by Alain Hoffmann
Checking for leaks
to be continued....
Well, it's time to make some of the usual remarks like "Rovers don't
leak, they mark their territory" or something else. Jokes are legion
on english cars dropping all sorts of fluids all over the world. Fact
is that, according to an contact at the factory, quite a lot of Land Rovers
used to leak as soon as oil was filled in the first time. It has a lot
to do with built quality, a side in which Land Rover never excelled..
A guy from the works told me the following joke and I found it too good
to keep for myself:
Toyota tested their new car extensively and one evening an cat crept in
unnoticed. As it was a long weekend the car was locked and when the workers
arrived on Monday the cat had died of lack of oxygen. This story made
it's way into an chairman meeting of Land Rover where engineers got really
excited and wanted to try it on Land Rovers too. When they checked the
Rover on Monday to see what happened the cat was gone....
Well, let's come back to earth again. Any Land Rover not leaking/oozing
some black smelly stuff isn't an well used Land Rover at all. If you just
keep it off the dirt as most owners today seem to do you won't be bothered
much with leaks and you will not be ejected from the company parking lot.
But if you go to play with the big boys leaks will soon appear. That's
life. And you can't do much against it. But at least it serves as an indicator
where things will go wrong in the future.
The biggest problem on that sort of things is to locate it. There's nothing
like a pointer appearing near the split in the gasket which says 'Retighten
here'. So if you don't catch it right at the start you will have a hard
time telling where the mess comes from. The oil goes all over the lump
of iron you call an engine, gets whirled by the fan to the most unlikely
places so a dozen places will look mighty suspicious. Shell we assume
it comes from the unit located most forward? Doesn't work. Airflow and
swirls under the car may look a rear leak like a front one and vice versa.
I saw guys crawling under their rigs, armed with an big assortment of
wrenches and start tightening up everything they could reach at. Good
idea? Well, yes and no. You may in fact find that loose bolt on the transfer
case rear cover. But chances are high you will disturb the nice, tight
bolt seats and overdo it. Once you tighten up the oil sump only a tad
too much it's as good as instant heart attack - you will never recover
form it and it made things only worse. And chances are high you will not
even find the leak but make new ones at the same time. So know what you're
doing, you have been warned.
Above: This is no reason to worry. That's a bit of engine oil creeping
by the drain plug. Try to tighten it CAREFULLY a bit. If it doesn't work
leave it like it is until the next oil change. You probably didn't use
a new copper sealing washer when refitting the drain plug..
Take off the front skidplate and drive to the local car wash with a couple
of sturdy drive-on ramps in your back. Take the steam cleaner and give
it a good soaking. You can believe me, there's no way around doing this.
And there's also no way to avoid getting wet and dirty too if you do it
right. At least I wear protective lenses which seal the eyes completely
from flying mud and sand - an great invention and worth every cent of
the 3 bucks I spent on them..
Got it really clean now? No good idea to skimp on that 50p for another
pass with the steam. Do it once but for good. Get in those gut areas where
leaks start like between gearbox and transfer case, oil pan area, top
of transfer case (hard to clean but you must do it. Don't blow your ignition
leads away and don't try to clean the alternator - there's no oil inside
and you'll just mess up things..
If you can't restart it and if it's an petrol it's almost always the distributor
cap. Take it off and wipe it clean. Drive it for 15 minutes at a good
speed so the oil can warm up. Now search for a nice parking spot and climb
under it armed with a piece of white chalk. Mark the areas where seeping
begins. Check again after one more hour. Mark up some more areas. It's
a wise idea to use an good torchlight to really eyeball where the mess
starts to come out..
Now back home and tighten up ALL bolts on that assembly. If it's the gearbox
tighten EVERY SINGLE bolt on it, not just the loose ones. Work your way
around it with an torque wrench. It's all too easy to strip a tread lying
on your back under the rig. No good - that means taking it off..
You can avoid the overcrowded carwash if you have an hot water outlet
near your garage. Be careful if you use an power washer. Most of them
don't like being fed with warm water. Especially the cheap ones. If your's
starts making funny noises switch it off and take an garden hose. Fit
one of those nice garden watering nozzles on it and you have aour own
steam wash - almost. You'll be surprised how much crud can be removed
just by hot water. A word of care though: Many hoses don't like hot water
and will blow after some time. Especially the green plastic ones. Take
one of those real rubber tubes, they are much better.
Above: This however IS an sign for action. The seal around the chrome
ball swivel is leaking. This can go for quite some time but once it stops
it means there's no more oil in and the components run dry. Something
to avoid as those parts are quite expensive.
Above: One side doesn't come alone. The other side also showed a light
coat (red circle). Oil or grease spots on the wheel rim (green circle)
are also a pointer to an leaking seal. So if you have one leaking buy
2 sets and change both sides.