First of all, I am female. Secondly, I took one class of auto mechanics when I was in high school so I wouldn’t be a helpless, ignorant female when it comes to cars.
I have owned this Camry for a few years. It has been very reliable and ran well most of that time. I had the distributor replaced in it, 2nd one in three years, a few months ago. I was quite shocked when the distributer was bad again but I attributed that to perhaps a bad distributor a bad mechanic put in it a few years ago. I did not track that guy down and tell him to redo it because I would never want him to touch my car again.
I took it in for the oil pan to be replaced a few days ago. The oil pan nut threads were stripped, thus the need for the new pan so I could do an oil change.
Suddenly after picking the car up and driving it for 2 days I noticed the smell of burning oil. Today it was even worse and I saw smoke coming from under the hood when I was at intersections. I took the car back to the oil pan mechanic and he assures me nothing he did is leaking, but I did point out to him that he overfilled the crankcase. I checked the oil yesterday and it’s too high and is still too high today even though I’m burning oil and there was an oil spot under my car after work. He also installed a stupid $4 oil filter which i asked him to replace with one of better quality, but I was so mad at him this afternoon I didn’t even wait for him to do that.
He pointed to the top of the valve cover and oil in that area and claims that’s proof of a valve leak. Then I asked him two questions:
- If you saw this evidence of a valve leak why didn’t you tell me about it when you were changing out the oil pan?
- If this valve leak has been going on for so long, as he claimed as he pointed to the oil around the cover, why is it only smoking like a chimney NOW, after he worked on it for another problem?
I’ve known for years this old car loses oil. Every mechanic I’ve ever talked to about that says, “That’s going to happen with old cars.” I check the oil regularly and have added it when needed between oil changes.
But now, all of a sudden, after going to this shop, it has a bad valve gasket? They were quite ready to keep the car to look at it further and I said no. I have to get to work tomorrow. I have no one to drive me, no bus goes out near my workplace, and I have no time to rent a car or the budget for the expense of letting them do God knows what to my Camry.
So here are my questions:
- What are the symptoms of a bad valve gasket?
- Once I take it to a new mechanic and he tells me if the oil pan replacement is screwed up, or if it is indeed a bad valve gasket, is it worth getting it repaired, or should I try to buy a new, used Toyota for under $3,000? Here’s how I look at that - with my current car, I know everything that’s wrong with it, and everything that’s great. With a new used car, even if I take it to a mechanic prior to purchase, it’s still a bundle of unknowns. I hate that. I kind of like the security of knowing what’s going to break down next with my current Camry.
- Because they overfilled the crankcase, is it possible that oil is forcing itself out of tiny leaks, soaking the engine, and that’s what’s burning? I don’t even know if that’s possible - I just know an overfull crankcase is bad.
Thanks so much for your advice.