Major Oil Leak!

Tiny
THE LORAX
  • MEMBER
  • 1995 DODGE CARAVAN
  • 3.8L
  • V6
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 150 MILES
Hello. My 1995 Dodge Caravan 3.3L just started leaking oil in a major way. (One drip per 10 seconds or so. ) I cleaned the engine today. I'm pretty sure it's coming out of the right side of the engine (left, if you're facing it) below the distributor cap. See image. Hopefully the image will make up for my lack of knowledge about car engines. Thanks in advance if you can offer an help.
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Friday, March 13th, 2015 AT 5:20 PM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
The 3.3 / 3.8L engines don't have distributors. The 3.0L does. If that's what you have, there's an o-ring seal on its base, but there's no pressure on the oil there so it shouldn't leak that fast. A valve cover gasket can leak that fast, but on the 3.0L, those are reusable. All you have to do is tighten the two bolts in the center of it about a half a turn each. If they're real lose, you can go a full turn. Don't overdo it because that can crush the cover and make the gaskets more likely to leak.

The 3.0L also has camshaft seals on both side of the engine. They don't leak often but I suppose one could leak as fast as you described.

Your photo didn't show up so I can't look at what you found leaking. I'll be back tomorrow to see how you're doing.
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Friday, March 13th, 2015 AT 7:21 PM
Tiny
THE LORAX
  • MEMBER
Yeah.. Thanks. It's a 94 with a 3.0L. I'm not sure why the sticker inside the engine says 95 with a 3.3.

I tried to include the image again.

Another guy (who saw the image) told me it was probably the camshaft seal, and that I could replace it with a difficulty rating of 7/10. But I'm a complete novice and I'm a little daunted by trying this. I included what he said at the bottom of this text.

I have ordered the Haynes manual.. I do not own lifts yet, but I'll probably get them.

"The cam seal will require removing the timing cover, the timing belt, and then the camshaft sprocket and pull out seal and install new one by pressing into place. It is time consuming and you must make sure you set the timing correctly when reinstalling the belt or you can bend the engine valves when you crank it the first time"

Thanks for your time,
Greg
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Saturday, March 14th, 2015 AT 5:34 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Before I even read your last paragraph, as soon as you confirmed you have a 3.0L, I was going to start with, "this is not an interference engine, so if you mess something up, there will be no damage done to the valves or anything else, except your pride. As I'm typing this, I'm sitting in my rusty trusty daily driver '88 Grand Caravan with a 3.0L engine. I also have an '89 with a 3.0L, and a '94 and a '95 with 3.3Ls. I will never own any vehicle with an interference engine.

I do not like Chiltons and Haynes manuals. They only cover the stuff the weakest of do-it-yourselfers can attempt. I need electrical diagrams to look at, and those are missing. You're better off with a copy of the manufacturer's service manual. I actually sell them at the nation's second largest old car show swap meet. You can find them on eBay for a reasonable cost. They cost over $100.00 per set when they were new or less than five years old. The Chrysler dealers have the brochure either in their office or the parts department that tells you what is available yet and how to order them directly.

I wouldn't be surprised if replacing the cam seal is not included in a Haynes manual. Chrysler is typically pretty good about designing things with an eye toward repair later, (exactly the opposite of what the engineers do at GM), but this is a Mitsubishi engine. Still, there are some worthwhile shortcuts to be aware of. First, when you remove the camshaft sprocket, the belt is going to be putting downward pressure on it. You'll get it off, but tugging it back on will be a challenge. The tensioner pulley is impossible to reach unless you remove the plastic covers. As I recall, the top and bottom halves are separate pieces, but I can't remember if you can get to the tensioner by just removing the top cover. That tensioner has a bolt that must be loosened, then a spring pulls on the tensioner with the correct amount of force. If you can loosen that bolt, the tensioner will be able to move and let you pull up harder on the cam sprocket when it's time to reinstall it.

The first trick is to use some string or wire to tie the timing belt to each cam sprocket. That way the belt can't jump any teeth, and there will be no need to check, and / or set the belt timing. Down at the crankshaft sprocket, there is a lip under the belt that prevents it from dropping down enough to jump a tooth. You would have to remove the vibration damper and lower cover, then slide the belt off the sprocket if you wanted to move it a tooth or more.

Be aware that the camshafts are going to rotate when you remove its sprocket. That's due to the forces the open valve springs are putting on the camshaft lobes. Try to watch which way it spins, then turn the crankshaft the same way when you're ready to reinstall the sprocket. Doing that is easier than trying to turn the camshaft, if you even could.

Before you even get this far, check to see if that seal is popped out. There are cam plugs on the driver's side of the heads that have been known to pop out, but I think the sprocket will prevent that from happening on the passenger side. If the seal DID come out, you should be able to pry it back in, but then you'll have to remove that valve cover to see what is allowing the camshaft to walk sideways and push that seal out. I'm still trying to come to grips with how fast you said this seal is leaking oil.

Now for the next tidbit, I had one of my students chasing oil leaks on my van a few years ago, and one that he found was the same cam seal but on the rear head. He surprised me by finding a totally different shortcut. He removed the valve cover, removed the upper timing cover, then tied the belt to the sprocket like I mentioned, but then he used a rubber strap to the hood to hold a little tension on the belt. From there he removed the camshaft and caps, and pulled the camshaft out of the sprocket. I didn't think that was going to work, but I left him to learn that on his own. Actually, it worked real well, By doing it the service manual way, you have to pull the sprocket away from the camshaft, and that means tipping it. Tipping it means the belt won't allow you to lift it enough or to straighten it so it will slide back onto the camshaft. By doing it his way, he was able to hold the sprocket straight and just slide the camshaft into it. It was also easier to rotate the camshaft to line up the key way than to try to do that by rotating the crankshaft and the other camshaft.

If you try that shortcut, assuming it will work on the front head, you're going to have to remove the distributor.
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Saturday, March 14th, 2015 AT 9:53 PM
Tiny
THE LORAX
  • MEMBER
Thanks for that response! I still not sure if I am going to try to fix it myself. But it's good to have your instructions if I do. You sound like a master of the Caravan. Wish you were in my zip code.
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Sunday, March 15th, 2015 AT 6:31 AM
Tiny
THE LORAX
  • MEMBER
Hello again. I'm all set to try this fix. Thank you for your input. I'll let you know how 'goes!

By the way.. This guy at Advance Auto Parts said this (in response to a question I had about a tensioner for the timing belt)

From year 1991-1995 your Dodge Caravan came with the Mitsubishi 6G72 3.0 V6; with the information I was able to find it shows that it is an interference engine.
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Thursday, March 19th, 2015 AT 5:20 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
That is absolutely incorrect. I think there may be a different 3.0L Mitsubishi engine that was only used in Mitsubishi cars, but the 3.0L used in my two Grand Caravans are not interference engines. The original one in my '88 was repaired under warranty for dropped exhaust valve guides that caused a lot of oil smoke from the tail pipe. I suspect the mechanic did something wrong or dropped a bolt by the timing belt because it shredded a couple of days later. The belt broke but no valves were damaged. The dealer repaired that at no charge even though the engine had almost 70,000 miles on it.

Years later I nursed a noisy water pump until it just about fell apart. By the time I finally replaced it, the water was pouring out as fast as I could pour it in. I wasn't worried about the timing belt because again, I knew the valves wouldn't be hurt. About that same time a friend came in with a broken timing belt on the 3.0L in his Dynasty. Three hours later he was back on the road. No valve damage.

I also have a '94 and a '95 Grand Caravan with 3.3L engines. Those are also not interference engines but they use a timing chain instead of a belt. The 3.8L is just a bigger version of the 3.3L.

To add to the confusion, I just looked up the timing belt on a car parts web site, and a few of the suppliers do list this as an interference engine. That is not correct. I don't know if the '91 - '95 is different, but they list my '88 as an interference engine too, and I know it is not.

Regardless, to err on the side of caution, tie the belt to the two cam sprockets like I mentioned earlier, and start with the timing marks not on top dead center. That will insure no pistons are near the open valves. When you're done, rotate the crankshaft in the normal direction two complete revolutions by hand. If an interference engine is timed wrong, you'll feel it lock up if a valve and piston hit. You won't bend a valve by hand.
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Thursday, March 19th, 2015 AT 6:49 PM

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