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2002 Honda Accord... You've got a hole in the Timing Cover

Hi, I own a 2002 Honda Accord EX. I purchased it in 2008 and have never have any engine problems. Over the years i have had to replace tires, fix brakes, calepers, and master cylinders but the engine has always had a clean bill of health. Never a leak of any kind. So, two days ago, Monday May 7, 2012, I had brake pads and a master cylinder replace at one mechanic and then took it to another mechanic to replace a tire and to get the oil changed. This morning I go out to run an errand an realized there was a puddle of oil under my car. I took it back the the oil change mechanic and they said I needed a new Timing Cover because there was a hole. How is this possible? It is going to cost me another $500 to fix it. Please help me understand how my car can go from no leaks to “You’ve got a hole in the timing cover.”

Thank you. KimB

I did a quick look-see at the Gates reference manual for the 2002 Accords. It would appear that you have a timing belt. If that’s correct, than I can surmise that your front main or cam seal is leaking…meaning your belt is getting wet with oil and will probably fail. If it does, your pistons will bang against your valves and damage will ensue.

This being an interference engine (again according to Gates) that would be a very bad thing.
I suggest you get to a respected, independantly owned and operated shop and get the timing belt, tensioner, water pump, and front seal(s) changed ASAP.

The “oil change mechanic”…was this a quickie lube guy?

Agree with TSMB - get it fixed ASAP by a good mechanic before major damage is done. The sequence sounds fishy, but I can’t think of how the work you had done would cause this.

If it has a timing belt, there should be no oil behind the timing cover. It should be dry …If it has a timing CHAIN, then the cover is “wet” and a leak is possible…

"How is this possible? It is going to cost me another $500 to fix it. Please help me understand how my car can go from no leaks to “You’ve got a hole in the timing cover.”

Rust…But first, have a Honda specialist look at it…

Right Caddyman…the oil would be coming from the leaky crank or cam seal, not at all an unusual sight.

As I said, according to the reference books it’s a belt.

I would agree with mountainbike and let me add some food for thought.
Any chance this oil leak that developed might be due to some fault with the oil change that was just performed before this leak appeared? Maybe the second shop that did this oil change is ethically challenged and is looking for a way to cash in while covering their tracks.

The OP should ask the shop if the timing cover is supposed to seal oil inside of it. If they respond in the affirmative then the OP should avoid them like the plague.

Lots of people with timing-belt Honda motors run without a timing cover at all. Having a hole in it doesn’t matter. Time for a new mechanic. Wouldn’t surprise me if they screwed up your oil drain plug, which is what’s causing the leak.

You guys may end up being right. If you are, than I’d still sugest to the OP that he/she is overdure for a timing belt change, but yeah, the oil drip would need to also be fixed.

Thank you everyone for your input. @TSMB, the oil change mechanic is a respected, independantly owned and operated shop that our family has used for decades. However, a lot of us stopped using them because our cars would always need more work after they did the initial repairs.

What does OP stand for?

Thanks. KimB

OP = “Original Poster”

The person who starts a thread. In this case…YOU!

At least w/my Toyota, the timing belt cover isn’t designed to hold oil. So there can’t really be a “leak” caused by a hole in it. It may be leaking oil from that area, but not because there is a hole in the cover.

The car will run fine and not leak oil without any timing belt cover installed at all. At least my Toyota will. The cover is there simply to keep rocks chipped up from the road from hitting the timing belt and pulley’s, which could severely damage the engine. I think the mechanic meant you’ve got something leaking behind your timing belt cover. This could be something as simple as your valve cover gasket is leaking, which could indeed drip oil behind your timing belt cover, and eventually leak out onto the ground. It is quite possible all you need is a re-gasket job on the valve cover. That might run close to $500, but I think it would probably be more in the $200-$250 range. In fact simply tightening the bolts on the valve cover might fix it. (Don’t do this yourself, they need to be tightened using the proper torque specifications or it will cause more problems than it fixes.)

Also, since this happened soon after an oil change, it may have nothing to do with the timing belt cover at all. It may be a leak at the oil filter or the drain plug is leaking. Those are the two places I’d double check for leaks first, before moving on to the timing belt cover, given the sequence of events.

Best of luck.

Thank you kurt and GSJ. Yes they checked those two places and there was no oil coming from them. It appeared the oil was coming from the timing belt area.

I don’t understand why this shop has not explained to you the various sorts of oil leaks that can occur inside the belt case, how that oil can contaminate and ruin a timing belt while leading to expensive engine damage, and so on.

Hopefully they’re not saying a hole in the cover is the cause of an oil leak. If a non-factory hole is in that cover then it would have to be due to road debris hitting the cover or or a badly worn tensioner bearing or something of that nature wearing a hole in it.

If the timing belt has never been changed then this is a job that should have been done about 5 or 6 years ago. If the belt snaps (and there will be no warning) due to age or oil contamination you will have a damaged engine.
Maybe this 500 dollars is for a t-belt and seal replacement?