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Thread: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

  1. #1
    DX User Jamnar_V's Avatar
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    Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    As I reported a few months ago (https://www.3geez.com/forum/showthre...ly-got-a-Honda)
    I bought a 1989 Honda Accord LXi that had been sitting for a few years.
    Changed coolant, oil, v-belts and radiator hoses (the rest looked well enough for now).
    Replaced all 4 dry-rotted tires with new ones based on factory specs (195/70R14). It looks like they are too big; the car sits real high, especially in the front. Is that normal?
    Didn't come with a battery so I threw in one of my spares I had sitting around.

    Since it started and ran so good I put it on the road as my daily driver.
    Overall I've been really pleased with the handling, performance and gas mileage.
    Very reliable too.

    However...
    It seems most of the seals on the engine have gotten hard and are disintegrating.
    What started as a small oil leak from somewhere on the driver's side has over the three months I've been driving it become a major leak and has been joined by significant leaks on the passenger side and from the center.
    I've been able to pinpoint them to the front and rear main seals and the valve cover gasket. The front main (driver's side) is the worst and unfortunately where it leaks onto the frame it runs over to leak all over the exhaust system.
    It's one thing to just keep feeding it oil (I do that with my Voyager's transmission) but when I have smoke billowing up from the under the hood every time I stop at a light I get concerned that one of these days it'll catch fire and then I'll have real problems.
    Combine that with the fuel leak I have back at the gas tank (I've already fixed two from the former owner's botched fuel pump replacement ) and it's just a recipe for disaster.
    I decided to park the car for now which is a real shame because I really like the car but sitting at a light with my car on fire doesn't really appeal to me.

    I had already planned on rebuilding the front suspension with new upper control arms, ball joints, bushings and tie rod ends. It creaks and squeaks so bad people will stare when I'm driving through a parking lot.
    Looking at the work involved with this and doing the seals on the engine it seems to me that it would be well to just pull the engine and tranny and replace the seals while they're out of the car and I have good access to all parts. While they're out I could also do the suspension work so I only have to put things back together one time.
    For now, that's my plan and I'm gathering all the parts I need to do this.
    I had not replaced the heater hoses or any of the other miscellaneous hoses since they looked good enough for now. Neither had I replaced the timing belt since it looked like it might have been changed shortly before it was parked by the previous owner. Now that I'm planning on pulling the engine and transmission I'm thinking I should go ahead and replace all those while it's easy access.

    I've seen these timing belt kits that include either or both an oil pump and a water pump.
    I'm pretty sure I'll go ahead and do the oil pump but the water pump seems fine and doesn't get driven by the timing belt. Is it a lot of trouble to change the water pump on these with the engine in the car?
    I'll probably also do the engine and transmission mounts too since so much oil has been splashed on everything.

    Additionally I'll be pulling the blower and duct work from under the dash to get that system working right. At the moment the fan doesn't work at all (there is voltage to the fan) but there's no air blowing from the vents, ever. Every other car I've owned there would be at least a little air coming from the vents even with the fan off when I'm doing 60mph or so. Nothing with this car so I assume a critter had gotten into the duct work and built a nest while the car was parked thus blocking all air flow (and possibly obstructing the fan from turning too). I did manage to get a factory shop manual for the car but the instructions for servicing the duct work aren't as clear as I would like so I'll probably be looking for some help with that.

    Of course I'll be trying to find that last fuel leak and fixing that before it goes back on the road. Might have to drop the tank though for that in which case I'll want to replace all the connecting hoses while I have good access. I would also like to pull the pump and check it and the strainer to see how they look. They work fine now but could have pending issues from sitting. Same for checking the inside of the tank for rust. I can still get a new tank for this right?
    are we having fun yet?
    Jamnar in Virginia

    2000 Saturn SW2 1.9 DOHC, TAAT MP7, 278k
    1997 Plymouth Grand Voyager 3.3, 305k
    waiting for resurrection:
    1989 Honda Accord LXi 2.0, automatic 199k
    1991 Geo Metro
    1985 Ford F250



  2. #2
    LX User Sandwich's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    Get those fuel leaks fixed ASAP, like you say, don't wanna see your project go up in flames before you get to love it. Probably a good idea to get yourself a beefy fire extinguisher anyway, JIC...

    You can't truly tell a timing belt condition visibly... sitting a few years I would not trust an old cam belt one bit. Change that too ASAP and you can avoid a much bigger job if it does break. Defo change the water pump too while you're at it, old ones tend to fail seep water especially when sitting a while. The oil pump is less essential from what I've heard, at the very least I'd change tne gaskets for it though. The water pump is easily changeable with engine in, best do it same time as timing belt.

    New fuel tanks are sourceable in the US, I could only find carb model ones when I was searching for myself though (Injection has necessary baffles). If its been sitting a little rust in the tank isnt unlikely, Id recommend keeping the tank filled to limit the rust that can occur.

    I've been working on a car that sat for a while myself, you've got a good idea of whats ahead, some of the bits I've already done. Looking forward to seeing where you get with it.

    1989 Aerodeck EXI, stored for 13 years, now being brought back to life.
    A 'small' project...

  3. #3
    DX User Jamnar_V's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    So, finally got started a couple weeks ago and managed to get the engine and transmission out of the car. Separated the tranny from the engine and got the engine up on a stand.
    Started pulling things off to get to timing belt and front crank seal.
    I'm willing to bet the previous owner over-torqued the crank pulley bolt and probably didn't lube it first as directed by the shop manual.
    I'm using a pretty stout cordless impact wrench (1200 ft/lbs) and that bolt isn't budging. I did double check that I was trying to turn it the correct direction. I switched to a breaker bar and a cobbled together pulley holder (the one recommended in the factory shop manual seems to still be available from Hondapartsnow but costs $179. More than I can spend at the moment. Of course the pulley broke but the bolt still didn't move.
    I can get another pulley new from Dorman so that in itself is not a show stopper.
    However, the project is stalled until I can get this bolt loose (assuming the pulley isn't rust welded to the crank).
    Any suggestions?
    are we having fun yet?
    Jamnar in Virginia

    2000 Saturn SW2 1.9 DOHC, TAAT MP7, 278k
    1997 Plymouth Grand Voyager 3.3, 305k
    waiting for resurrection:
    1989 Honda Accord LXi 2.0, automatic 199k
    1991 Geo Metro
    1985 Ford F250

  4. #4

    ShiRen's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    An actual air impact and heat if its till not coming off. There is no "overtorquing" the crank bolt, they're notorious for flying off since the engine spins counter clockwise, happened to my 99 accord when I was a teen, luckily didn't hurt the crank. Its either give it all the ugga duggas, locktite, or live dangerously.
    And yes, the pulley is probably going to be more of a bitch.

  5. #5
    DX User Jamnar_V's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    Prior to asking my next door neighbor if I could borrow his air impact wrench (and compressor, and hose ) I talked to my wife about it and she suggested that since the pulley was trashed anyway to just hack/weld whatever so I could get a holding device attached.
    So I took a big drill bit and bored a hole through so I could insert a heavy rod from the outside in toward the center.
    That gave me enough leverage to get the pulley bolt loose.
    Once I did though I discovered that the pulley could be rotated about a degree or two without moving the crankshaft.
    There's supposed to be a woodruff key holding that thing in place so I figured it was either missing or damaged.
    Pulled the pulley off and it turns out the original key was lost and the previous owner cut off a piece of an allen wrench and used that as a substitute.
    Sloppy fit and might explain the over-torqued bolt. I didn't find any evidence that the threads had been lubricated either - bone dry.
    At least the threads in the crank don't seem to be damaged.
    are we having fun yet?
    Jamnar in Virginia

    2000 Saturn SW2 1.9 DOHC, TAAT MP7, 278k
    1997 Plymouth Grand Voyager 3.3, 305k
    waiting for resurrection:
    1989 Honda Accord LXi 2.0, automatic 199k
    1991 Geo Metro
    1985 Ford F250

  6. #6

    conozo's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    Thats pretty impressive.

    1988 Honda Accord LSDX-I

  7. #7

    ShiRen's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    Jesus. Ok, that is a special exception. Glad it all came off. Don't put that bolt back without making sure shes not going anywhere though

  8. #8
    DX User Jamnar_V's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    Checked the crank slot yesterday, looks fine.
    Pulled the 1st main cap so I could get the old, leaking front seal out without scratching the crank (the seal is sandwiched between the block and the cap). The main bearing looks great so I feel I can keep running the existing bearings. I do need to find out if the the cap bolts can be reused before I tighten it back up.
    Meanwhile I grabbed the NOS oil pan to cover things up and discovered some of the bolt holes are out of alignment. Not hard to fix at this stage but annoying just the same.
    Went to install the new oil pump and discovered my tube of sealant that I just bought last month is missing. Guess I'll have to get more.
    Last edited by Jamnar_V; 10-15-2021 at 08:51 AM. Reason: sp

  9. #9

    ShiRen's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    Tip: You can pull a main seal out with a pick if you don't want to disturb the bearings. Typically your main bearings are going to be fine unless the car was starved of oil at some point, rod bearings are much more of an issue, but on this engine most of your bottom end wear will be on the piston skirts/cylinder walls, we have a big fat piston stroke and they tend to rev like a honda.

  10. #10
    DX User Jamnar_V's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    With the extreme oil leakage I was concerned that it did get oil starved at some point. I am going to try to get a closer look at the pistons and cylinder walls tomorrow when I have good daylight. For today I got the new front seal and new oil pump installed. As for using a pick, normally that's how I would do it but I had to confirm the general condition of the bearings given the unknown history of this engine. I probably will use a pick on the rear main.

  11. #11

    Dr_Snooz's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    Before I swapped to stick shift, I dropped my 4" impact socket extension in the timing hole in the bell housing. It measures maybe 5/8" in diameter and the flared end prevents it from falling all the way in. It would jam against the drive plate making relatively easy work of the crank pulley bolt. Not sure that trick would have worked in your case though. Glad you got it figured out.
    Dr_Snooz

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis


    1989 Honda Accord LX-i Coupe, 240k miles, MT swap, rear disc swap

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  12. #12
    DX User Jamnar_V's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    Got the new water pump, the new timing belt and tensioner installed.
    Also got my new crank pulley and put it on but didn't tighten the bolt yet just so I have a way of rotating things as needed.
    Looks nice:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    are we having fun yet?
    Jamnar in Virginia

    2000 Saturn SW2 1.9 DOHC, TAAT MP7, 278k
    1997 Plymouth Grand Voyager 3.3, 305k
    waiting for resurrection:
    1989 Honda Accord LXi 2.0, automatic 199k
    1991 Geo Metro
    1985 Ford F250

  13. #13
    DX User Jamnar_V's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    I discovered the existing dust gasket on the timing cover was trashed and the grommets were all missing so I ordered those and got them today.
    Tried to replace the cam seal before putting the cover on and discovered some interesting things.
    First of all when I removed the cam pulley bolt there was some kind of plastic filler behind it.
    Almost like someone tried to glue the pulley onto the camshaft.
    After wrestling with the pulley for a while I got it off and discovered why.
    Apparently the previous owner lost not only the crank key but also the cam key.
    A piece of random metal had been cut and filed to roughly fit the slot and from the looks of it hammered in and filed down flush with the pulley face.
    Additionally the pulley fits quite loosely on the camshaft now that the filler is gone.
    I don't know if either the pulley or the cam is salvageable.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    All I wanted to do was stop the leaks. What else am I going to find?!
    I hate to think I might have to replace the cam but the pulley fits so loose I can wobble it out of line at least 3 or 4 degrees.
    are we having fun yet?
    Jamnar in Virginia

    2000 Saturn SW2 1.9 DOHC, TAAT MP7, 278k
    1997 Plymouth Grand Voyager 3.3, 305k
    waiting for resurrection:
    1989 Honda Accord LXi 2.0, automatic 199k
    1991 Geo Metro
    1985 Ford F250

  14. #14
    DX User Jamnar_V's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    On a different note, I received the new front strut cartridges yesterday for the front suspension rebuild. When I went to compare them to the existing ones I noticed that they are about 2" shorter.
    I had noticed that the car sat really high up front, almost like someone had tried to mimic the "squatting dog" look that's so popular with the pickup owners these days.
    It's nice to know that it'll be leveled out once I get the new ones installed but I wonder how it ended up with those tall ones.
    Here's a pic of how it sat before I pulled everything apart. Check out how much more clearance there is above the front tires compared to the back.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    I expect the handling to be much improved once I get everything back together.
    Last edited by Jamnar_V; 10-22-2021 at 11:42 AM. Reason: sp
    are we having fun yet?
    Jamnar in Virginia

    2000 Saturn SW2 1.9 DOHC, TAAT MP7, 278k
    1997 Plymouth Grand Voyager 3.3, 305k
    waiting for resurrection:
    1989 Honda Accord LXi 2.0, automatic 199k
    1991 Geo Metro
    1985 Ford F250

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    ShiRen's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    Yikes

  16. #16
    LXi User InAccordance's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamnar_V View Post
    I discovered the existing dust gasket on the timing cover was trashed and the grommets were all missing so I ordered those and got them today.
    Tried to replace the cam seal before putting the cover on and discovered some interesting things.
    First of all when I removed the cam pulley bolt there was some kind of plastic filler behind it.
    Almost like someone tried to glue the pulley onto the camshaft.
    After wrestling with the pulley for a while I got it off and discovered why.
    Apparently the previous owner lost not only the crank key but also the cam key.
    A piece of random metal had been cut and filed to roughly fit the slot and from the looks of it hammered in and filed down flush with the pulley face.
    Additionally the pulley fits quite loosely on the camshaft now that the filler is gone.
    I don't know if either the pulley or the cam is salvageable.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    All I wanted to do was stop the leaks. What else am I going to find?!
    I hate to think I might have to replace the cam but the pulley fits so loose I can wobble it out of line at least 3 or 4 degrees.
    Could always have the pulley welded to the cam. I know it sounds ungodly, but if it's damaged THAT much, can't really make it any worse. It's also what the Taurus SHO guys have to do lol
    Originally posted by ShiRen:
    Nice car or not, nobody likes losing a race to an old 4 door Honda.

  17. #17


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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamnar_V View Post
    I discovered the existing dust gasket on the timing cover was trashed and the grommets were all missing so I ordered those and got them today.
    Tried to replace the cam seal before putting the cover on and discovered some interesting things.
    First of all when I removed the cam pulley bolt there was some kind of plastic filler behind it.
    Almost like someone tried to glue the pulley onto the camshaft.
    After wrestling with the pulley for a while I got it off and discovered why.
    Apparently the previous owner lost not only the crank key but also the cam key.
    A piece of random metal had been cut and filed to roughly fit the slot and from the looks of it hammered in and filed down flush with the pulley face.
    Additionally the pulley fits quite loosely on the camshaft now that the filler is gone.
    I don't know if either the pulley or the cam is salvageable.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    All I wanted to do was stop the leaks. What else am I going to find?!
    I hate to think I might have to replace the cam but the pulley fits so loose I can wobble it out of line at least 3 or 4 degrees.
    I see the stock cams list on Rockauto on/off. Bad enough you could get a machine shop to re mill the key slot and broach the pulley next size up.

    Some company makes ajustable cam gears again new, I dont think I have seen a stock one for sale in a while.

    Whoever had that car before you should really be outted thats alot of very terrible work.
    1988 Lxi owner since August 1995
    336k miles running strong!
    Now running E85.

    Oldblueaccord <<< MY YOUTUBE PAGE!

  18. #18
    DX User Jamnar_V's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    The previous owner passed away so that's a dead end there.
    As far as shoddy work you should see the paint job. Looks like it was done with a roller.

  19. #19
    LXi User InAccordance's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamnar_V View Post
    The previous owner passed away so that's a dead end there.
    As far as shoddy work you should see the paint job. Looks like it was done with a roller.
    Was that a pun?! lmao
    Originally posted by ShiRen:
    Nice car or not, nobody likes losing a race to an old 4 door Honda.

  20. #20
    DX User Jamnar_V's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    Got a used cam and pulley. (Thanks ShiRen)
    The old pulley had a stepped internal diameter, fitting loosely and wobbling on the shaft.
    My guess is that the previous owner had installed it loosely and ran it for a while which wore out both the cam and pulley where they touched.
    The "new" cam and pulley fit each other much better.
    I did get the cam installed ok not long after my last post.
    Got the new timing belt back on and for the first time in probably years the dust cover is back on correctly.
    As soon as I did that work went crazy with the overtime and Saturdays combined with wife having health issues resulting in multiple dr. visits. That put everything hold for almost a month.

    Finally got to work on this engine again today (it was a beautiful day for it - around 70 and sunny).
    Plan was to pull the oil catch system, clean it up and check if it needs further service, then to finally replace the rear main seal.
    The oil catch can was fine and all the seals looked really good so just cleaned it up and reinstalled it all. I did find that the wrong PCV valve was used so I will be replacing that before the engine goes back in.
    As for the rear main seal...
    First I had to get the engine off of the stand since I couldn't get good access otherwise.
    Once that was done and the motor was hanging from the hoist (I didn't have a good way to set it down without causing damage) I tried to pull the old seal.
    My seal puller couldn't catch hold - seal was too hard. Ended up pulling the main cap and wrestled the seal off that way. The outer part of the seal ripped loose and stayed behind. Apparently some kind of hard, black, permanent gasket sealer was used to glue the seal in place. Spent about an hour carefully scraping the remains out of the bearing caps (with the motor hanging from the hoist I had to hold it with one hand while using the razor knife with the other - tedious). By the time I finished that it was dark so I put the cap back on (will torque it later) and the oil pan and called it a night.
    I'm starting to think that there's no part of this car that hasn't been messed with by the previous owner and not in a good way either.
    I keep reminding myself that it did run and drive great and should do so again once I'm done. I just hope it doesn't end up taking until next year to get it back on the road.
    are we having fun yet?
    Jamnar in Virginia

    2000 Saturn SW2 1.9 DOHC, TAAT MP7, 278k
    1997 Plymouth Grand Voyager 3.3, 305k
    waiting for resurrection:
    1989 Honda Accord LXi 2.0, automatic 199k
    1991 Geo Metro
    1985 Ford F250

  21. #21
    DX User Jamnar_V's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    I did go back later and properly torque the main cap.
    I've otherwise been stalled on this project being otherwise busy with keeping my woodstove fed (cutting, hauling, splitting, etc. of firewood) and stopping to make emergency repairs to the Saturn SW2 I'm using while the Honda is out of action.
    Oh, yes and I had to do an emergency engine and transmission replacement on our 97 Plymouth Voyager.
    I had mentioned to my next door neighbor that my van broke down and he said he had recently installed a lift in his garage and that I was welcome to use it to get my van back on the road.
    With heat, shelter from the rain, a concrete floor and permission to use any of his tools (which includes two massive, overstuffed tool chests, air compressor, press, tire changing and balancing equipment, etc.) I was able to get it knocked out quickly and in comfort.
    If only I could get the Honda over to his garage now I could make short work of getting it back on the road but I've already got the entire front suspension out and in pieces.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    With the weather getting warmer I hope to get back on this project because I really need this car back on the road.
    Last edited by Jamnar_V; 04-03-2022 at 07:59 AM. Reason: add pic
    are we having fun yet?
    Jamnar in Virginia

    2000 Saturn SW2 1.9 DOHC, TAAT MP7, 278k
    1997 Plymouth Grand Voyager 3.3, 305k
    waiting for resurrection:
    1989 Honda Accord LXi 2.0, automatic 199k
    1991 Geo Metro
    1985 Ford F250

  22. #22

    Dr_Snooz's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    Hope you get it running again soon.
    Dr_Snooz

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis


    1989 Honda Accord LX-i Coupe, 240k miles, MT swap, rear disc swap

    Shop manual downloads available here: CLICK TO VIEW

  23. #23
    DX User Jamnar_V's Avatar
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    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    Finally got back to work on it. Putting some of the brackets back on and being reminded that when I was taking things apart a few nuts and bolts fell in the gravel, under the wooden pallets that the car is resting on.
    Not the end of the world but annoying for sure.
    While I'm thinking about where to get replacements I look up and see that 20 feet of roofing is peeled back on my home.
    The high winds we had over the past few days must have done it.
    To make matters worse - rain is coming.
    Covered the engine back up, put away the tools and up on the roof I went.

    I've got a 4 day weekend coming up. Surely I can get something done then.
    are we having fun yet?
    Jamnar in Virginia

    2000 Saturn SW2 1.9 DOHC, TAAT MP7, 278k
    1997 Plymouth Grand Voyager 3.3, 305k
    waiting for resurrection:
    1989 Honda Accord LXi 2.0, automatic 199k
    1991 Geo Metro
    1985 Ford F250

  24. #24

    Dr_Snooz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Vehicle
    1989 Accord LX-i
    Location
    Fresno, California
    Posts
    10,638

    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    Sounds like you have your hands full. Be safe and I hope you get it fixed soon.
    Dr_Snooz

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis


    1989 Honda Accord LX-i Coupe, 240k miles, MT swap, rear disc swap

    Shop manual downloads available here: CLICK TO VIEW

  25. #25


    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Vehicle
    88 LXi
    Location
    Knoxville TN
    Posts
    4,981

    Re: Leaking 1 quart of oil a day was too much! (and a little unsafe)

    its been the windys spring here in the south as well.

    Hope you get your car going and its nice your neighbors can help you out.
    1988 Lxi owner since August 1995
    336k miles running strong!
    Now running E85.

    Oldblueaccord <<< MY YOUTUBE PAGE!

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