1988 Chrysler Lebaron 2.5L changed the valve cover gasket, now it dies

This 35 year old junk pile needs far more than just the parts swapping you have done to service cars in the past.

You want the oil use problem solved? Pull the engine and replace every seal and gasket in it. Do the rings, bearings and valves, too. Same for the transmission.

Now it might not run because the computer that runs it is likely a doorstop because all the capacitors inside have failed. You will need to find a rebuilder for that.

Then you might have something that runs worth about 1/10 of what you spent on it.

As has already been said… it was junk when it was new.


This would be a fun little father and son project if you were familiar with the old 2.2 and 2.5L engines to begin with… But I am afraid you might be in over your head, Like already said… But I’m not you so here goes a few things to check…

Not saying this is where you need to start but that those engines have these problems… and some… And I used to love working on them…

You need to run a compression test and maybe even a leak down test, the engines didn’t have rocker arms but had cam followers that with enough carbon build up and sludge would stick the valves open a little and the followers would just fall over/off the cam and vales (or something like that, been awhile) Marvel Mystery Oil is your friend there. I’ve cleared a few out using it running about 1200-1500 rpms…

They also had a Distributor Pick-Up Assembly that was always going bad, very easy to replace, just remove the rotor button to get to it… The dist cap only had the center terminal for the coil wire and the ignition (spark plug) wires had a forked terminal end that went into the dist cap for the terminal/contact for when the rotor spins firing each cylinder… You can change the dist pick up, cap, rotor and wires in a few minutes… don’t forget the plugs and a new coil sould take care (most if not all) of the ignition system also…

I would also make sure the timing belt is correct and not a tooth off, very easy to replace but not hard to get a tooth off (which is 14 degrees if memory serves me correctly) if not paying close attention to it when installing it…
Also check the engine with a vacuum gauge to see what it is reading… Check fuel pressure…

If you have good compression and your ignition system is working good then you are that much closer to getting it running good again, not saying you don’t have a crap ton more stuff to do like everyone else has already stated… lol

Would have to see a good clear picture of the broken part of the dipstick broken off in the tube to advise you on removal (don’t remember what the handle looked like)…

Check the airbox area for a nest in it, had an Omni given to me because it stopped running and I found a squirrels nest in it full of acorns, turned out to be a great parts runner for my shop at the time…

Oil or parts?


I think all 80s cars were junk, but I don’t think Chrysler Corp. cars were any worse than the competitions. I owned several 2.2s and one 2.5 and never had any engine problems. Of course, I never neglected the maintenance either.

Your oil leak may be from the broken dipstick esp. if you have some blowby.

The valve cover should be checked for straightness and dimpling of the bolt hole before installing and with cork gaskets I just used some Bulls eye shellac. Your new gasket should have come with a new neoprene casket for the cam cover bump. Is black RTV even oil resistant?

Agree with others, compression test is firt, to see if this engine is worth spending money on.

Have someone look in the oil fill hole in the valve cover to see if the cam is turning when you crank the engine. if it is, the timing belt is not broken.

Next, pull a wire off a spark plug stick a screwdriver inside the spark plug boot as deep as it will go and hold the metal part of the screwdriver 1/4" from groundwhile someone cranks the engine. If no spark, it is an ignition problem. If it sparks, spray some starting fluid into the air intake. If ir fires up and runs breifly, you have a fuel problem.

Now that’s a convincing deciding factor

That’s just an unneeded waste.

That’s a good thing, you’re going to get plenty of practice.

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Is your car fuel injected or carbureted? I’m guessing you have two separate and independent problems, stalling, and oil leaks.

Verify the torque spec for those bolts before doing any serious tightening. Otherwise you risk warping the cover, then it will impossible for it not to leak. Valve cover bolts are usually not tightened very much, spec’d with inch-pound units, rather than the normal foot-pounds.

Carbureted engines of that era were usually computer controlled , and very difficult to diagnose. So if your Lebaron 2.5L uses a carb, expect some major diagnostic challenges.

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i believe it is fuel injected(i have 3 bolts on top that lift off a cover(as long as you use a small ratchet to undo it)).
The Valve cover wasnt even tightened by hand. i put the ratchet on it, and it swung both ways, not clicking!!! it didnt seem like the old RTV was hard to remove either…my son took it off with nothing but a butter knife, and not even trying!!!

This is true of just about any used car, especially one which has been neglected for many years.

I beg to differ. The Chrysler 2.5L NA engine and 3-speed automatic transmission were as reliable as anything else sold at the time. This particular engine and transmission were used in millions of cars and minivans, many of which are still in use today. The bodies and interiors of the “extended K-car family” were well-made, and held up better than other cars of the day. I also appreciate the distinctive styling, and ergonomics, which have aged well.

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I worked on a lot of Chrysler LeBarons, the 4 cylinder engines are easy and inexpensive to repair.

A lot of negative comments, people will spend $1400 to rent a vehicle for a week but won’t spend a few hundred dollars on a hobby.


of all the suggestions, that were mentioned on here, given that it was an older vehicle, no one seemed to ask me, whether or not i trusted the gauges…was the gas tank empty?.. :wink:
yeah, there is NO compression if there isnt any fuel to compress. I would like to thank all of you that were trying to point me in the right direction…and the others…well…you know now…

Technically there’s still compression. If compression was measured, but no fuel, compression would still test ok. Just no explosion after the compression phase, needed to start the engine rotating. Rest assured, you aren’t the only poster here to discover there the problem was there wasn’t enough gas in the tank … lol … glad you got it running again.

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Air gets compressed, not gasoline.