Mechanics

98 OIL LEAK

1998 Chrysler Cirrus • 4 cylinder • 107,000 miles

I have a 98 Cirrus. Was told there is a pretty sizable oil leak which is soaking the crank shaft and timer belt/oil sensor. Was told it would be $880 plus tax. Is this a fair estimate?
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Staticgoat
July 14, 2011.




I suspect you mean the crank shaft oil seal is leaking and oil is getting onto the timing belt. You don't want to risk anything happening to the timing belt on this engine as that will lead to very expensive repairs to the cylinder head and valves. If you have been losing oil at a pretty good rate, get it fixed. If just a little spotting was noticed during a routine inspection, it might not be that serious. A second opinion might be in order. The estimate seems a little high but this is a rather difficult job on this model car. They are probably also going to replace that timing belt, (very wise idea at the mileage listed), and the water pump which helps hold the belt tight.
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Caradiodoc
Jul 14, 2011.
Yes. According to them, it is the crank shaft oil seal messing with that and the timing belt. Would this problem cause my car to die while driving? I was going around 25 mph, and the car just shut off. It wouldn't turn back on again. (Kept trying to turn over but wouldn't, until after 5-10 minutes, it started again). They said a crank sensor with oil on it could have caused this. They also say continuous oil on the timing belt could destroy it, which would then render my engine worthless. Is all of this true? They mentioned that they would replace the water pump if they do the job. Made no mention of replacing the timing belt. Thanks for your reply. Very much appreciated.

Tiny
Staticgoat
Jul 14, 2011.
Sounds like they know what they're doing but as is often the problem with mechanics, verbal communication is not their strong point.

Everything they told you about the timing belt is fairly accurate, but if it breaks, the engine is not "worthless"; it simply will need expensive repairs. The best way to avoid that is by having the timing belt replaced well BEFORE it breaks. There is a recommended replacement interval spelled out in the owner's manual. Because of the potential for high-cost repairs, I wouldn't wait as long as that recommendation specifies.

Besides breaking, that belt can jump a few teeth on one sprocket. If it jumps only one tooth, the Check Engine light will turn on and there will be a diagnostic fault code stored in the Engine Computer's memory. Engine power will be down too. If the belt jumps two teeth, the computer will shut the engine down to protect it from damaging the valves. In that case, it will not start after cooling down as yours is doing. If the belt jumps three teeth, the moving pistons will hit any valves that are open and bend them. That's when things get expensive. When the belt completely breaks, some valves are wide open and as the pistons coast to a stop, they hit those valves and cause the damage.

Oil on the timing belt is never good, but it won't lead to immediate failure. Oil degrades rubber parts over time.

As for the stalling problem, and it restarts after a brief cooling period, that is the classic symptom of a failing crankshaft position sensor or camshaft position sensor. Oil on them is irrelevant because they work through magnetism. Dirt and oil don't affect their operation.

Regardless of who to believe about what causes which problem, at 107,000 miles, if the timing belt has never been replaced, get 'er done. That's cheap insurance to prevent costlier problems later. It is customary to replace the water pump too at the same time. Either the water pump OR the timing belt are fairly involved repairs and both require disassembling the same things so you might as well do both at the same time. Also, the water pump pulley is one of the idler pulleys that helps keep the timing belt tight and in alignment to prevent wear. NOT replacing it would be penny-wise and dollar-foolish.

I feel better about the estimate knowing it includes the water pump and timing belt. You might want to call around for a second estimate, but the first shop has more diagnostic time involved already so their estimate will likely be more accurate.

Caradiodoc
Jul 14, 2011.
Thanks again for taking the time to reply with that amount of depth. The car is due up for inspection in August, so he recommended checking out how everything else looks before doing such a big job to make sure it would be worth it. He feels the car isn't worth saving. Says the ball joints have close to 1" space, suspension problems, control arm, valve leaks, etc, all in ll throwing an additional $1000-$1500 on top of the $880. The Kelly Blue Book Value is $1500-$2500 depending on condition. It just sucks, because again, 107k miles isn't a lot at all. I don't know. Kind of at a cross road with this. I am kind of at a loss as to how all of this could be wrong with that kind of mileage, and when I take it to get servied whenever there is a problem (with the exception of this oil problem as I knew it would be way pricey.) Anyway, thanks again for the insight.

Tiny
Staticgoat
Jul 14, 2011.

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