How do I locate the oil leak?

Tiny
RTC777
  • MEMBER
  • 2002 DODGE CARAVAN
  • 6 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 150,000 MILES
It's a 2002 Grand Caravan 3.3L FWD

There's an oil leak somewhere above which flows down to the oil pan and drips to the ground from there. There's also a drip from the passenger side at the same distance from the front end. So there will be 2 small spots on the ground every time. There are no leaks from valve cover gasket nor from the drain plug. There are no leaks visible from under the hood either. What could possibly the cause?

Sometimes I can smell oil burning coming from the air vent when the A/C is on
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Friday, August 27th, 2010 AT 7:26 PM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Hi rtc777. Welcome to the forum. Depending on which engine you have, some common leak points are the oil pan itself, the oil pressure sending unit, and the camshaft front seals, (passenger side), typically on the 3.0L. Don't overlook a loose oil filter too.

The valve covers don't leak very often. The 3.3 / 3.8L doesn't use a gasket. They use a bead of silicone RTV sealer that works really well. The 3.0L uses a rubber reusable gasket. Those can be tightened down just a little when they start leaking. Since your leak is down lower, look first at the oil pan. If you see wetness all the way around it, wash the flange off with engine degreaser and water, drive the vehicle a little, then inspect the area to see if that's where the oil is coming from. Resealing the pan is not very involved. That RTV sealer is all that's needed but the surfaces must be cleaned first. The best material to use that I've found is the gray stuff from the Chrysler dealer's parts department. It will seal even if there is a light film of oil on the surfaces yet. The black stuff stays more rubbery but it absolutely will not form a good seal if any oil residue is still on either surface.

Caradiodoc
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Friday, August 27th, 2010 AT 9:58 PM
Tiny
RTC777
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The leak is located somewhere above the oil pan, and it flows both to the left and down to the oil pan. The oil drips slowly to the floor from a hose just to the left of oil filter and from the bottom of oil pan. My engine is 3.3L
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Saturday, August 28th, 2010 AT 3:55 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Well, I double-checked the 3.3L in my '95 Caravan and there really isn't much that can leak oil. On the front there is the oil filter, dipstick tube, and valve cover. Mine is wet too, but it appears the breather hose in the valve cover is leaking and vapor is condensing around it.

On the side is the timing chain cover and crankshaft seal but I don't think those would let oil get to where you're finding it. What you might consider is pressure washing the engine, then adding a small bottle of dye to the oil. After driving for a few miles, you use a black light to see where the dye is coming from. It will appear as bright yellow under the black light.

Caradiodoc
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Saturday, August 28th, 2010 AT 4:40 PM

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