oil leak

I have an oil leak that finds its way to the passenger side CVJ and then slings out. I cleaned the underside well then got underneath
with the engine running and waited for the drops of oil to start. Soon I saw a drop appear on the underside of the PCV breather/ separator. Last weekend I removed the breather/separator and reapplied RTV to the surface interface with the timing chain cover. The leak continued. I thought: darn, I should have removed the new PCV valve, put Teflon tape on the threads and put it back but at the time I saw no evidence of oil from the area of the threads. This weekend I again removed the breather/separator but this time completely. I had another from an old engine into which I threaded the PCV valve using Teflon tape. Also I mashed some RTV up against the timing chain cover surface interface with the block at that spot just in case the leak was there. Cleaning the timing chain cover/ breather interface well, I used RTV again. After 24 hours for the RTV to cure, I took the car for a drive and the oil leak persists. The leak amounts to a couple of puddles, one the diameter of a golf ball and the other the diameter of a racket ball, appearing after I get to work in the morning. The head had recently been replaced and I had put in a new timing chain, guides and tensioner. When I last removed the breather/separator/PCV there again was no evidence of oil under the PCV valve itself. There's a brace for the power steering just on the outside of the breather which prevents me from getting eyes on the timing chain cover. I don't see how it's possible to remove this brace without lifting out the engine. What I just tried a minute ago was rolling paper towels and tucking them: a) between the power steering brace and the breather, b) on the inside of the breather outer top where there's a half inch opening. I let the engine run for a few minutes but no evidence of oil at those spots.
I realize it's difficult to get a clean seal between the breather and the timing chain cover so the RTV will bond cleanly but I went over it well with brake cleaner which dries without a residue and I don't believe I could have failed to get a good seal there twice.
Anyone seen or heard of this kind of oil leak?
snipped-for-privacy@charter.net Heard County, GA (formerly of Long Island)
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You didn't mention the year of your vehicle... the following applies to 93- 98 Altimas.
I had a leak on my 93 Altima after a 3500km roadtrip in the heat of the summer. After searching google, there were 2 possible culprits.
#1 was the crank seal.
#2 was an o-ring between the timing cover and the engine block. here is a good website showing how to do the repair, and why it failed. http://www.prb2.com/altima/ (also has a good write up on the timing chain guide issue on these motors)
My problem was the crank seal. It took about 30 minutes to replace. I still have the O-Ring I got from the dealer. Since my car no longer leaks, I haven't bothered to do the job.
t
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Well, it's Thursday night and I just took another look. When I was under the car and watched the drip form I had then gone over to an old block I have here and thought I identified the leak as somewhere near the embossed "Z" on the block inside the lower timing chain cover near the oil port into the block. Then when I went in to fix it, moving the power steering pump toward the engine wall, I thought, and maybe did, identify oil on the bottom of the PCV breather. That off and on twice the last 2 weekends didn't fix it. Tonight I was looking at the Haynes manual and the photo of the timing chain cover on page 2A-17 and seeing how the breather access is stepped out, that when I mashed some RTV between the block and the breather edge I might not have gotten to a potential leak. Getting under there tonight I didn't clearly see oil under the breather and in fact really didn't clearly see oil there that second time I removed the breather because the earlier RTV application was a bit messy and it is a shiny black. Under there tonight I realized that somewhere I had lost sight of the probable leak being just about where that embossed Z is. If one looks at photo 12.3b on page 2A-15, the oil first appears as a drop on the bottom of the outcropping just beyond the back end of the far left arrow. It's related to the oil pump. One can't get a good look at that spot not because it isn't possible but because the power steering pulley is in the way. If the mechanic had overtorqued the bolt above the port of the oil pump he may have cracked the timing cover a bit. The last 2 weekends I was concentrating on the PVC and breather. Apparently I should have put on my reading glasses and taken a close look at the timing cover while the power steering pump was held to the firewall with a wire clothes hanger. Well, if the weather is nice that will get done this weekend.
Bill
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Well, I was under there today. Turns out it probably isn't damage from the local garage prying the engine over as I don't see any clear damage to either timing chain cover. First thing I did was to run the car and watched closely near the oil pump area of the timing chain cover. Oil did appear but its source wasn't clear. Also, there was a bit of oil on timing cover bolt near the water pump. Shutting down the engine, I unbolted the power steering and wired it to the firewall. I removed the metal brace that looks like a British Pound symbol near the head and the engine mount. Nothing appeared to have been leaking there. I inspected the PCV breather enclosure closely and noticed there was a bolt missing. It threads outward and holds the breather together. Somehow when I changed breathers I hadn't noticed that was missing. Fortunately I could get the bolt from the old breather into it without removing the breather. That snugged up I was pretty sure that had been the latest leak as it sits directly over the plugged access to the oil pump in the timing chain cover where the drops of oil had been appearing first. So, back went the power steering and the alternator snug and I started it back up, waited a minute, and there was soon oil accumulating that sealed hole to the oil pump in the timing cover and soon dripping from the bottom of the CVJ under the power steering brace as well. I go in again, unbolt the power steering pump, wire it to the fire wall, and take a number of paper towels. I tucked one in between the PCV valve breather enclosure and the block, taped one under the breather with duct tape. taped one over the timing cover sealed access to the oil pump and this paper towel also covered the small bolts above and below the oil pump sealed access. Ran the engine and one or a couple of those paper towels were effectively interdicting the oil drip. Shut down the engine, unbolted the power steering pump, and first checked the paper towel between the breather and block, no oil, checked the paper towel taped to the bottom of the breather, no oil, checked the paper towel taped over the plugged oil pump access and yes, oil in three spots, from the top bolt from around the sealed hole and from the bottom bolt. I suspect that the mechanic didn't seal those two bolts properly nor the bolt near the water pump. Oil seems to well up around the threads and through the slit in the lock washer. Like he put a thin bead of RTV outside the bolts but not on the inside of the bolts. I checked the old block I have here and those are blind bolt holes. So, after it dried from cleaning, I got a good bit of RTV into those holes and around the base of those bolts and tightened it up. Also covered the tin plug in that access hole. Now it's drying and hoping for the best tomorrow.
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Leak still there. It seems to be RPM/duration dependent. A seven mile trip to the post office this morning, parking in a fairly clean spot, left a softball sized oil spill in the time it takes to check one's mail. So, I'm thinking it's seeing the oil pressure and therefore probably right near that oil pump output port leading to the oil filter. The PCV breather separator would see oil but not under pressure. The oil filter aluminum stand seemed fine and a paper towel under it didn't accumulate oil when the towels were around the breather and timing cover. I have changed the oil pressure sensor, that more than a month ago. Wish I could run the engine without the power steering pump in place but without the water pump that would seem foolish.
It could be a cracked block that I just don't see. When it went into the transmission shop for a leak at the differential, first they changed the oil seals but that didn't help. That tranny leak had been there since before the engine swap out a year ago and those guys said they replaced the seals. When the transmission place changed the seals again and it still leaked the mechanic showed me how the passenger axle seemed to be into the differential at a slight angle and that was probably causing the leak. We left it at that until a month or two later I asked it they could put on a rebuilt head and they said yes to that and fixing the transmission leak. I had gotten promised multiple time by them that I would get it back without leaks. Afterwards they denied that agreement and claim the oil leak must be caused by something broken before they took the engine out and it's not their responsibility. Anyway, once the engine was out a thought was that the mounting bracket for the CVJ was bent although not noticable to the eye. The engine that had been taken out the previous year had some years before seen a bad front accident. A thought was that the same CVJ brace had gone onto the replacement engine at that time when it at least got a short block and again last year with the used engine and was presently still causing the leak. I had a brace with the parts from the engine replaced last year and noticed there is a placement tit on the brace. I suggested that tit might not have been in place and a side of the CVJ mounting bracket might not have been sitting flat. No answer on that but I did give them the other brace to put in as well as a new axle while the engine and transaxle was out. There's no leak from the transaxle now. That brace is a hefty piece of steel but this is another block.
Unless the engine put in last October had been in a bad front end as well there isn't any reasonable way this block can have a crack at the power steering or CVJ brackets. Besides if it were a crack at the CVJ mounting bracket bolt holes the oil wouldn't be falling from the inside power steering bolt (with the support pipe) onto the CVJ when the engine is run with no paper towels and the wheels not moving and the CVJ not slinging the oil.
I think I'll go another week sliding a piece of cardboard under the car at work and take it when I leave and next Saturday do the paper towel test again but this time after putting it back together taking it out on the road where oil pressure will be up there. Also, the stresses of a drive might have an effect on the leak.
Bill Heard County, Georgia, deep in the Southland, a few short miles from the setting of the book/movie I WAS A PRISONER ON A GEORGIA CHAIN GANG
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(Had the title wrong.)
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Well I say you should check the o-ring between the timing cover and the engine block.
Here is a good website showing how to do the repair, and why it failed.
http://www.prb2.com/altima/
(also has a good write up on the timing chain guide issue on these motors)
Bill wrote:

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Is there a charge for this website?
The mechanic charged for a new lower gasket kit which covered the timing covers and associated seals and gaskets. The seal you display is I think the seal internal of the timing chain cover and not accessible. Great suggestion except one would need remove the lower timing chain cover to access this. I see what appears to possibly be this displayed seal pressed into the engine block between the two blind threaded bolt holes at that sealed oil pump access port.
Bill
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no charge for the website... looks like some guy just decided to post the repair procedure. I found it on Google. Its also neat that he showed the difference between the old style and the newer beefed up style grommets.
From the description, you do need to remove the lower cover. When I did my crank seal, we had that part of the engine stripped down in less than 30 minutes. Once you remove all of that stuff, its easy to work in there.
When I have pesky issues like your oil leak, I always google for other people who have had the same problem as it is very probable that the problem is common.
t
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So, that's 30 minutes to remove the lower timing cover with the engine in or out of the car?
Bill
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In the car. I have a 93 altima 2.4L.
Remove valve cover Remove alternator Remove engine brackets Remove upper timing cover Loosen A/C Belt Remove crank pulley bolt Remove crank pulley Remove lower timing cover
t
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Very odd. I distinctly recall previously looking at the base of the oil filter pedestal and seeing the edge of a Felpro-like gasket. This morning I decided to change out the pedestal though I was sure the oil was migrating from elsewhere. First thing that registered was that the more difficult to reach of the four bolts, though not _that_ difficult to get a wrench on, wasn't very tight. I get all four bolts out, remove the pedestal, and look for the gasket. Couldn't find it. Still can't. It's possible it's in there someplace but I've no luck finding it. The surface of the pedestal looks very good as if it could have made an almost oil tight seal. When I had returned to the AAMCO in Newnan, GA, about the oil leak after their work, the manager or possibly owner, had the car put up on the lift and said since there was oil all over that the pedestal was cracked and the oil sensor also leaked and it wasn't his responsibility. Well, RTV is drying and no test until tomorrow.
By the way, did I see somewhere that if the top timing chain cover is removed one needs to buy a head gasket set for the upper seal? And I wonder about that idler pulley. I see it's brace is held on by three bolts, that from looking at a spare brace I have here, but getting to two of those three bolts looks like it's almost easier to lift out the engine for access.
Bill
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I havent had to remove the engine in my 93 altima for any reason. If I did, it would be to replace it.
hope you are successful with the oil pedestal. honestly if I were you I would have set the car on fire already.... :) not enough patience.... haha
t
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Sunday afternoon after a round trip to town, it still leaks oil. So, regardless if the mechanic left out the pedestal gasket the leak is from elsewhere.
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