Timing cover gasket leaks can be one of the trickiest leaks to fix. Most leaks leave obvious indications in specific places that make it quick to tell what the problem is– for example when your oil pan is leaking it will leak oil on the ground right under your oil pan. But a timing cover gasket leak can spread oil all over your engine. It can leak at some times and not others and leave drips in odd places, leaving you wondering what the problem is.
Diagnosing the Problem
Before you worry about having a leak in your timing cover gasket leak, you should know that not all vehicles have timing belts. Some vehicles are equipped with a timing belt, which is mounted external to the engine’s lubrication system, so your engine won’t have a timing cover gasket to leak. Others have a timing chain, which have a cover over the chain and drive gears to contain the engine oil so it is very possible that is where your leak is coming from. You can learn more about how timing belts and chains work in our last article.
If you do have a timing cover, it will surround the entire timing chain. The timing chain whips oil from the crank all the way up to the top of your engine which, in turn, means that signs of a leak in the cover could appear anywhere from the bottom to the top of your engine. This makes timing cover leaks extremely difficult to diagnose if you’re not a well-trained technician.
The timing cover gasket can be fairly expensive to replace due to its location and all of the parts and accessories surrounding it. Oftentimes, other parts like the alternator, power steering pump, and air conditioning compressor must be moved or removed to replace or repair the timing cover gasket. All these things add a lot of labor to the process and make replacing the gasket with a relatively expensive maintenance item.
Beware of Quick Fixes
If you think you may have a timing cover gasket leak, but don’t want to pay the high price to replace the gasket, it’s tempting to buy “Stop Oil Leak” fluids. These additives can be added to your engine oil and claim to “restore” your timing cover gasket to its original shape and size sealing the leak and keeping your car running without a trip to the mechanic. But these products tend to do more harm than good. Products like these are only band-aid fixes– because they don’t fix the root of the problem, you will eventually have to pay for a replacement and the temporary solution can damage other parts of the engine in the meantime.
If you suspect that your timing belt may be leaking, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician at V&F. Our expert mechanics use the latest diagnostic equipment, and high-quality CARQUEST auto parts, to make sure we get the job done right. Plus, our auto repair services are backed by an industry-leading 3 year / 36,000-mile warranty on parts and labor. Call us today at (413) 314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.