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Oil leak 97 Honda Accord behind timing cover which seal?

I have a 97 Honda Accord with V Tec engine, 2.2L. I have an oil leak that is coming from BEHIND the timing belt cover. I removed the cover and the belts to expose several seals. The oil leak is quite extensive and leaves a good puddle after running the engine, however, it will not leak once I clean up the mess, put the car up on jack stands and disassemble the engine. I cannot tell which seal is leaking and am wondering how to tell which seal is leaking. Is there a way to apply pressure to the engine with air, possibly through the oil dipstick hole to possibly expose the leaking seal? I need some help PLEASE!! - clear

Am I correct in assuming that the car is on jackstands, and the timing belt is exposed?

I would clean everything up and run the engine for a minute or so

Watch the coolant temperature, if the water pump isn’t driven by the timing belt

If the leak is as bad as you say, it will very quickly be clear which seal is leaking

Given the age of the car, every seal in that timing cover case should be changed. Murphy’s Law states that if you only change the leaky seal one of the others will leak the following week.

There’s also the issue of whether this car needs a timing belt/water pump kit and if that particular job was done in recent memory any oil seals should have been serviced at that time.

Hmm, call your Honda dealer and ask if there is an update to the balance shaft seal. There should be a retainer to keep the seal from falling out–which was a common occurrence when these cars were still newer.

As for which seal is leaking, it doesn’t matter since you will be replacing all of them, as well as both timing belts and the water pump since the cover is off, right? :slight_smile:

I just had mine all done on our 97 Accord, but it turned out that the oil pump seal was torn, the mechanic doing the belt noticed it, only cost me $10 extra.

My first suspicion would be the valve cover gaskets are leaking. That’s a very common source of oil leaks, especially as the car ages beyond 10 years. I had this leak occur on my Corolla at about 12 years.

No experience w/your car, but if this happened now on my early 90’s Corolla – and simply replacing the valve cover gaskets (following the shop manual for where to apply add’l rtv sealant) if that didn’t fix it – I’d

  • remove the timing covers
  • clean everything off
  • run the engine at idle and see where it was leaking

Most likely possibilities on the Corolla would be the valve cover gaskets, the camshaft seal, and the crankshaft seal. All are relatively easy to fix.

Thanks All who commented! I had tunnel vision…was so focused on finding the culprit seal I lost touch with common sense…Replace them all!! That’s what I needed to hear. The timing belt was replaced by the dealer a few years ago and is still in good condition. I will also check the oil pump seal while I am in there.
Thanks again all! I’m going back in!!

You may not want to hear this but the timing belt needs to be replaced again. Oil contamination of the timing belt ruins it even if it appears good visually.

The engine is an interference fit and you do not want the belt to break.

Agree with ok4450 go ahead and replace the timing belt. If it’s been a few years and the belt is already off replacing seals it doesn’t make sense to put the old belt back on, especially on an interference engine. This will also prolong the time until the timing belt is due for another change.

I don’t mean to pile on but if it has been a few years since the last timing belt job, I would do a complete timing belt job which includes the belts (timing and balance shaft), water pump, seals, and tensioner. Sure, some or all of these components might look fine now but it’s false economy not to replace them at this time. It’s just like the leaking seals; they looked just fine the last time so they weren’t replaced but then here you are today.