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 Sudden Mystery Oil Leak from front axle?
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Mos6502
V4 Beginner

USA
90 Posts

Posted - 29 Aug 2016 :  03:15:18 Show Profile Reply with Quote
Since buying the 95, I've been happy that I could finally throw away the big piece of cardboard I had to keep under my 96. Until today. The car had been parked for only a short period of time, but when I came back out I noticed two small puddles under the passenger side (LHD car) front. At first I was afraid that it was brake fluid, but I rubbed some of the oil on my fingers and it felt and smelled like motor oil. It was all over the axle boot, the inside of the wheel, and the drive axle. I opened the hood and looked inside. There was some oil in the engine under pan, and oil all over the drive axle on the inside of the engine bay too. But the engine looks dry. I didn't see any leaks from the valve covers or anywhere else that would be obvious - and further no idea how it was making its way onto the axle (and then I presume outward towards the wheel?). I'll have to get a mirror to check the underside of the oil filter, since that's the only thing I couldn't see from above, but I am stumped by this and very disappointed that my leak free car seems to have sprung a major leak from somewhere.

Any ideas, or similar experiences, please chime in, thanks.

john-saab
Administrator

United Kingdom
2648 Posts

Posted - 29 Aug 2016 :  08:28:47 Show Profile Reply with Quote
Sounds like a gearbox output seal leak. The seals can be replaced without removing the box. It's a tight squeeze but it can be done.I have the seals on the shelf if required.
'73 96 (Vernon),'74 95 (Veronica)plus 4 other 95's and 2 96's
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Mos6502
V4 Beginner

USA
90 Posts

Posted - 29 Aug 2016 :  09:36:13 Show Profile Reply with Quote
I'll have to take a closer look, maybe that's where the gear oil was leaking from instead of from the drain plug. It doesn't sound like a fun job. Haynes manual is vague as usual - from the manual it sounds like the output shaft can simply be pried out of the transmission? Is that correct?

Edited by - Mos6502 on 29 Aug 2016 09:36:48
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Mr Burrrrrrrrrrt
V4 Fanatic

United Kingdom
330 Posts

Posted - 29 Aug 2016 :  12:34:11 Show Profile Visit Mr Burrrrrrrrrrt's Homepage Reply with Quote
If it's motor oil, is it not more likely to be crankshaft oil seal? either way, oil is being slung off the clutch/flywheel which is why it's all over that side.
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Mos6502
V4 Beginner

USA
90 Posts

Posted - 29 Aug 2016 :  13:14:13 Show Profile Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Mr Burrrrrrrrrrt
If it's motor oil, is it not more likely to be crankshaft oil seal? either way, oil is being slung off the clutch/flywheel which is why it's all over that side.



I hope not. I would think if the crank seal was leaking I'd see oil coming out through the vent plate on the top of the clutch housing as this happened on my old 96 which didn't leak that much oil. Possibly the previous owner put motor oil in the gearbox, or the motor is leaking from somewhere else.

Previously I had noticed drops of oil immediately under the drain plug on the gearbox, so I was planning on draining it to try and and get a better seal on the plug anyway. I guess I'll find out what it is filled with soon enough.
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andydeans3
V4 Mad

United Kingdom
961 Posts

Posted - 29 Aug 2016 :  19:46:42 Show Profile Reply with Quote
Mos6502

Gearbox oil is very very smelly stuff, it should be relatively easy to tell if it's gearbox, or engine oil. (unless as you suggest someone has put engine oil, in the gearbox).

I had a similar problem with engine oil being sprayed around the engine compartment when I first bought my 96 in 2013, if I drove at high speed. If I tootled at 55 mph, no problem, if I pushed her to 65-70 mph+, I had engine oil all over the lower part of the engine bay. It was not coming out of the vent at the top of the gearbox.
When we removed the engine to change it, the inside of the bell housing was literally plastered with engine oil.
Engine oil passing the rear crank seal is often caused by excessive crankcase pressure.
First thing to check is that the engine breather is clear. Check the piping going into the underside of the air-filter, from the rocker cover. Also check the check valve at the manifold, where the breather pipe connects.
Check the compression on all your cylinders. If one is low, it could be passing pressure, past the piston, down to the crankcase.
When we looked at the rear seal on my engine, it had clearly been passing oil.
I have the engine apart now, and the bores are in good nick. Only required honing, not a re-bore, but all 4 top piston rings were broken, when I removed the pistons. This may have been my source of excessive crank pressure.
Hope this helps.
Andy


1978 LHD SAAB 96
1978 MGB Roadster
2008 LHD "Classic" Renault Twingo
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Mos6502
V4 Beginner

USA
90 Posts

Posted - 30 Aug 2016 :  02:06:09 Show Profile Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by andydeans3
Mos6502

Gearbox oil is very very smelly stuff, it should be relatively easy to tell if it's gearbox, or engine oil. (unless as you suggest someone has put engine oil, in the gearbox).

I had a similar problem with engine oil being sprayed around the engine compartment when I first bought my 96 in 2013, if I drove at high speed. If I tootled at 55 mph, no problem, if I pushed her to 65-70 mph+, I had engine oil all over the lower part of the engine bay. It was not coming out of the vent at the top of the gearbox.
When we removed the engine to change it, the inside of the bell housing was literally plastered with engine oil.
Engine oil passing the rear crank seal is often caused by excessive crankcase pressure.
First thing to check is that the engine breather is clear. Check the piping going into the underside of the air-filter, from the rocker cover. Also check the check valve at the manifold, where the breather pipe connects.
Check the compression on all your cylinders. If one is low, it could be passing pressure, past the piston, down to the crankcase.
When we looked at the rear seal on my engine, it had clearly been passing oil.
I have the engine apart now, and the bores are in good nick. Only required honing, not a re-bore, but all 4 top piston rings were broken, when I removed the pistons. This may have been my source of excessive crank pressure.
Hope this helps.
Andy


1978 LHD SAAB 96
1978 MGB Roadster
2008 LHD "Classic" Renault Twingo



Thanks for the reply. I think this might be it. It didn't leak when I drove it 190 miles after buying it (mostly going about 60mph but with intermittent traffic) and it didn't leak all week when I was driving it slowly, but it leaked a lot after highway driving yesterday. I noticed the hose that connects the rocker cover to the air cleaner was split open and actually picked up a replacement but haven't installed it yet, so that may very well be the source of the problem.

I did look at the driveshafts today, and the part where they go into the transaxle is actually about the only dry thing on that side of the engine compartment, so I think I can rule out the output shaft oil seal.

Edited by - Mos6502 on 30 Aug 2016 02:07:37
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Mos6502
V4 Beginner

USA
90 Posts

Posted - 11 Sep 2016 :  23:14:13 Show Profile Reply with Quote
Replaced the split hose but...

today the car left a small puddle after only a couple hours of sitting, so I've got to get serious. The oil looked clean which is worrying too, as most of the small drips are black after running around in the under-pan of the engine compartment and aging for a while. The puddle was directly under the gearbox drain plug, which still makes me strongly suspicious that that is where the oil is coming from, but I also checked the engine oil and it was noticeable lower than it was a week ago. I'll try the simplest thing first, drain the gearbox, use PTFE tape on the drain plug threads, and hope that solves the problem. If that's not it, I guess the engine will have to come out for a new crank seal, not too happy about that considering the car was clean and practically leak free when I picked it up.
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Mos6502
V4 Beginner

USA
90 Posts

Posted - 13 Sep 2016 :  18:56:15 Show Profile Reply with Quote
Drained and refilled the gearbox. The drain plug threads were pretty sorry, so using tape should help those, but it looks like that's not the source of most of the oil. I'll have to pull the engine :\
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cassie jones
V4 Beginner

United Kingdom
93 Posts

Posted - 11 Apr 2017 :  22:00:31 Show Profile Reply with Quote
hi John Saab do you still have the output shaft seals available please been looking for one for ages.
thanks

cassie
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