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I know this is an old and possibly tired thread. Back in the Spring I posted my question about "Oil drip... what is normal?" Since then, I have done many upgrades and repairs to my '92 Spider. The presenting problem from the get go was using oil at about 1 qt. every 600 miles.

1. First mechanic flushed the radiator and retorqued the head. Result: no difference.

2 Second mechanic replace valve guides and replace head gasket including re-milling the head; re-tightened the lower oil pan; re-sealed the bell housing (while he was at that job, I replace clutch and 1st and 3rd synchros).

The car runs beautifully. But I haven't seen an improvement in oil consumption. Have I missed something? Maybe the rings are sticking? Honestly, I don't know where the oil can be going. The new mechanic (at mechanic shop 2) who has worked on Alfas for 18 years, said that I should not be surprised by having to add a quart every 1000 miles - but agrees that 600 miles is too soon.

Any ideas?
 

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Hey, I remember the "How much is too much" thread.

Do you ever jack the car up and look for oil leaks? I cleaned the engine and transmission housing and would check it after each drive then re-clean it and check it again after the next drive. I did this many times and this is what I found.

1. The 1/2 moons on the back of the valve cover were leaking so I replaced them with the poly 1/2 moon IAP sells. The end result was they still leak but is much better

2. The front bolts on on the cam cover were loosing up and allowing the cam cover to leak in that area. I added lock washers and this kept the cover tight and sealed.

3. The VVT plunger "O" ring was worn and was leaking oil. I replace the O ring with a new one this stop that leak.

4. There are 2 upside down bolts that fasten the front of the cam chain housing (top to bottom) that were leaking oil. I tighten them up and that reduced the oil leak enough to call it good.

5. One leak that shows up on top of the sump (drivers side)..............Unknown source yet

6. The major oil leak source in my 91 Spider turned out to be the rear crank seal. I had oil on the bottom and right side (passager) of the bell housing, front cross bar of the frame stiffener and the back side of the upper oil pan. Then later the tranny support was getting wet then later still the mess was going all the way back to the rear cross memnber of the frame stiffener.

It wasn't till I had the front of the car jack up while it was idleing that I noticed oil driping out of the drain hole of the bell housing that's when I really focused on the crank seal.

The trouble with oil leaks in my case was that it only leaked when the car was being driven and would show up on my garage floor by dripping off the underside of the car/engine/tranny but where it drips doesn't mean that's where it coming from.

I finially went to the extreme of putting a helmet cam under the car to video the suspected leak area to see what was really going on.

The bottom line is it could be a combination of oil leaks and oil burning. Try to find the leaks yourself by keeping a clean engine and checking it after each drive to see if it's wet anywhere. I take a clean paper shop towel and rub it around the suspect areas to see if any oil is showing up on it,

Then look for possible sources this all takes time but it allows you to become more fimilar with the engine.

Don't sweat it all Alfas leak some oil just keep an eye on you oil consumption and keep checking for the leaks and fix them when you find them.

Here is the video of my crank seal leak. In the first video you can see the oil coming out the hole in the side of the bell housing it start's off slow but at the end of an 1/2 hour drive (second video) the whole side of the bell housing was soaked. What the video doesn't show was the oil dripping out the bootom drain hole in the bell housing too.

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what type of oil are you using? i have a 92 spider as well and was experiencing a similar problem. ive been using 10-40 but my mechanic said i should switch to 20-50. my next oil change i will do that and see what happens.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
oil leak redux

Murray:

Thank you for your extensive reply. I'm going to share it in its entirety with my mechanic. I think it will be instructive. I'll let you know if I have similar findings. BTW I've followed your work on your Spider. Congratulations on a most impressive project. Just the sound of your engine on the video clips speaks volumes of what you accomplished!

LGBALFA:

Hi again... we met at the Stony Brook Concorso. Mine was the white Spider at the front. I've been using the 20w 50 which all of my mechanics agree is the correct weight of oil. The way they have explained it has to do with the tolerances being larger in the Alfa requiring a heavier grade oil. I asked last week if I should change to a thinner oil in winter and they said no. Just make sure the engine is properly warmed up (I know you garage you car in the city). Other threads on the BB will offer range of opinions on this.

I can imagine that you are confused and upset having a Spider in virtually new condition with the low mileage you've got to already experience oil consumption problems. I'll let you know if I discover any "secrets" the solution and maybe you could do the same.
 

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Hey Murray, by chance do you know the size of that o-ring on the VVT plunger? Mine's leaking and I can't find it listed as a catalog part anywhere.

Tim
 

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Murray:

Thank you for your extensive reply. I'm going to share it in its entirety with my mechanic. I think it will be instructive. I'll let you know if I have similar findings. BTW I've followed your work on your Spider. Congratulations on a most impressive project. Just the sound of your engine on the video clips speaks volumes of what you accomplished!
You can go nuts trying to locate oil leaks. I can live with small leaks as long as the leak itself won't cause a more expensive repair later if not fixed. I have never meet an Alfa owner that didn't have any oil leaks. :)

Hey Murray, by chance do you know the size of that o-ring on the VVT plunger? Mine's leaking and I can't find it listed as a catalog part anywhere.

Tim
Hi Tim,

I got the O rings at Westlake Hardware in the nuts and bolts section. I didn't pay attention to the size because I had the plunger and the original O ring with me.
 

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If your car is using a lot of oil (600 miles/quart seems a bit high) there are only two ways it can do so. It is either using oil or losing oil (or both).

If there are no big leaks (and a drop here & there in the driveway can add up to a lot when you're cruising down the highway) then it must be using oil.

There are only two ways it can use oil - past the rings or past the valve guides (or both). And a car can burn a lot of oil and not leave clouds of smoke behind.

Have a friend drive behind you so he/she can watch the tail pipe. Blue smoke on decelleration is usually oil being sucked past the rings. Blue smoke on accelleration is usually oil getting past the valve guides / seals.

I don't recall if it was mentioned but the first thing I'd suggest is removing the oil vapor seperator (black can-like device on the right side inner fender) and thoroughly cleaning it out. They can get blocked with sludge. Use some carbureter cleaning spray or take it to a machine shop and ask them to soak it in solvent. While doing that, check all the hoses that attach to the seperator to make sure none of them are blocked either.

Has this car sat un-used for any length of time? If so, the cylinders/rings could have rusted slightly and they are not sealing well. That might improve with more driving. And if you suspect that, then a dozen full throttle accelleration runs (I'd suggest 2nd or 3rd gear) would be advised. Babying it will not encourage the rings to seat. The cylinders might actually just glaze over and never seat...

If the valve guide seals are faulty they can be replaced without tearing down the engine. The camshafts will have to come out. And a special tool to compress & remove the valve spings is needed.
 

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my spider used to leak like fuggetaboutit

my mechanic went ahead and fixed that for me. when rebuilding the head, we used the new blue silicon half-moons from IAP. they work great.

also, he is a 25year alfa mechanic and he uses gasket sealant throughout. but a special kind specified by alfa as OK. (they never said not to use sealant. they said not to use sealant that requires scraping off later, according to him) the no-sealant thing is a myth and will leak like it should.

alfa calls for 'hylomar or non-hardening permatex'

here is the tech bulletin regarding this:
 

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ok - i just switched from amsoil synthetic 10-40 to shell 20-50 today. my mechanic wanted me to go non-synthetic first to monitor the oil useage before possibly switching me back to synthetic. let's hope this solves my problem of burning 2 quarts of oil every 500 miles.
 
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