the stealership and go to the trusted mechanic. I feel much better paying somebody I trust $120.00 rather than play the dealership lotto.:lol:
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
4,345 Posts
Valve stems seals themselves are like $4 a set. Get an air compressor attachment that threads into spark plug holes and fix it yourself.

If you don't mind taking the cams off I think you can handle it.
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top