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Old 10-26-2020, 08:19 PM   #1
240-FAN
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Default What is this oil leak?

Notice this a couple of weeks ago but Iíve only driven about 15 miles over that time period.
Did an oil change this weekend with 10w40 HM stuff, wiped that area down. Verified no coolant in the oil that drained out (I think it had the slighted whiff of gasoline) and cannot see any oil in the coolant reservoir.
Drove the car about 18 miles, 16 of which were freeway. Came back and saw this.
Is the HG going? 250k miles + on the engine in a 1991 Volvo 240.

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Old 10-27-2020, 01:20 AM   #2
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What is the a photo of?
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Old 10-27-2020, 03:28 AM   #3
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What is the a photo of?
Bottom of the head on the passenger side(?)

Can you verify exactly where the fluid is leaking from(assuming it's not a leaking valve cover) ?

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Old 10-27-2020, 06:33 AM   #4
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Ooops sorry. Yeah it’s the head/block mate on the passenger side. It’s right below the number 2 exhaust manifold port (which is the rusty nut pictured outside the yellow highlighted area).
Paper towel blot indicates it’s engine oil.
Valve cover is a little leaky but only at the far back side of the head and no where near cylinder#2.

Doesn’t seem to be the cam seal either because I replaced it last year (and when it went out, boy did it make a mess on the front of the engine). Front of the engine and the area below #1 exhaust port is dry.
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Old 10-28-2020, 10:03 AM   #5
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It's the oil feed to the cly head valve train. You will need a new head gasket.
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Old 10-28-2020, 11:56 AM   #6
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It's the oil feed to the cly head valve train. You will need a new head gasket.
AKA probably not worth fixing unless you just gotta.
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Old 10-28-2020, 01:27 PM   #7
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Eeeek. I was afraid of this.
Hate to admit it, but the car is probably not worth fixing because I’m pretty sure those exhaust manifold nuts are not going to come out without a 3 feet breaker bar.

Since it’s an external oil leak from the feed , can I continue driving the car? Or is this a catastrophic oil/coolant SMOD waiting to happen?

Can I just monitor oil prior every drive and continue driving?
Had an old beater Subaru once that I got 50,000 miles with weepy head gaskets using their “Subaru coolant conditioner”. Would that be a recommended path?
Really would hate going down the Bars block everything path.

Last edited by 240-FAN; 10-28-2020 at 01:36 PM..
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Old 10-28-2020, 01:40 PM   #8
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FYI: You can leave the manifolds on when swapping a head gasket. As long as the heads flat, it shouldn't be an issue.
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Old 10-28-2020, 03:38 PM   #9
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Eeeek. I was afraid of this.
Hate to admit it, but the car is probably not worth fixing because Iím pretty sure those exhaust manifold nuts are not going to come out without a 3 feet breaker bar.

Since itís an external oil leak from the feed , can I continue driving the car? Or is this a catastrophic oil/coolant SMOD waiting to happen?

Can I just monitor oil prior every drive and continue driving?
Had an old beater Subaru once that I got 50,000 miles with weepy head gaskets using their ďSubaru coolant conditionerĒ. Would that be a recommended path?
Really would hate going down the Bars block everything path.
What kind of oil consumption are you currently seeing?
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Old 10-28-2020, 03:48 PM   #10
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FYI: You can leave the manifolds on when swapping a head gasket. As long as the heads flat, it shouldn't be an issue.
Didn't realize that. I changed the intake manifold gasket a few months ago with the intake manifold ziptied to the side. How would one get by without having to remove the exhaust manifold?

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What kind of oil consumption are you currently seeing?
Last OCI was 5.4k miles was with 5w30 HM oil and I lost a quart. So I've switched to 10w40 HM this time. The car is not driven during the winter months so not terribly worried about the heavier oil weight.

I would prefer to not have to tear down everything to replace the HG. My fear is primarily from never having been able to the valve cover gasket to seal correctly. If that's an indication of anything, I'm screwed with the HG swap
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Old 10-28-2020, 04:25 PM   #11
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With oil consumption/leakage being that low... I'd just leave it.
You have to disconnect the exhaust down-pipe from the manifold, but then it's all pretty easy.
Getting valve cover gaskets to seal in knowledge only held by level 10 wizards.
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Old 10-28-2020, 04:31 PM   #12
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Didn't realize that. I changed the intake manifold gasket a few months ago with the intake manifold ziptied to the side. How would one get by without having to remove the exhaust manifold?


Last OCI was 5.4k miles was with 5w30 HM oil and I lost a quart. So I've switched to 10w40 HM this time. The car is not driven during the winter months so not terribly worried about the heavier oil weight.

I would prefer to not have to tear down everything to replace the HG. My fear is primarily from never having been able to the valve cover gasket to seal correctly. If that's an indication of anything, I'm screwed with the HG swap
You likely used the cheap, POS paper valve cover gasket. The original OE valve cover gaskets sealed no problem. They were thicker, flexible and bent over the cam bearing caps with ease. They ran $25 from the dealer when you could get them and were worth every penny. I don't think Volvo still offers them. The last one I bought from the dealer was some repackage POS. IOW, even experienced Volvo mechanics have trouble with the current offerings.
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Old 10-28-2020, 04:43 PM   #13
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Kind of off-topic on this thread, but if no one can seal VCG's without them leaking then is it even worth doing something like a cam swap if it's going to be leaking afterward. I too have replaced two and used the correct torque specs and used silicone where it folds over the cam. Still leaks.
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You likely used the cheap, POS paper valve cover gasket. The original OE valve cover gaskets sealed no problem. They were thicker, flexible and bent over the cam bearing caps with ease. They ran $25 from the dealer when you could get them and were worth every penny. I don't think Volvo still offers them. The last one I bought from the dealer was some repackage POS. IOW, even experienced Volvo mechanics have trouble with the current offerings.
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Old 10-28-2020, 04:59 PM   #14
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You can get the cheap paper gaskets to seal. I coat the side of the gasket that faces the cylinder head with RTV and carefully install it. Then, I coat the valve cover surface with a thin coat of RTV and use it to bend the gasket in to place over the bearing caps. That way, I don't crack the gasket installing it. So far, with 10+ gaskets replace in this manor not one has leaked. One of my customers went through 4 gaskets before he could get one to seal. With him, a leak is the end of the world. He was going to bring the car to me to seal it up. I talked him through it over the phone and he got # 4 to seal. That was 6+ months ago. If it was weeping he'd be calling me.
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Old 10-28-2020, 06:14 PM   #15
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It also could be coming from the front cam seal.
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Old 10-28-2020, 06:59 PM   #16
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With oil consumption/leakage being that low... I'd just leave it.
You have to disconnect the exhaust down-pipe from the manifold, but then it's all pretty easy.
Getting valve cover gaskets to seal in knowledge only held by level 10 wizards.
Lol, definitely far away from getting to level 10 wizard level. Iím going to leave it as is for now and see. The leak wasnít there through the entire OCI, so itís hard to say.

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Originally Posted by 2manyturbos View Post
You likely used the cheap, POS paper valve cover gasket. The original OE valve cover gaskets sealed no problem. They were thicker, flexible and bent over the cam bearing caps with ease. They ran $25 from the dealer when you could get them and were worth every penny. I don't think Volvo still offers them. The last one I bought from the dealer was some repackage POS. IOW, even experienced Volvo mechanics have trouble with the current offerings.
Indeed, it was the cheap paper gasket from IPD. Had a Reinz one from FCP on my first 2 attempts which didnít work. This one at least only seeps at the back.

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It also could be coming from the front cam seal.
Good point. To try out, I drove her 30 miles today and thereís no oil around the front cam seal. Itís dry. Last year when it went, it took me like 2 miles before I had oil seeping and pooling on the water pump.

Does an external oil leak like this continue for long periods or do they usually crap out quickly? I checked the down pipe and thatís going to be a challenge to remove.
Iím saving up buy a turbo redblock wagon in a couple of years so if I get another 15-20k miles, Iím more than happy.
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Old 10-28-2020, 07:37 PM   #17
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For a down and dirty fix that may or may not work, try cleaning it up with carb cleaner or brake cleaner, wire brush the area, then douse it with a sealant like Goop.

I did it to an oil pan gasket and it seems to be holding up.

Can't hurt.

Last edited by Mr. V; 10-29-2020 at 11:29 AM..
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Old 10-28-2020, 08:13 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by 2manyturbos View Post
You can get the cheap paper gaskets to seal. I coat the side of the gasket that faces the cylinder head with RTV and carefully install it. Then, I coat the valve cover surface with a thin coat of RTV and use it to bend the gasket in to place over the bearing caps. That way, I don't crack the gasket installing it. So far, with 10+ gaskets replace in this manor not one has leaked. One of my customers went through 4 gaskets before he could get one to seal. With him, a leak is the end of the world. He was going to bring the car to me to seal it up. I talked him through it over the phone and he got # 4 to seal. That was 6+ months ago. If it was weeping he'd be calling me.
Roy is level 10 wizard. This is the way to do it.

If I have the time, I like to let the lower RTV set up for a few hours while the cover is lightly tightened down. Then I add a thin layer to the top of the paper and lightly install the cover again and wait again. Then once everything is dried, you tighten up the cover.
The only issue is that it takes all weekend just to wait for the rtv to harden up.
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Old 10-28-2020, 08:25 PM   #19
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I've heard of using hot water to soften the gasket, but I haven't tried it.
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Old 10-28-2020, 08:28 PM   #20
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I've heard of using hot water to soften the gasket, but I haven't tried it.
It works really well.
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Old 10-28-2020, 09:39 PM   #21
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Roy is level 10 wizard. This is the way to do it.

If I have the time, I like to let the lower RTV set up for a few hours while the cover is lightly tightened down. Then I add a thin layer to the top of the paper and lightly install the cover again and wait again. Then once everything is dried, you tighten up the cover.
The only issue is that it takes all weekend just to wait for the rtv to harden up.
That sounds like an even better method because it gives you a chance to make sure the gasket hasnít shifted. Use the cover to mold the gasket down and make it stick and then remove the cover and put a coat of RTV on the cover and replace it. I always use a mirror to make sure the gasket hasnít shifted.
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Old 10-28-2020, 10:35 PM   #22
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It’s the poor mans way of making a paper gasket with formed RTV on it.
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Old 10-29-2020, 01:27 AM   #23
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FYI: You can leave the manifolds on when swapping a head gasket. As long as the head's flat, it shouldn't be an issue.
Errr... isn't a non-flat head one of the primary reasons the HG would fail in the first place?
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Old 10-29-2020, 01:34 AM   #24
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For a down and dirth fix that may or may not work,
try cleaning it up with brake fluid.....
Definitely won't work.
Now, using brake cleaner , just might.
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Old 10-29-2020, 09:43 AM   #25
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This thread got derailed with the valve cover gasket discussion

Has anyone here driven their red blocks with an externally leaking HG for a while or do they grenade quickly?
Also, for the suggestion to brake cleaner + goop, will that cause any further headaches down the line?
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