Engine oil leak

I have a 1997 Toyota Camry thats leaking oil profusely. Within a week of topping oil, the oil leak light turns on. The mechanic says that leak is somewhere near the engine and he needs to tear it apart to see whats up. Estimates run upto $ 800. I am trying to extract life from the car. Is Lucas stop leak advisable?

Can you afford to replace your engine or the whole car if the stop leak does what stop leaks often do, and plugs up stuff that shouldn’t be plugged up? If so, then the gamble might be worth it, although with a leak that big I’m not sure any stop leak would be sufficient to plug it.

My first step would be to put ultraviolet dye in the oil, run the car awhile, and then shine a UV light under the hood so I could see where the leak is happening. Once I knew that, I’d have a better idea of where to go.

YEAH DONT use stop leak please!!! SHadowfax is correct. Which engine do we have here? The 4cyl would be MUCH easier to remedy… Got the V6? LEt us know.

Oil leaks are not that hard to figure out. Go to a car wash that has those pressure washer guns in the DYi car wash section. Grab yourself a gallon of CASTROL SUPER CLEAN…its in a Purple Jug. Pep Boys has it…sometimes Auto Zone and Walmart as well. Put it in a spray bottle and go to town spraying the entire engine…AVOIDING the distributor with the spray and also with the water please…even put a bag over the distributor when rinsing off.

Once the engine is degreased…then you can begin looking for your oil leak. The most common places they leak is the valve covers…Front main seal…Rear main seal…Oil pan gasket. Do the cleaning and then let us know where the leak is.

If your mechanic said the leak is somewhere NEAR THE ENGINE>…he sounds like a simpleton…of course its NEAR the engine… Its the engine thats leaking…silly. We cant help you until you tell us exactly where its coming from…Tearing the engine down will not help anyone find any oil leak as it needs to be functioning…to show us where the leak is


How much oil was added and how many miles had been driven? And the mechanic may have opened the discussion with a worse case scenario to see where you stood. I would imagine that most shops would narrow down the source of the leak for less than 1 hour of labor but would want to avoid repeatedly moving the car, calling for the OK to continue and leaving a message for your return call, etc ad nauseum.

There is no such thing as an oil leak light. If you’re referring to the oil pressure light, then engine damage is being done each time you see it. How low are you letting the oil get before filling it back up?

I want to echo what both lion9car and Honda Blackbird stated.

There is no such thing as an “oil leak light”.
If the light in question is the oil pressure warning light, several instances of this light coming on is…not good news for the continued life of the engine. One instance of operating the engine with low oil pressure can destroy the bearings and other sensitive areas of the engine. Multiple instances of low oil pressure are akin to multiple heart attacks, i.e.–long-term survival is not assured.

And, as to–“The mechanic says that leak is somewhere near the engine”–if this is really what the mechanic stated, then you need a new mechanic a.s.a.p. If a plumber looked at a leaking bathtub and told you that, “the leak is somewhere near the bathtub”, would you trust him? This is essentially the same scenario.

And–as has been stated previously–PLEASE do not use stop-leak in the engine.
That stuff is is just as likely to kill the engine as it is to save it.

This car needs immediate attention from a competent mechanic, and I doubt that your current mechanic is competent, based on what you have told us.

This engine is prone to leaking around the front crankshaft seal. If this is the cause, its usually pretty easy to see by any good mechanic. If this is the case, then $800 should not only get you a new seal, but a new timing belt, water pump and camshaft seals. If you’ve been following the maintenance schedule, it should be due for a new timing belt and water pump about now anyway.

If you are not completely out of oil, that is there is still oil on the dipstick when the light flickers, then I think the most likely source of the leak is the oil pressure switch (sensor) itself. This won’t cost anywhere near $800 to repair. You need a new mechanic. BTW, did this start right after the last oil change?

Actually it started sometime ago and I went in for an oil change. The mechanic told me that it was hard for him to find the source for the leak as the oil was all over. He recommended a underbody car wash. I did the car wash. Waited for a week and the light started flickering. Did notice leaks under the engine. Went back to the mechanic.He said that the oil level was low, found the source in the rear of the engine. He tried a silicone rubber seal. It didnt work. It was then that the said that the engine needs to be disassembled and the source pointed out. Is 800$ in the auto hub zone (Metro Detroit) too much?

If the “mechanic” is correct he may be referring to the Rear Main Seal of the engine…Unfortunately if this is the case the Engine and trans must be separated to get to this seal. So the $12 seal will cost you like 800+ to replace because of the amount of labor involved with either engine or trans removal. SHame really

As for the “idiot light” for the oil. When you see that light it is time to shut down the engine IMMEDIATELY… This is because the pressure sensor does not have the requisite amount of oil pressure to keep the light from illuminating…its not a good thing to have happen and does require that you shut down the engine within seconds…the sooner the better.

Assuming the PCV valve is not causing the rear main to leak you could try the following if you do not want to spend X dollars replacing the rear main. Add a pint or two of Mineral Spirits to the engine oil and see what happens after a few days. The MS can soften and swell rubber seals and that may, or may not, stop or slow the leak down.

If you change the rear main seal also change the transmission front pump seal at the same time. Murphy’s Law says that if you do not do this the pump seal will leak the next day and then you have to repeat the process all over again; this time due to trans fluid instead of engine oil.

I would strongly suggest if the rear main is replaced that the surface of the crank be inspected thoroughly and the crankshaft should be checked for excessive movement in all directions. Running the engine oil down low can chew up bearings which can lead to excess crankshaft play. In turn, this can lead to a new seal leaking. This also means the engine is on borrowed time.