Timing cover gasket leaks can be one of the most elusive leaks your vehicle can get. Many leaks leave obvious indications in certain places that make it quick to tell what the problem is. For example, if you’ve got an oil pan gasket leak, it’s obvious because you won’t find any oil above the oil pan gasket, meaning your entire engine will be clean except for the oil pan. On the other hand, a timing cover gasket leak can spread oil over most of your engine, leave drips in odd places, leak sometimes, but not others, and be generally elusive.
To start to determine if you’ve got a timing cover gasket leak, you’ve got to figure out if that is even possible on the motor in your car. There are two main ways an engine keeps the timing consistent between the crankshaft and the camshafts. It’s important to keep the timing between the crankshaft and camshaft consistent because the cam drives the valve train and it’s important to keep the valves opening and closing in proper relation to the piston’s movement to maintain the maximum engine efficiency. To keep these things in sync, some engines use a belt that runs from the crankshaft and drives the camshaft to keep things in time, while other types of engines use a chain. Belts are quiet and efficient but require regular replacement to keep them in good condition since they are not lubricated. On the other hand, timing chains take a little more energy to run but they are extremely robust since they are lubricated by your engine oil and rarely if ever, need to be replaced.
If your vehicle is equipped with a timing belt, then it will be mounted external to the engine’s lubrication system so your engine won’t have a timing cover gasket to leak. If your vehicle has a timing chain, there will be 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. To tell which type of engine you have in your car, check your vehicle’s owner’s manual. If the list of required maintenance items includes replacing a timing belt between 50,000 and 100,000 miles, then you have a timing belt and won’t have a timing cover gasket leak. If you having a timing belt and notice an oil leak coming from the front of your engine, try reading our article about camshaft seal replacements to see if that is where your leak is.
Since the timing cover must surround the entire timing chain, which runs from the engine crank up to the camshafts, it’s a large cover with a large gasket. Also, as you drive, the timing chain whips oil from down on the crank all the way up to the top of your engine so a leak could appear anywhere from the bottom to the top of your engine making them difficult to diagnose.
The timing cover gasket can be expensive to replace due to its location and the accessories surrounding it. Often, things like the alternator, power steering pump, and air conditioning compressor must be moved or removed to change the timing cover gasket. All these things make replacing the gasket a relatively expensive maintenance item.
If you think you may having a timing cover gasket leak, but don’t want to pay the high price to replace the gasket, there is an alternative! BlueDevil Oil Stop Leak is an oil additive you can simply add to your engine oil that can restore your timing cover gasket to its original shape and size sealing the leak and keeping your car running safely without a trip to the mechanic!
You can also purchase BlueDevil Oil Stop Leak at any of our partnering local auto parts stores like:
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