Caravan COLD Engine Oil Leak?? Help!!

Hi everyone,
I know that this is the "Ford" group, but unfortunately there is only like 10 people posting in the "Dodge" group, so I will still try to get
some info. here from any mechanics in the group.
I am hoping that someone can help me out here and try to solve "a big mystery" that none of my mechanics can seem to solve.
I have a 1995 Dodge Caravan with 170,000 thousand miles. Its the 3.0L V6 engine. A little over a month ago, the car developed a MAJOR oil leak, where oil would basically just POUR out of the engine. The car would lose about 1 quart of oil every 5 minutes the engine was running.
My regular mechanic of 10+ years was "positive" that it was the "rear main seal" and he doesn't do major engine work anymore, so he recommended some other guy that I never heard of or went to before.
Anyway, I brought the car there, and the guy looked at it, and he said that the "crankshaft seal" was totally gone, and that the car needed a new "timing belt" as well. And sense I can't afford a new car right now, because I am only working part-time, and need transportation, I told him to fix it.
Plus, I was HOPING to get at least another year or two out of this car, because 2 years ago, I spent $2,000 dollars for a rebuilt transmission when the tranny went out, and last year I spent $800 dollars for a new fuel pump, and another $800 dollars on all new brakes and rotors! So in the last 2 years alone, I have sank $3,600 into this car!!!!
It took 2 days, and the cost was $800 bucks!!! So, I bring the car home, and find out that now, the engine is completely doing something else. What happens now, is that now the engine is leaking oil when the engine is COLD. When you 1st start the car and the engine is cold, oil DRIPS out. As the engine warms up, the leak slows down, and stops after the engine gets hot.
So I bring it back to the guy, and leave it there for another 2 days, and he calls me back and tells me that he "CAN'T find anything wrong with it, and doesn't see it dripping any oil", but yet charges me another $50 bucks to look at it.
So Monday night I put a piece of cardboard under there. Tuesday morning I go to start it up, and sure enough drip, drip, drip for about 10 minutes until coming to a stop.
Tuesday night I do the same thing, and put a new piece of cardboard there, and this morning I start it up, and once again drip, drip, drip, for about 5-10 minutes until the engine gets warm.
So I call the guy back, and told him that its still dripping when cold, and he says "That's strange", he never heard of anything like this before?? So now he wants me to drop it off again for another couple of days so that he can "look at it again"??
So does anybody know what the heck is going on here, and what the big "MYSTERY" is??? Why does the engine leak oil when cold, and then stop leaking oil after it warms up?
Does the "crankshaft seal" need time to expand or something??
Any info. and or suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated!!!!
Thanks!
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
First things first, does the new leak look like it is coming from the same spot as the original leak? If so, this other mechanic needs to take the car back into the shop and recheck his work, without charging you anything else. If you take it back to this guy again, drop the car off at night so that he can start it while it is cold, first thing in the morning. And take a piece of cardboard with you and try to place it in approximately the same spot as you did in your driveway. That way, he can see exactly what you saw when you brought it home and found out it was leaking again. I'm guessing when you took it back the second time, the engine had already been warm, thus it was not leaking and he couldn't find anything wrong. DO NOT let him charge you again if he cannot find anything. Remember that it only takes one phone call to the BBB, and that can ruin his reputation (unless this is just some backyard mechanic). Oil dripping from an engine onto a piece of cardboard should be very obvious. Having said that, before you take it back, I would personally try to locate the oil filter and make sure it is tight, also check the drain plug on the oil pan. Chances are, he had to drain the oil and refill it with new oil when he changed that crank seal. I would also make sure that the oil you see dripping is not the remains of the original seal leak, ie, there isn't a puddle of oil on top of a guard or shield that happens to drip once the engine is started.
Is there any reason you cannot take it back to your regular mechanic to have him check the new leak? It sounds like you probably have a little more trust/faith in him than the person he recommended. I would almost ask your regular mechanic to basically "double check" the other guys work, as well as he can without getting into the internals.
Just my 2 cents, Sharky
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Well, when I started the car this morning, I looked under the car while the engine was running. The oil looks to be dripping where the front "crankseal" and one of the belts meet. There is a pulley there ( which moves the belt ), and it seems to be leaking right where that pulley is.
You can also see that the brand new belt is covered in oil. As the engine warms up, the leak slows down and ALMOST comes to a stop, even though it really just slows down to a slow oil drip.
But then when the engine gets warm, it looks to be leaking another slow drip in a different spot, right above ( about 1/2 inch so ), above one of the crank seal bolts.
I then let the car sit for about an hour after letting it warm up this morning, and started it up again, and there was about 3-6 more drips, and then it stopped. So the colder the engine is, the more it leaks. The warmer the engine is, the less it leaks?
So, do you think this guy installed the "crank seal" or "timing belt" wrong?? Should I bring the car back to him when he had it for 2 whole days a few days ago, and claimed that he "can't find anything wrong with it"??
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thu, 21 Jan 2010 17:46:39 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (MICHELLE H.) wrote:

He screwed up. He needs to fix it. It's obvious. Either he didn't get the seal in square the first time and damaged the sealer around the OD of the seal, or he damaged the ID, or it's leaking between the pulley and the crankshaft - which basically only happens if the balancer pulley is loose - which WILL lead to a lot more damage if that is the case.
Happened on my '88 New Yorker. I managed to salvage it, but it wasn't pretty.
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Just wanted to give everyone another update and tell whats going on. I brought the car back to the guy on Thursday afternoon, and he kept the car there till Saturday afternoon.
Once again, he said that he checked the car for any oil leaks, but said that he "couldn't find anything wrong with it".
Now, here is where it gets good. I specifically told this guy to leave the car parked on the GROUND, and to put a piece of clean cardboard under the engine, and then don't start the car until morning.
Well, he didn't do that, and mumbled something about "putting cardboard under the engine got nothing to do with it", and he PUT THE CAR UP ON THE LIFT so that he could get a "birds eye view".
Also, get this when this guy replaced the "crank seal" and timing belt, he put 4 quarts of new oil in the engine, but DIDN'T replace the oil filter!?
He said that "the oil filter looked pretty clean on the OUTSIDE so he figured it was good". Which is NOT true, because actually the car was OVERDUE for an oil change!!!
So get this, he tells me that it will cost me "another $20 dollars" for him to change the oil filter which I believe SHOULD have been done the first time when he charged me $850 for the "crank seal" and "timing belt".
So, I said fine whatever, I'll pay the stupid $20.
I go to pick up the car today ( Saturday ), and when I get there, he hands me a bill for $78 DOLLARS!!!!!! I was like "what the hell", and he tells me that while the car was there, he "topped off all the fluids, cleaned the brakes, and changed the spark plugs"!!!
I NEVER even asked for all that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The car was there so that he could fix the OIL LEAK!!!!!!! He told me "Oh, the plugs looked old and dirty, so I changed them for you".
Then on my way home, I stop off at the grocery store to get some groceries, and when I leave the grocery store about an hour later, the car HAS A HARD TIME STARTING!!!
The when I get home, I look at the oil filter, and its some GENERIC one that I never even heard of!? Its called "ProMotive Oil Filter".
This is just getting ridiculous!!!
I let the car sit for a few hours, and then put a clean piece of cardboard under it, and start it up, and then sure enough drip, drip, drip, for 5-10 minutes!!!!!!
Plus now the car is starting hard, which it sure didn't do 2 days ago!!! I think this guy did something to it ON PURPOSE so that I have to bring it back to him AGAIN for the 4th time in less than 2 weeks!!!!!
AND for those of you wondering "what kind of mechanic this guy is and what kind of place he works at?".
The guy is a mechanic at a USED CAR DEALERSHIP!!!! And I am NOT talking about some big name used car dealership, I am talking about one of those small places on the side of the road that has like 10 cars maximum in the lot.
The ONLY reason why I went to this guy was because my regular mechanic "heard that the guy does engine work for cheap".
My regular mechanic of 10+ years knows that money is tight for me right now because I am only working part-time, and he has HEARD from other people that this other guy does engine work for about $400 or so. But my regular mechanic DOESN'T ACTUALLY KNOW this other guy personally!!!!
Well, it looks like me regular mechanic was off by $400 bucks, because this other guy charged me $850 for the "crank seal" and "timing belt".
Then he charges me another $20 to change the oil filter which should have been done THE FIRST TIME, and he charges me $58 TO "TOP OFF THE FLUIDS, CLEAN THE BRAKES, AND CHANGE THE PLUGS, WHICH I NEVER EVEN ASKED FOR!!!!!!!!
Well, next week I am going to bring it to a new guy. A REAL mechanic at a REAL auto repair shop, where my Aunt has been bringing her car for years, and has been HAPPY with the service there.
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Wow! I bet you wished you had stayed clear of that second mechanic. I hope you did not give him any money for changing those plugs, topping up fluids, etc. Remember what I told you in my last post, the Better Business Bureau is there for scam artists like this. I would be on the phone right now with them, if I were you. You did not ask for all the extra work, so you may be able to get some of your money back, and give that dealership a bad reputation once the BBB gets ahold of them. It should be pretty obvious by now that he is not interested in helping you.
I don't even want to get into the specifics of what he did or did not do to the car. The fact is, you asked him to do something and he ignored you. Apparently he seems to believe that you are a woman that knows nothing about vehicles and that he should be able to do whatever he damn well pleases and then give you a bill as he sees fit. It's pretty obvious by now that he botched up the seal replacement, because you can see with your own eyes, the oil dripping on the cardboard. He won't even acknowledge it, he apparently has it in his mind that you will keep bringing the car back to him so he can make even more money off of you.
My suggestion to you right now would be to find a reputable shop that specializes in Chrysler/Dodge vehicles, and not necessarily the Chrysler dealership either. There are plenty of retired mechanics who have their knowledge in specific vehicle makes, that are still working full or part-time in their backyards out of their own shops. Keep in mind, these are not the backyard mechanics I referred to in my first post. But there should also be a handful of Chrysler/Dodge shops in your area, that should be able to help you out, much better than the first two mechanics you have been to. The problem now is, it may cost you a little more to undo whatever the last mechanic has done to your car to get it fixed properly. And unfortunately, it sounds like the engine will have to come apart again to replace that new seal. This is why you need to get on the phone with the BBB and reclaim as much money as you can from the last mechanic. BTW, replacing the spark plugs in almost any model mini-van is not an easy task, so unless he can visually show you that they were changed, I have a hard time believing that he even did the work.
I wish you better luck with the next repair shop, Sharky
Just wanted to give everyone another update and tell whats going on. I brought the car back to the guy on Thursday afternoon, and he kept the car there till Saturday afternoon.
Once again, he said that he checked the car for any oil leaks, but said that he "couldn't find anything wrong with it".
Now, here is where it gets good. I specifically told this guy to leave the car parked on the GROUND, and to put a piece of clean cardboard under the engine, and then don't start the car until morning.
Well, he didn't do that, and mumbled something about "putting cardboard under the engine got nothing to do with it", and he PUT THE CAR UP ON THE LIFT so that he could get a "birds eye view".
Also, get this when this guy replaced the "crank seal" and timing belt, he put 4 quarts of new oil in the engine, but DIDN'T replace the oil filter!?
He said that "the oil filter looked pretty clean on the OUTSIDE so he figured it was good". Which is NOT true, because actually the car was OVERDUE for an oil change!!!
So get this, he tells me that it will cost me "another $20 dollars" for him to change the oil filter which I believe SHOULD have been done the first time when he charged me $850 for the "crank seal" and "timing belt".
So, I said fine whatever, I'll pay the stupid $20.
I go to pick up the car today ( Saturday ), and when I get there, he hands me a bill for $78 DOLLARS!!!!!! I was like "what the hell", and he tells me that while the car was there, he "topped off all the fluids, cleaned the brakes, and changed the spark plugs"!!!
I NEVER even asked for all that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The car was there so that he could fix the OIL LEAK!!!!!!! He told me "Oh, the plugs looked old and dirty, so I changed them for you".
Then on my way home, I stop off at the grocery store to get some groceries, and when I leave the grocery store about an hour later, the car HAS A HARD TIME STARTING!!!
The when I get home, I look at the oil filter, and its some GENERIC one that I never even heard of!? Its called "ProMotive Oil Filter".
This is just getting ridiculous!!!
I let the car sit for a few hours, and then put a clean piece of cardboard under it, and start it up, and then sure enough drip, drip, drip, for 5-10 minutes!!!!!!
Plus now the car is starting hard, which it sure didn't do 2 days ago!!! I think this guy did something to it ON PURPOSE so that I have to bring it back to him AGAIN for the 4th time in less than 2 weeks!!!!!
AND for those of you wondering "what kind of mechanic this guy is and what kind of place he works at?".
The guy is a mechanic at a USED CAR DEALERSHIP!!!! And I am NOT talking about some big name used car dealership, I am talking about one of those small places on the side of the road that has like 10 cars maximum in the lot.
The ONLY reason why I went to this guy was because my regular mechanic "heard that the guy does engine work for cheap".
My regular mechanic of 10+ years knows that money is tight for me right now because I am only working part-time, and he has HEARD from other people that this other guy does engine work for about $400 or so. But my regular mechanic DOESN'T ACTUALLY KNOW this other guy personally!!!!
Well, it looks like me regular mechanic was off by $400 bucks, because this other guy charged me $850 for the "crank seal" and "timing belt".
Then he charges me another $20 to change the oil filter which should have been done THE FIRST TIME, and he charges me $58 TO "TOP OFF THE FLUIDS, CLEAN THE BRAKES, AND CHANGE THE PLUGS, WHICH I NEVER EVEN ASKED FOR!!!!!!!!
Well, next week I am going to bring it to a new guy. A REAL mechanic at a REAL auto repair shop, where my Aunt has been bringing her car for years, and has been HAPPY with the service there.
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Put in a claim at small claims court - costs you virtually nothing and you WILL win. Take digital pictures of the leak. Have the mechanic that looks at it next week either document what he finds for you or have you photograph what he finds. Keep at least one of the cardboards you have used to check for leakage, and save copies of all these e-mails. Enter them all with the court. He doesn't deserve another chance
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
MICHELLE H. wrote:

I would have refused to pay him for the fluids, brakes or plugs. And if I had to get the police involved, I would have.
I would take him to small claims court for the cost of any repairs needed to fix the unauthorized repairs plus what it takes to repair his work that he messed up.
Jeff
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I totally believe that this guy took advantage of me because I am female. I mean like I said, I brought the car back to him for the third time in less than a week, so that he can fix the oil leak, and he ends up "topping off the fluids, cleaning the brakes, and changing the spark plugs", all because he "had the car there".
Plus, like I said, shouldn't the oil filter have been changed the 1ST TIME when he charged me the $850 for the "crank seal" and "timing belt" repair???
He claimed that the "OUTSIDE of the filter looked clean", so he didn't change the oil filter. Then when I told him that I wanted the oil filter changed, he said "okay, but it's gonna be another $20 bucks".
Then he puts on some oil filter called "ProMotive" which I never even heard of before???
Like I said, this guy is a mechanic at a used car dealership on the side of the road. And its not some big name place, its a little used car dealership with like 10 cars in the lot.
So I know the guy took me for a ride and ripped me off because I am female. Heck, I go to pick up my car, and the guy is stuffing his face with a party size pizza and a 6 pack of Miller Lite.
Stuffing his face and sucking down beers with my money!!!!!!
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
MICHELLE H. wrote:

There's an old adage that people can't take advantage of you without your permission. You tell us that he is a mechanic at a little used-car dealer at the side of the road. Apparently, you saw that his personal habits were not very good. Yet, you let him work on your car, when you had an aunt who recommended another competent mechanic. While I think you should definitely go after the sleeze in small claims court, I do hope that you learn a few lessons from these events. The lessons will be more valuable than the $1000 or so he has in his pocket.
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Well I only took it to him the 1st time because my mechanic of 10+ years "heard" that the guy does engine "crank seal" replacement for like $400, and knowing that I am only working part-time right now, and can't afford a new car, this other guy might be my only choice.
I only took it back to him the 2nd time because it was still leaking oil from the "crank seal" that he supposedly fixed? Of course he said that he "couldn't find an oil leak".
When it was still leaking 3 days later, I took it back to him again for the 3rd time and complained to him yet again, and once again he claimed that he "couldn't see any oil leaks", and thats when he charged me $78 dollars for all this other stuff, that I never evn asked for.
After coming home Saturday night and almost breaking down in tears while talking to my father about how this guy was taking me for a ride, he told me to bring it to someone else, and after talking with his brothers and sisters ( my Aunts and Uncles ), thats when my Aunt recommended her mechanic take a look at it for me to see just what the heck this guy had done to my car.
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I know. I would keep the oil-soaked cardboard for the judge at small- claims court. You definitely have him for doing work that you did not authorize. I can't tell from what you said whether the guy is really a sleeze bucket or just incompetent. Personally, I would have refused to pay him the $58 for the unauthorized work and would have called the police, if needed, to get the car back.
I used to take my car to a neighborhood mechanic. The guy was a good guy. But, what I didn't like about him is that he had to jack up my engine to change a belt, which didn't seem to be the proper procedure (it was a Ford Contour V6). In addition, it took him longer than I expected. I decided then that I would find another mechanic. It wasn't that the guy was a bad guy. In fact, he was a costumer of my father's and continued to work on my dad's car until a year or so ago. I do think he got a little to old and was not keeping up with the best ways to fix cars. Had I stuck with him, I am pretty sure no harm would have occurred.
As luck would have it, my dad's neighbor was the manager at a chain store (Penske, which was in K-marts at the time). After that, I took my car to him. He has taken car of my cars to him ever since, even though he changed jobs 4 times (he left Penske when it closed and went to a local chain store with about 20 stores, then went to Monro, and finally two Ford dealers). He refused to recommend products and services that people didn't need.
So now I am not sure what the take-home lessons are. One is that you don't take a car for a large repair ($400) without making sure you know what you are doing in a non-emergency situation (losing a quart or two of oil is not an emergency, even though you do have to have it fixed). With the leak, you could have asked your dad, aunt, uncle and us here before getting it fixed. Another is checking people out before taking work to them.
Personally, I would rather do the work myself. However, the proper equipment costs more than having a competent mechanic do the work. I used to change the oil on my AMC Eagle years ago. Plus, cars break down less frequently and require specialized equipment. And, in those days, my dad had the space and equipment for me to do the work. Now, he doesn't.
I do hope that he didn't do any real damage to your car and you get it up and running properly soon. I also hope that others learn from your story, too.
Jeff
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 24 Jan 2010 19:22:02 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (MICHELLE H.) wrote:

Also, let your regular mechanic know what kind of service this other guy gave you. Hopefully, he'll stop throwing business his way. A very trusted mechanic sent my mother to a reputable A/C shop to have her compressor replaced (this was before he got a certified A/C tech of his own). To make a long story short, this guy's screw-ups cost my mother her engine. I let the first mechanic know what had happened, and told him that both times I had gone over there with her, I detected the distinct smell of alcohol on the A/C mechanic's breath. Our regular mechanic apologized for sending her to him, and never recommend him or his shop again. The A/C shop was out of business a couple of years later. Geez, I wonder why.;-)
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hi Sharky,
Thanks for your response and for all of the great info!!! The reason I never had my mechanic of 10+ years fix the car was because he is an older guy who is no longer doing any kind of "major or heavy duty work". He only does easy stuff now like oil changes, tune ups, change light bulbs, brakes, etc, etc. He only works part-time and does the "light" car repair jobs now.
And yes, the drip seems to be coming from the SAME spot as when the oil was pouring out of it, before the other guy changed the front "crank seal".
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
MICHELLE H. wrote:

If the oil is coming out of the same place, I would take it back and ask the mechanic who did the work.
Jeff
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Is this second mechanic a backyard guy, or does he actually work out of a shop under a registered business? Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against certain backyard mechanics, but in your circumstance, I would be very careful about taking my vehicle back to this person. If the oil is leaking from the same spot, then it sounds like he didn't know what he was doing and either installed the seal backwards, or botched it up some other way. Aside from that, I'm not sure how he could jusify an $800 job out of this. A timing belt for that van should be no more than $50, and the seal can't be anymore than that either, I can't imagine. I don't know how much labor is involved, but this should not be more than a days work, provided all of the parts are on hand.
Curious, what kind of condition is the oil pan like on this van? I would even check the gasket on the pan itself. I understand that your regular mechanic only does light duty stuff, but why couldn't he check over the other mechanics work that he suggested to you? In other words, get a second opinion from someone you are more likely to trust other than this "other mechanic". The fact that the "other mechanic" managed to replace your timing belt and crank seal, yet can't even find a simple oil leak that he may have created himself, would make me avoid him altogether. And then charge you $50 after not even finding anything, something does not add up here.
Just my 2 cents. Sharky
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Yeah, and BOTH times that I brought the car back to him, I DID bring the oil soaked cardboard from my driveway with me to show him, but thats when he mumbled something about how "cardboards got nothing to do with it", and he threw the oil soaked cardboard away in the trash!!!
I guess he didn't want any of my evidence laying around??
Add pictures here
βœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.