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Oil Leak, I Suspect Rear Valve Cover, How Do I Make Sure?


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Hello I have just got an oil leak. (1995 es300)

Whenever I drive the oil light goes on for 10 minutes, then off for 5 then back on for 10, and the car leaves pretty big puddles in my driveway.

I can not find out where it is coming from at all and there are 3 different puddles all towards middle and back of engine. So I think it is bouncing off different things.

I assume it is the rear valve cover gasket because that is what everyone says is most likely to happen.

If it is the gasket I can fix that myself, if not I'll have to take it to a shop so my question is, is there a trick to figuring out if its the gasket without taking off the upper intake manifold and everything?

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you or a shop can do this:

1. Completely decrease and wash or steam clean the engine to get rid of any residual oil.

2. Add an unltraviolet dye to the crankcase.

3. Run the engine for a while.

4. In a dark garage, use a wood lamp (hand held black light) to illluminate the dye.

This will show you exactly where the leak(s) are.

If you are leaving puddles and you don't smell burning oil, the next place to look would be the rear main seal.


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I confirmed my rear valve gasket leak by wiping dry the rear (side & bottom as far as my hand could reach) of the engine, ran the car for 30 miles or so, then see if there is oil again at the cover junction and below at the rear of the engine.

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Infrared sounds cool.

I managed to figure out its not rear valve cover by sticking my hand there, it was pretty dry.

If it is one of the main seals how much is it to fix and where should I do it?

Would toyota dealership do it? it is cheaper then lexus

I would feel scared bringing it in to some shady small shop

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I have been going through the oil leak problems on my 94 ES the past year, and diagnosing and fixing the problems were not easy.

Like most people, I assumed that the problem involved the valve cover gaskets, primarily the rear one. I had both gaskets replaced last summer, and this helped reduce the amount of oil that was dripping on my garage floor. I asked the folks who did this work if the rear main seal was also leaking, and they said that it was not.

The loss of oil was better for a while, but several months later I again began to smell the odor caused by oil dripping on the exhaust system. Looking under the car at the pattern of oil drips, there were oil leaks all the way across the engine, from the passenger side to the driver side. Last month, I again took it to a repair shop and asked them to check it out again. They indicated that the valve cover gaskets were okay, that the rear main seal was dripping just a little, and that the power steering high pressure hose was leaking.

The power steering problem struck me as odd because the oil leaks did not look like power steering fluid. I assume that the leaking fluid was hitting the engine block and then running down this before it dropped on the floor. The oil from the previous leaks was apparently changing the appearance of the power steering fluid from the red color to the black color of leaking oil.

Unfortunately, replacement of this hose is not inexpensive. The hose alone is around $400.00. In any event, I had this replaced, and the leaking is much better. There is still a very small leak slightly to the driver side of the engine. I assume this is the rear main seal leak. This repair is so costly that I do not intend to have it done unless and until the loss of oil becomes much greater.

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