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Oil, Oil everywhere but not a drop in my car

I have a 1996 honda accord. I recently took it into a shop because it wouldn’t start and was leaking oil. They replaced the battery cable and told me I needed an axle. I then have an oil leak, and my car will still not start. I take it back, ok, they said I need an oil pan. I get the oil pan and had to take the car back 2 more times because it was still leaking oil. The one time they put on a gasket and the next an oil drain plug. Two days later I get home and my oil light is on. There is oil all over my driveway and it is leaking everywhere. Bigger than any previous leak. They pay to have my car towed to the shop and call me the next day to say the seal fell out and this is a common problem with the 96 accords. I need a timing belt kit. They told me there was no way to notice this oil leaking from this component. Is this an accurate depiction, or am I getting the run around?



From your post I have -0- confidence in your shop. I certainly wouldn’t trust them to do a timing belt job. Find another shop and you should try to get your money back from the current jokers who seem totally incompetent.

I have to agree 100% with UncleTurbo.

They lied or they’re scarily incompetent. You’ve been ripped off. Although dealers charge WAY too much, you’d be better off with them. Do not go back!

This shop sounds incredibly incompetent. Take your business elsewhere for your car’s sake and your wallet’s sake.

I’m not going to rip the shop at this point because of incomplete info. How many miles on this car? Any history of PCV service?

The car is 16 years old and apparently has multiple oil leaks. It could be that the oil pan, or pan gasket, was a misdiagnosis and could have been due to a leaking belt case seal, of which there are several.

There is no way of really knowing if that seal is leaking without tearing everything in the belt case apart and replacing seals in there should be part of a timing belt job if they’re leaking. Leaking seals in there will ruin a timing belt, no doubt about that.
Has the timing belt ever been replaced before?

With the oil light on it’s possible that the entire engine may be trashed and the timing belt is irrelevant but it’s hard to say as the story is still murky to me.

They tried to fix things while having the wrong point of view. Now we, the readers, may believe that the crankcase pressure is high. Some mechanic might check the crankcase ventilation system before doing a compression check.

The general problem for the customer is that inexperience can generate profits. That’s one reason a shop can stay in business. There seems to be an infinite supply of new customers. It’s not just the shop you went to, it’s everywhere.

Had they ever bothered to check the oil filter to see if that was the source of the oil leak?
It could simply be a loose oil filter, or the last oil filter gasket was stuck to the engine when the new oil filter and gasket was installed.


This Honda was recalled for that very oil seal your shop is just now discovering. Appearantly you or a previous owner missed the recall. Now you do need a new timing belt as well as the oil seal and the retainer kit in the recall.

But did he EVER need a new oil pan?? “Two days later I get home and my oil light is on. There is oil all over my driveway and it is leaking everywhere.”

I wonder how long that oil light was on…Maybe a timing belt is the last thing this car needs…

Yep. Keith has it right.

The initial recall for this was in October 2000. My '97 was recalled and the balancer shaft oil seal was replaced FREE by the dealer. Honda also offered to reimburse owners who had already paid to have this fixed, including towing charges.

If the balancer shaft oil seal is what was leaking all along your mechanic did a terrible job of diagnosing the leak.

Yeah I would have to agree with the guys again…I mean whats the issue here? If there was an oil leak then locate it and repair. They said it was the oil pan…OK…fix it. DO you have oil coming out of your engine from high up? Because the oil pan is on the bottom of your engine obviously. Next they tell you that you need a T-belt? and there IS CERTAINLY a way to detect an oil leak in the T-belt area…absolutely. These types of leaks can happen to any car of this age.

Listen to the guys and get out of this shop OR try to get them to FULLY describe their thoughts on what the prognosis is here…seems like they are taking pot shots at this with several different techs working on the vehicle AND not speaking to each other. This is getting ugly. You definitely have an issue and SOMEBODY needs to tell you what the hell it is…and repair it properly…this aint Rocket Science

  "Maybe a timing belt is the last thing this car needs.."

Now that oil has leaked onto the timing belt, it is definitely going to need a new one. It may not have needed one before the leak, but that belt will not tolerate the oil.

If the red oil pressure lamp was on then everything else may be irrelevant. It would be a shame to replace this, that, and the other at great cost only to find that the engine’s lower end is trashed.

Its not really that easy. The oil leaks from that seal onto the timing and balance shaft belts, then out a port at the bottom of the front cover where it travels around the top of the pan making it look like the pan gasket has let go. It tends to migrate from the lip of the pan to the bottom from the back side causing some people to think the rear main seal is shot.

As far as getting away from this shop for this repair, I have to agree with you. I’m not going to judge this shops general mechanical skills, but Honda’s have some peculiarities that it appears this shop is not aware of and could do some serious damage to this engine. The OP needs to find a Honda specialist or go to the dealer.

Some things that make this repair different, a special tool is required to get the crank bolt out. The engine turns in the opposite direction of most other cars so the breaker bar in the frame and using the starter motor doesn’t work. It also has to be torqued back on at 187 ft lbs, so most impact wrenches won’t loosen it either.

Aligning the balance shaft is tricky to understand. The FSM is real murky here as they have an odd perspective of the motor. Their definition of front and back are in relation to the car, not the engine itself. The back of the engine by their definition is what most of us would refer to as the intake side of the engine.

To me the bottom line is that you’ve sadly been getting “taken for a ride” by an incompetant. They totally ignored the complaints that you brought the car in, found other things to do (NOBODY needs a new oil pan), did the work that they did do poorly, and kept drainng your wallet without making any progress whatsoever on fixing the car.

Get away from this shop. Others have posted the technical details on what was wrong with the car, but to me the real problem is the shop.

Thanks OK, that was the pitch I threw but nobody caught it…

Yes I am WELL aware of the issues on Honda Accords…I am a bit of a Honda Specialist actually. His shop should have been able to determine the diff between a pan leak and the front seals on the engine…I mean I am able to do it…so.

I’m well aware of the tools needed for this as I own all of them…and they can “get by” without the special crank pulley tool, but the tool make it so much easier and it allows you to get the proper torque on the crank bolt.

I guess I am agreeing with you Kieth that the shop does need to know what makes a Honda tick…but they have failed the OP on issues not related to peculiarities of a Honda…they screwed up basic mechanics period.

The bal shaft allignment is tricky if you dont know what you are doing I guess…but I have at LEAST 75-90 T-belt jobs under my belt so far. SO I am well out of the woods on the learning curve.

The OP just needs to get to a GOOD shop. No real need for a HOnda Specialist, but I guess it wouldnt hurt huh?

Again…going to have to agree with the guys and Mr Mountain Bike again…GET OUTTA THERE. It makes me sick to think you paid them all this money and they were just throwing darts at the real issues you had…any GOOD mechanic could have gotten you much closer to resolution and not wasted your money on other areas that did not need attention.

Shame the OP isnt close to me…I’ll fix this Accord for you…I can do them PROPERLY with my eyes closed now I think…I’m EXTREMELY FAMILIAR with them. I actually enjoy working on Hondas.