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I've posted about this before, but my problem was never fixed. I have a 92 ES with 125k miles on it. A few months ago I began noticing a burning oil smell that would enter the cabin whenever I was stopped/idle if the engine was warm. A few other people have posted about this problem too.

I took it to my mechanic and they found that the distributor seal was brittle and cracked and replaced that, and said that was probably causing the leak. The smell never went away. So my next oil change I asked them to look at it again. The only possible cause they could find was that the oil pan was a little loose, so they tightened that (they didnt charge me for that). Smell never went away. So I brought it back a third time and asked them to check the valve cover gaskets, because when I bought the car, that was one of the things the dealer had replaced, and other members on this board had mentioned that was the cause of their problem. They said they were fine and weren't leaking, and didnt charge me for this.

I still have the smell, and for the past 2 months or so, when I open the hood, there are very faint puffs of smoke coming from around the main block. You can smell it from 20+ feet away sometimes, its that strong. I plan on taking it to my local Toyota dealer this week to have them look at it. They don't have a certified Lexus mechanic, but they said they do service Lexus' regularly.

Does anyone have any other ideas about this? I'd really like to get this fixed, not only for myself but for down the road when I eventually sell it. Thanks

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I have/hopefully had the same problem with my 95 ES300 with 119000 mi. I had a Lexus service garage replace a leaky power steering pump, crank seal and cam seals. Also, had my timing belt changed while they had everything torn apart. After all that work ($1500 worth), I began noticing the burnt oil smell again (very strong). While having my transmission flushed by another garage, I had them clean the area where the oil had leaked and check for leaks. They found nothing and so far (1 day) I have smelled nothing. I will be taking my car back to the Lexus service garage for a leak check. Hopefully my problem has gone. I’ll let you know how I make out. I know what your going through…the smell is very strong and frustrating. ;)

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Well I'm all set to bring my car to the Toyota dealer tomorrow. How much will they charge me aside from any work they do (ie diagnosis or whatever) and is there anything I should be aware of when I bring it there, like questions I should ask or anything? I've never taken my car to anyone besides my local mechanic, so I've never dealt with a dealer for repairs.

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I would have power washed the engine to make sure all small leaks can be seen easily. I might think it is the oil filter dripping as it is on an angle and over the exhaust manifold a common problem. It is hard to see as it will drip right down the filter and fall on the inside of the manifold where you cannot easily see it unless you look specifically for it. If you can smell it easy i would say that is the problem as it would need to be burned or heated alot to produce a large amount of smell.

Another more expensive one is the rear main seal which goes.

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I just got my car back from the Toyota shop. Here's the diagnosis:

Tech notes oil leaking...all over engine...valve cover gaskets...p/s hose & pump...trans pan gasket...oil pan...oil level sensor...possible rear main seal.

estimate @ $2,000-$4,000.

I'm a little suspicious about this, because less than a month ago my mechanic couldn't find any sources of any leaks. I know they aren't that incompetent that they couldn't find all these leaks. It is smoking a bit more now than it was a few weeks ago, but it seems like too much of a coincidence here. On the phone this morning the tech told me it would be $1500-1600 to take the engine out and overhaul it. But the mechanics report says 2-4000. I don't have anywhere near the money to even pay for a $1500 repair, but I'm going to take the mechanic report to my mechanic and see what they have to say.

Is Toyota ripping me here on prices? I don't know anything about part prices or labor for these leaks. Thanks.

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oil leaking all over engine? you should be able to verify or disprove this by looking yourself. do you find your oil level dropping? leaving oil in the driveway? see any drips?

i would degrease the engine and look for any fresh leaks before taking their word for it.

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I just got my car back from the Toyota shop. Here's the diagnosis:

Tech notes oil leaking...all over engine...valve cover gaskets...p/s hose & pump...trans pan gasket...oil pan...oil level sensor...possible rear main seal.

estimate @ $2,000-$4,000.

I agree w/ SK Performance. Oil filter sounds like the most probable cause.

By giving you that diagnosis, the Toyota dealer basically told you that they have no clue where the problem is. They are just covering their @$$ by replacing everything that could be causing the problem. (It's kind of like the doctor recommending a lung transplant to get rid of a chest cold.)

I would seriously doubt that all of those things are leaking. Their tech is either an idiot, or the stealership is trying to hit you with a huge repair. I would be very hesitant to let those clowns touch your car.

What they should have done is steam cleaned the entire area so that there was little to no residual oil left and told you to come back in a few days after the smell returned. That way they would be able to determine the source of the leak w/o having to replace everything.

For that $2000-$4000 figure, you could have a new engine (including labor). I wouldn't take the report to your regular mechanic either. Just tell him to find the leak. If he replaces something and that does not fix the problem, tell him that you will pay for the part (gaskets are cheap), but that he needs to credit the labor towards the next repair until he finds the source.

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Thanks for the replies guys.

I think Toyota probably saw a college kid with a Lexus and thought they could put one over on me, thinking I'm rich (I'm not...took me almost 4 years of waiting tables before I bought my first car, paid for cash by myself). The filter obviously could be the problem, but this has been a constant problem through 3 oil changes. I know there's not oil "all over the engine" because I can see that myself.

Anyway, I dropped the car off with my mechanic with the list from Toyota. He said he'd have to be all but blind to have missed that many leaks when he checked it out about a month ago. So I should hear back late today or tomorrow about what they've found or whatever.

How could I go about steam cleaning or power washing the engine? Should I just ask my mechanic to do this? How much would this generally cost?

thanks guys.

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Bad news guys, he says the rear main seal is the culprit. Also, the oil pan has a very small leak but its almost non-existant he said.

He said for the rear main seal you have to pull the transmission, so im looking at about $1000 for the job. He also said while its out I might as well have the front transmission seal replaced, because it can be easily disrupted when taking the transmission out and could cause new leaks in a few weeks.

I've got two other options that I'm going to look for a better price for. What does one normally pay for this kind of job?

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This symptom is an indication that your rear valve cover gasket is leaking. Most techs will usually replace the front gasket because its so easy and not want to do the rear because it entails taking off a lot of stuff just to get to. The rear cover leaks oil and then gets burned as it drips down and thus smoke in your cabin. The leaks below would not do that but if it is leaking down there I'd get that done.

Cost should be about 2-300 for the rear valve cover.

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Yes, I have the same problem.. But I found it was a problem after my car ran out of water.. Strange thing was that I touch up my water regularly, and no warning lights or anything came on, and I was lucky to catch it when I did.. Had it fixed, but still get the burning oil smell aswell.. Curious...

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I've gotten two quotes on this, one from my mechanic for ~$900 parts/labor, and one from my friends father, who runs a shop, for ~$700 parts/labor. This is to replace rear main seal and front transmission seal. I trust my mechanic and that he'd do a good job, but he doesn't have alot of experience with camry/lexus tranny pull, and I don't know alot about my friend's dad or his shop, but they said they would feel comfortable doing this and that they've done this with a camry before.

Which do you think I should go with?

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skeemer, that is a call you got to make. weigh the pros and cons of both sides.

ie. go with your friend's dad and save $200, but if something went wrong could/would you take your friend's dad to court if you had to?

on the other side, you have had work done from "your mechanic" and you trust him. Is $200 worth not bringing the business to him. Look at the long term.....he will probalby do a good job because you are a repeat and he wants your future business.

talk to you friend's dad and find out if he will stand behind his work, tell your mechanic you can get the job for $700 and see if he comes down some.

good luck, steviej

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I ended up deciding to have my mechanic do the work. After getting final quotes it looks like it will only cost about $100 more for my mechanic to do it, and I feel more comfortable with him. My friends dad seemed kind of hesitant when I asked him if they would be comfortable working on a Lexus. I don't distrust him or think he was lying, but the hesitation made me uncomfortable. Hopefully everything will work out ok with this repair, and I won't have any more major repairs while I own this car.

My mechanic is actually going to do me a favor with the car. His garage is too backed up right now to devote 8+ hours to my car, so instead of making me wait a few weeks, hes going to start when the garage closes and work straight through, he expects to finish around 2 AM. He's also getting a guy who used to work for him that works for another garage now, to help him with it, a guy he says has done lots of work on Lexus' (Lexii?) and Camrys. So I feel very comfortable with this job. I just wish it didn't cost an arm and a leg.

Thanks for the advice steve, and sorry to hear about your accident, glad you're ok and hope that everything works out ok.

I will update when the repairs are done, probably Tuesday afternoon I will get the car back. Hopefully my situation can help the others on this board that have been posting about similar problems.

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This is my first time here, I have a 94 ES300 with approx 150K on it. The car runs great, except for this ever so popular burning oil smell. I have had the car for over 4 years and the smell has been there all along, through several oil changes, tune-ups, timing belt work etc....

I never bothered with it because I never seemed to be down on oil at changes (out of the normal 1/2 qt or so). I have gone as much as 5,500 miles between changes (not often though!!) and never had a problem.

Today while driving my oil pressure light came on, I immediately backed out of the throttle, got to the shoulder and cut the engine. I got to a service station where I purchased 4 qts of oil, I added 2 and drove home (about 80 miles) with no further problems. I have noticed an increase in oil stains/drips while I am parked and the smell is just as everyone else has described.

I am taking it to my mechanic tomorrow to have the steam clean and leak check done. I want to know if anyone has an idea of what I should expect to pay to repair this? obviously it depends on the location of the leak but so ranges would be nice to know ahead of time.

Thanks!!!

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Well skeemer, it's alot cheaper than the original prices you were quoted at the Lexus dealer. B) my94, let us know what your mechanic says is the problem with yours, might have some of the same issues that skeemer has/had.

:cheers:

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hey guys, sorry I forgot to reply to this to update everyone. Sort of just forgot.

I got my rear main engine seal and front transmission pump seal replaced about a month ago. Before the work was done, I had a very noticeable amount of white smoke coming from the bottom of the car. When I was stopped at a light I had to put the air on recirculate and keep the windows closed, because the smell was so strong. I could also see smoke pouring out from under the car if there wasn't a strong wind. The smoke could be smelled from a good distance away from the car as well. Looking underneath the car when the engine was hot, I could see lots of smoking coming off the exhaust under or behind the transmission.

So my mechanic replaced the two seals. He quoted me at $800 for labor. Three days later I got the car back with a total bill of $853, including parts. He said it took him almost 20 hours to complete, as it was much more work than he expected. He also told me had he not quoted me at $800 for labor it would have been upwards of $1300-1500. Almost 500 mile later, there is almost no smoke at all from the engine. There is a very faint smoke smell sometimes, but he had also found a leak on the oil level sensor, and he will fix this the next time I have my oil changed (he said he called Toyota and the part is unserviceable, so they will make a custom gasket to replace it). All in all I am happy with the results, and hopefully this will help some others with the same problem. If anyone does have this done, get the quote set in stone before the work is done, because it may be much more than expected otherwise.

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