2001 Ford Escape with oil leak - does this add up?

In December, I took my 2001 Ford Escape (123,000 miles) to my mechanic to find the source of a burning odor that I’d been smelling after driving. My engine light had also gone on several times and the engine ran rough, especially after very wet weather. They attributed the engine light to a cylinder 4 misfire, and the smell to oil leaking from my valve cover gasket. They strongly recommended, due to the proximity of my coils and spark plugs to the valve cover gasket, that I have my (still original) spark plugs and coils replaced in all 6 cylinders. Considering that one coil had already been causing problems, they said that it would save labor to do them while they were so close in proximity. Considering the age and mileage of my car, the fact that I’d like to keep it for a couple of years, and the fact that this is a trusted mechanic, I took their advice. I had all of these repairs done to the tune of 1800.

Following this repair, I still smelled the burning odor. I gave it a couple of weeks, thinking this may be recently-leaked oil burning off, and then brought it back to my mechanic. They could not easily identify the location of the leak, so they injected dye, and I returned a few days later.

Now I’m being told that the oil leak is from my timing cover gasket. In addition to that, they say that the oil pan gasket will need replacement, because of its proximity to the timing case. My valve cover will also have to be removed and possibly replaced, but they said that they can possibly reuse it since it was just replaced in December. These repairs will total $1300 - $900 of this is labor. There was some discussion of replacing the timing chain while they were in the case, which would add another $1000.

Here are my concerns. What is the likelihood that they fixed the wrong problem in December? Does this $900 labor quote seem very high for this work? And, how in the world could a timing chain replacement add another $1000 when the mechanic would already be in the timing case? As an aside, I have had no indication that my timing chain has any issues.

I’m taking the car to a dealership this week for a second opinion. In the meanwhile, I would greatly appreciate others’ thoughts on these matters.

The dealership will likely give a high $ estimate. Better to stick with independent, non-chain shops.
After 11+ years it’s normal to see some oil seepage.
I would only worry about leaks that drip on exhaust system parts, leaks that drip on the ground and make stains, or leaks bad enough that you have to add more oil between changes.
I would not mess with the timing chain unless it’s making noises. If you’ve been timely with oil changes it should last 200,000 miles or more.
Check the PCV system as this can aggravate oil leakage by building pressure in the crankcase.

So, can they identify which leak is dripping on the exhaust and making the smell?

I agree with the above, but will add… $1000 extra to replace the timing chain seems high, as they are already in there to replace the seal, and I don’t think the part is more then $100-$200?? Also this chain should last the life of the car, so it should not need to be replaced.

I also agree that while replacing the spark plugs was a good call, replacing all of the coils, not so much. That just seems wasteful, especially because the front ones are very easy to do. WORST case they should have done the rears, given you the coils and now you have at least 2 spares (don’t know where the bad coil was) IF the fronts give you issues in the future.

Bottom line is the BEST way to keep a mechanic honest is to seek out a second opinion, which is going to be my advice to you.

Circuitsmith - they said that the timing case gasket leak is what is causing the smell. That is the only leak that is happening (supposedly), as I replaced the valve cover gasket, fixing that leak in December.