Fluid Leaks on 20 Year Old Engine

I have a 1990 BMW 325i Convertible which I bought 7 yrs ago with 125k mi on it. I cleaned it up/replaced what was worn, and have since only put 6000 miles on it, driving it only on warm/dry weekends; it’s garaged from Nov to March and hasn’t seen a drop of snow or rain since I bought it.

When I started it up for the first time this spring, I noticed resistance and noise (like rubbing) turning the wheel, so I checked the power steering fluid and it was low. Before I added fluid I checked for leaks and noticed ATF running down the outside of the hose from the reservoir.

Then I noticed oil gathering on the lower side of the engine block and vicinity, so I brought it in to have a pro look at it more closely. They washed the engine and found the following leaks:

- Valve Cover Gaskets (which were brand new less than a year ago)

- Cylinder Head Gaskets

- Front Engine Seals

- Possible Oil Pan

- Pwr Steering Pump and Hose

and also…

- Transmission rear seal

- Transmission shifter oil

I try to keep expenses on this car low, so I can justify keeping it (it’s a 3rd car and I’ve spent less than $8000 on it including purchase of $4000). So my question is, if I were to take care of the more critical issues now, and less critical issues later, what would be the wisest sequence in terms of priority? Or should I just get it all done at once?

Fix The Power Steering Leak To Avoid Costly Damage. I Think You Caught It Just In Time.

Then monitor closely the amount of engine oil and transmission fluid being leaked / consumed. Keep a written log and keep track of how much oil / fluid is added over a certain number of miles. Also, monitor the clean engine and see if you can tell where the heaviest leaks are.

Carefully check the ground under the car for drips or little puddles.

It may be that one leak is the worst and needs attention or it may be that none of the leaks justify expensive repairs. You’ll have to see. The main thing is to not let any fluids get below “low”.

I don’t know what “transmission shifter oil” is. Maybe somebody can inform. I don’t know if this is a critical fluid or what.

Can you post dollar amounts estimated for each individual leak remedy ?


I think the seals dried up because you left it sitting for so long. I think you should drive it more or sell it to someone who will drive it more.

“Snug down” the valve cover, replace the PS hoses and add a little stop-leak, switch to “high-mileage” motor oil, add a little stop-leak to the transmission AND DRIVE ON!!