2003 Elantra needs crankshaft and seal replaced.

Driving to work today, everything going great. I start to notice the smell of burning oil, assumed it was the car in front of me. I drive about another 30 seconds and the oil light starts to flicker on and off.
I put the two together and immediately pulled over and shut off the car.
I noticed a small amount of smoke coming from under the hood, I also saw oil all over the right side of the car, completely covering the back passenger tire and all over the trunk (swirling air must have blown it up there). A look into and under the engine shows oil coming from somewhere around the bottom of the engine. Even though the oil filter had no oil dripping from it, I pulled it off to make sure it was not the problem and made sure the seal was still intact. Everything was fine and I put it back on[1]. I was low enough on oil only a few ounces of oil trapped in the filter spilled when I took the filter off.
When my help with supplies arrived, I put some oil in and started the car. I could see a steady stream of oil coming from the front crankshaft seal. The engine sounded fine and I HOPE there is no other internal damage. I would not have done this troubleshooting but I do not trust any dealerships. I want to make sure I would not be hit with a bad oil filter or a leaking oil plug your screwed excuse. If the problem was a filter or something simple, I could fix it right there with no problem.
A call to Hyundai road side service got me a free tow to the newest dealer.
The results? Huge oil leak from the front crankshaft seal caused by a "moving" crankshaft. I was told that the crankshaft and bearings will need replaced along with the seal. Pretty amazing diagnostics for just about 5 minutes on the lift. At least the repairs are under warranty. The car has never dropped or leaked an ounce of oil prior to today. I was less then 3 miles from my house when this happened and there are no signs of any leak prior to that in my driveway. This was immediate failure. Scary. I am not completely on board with the crankshaft diagnosis but since it is under warranty and I have never seen a seal fail that fast, I am not going to have a second opinion done on it.
Since I am at 60K miles, I have a question about the timing belt. I was told that to replace the timing belt during the complete engine disassembly to change the crankshaft, would only be about 1 hour extra charge + parts to replace the timing belt at the same time. I'm no expert on I4 engines but how can you remove the head without taking the belt off anyway? In all fairness, they did say they would call me back with the exact figures later.
[1] Funny side note on the oil filter. I took this groups general advice and stopped using Fram and Super Tech oil filters, the filter on my car now is the first Purolator I've bought in years. Luckily that was not the problem. Statistical analysis aside, I would never have bought another one!
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I've seen a couple of these. The crankshaft thrust bearings fail, and the crankshaft pushes out the crank seal. It's a pretty easy diagnosis if you know that you're looking for a thrust bearing failure. Just put the car on the lift and pry back and forth on the crank pulley. If it moves, you know there is a thrust bearing problem. Its quite possible the block has been damaged as well.
Depending on how the technician does the job if he's replacing the crank and not the block, I suppose it's theoretically possible to need to remove some additional items to get the belt out. I don't really buy it, though.
Play along. Ask them what additional work needs to be done to remove the timing belt that they wouldn't be doing anyway. Actually, now that I think of it, you should request a new one under warranty. If you look at it, you'll see that there's a large amount of oil soaked into it. I'd say to demand it, but if you're at 60k, Hyundai's responsibility to give you a new belt is questionable (although I'd side with giving you one). Perhaps get Hyundai involved if they refuse to do it.
As a side note, it *is* possible to remove the head without doing a majority of the work necessary to remove the timing belt. The timing belt tensioner is accessible behind the upper cover, so all that needs to be done is to remove the upper cover, loosen the tension, and slip the belt off the camshaft.
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hyundaitech wrote:

That makes sense. I guess I am more in disbelief that something like that could happen so easily to the bottom end of an engine. Hopefully this is just an anomoly and not something that indicates some type of engineering failure. The car and engine is treated and maintained very well so I know I did not add to problem. I go out of my way to let the car warm up and get the oil flowing before driving off, I use only synthetic oil and change at 5K max, the car is never under any type of abusive driving etc..
I did notice the tech driving the car out of the bay when I was there and I found that disturbing. Hello, that engine has little to no oil and god knows what debris floating around in what is left!!!
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I think it's more likely that there was a manufacturing problem somewhere along the line. This basic engine design has been in use since 1996, and this year is the first time I've seen such a failure.
I have yet to determine why any of the thrust bearings came out, just that they had come out and that the crank and block had been damaged. I suspect Hyundai probably knows what the problem is, but hasn't released the information in order to keep regular people from seeing it. The downside of this is that I don't get to see it either.
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nolife wrote:

Follow up after work completed.
The local dealer replaced the damage with an entire short block assembly. I paid $225 additional to have the timing belt and all of the drive belts replaced at the same time. I believe at least 50% of that was for the parts. I'm going to go out on a limb here but I'd think for Hyundai to approve replacing the entire short block indicates to me they really trust their dealers on warranty work requests, this issue may be a known one, or they don't want to pay the dealer the hours involved to actually go through an entire engine teardown and build up.
I have some comments on the specific dealer though. They did a very crappy job. My wife picked up the car in a rush so I did not get to see it until I got home from work. They forgot to put the big plastic piece that goes on top of the valve cover on. There was a severe whining at idle and at in the 1500-2000 range, and there was coolant puddles all over the transmission which was slowly evaporating from the heat and giving off a horible smell. I have NO idea how they missed any of these issues. I noticed them after about 15 seconds. All three of those were fixed but I had to take it back for that to happen. The whining was fixed by adjusting the timing belt tension. After I got it back the second time I then noticed that there is a clamp for the exhaust that is not tightened down (it is moving around freely so it is not even close to being tight) and the bolt is stripped and they did not put back on the small plastic cover on that sits just below the oil filter (the one you have to remove to get to the filter. I don't know if these are worth my time to drop of my car yet once again. Another thing I found odd was even though I have a new short block, they used my oil filter that was on the old one. You mean they could not spring $5-10 to put a new one on there? I'll be changing it and the oil this coming weekend.
What scares me is if they have such poor control of putting things back together as witnessed by what was missing and obviously making a huge noise, what did they do wrong that I have not seen yet or may not see for 20K miles? Would it not seem obvious that if you had parts left after work completetion like the really big plastic piece that fits on top of the valve cover or when you started it for the first time it was making a huge whining noise? Shouldn't there be a standard well established system in place to prevent things like this? I'm not a mechanic for a living but I've changed transmissions, cv joints, harmonic balancers, water pumps, valve covers, brakes etc and I lay stuff out in one place and would see left over parts when I was done.
Overall? This whole ordeal backs up my thinking that mechanics should not be trusted until overwhelming evidence supports otherwise. Twice this year I had to have major work done to my cars and both times were very bad experiences. There are many good mechanics that work at places that allow that mechanic to excell and do his/her job right, IMHO though, there way too many establishments that do not have that type of environment.
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They replaced the short block and reused the oil filter? Are you sure? I can't even imagine putting an old oil filter on a new engine..that's insane. I would have serious concerns about the mechanic that did that doing anything more complicated than checking tire pressure on a car I was going to drive! Did you show this to the manager at the dealer? I would have serious doubts they even changed that short block.
--

Mike S.

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Mikey S. wrote:

I was second guessing myself as well so I just went outside at 11:20PM in with a 15F temperature and rechecked, although it looks like my previous oil filter, it is not. It is a new one. From the first look I had the other day when I was chasing down the rattle from the previously mentioned loose exhaust clamp, I saw what looked exactly like my store bought filter I put on there so I assumed it was. Sorry about that. Even with that cleared up, I still think they could have done a better job overall.
There is a new block in there as well, it is painted a nice glossy medium gray.
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