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Help with oil leak at distributor

Discussion in 'Engine Tech / Drivetrain' started by headmotty, Nov 11, 2009.



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  1. headmotty

    headmotty New Member 5+ Year Member

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    Hi all,

    I need some help here. My 91 sedan has a slight leak from under the distributor cap. O-ring was replaced about a year ago. It was dry inside at that time. It's still leaking and has been diagnosed as the distributor housing leaking and I need a new housing. What does this mean exactly? That I need a whole new distributor? Or just everything except the igniter, coil, cap and rotor?

    It runs fine except for the oil leak. Anything I can do myself or should I really get a new housing? Or do I even need to? It's a really slow leak - will just leaving it like it is and watching the oil level damage the distributor and make it catastrophically fail one day?

    Any help would be MUCH appreciated!!
     
  2. Steven.

    Steven. Formally Green 91 Registered VIP Registered OG 5+ Year Member 10+ Year Member

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    maybe JB weld or somthing where its leaking
     
  3. RonJ

    RonJ Banned

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    Is there oil inside the dizzy or only where the dizzy meets the head?
     
  4. headmotty

    headmotty New Member 5+ Year Member

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    Inside the cap is dry. It's just on the underside right where it meets the block. The o-ring was already replaced, and now I'm told it's the housing that is leaking and needs replacing. If it's not the o-ring, then what exactly is leaking? I'm not really clear on what the term "housing" is referring to.
     
  5. RonJ

    RonJ Banned

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    The distributor O-ring is still leaking. Buy a new O-ring from the Honda dealer. Be sure to coat the O-ring with motor oil prior to reinstalling the dizzy into the head.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. headmotty

    headmotty New Member 5+ Year Member

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    RonJ - thanks alot for the help.

    Not to doubt you, but before I change the o-ring again, do you really think it's just that? It was replaced at a dealer a year ago, then when I still had a leak, the same dealer said it was the housing. An independent garage also says it's not the o-ring - I need a new housing assembly. I can try replacing since the o-ring is a cheap little part, but are they right and I should just replace the assembly? Or does this really sound fishy to you? What is it - the fact that inside the cap is dry? (I'm trying to learn...)

    Again, thanks.
     
  7. RonJ

    RonJ Banned

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    Don't worry, it's important to doubt and question forum suggestions. My advice came from the fact that an oil leak outside of the distributor is generally due to a bad O-ring. An oil leak inside the distributor would instead be caused by failure of a different oil seal inside the distributor. Of course, I have not inspected the distributor and it's possible that the distributor housing where the O-ring sits is damaged. I recommend that you remove the distributor yourself and inspect it. The job is quite easy. Just make a mark on the distributor and head to preserve your ignition timing upon reinstallation. Also consider posting pictures of the removed distributor where the O-ring is installed.


    [​IMG]
     
  8. headmotty

    headmotty New Member 5+ Year Member

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    OK, I'm gonna hold off and shoot for taking a look this weekend. Thanks A TON for your guidance!
     
  9. Esotericimage

    Esotericimage Taking an H-T break Registered VIP 5+ Year Member

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    yea, mine was a oil seal. Honda stealership insisted it was the whole distrib. but i bought the o-ring for 1.50 and thats that.. this is the place where they couldnt do a valve adjustment and put my VC back on with out having it leak.
     
  10. headmotty

    headmotty New Member 5+ Year Member

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    I didn't have time to take the entire distributor out to examine, but did take some photos. The leak seems to be along the cap/distributor mating surface, right where the 6/8 pin connector plugs in. I've circled the area in the first photo.

    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG]

    The second photo shows the area with the cap removed. Is the red line I've drawn a gasket running around the entire surface? And if so, is that a break in it where the arrows are?

    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG]

    The third photo shows a close up of this possible gap in the gasket.

    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG]
     
  11. RonJ

    RonJ Banned

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    Aren't you showing us where oil is leaking to not from?
     
  12. headmotty

    headmotty New Member 5+ Year Member

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    I'm a little confused by your question RonJ. That's where oil is making its appearance, from under the distributor cap, right where it mates to the distributor. Fresh oil came from right where the pin plugs in. I didn't have time to remove the distributor to check the o-ring, but with the cap off, I didn notice what I thought was a gap in a gasket right near that pin, and thought that might give a clue to the problem.

    I suppose you're talking to the fact that oil shouldn't even be getting that far in the first place, and that I need to get in to the o-ring, right? I guess it's obvious I'm pretty ignorant on this whole issue...
     
  13. Chris.

    Chris. Stickin' it to the man Registered VIP Registered OG 5+ Year Member

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    if there is any oil in the distributor... there is reason to suspect you need a new one... there is a seal that is a permanant shaft seal.... if this is bad.... your rotor shaft will wobble.... its like a turbo... the seal goes bad... and starts to make shaft play. then leaking oil.... if inside your dizzy is oily.... then you should look into replacing it...

    now... if there is oil but also oil on the outside as an suspect that perhaps your oring went again... clean up the oil really well everywhere... then... either replace the 2 dollar oring...and see if that fixes it... or put abead of silicone around where the oring goes as an added sealer.

    then observe for a while... if you notice oil coming back... then find where its coming from again.. dont wait for it to cover everything.. that small gap in your dizzy cap gasket will not cause all that oil...

    i suspect the leak is at the oring again and it has just leaked and ran all the way to that opening... since that opening is on the bottom of the distributor when its in the car....its just the lowest point for the oil to drip from.

    take the three bolts for the distributor out... and clean everything very well. then reinstall.. observe.... when you notice oil again... then track it down... at the first sight of it. not months later....
     
  14. Steven.

    Steven. Formally Green 91 Registered VIP Registered OG 5+ Year Member 10+ Year Member

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    your talking about the replaceable bronze bushing...
     
  15. RonJ

    RonJ Banned

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    As clearly explained by Chris, unless oil is accumulating inside the distributor, then the oil seen in your picture is leaking from the distributor O-ring or even possibly from the valve cover gasket. You should remove the distributor to help you locate the origin of the oil leak.
     
  16. Chucklee514

    Chucklee514 New Member 5+ Year Member

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    Even in your pics, the oil does not appear to be coming from inside of the distributor. It just looks like it's collecting in the gap from the connector. In all likelihood, it looks like the o-ring is the culprit.
     
  17. Chris.

    Chris. Stickin' it to the man Registered VIP Registered OG 5+ Year Member

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    yea once you remove the dizzy it will be very clear where the oil is coming from...
     
  18. headmotty

    headmotty New Member 5+ Year Member

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    OK guys, I appreciate all this great help. I've never gone this far with self-repair before, and I'm a little hesitant, worried about f-ing things up.

    But yeah, I was thinking the same thing - I thought there would be visible oil in the distributor...I will get in there and check it out, replace the o-ring (and the cap gasket while I'm at it.)
     
  19. RonJ

    RonJ Banned

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    It wouldn't hurt to replace the cap gasket, though it's probably not necessary.
     
  20. ramo5150

    ramo5150 New Member

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    Hi All,
    New to this forum, but looking for advice. I just found a leak similar to the one on this thread. Oil behind the Dizzy. haha...

    N E ways, is this something easy to do or is it better left to the more experienced. I'm pretty technical and also have the service manual for my car. I'd like to try for myself but a little worried about pulling the distributor out and then setting the timing on my car. Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks in Advance..

    This is what my Service manual says: "NOTE: Before you install the distributor, Bring the no. 1 piston to compression stroke TDC." I've never done that. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2010


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