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Moderatus Puisne
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I changed the oil in my 1993 Escort LX last weekend, and noticed that the sump had some oil on it -- not a lot, enough to drip maybe, two little drops on the driveway. It was maybe 1/2 a quart down after 6 months of use, not even at the "add" line yet.

Looked around with a flashlight and so far as I can tell it's just coming from the pan gasket. It's was record heat (for the sound, anyway, 95 degrees) last week and the car was running a little hot, but not a lot -- maybe 210 water temp, by my eyeball.

Had to drive today to some meetings and noticed no additional significant oil dripping.

Does this just happen to older pan gaskets sometimes? The engine has 100-something-thousand miles on it. I'm not expecing miracles out of it, just want it to keep running.
 

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Good news everyone!
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Probably nothing to be concerned about until it becomes worse, but it will eventually need repair. I am pretty bad about replacing gaskets, they annoy me. The oil pan is probably a huge PITA to replace on that car too.
 

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Fini les ecrase-"manets"!
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Gaskets can get leaky when they get old, and uneven heating can make things warp a little, allowing oil out. Could be nothing a new gasket wouldn't fix.

But you could also have a crack either in the pan or the block. Unless your engine is squeaky clean (and maybe not even then), you'd be unlikely to be able to detect the crack. Or you could have a leak somewhere completely different--the oil sump is going to be your low point, so a leak high up could easily wind up dripping off down there. And again, unless your engine is pretty darn clean it would be hard to tell the difference.

Another thing that can cause that (not to scare you too much), is if you've got a head gasket problem and you're getting hot coolant or steam into your oil system. The resulting pressure increase can cause leaks in places that wouldn't leak under normal circumstances. In a car (where you typically have a dipstick that's not screwed in), you'll get leaking around the top of the dipstick tube rather than elsewhere on the engine.

I only mention this because you said something about engine temps being a little elevated. But if you didn't see any coolant or other foreign substance in your waste oil on the weekend, and your car's exhaust doesn't smell a bit like an alcoholic hobo when it's hot, then you're probably fine on that score.

I'd say keep and eye on the drip, and on the engine temperature, and try not to worry too much unless you see a consistent leak. Oh, and park over a fresh piece of newspaper every couple of days so you can really tell how old the drips are.
 

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Good news everyone!
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I would think if he had a cracked block or blown head gasket he'd see steam or white smoke in his exhaust, and his oil would be contaminated with coolant and would be white and milky. I imagine that it's just a gasket that's leaking because it's old.
 

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p != b
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could be the gasket as you guessed.
could be a crack as bikeboy guessed.
could be a seal or gasket somewhere else on the engine seeping as well - I've seen both front and rear main seals leaking just a little, both end up directly on the oil pan.
 

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p != b
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2cflyr said:
there's liquid gasket fix you can get at your auto parts place. go get some. pour it into your engine. stop worrying.
or, just keep it topped up with oil, rather than crappy 'gasket fix' stuff that doesn't work and probably shortens the life of the engine too.
 

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p != b
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bikeboy389 said:
smell a bit like an alcoholic hobo when it's hot
might be kinder to use "he's" or "she's", doncha think?

and anyways, how should arg know what a hot alcoholic hobo smells like?
 

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Moderatus Puisne
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I doubt it's the head, reservoir's full and there's no smell, smoke, whatever. I'm modestly passable at auto-wrenching basics.

I'll bet it's a main seal or something, the GF's old pile lost a quart a month for two years, probably the world hates her but, who's counting now? My sister's old jeep was worse.

This is a $1200 car, so if I do lose the head it's the wrecker.

Mostly I was curious about if it were common for old-ish cars to weep a little oil when it got hot, and then settle down and what not.
 

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Rub it............
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I used to own a 1991 Escort LX, the oil pan is a huge PITA to do. I'd only worry about it if it starts to get worse.

Since you were only down 1/2 qt and not to the add mark, I'd not worry about it. When a gasket gets older, it starts to loose its flexibility and becomes brittle from the hot/cold cycles of the engine. So an engine oil seep will occur. When that seep becomes a gusher, is when you need to start worrying about it.

I highly doubt you have a cracked block or cracked oil pan, as you would see huge amounts of oil on the ground, and your oil level light would be on, telling you to add oil all the time. I've seen cracked blocks and oil pans. Not pretty. Even with a cracked block, you would have over heating, driveability issues and a slew of other problems.


As for it running hot, the 210 mark is pretty much normal for most vehicles. It will run warmer than usual in the heat, and especially when running the A/C. As long as you keep your eye on the coolant level and the temp guage, you will be fine.
 

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could it be an old copper washer on the oil drain plug or is it coming higher up near the gasket? the washers need changing every few years.

could be a good opportunity to buy those new ramps you've been eyeballin'....
 

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Don woodie 'bout it...

With a 93 Escort being 1/2 quart down in 6 months time and it isn't smoking or leaking significantly, you're fine. Just keep an eye on the oil level and other fluid levels and keep changing your oil at a sensible interval and it'l keep running, I doubt you want to get into a main seal job or even a pan gasket job for a small drip like this with an older car, just keep driving it.
 

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yeah, ha ha, you should see the driveway under the Buick.

yer fine, just drive it and keep an eye on the levels. My 94 wagon had the same problem but it wasn't bad enough to actually worry about
 

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More carbon fiber please!
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Just be happy you have not eaten the timing belt/water pump yet! I used to love those when I was a flat-rate tech. Less than an hour to do a job that paid 3.5 hours. :)
 

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donuts?
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a 1993 with a little oil leak, really? you are worried about that? you need a new gasket - under 10 bucks and 1/2 hour to replace.

pro tip - do it when you change the oil!
 

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it could also be the oil-pressure sending unit....I have had them drip a little
 

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Rub it............
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asciibaron said:
a 1993 with a little oil leak, really? you are worried about that? you need a new gasket - under 10 bucks and 1/2 hour to replace.

pro tip - do it when you change the oil!

Not a 1/2 job on an Escort. Book time is around 2 hrs. So consider longer if never attempted before.
 
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