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Lots of oil around the engine area

I have been looking for 1995-1998 cars for my weekend project. I just saw 1995 Honda Accord LX with 168,000 miles. It drove good but when I opened up the hood, there was a lot of oil. What could be bad about the car? Seals may need to be changed. Are they expensive? I heard that if “head gasket was gone” it will be expensive to fix. What are the symtoms of head gasket gone?

What exactly is the nature of the weekend project? Because if it is to do something with a car it sounds like you’re starting at zero. There are lots of places that oil can leak from.

Where was the oil? I’m guessing that it must be up top. If so it might be as simple as a leaking valve cover gasket or breather - not expensive or hard to fix. It could also be a leaky oil pressure sensor.

The more expensive “seals” tend to be down bottom - the front and rear crank seals for instance.

Head gasket leaks usually don’t present themselves on the outside or top of the engine, but on the inside. Look at the bottom of the oil cap and the oil on the dipstick. If it looks all milky that is often a good sign of a head gasket problem. Another sign is loss of coolant and a tailpipe blowing white smoke past engine warm up.

Anyway…there is no simple answer to your question. But if you’re looking for a “project car” to fix up and maybe learn auto mechanics, start by having a mechanic help you find a car. Then buy a good shop manual for it.

With 168,000 miles, the engine is most likely worn, and there is plenty of blow-by. It is more possible the excessive blow-by is forcing engine oil through the breather line, and into the intake manifold. It is also probably blown out the valve cover seals, and forcing oil mist all over the engine compartment. Pull the air intake tube off the throttle body, and see if there is oily residue on the throttle body throat.

I doubt the head gasket is bad. But, if you do the work, they are not that expensive. Most 4-banger gasket kits are around $100, and that’s for Felpro, a good name. Most of the money involved is labor time, since it takes a lot of work to properly pull a cylinder head and clean everything up.

I just did a head gasket job on a Volvo this past summer, and took 2 weekends to get the job done. First weekend, actually a Saturday, was spent in disassembly. Took a full day. Sunday was cleaning up parts that looked in fairly good shape. Cylinder head taken to a machine shop on Monday, and was checked out, surfaced, and valves seated. Returned on Thursday, ready to install. Started re-fitting it all on a Saturday morning. Tightened up the last of it, including fighting the timing belt on Sunday. Had it running again by Sunday afternoon. I figure I spent nearly 35 hours working on it. At current shop rates, that would have been nearly $3000 dollars in labor charges alone.

My thoughts were exactly the same as Bustedknuckles’. Excessive crankcase pressure caused by wear and resulting blowby.

To find out, have a simple compression test done by your shop.