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1996 Nissan Maxima Oil Leak

I have a 1996 Nissan Maxima that is in very good shape, except for this single issue. I’ve read quite a bit about this in a Maxima forum, but really just want to “solicit for ideas” here.

The leak, I am just about certain, is under the timing chain cover. To get to $20 worth of seals, you have to take off a suspension crossmember, the outer pan, the inner pan, the chain cover, the chain and all the timing gears, and there are the seals.

Right now, the drip isn’t that bad. I hardly have to add oil to this thing anyway, but it does leave 2-3 drops every time I turn it off, and the leak will get worse. It’s not critical yet, but within a year or two, it might be.

To fix it, the standard time is about 12 hours, according to Alldata. I always multiply these estimates by 2, but I have a garage, so I don’t care if the car is undrivable for a month. But I’m not going to spend $1,200+ to fix this problem.

So that’s really the question: Do it myself, pay someone, leave it alone, or is there some third way, like “stop leak” or…?

I’m highly skeptical of the “stop leak”-type products, but is there something like that out there that actually works?

A stop leak product may be a case of the cure is worse than the disease. I don’t think it will catastrophically fail. If it was my car I would be monitoring it for now, with that age of car as ungreen as it sounds.

There are no “miracles in a can” that will stop an oil leak or cure a leaking seal. Fix it or live with it, but don’t waste your money on “stop leak” products.

Chances are you have more leaks and seepage in other areas of this engine. Wait until it is bad and then decide based on what the rest of the car is doing. You can not be a perfectionist with a 15 year old car.

In your 1996 Maxima, if the car has say, 140,000 miles, the cost to repair this oil leak is worth the cost if you replace the water pump and timing chain at the same time. You should pay no more than $600 for this repair.

$600? That really doesn’t sound right to me. The chains, gears, tensioners, et al are around $300 for the parts, and aren’t easy to get to.

I should note that Nissan had a TSB for noisy valve train on these cars, and the recommended service is to change the tensioner. So this is definitely one of those “And while you’re in there…”-things, which raises the price. Also, book time is 12 hours. In Northern California, that translates to $1,200.

The car has around 170,000 miles on it. I think if I found a great engine with under 80,000 miles on it for $500, that would be worth considering… But that sounds like a pipe-dream.

Good to hear people confirming my suspicions on “stop leak” products. I’ve never trusted them. My biggest fear is that if anything like this ever stop leaks, that means it’s probably also starving a crank bearing or three as well. That’s a good news-bad news situation I just don’t want to experience.