2001 Accord oil leak

I checked the oil in my 01 Accord 4 cyl (5 speed) today and it's down about 1/2 quart. It's about 1/2 way between the add and full marks. I have known
something was leaking slowly underneath the car for a while because it's been wet along the bottom of what I thought was the bellhousing.
I crawled underneath today and it looks like the leak is around the oil pan gasket. From what I could see, being about 1/2" away from everything, there is some kind of brace bolted to the transmission and engine that covers the right side of the oil pan. That's where the oil seems to be gathering, being the lowest point of the underside of the car more or less.
Is that part I'm seeing just a brace, and does it need to come off to remove the oil pan? Or am I looking at a potential leak from the transmission?
I'm still trying to find even just a Haynes manual for the car so I can find this stuff out for myself.
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Before you start pulling things apart I'd recommend you start with the basics. First clean down (degrease) the whole engine top to bottom. After that keep an eye on it every day. Oil, like most everything else on this planet is subject to gravity. When you have a leak it will drip down the engine, sometimes collect, in a horizontal flat spot and then drift down to soak the lower most point, the oil pan, and then blow back from there. Cleaning the engine can allow you the opportunity to see where the leak originates. Some of the more likely spots are the valve cover gasket, balance shaft seal, crankshaft seal, oil pump seal and less often the cam seal. You can't see the crank, balance, oil pump or cam seal without removing the upper and lower timing belt covers, but look for the oil to be coming from the bottom of the lower cover if it's either one of them. The best way is to put an ultra-violet dye in your oil and with an ultra-violet lamp (if you have access to one) spot where the oil exits the engine from. Good luck. Howard

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JM wrote:

automatic transmission fluid is stained red so you can tell leaks apart from engine oil leaks. that's a 2-second diagnosis and an oily finger.
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Except that it's a 5 speed manual trans. I guess these days "5 speed" can mean an auto or manual so I should have used different terminology.
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