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Discussion Starter #1
Well at least I am thinking it is an engine seal. Some of you may remember my post about oil dripping from my exhaust pipe. Well after wiping things off and taking a good look underneath, I think I have identified the origin of the leak. I took a couple pics, and am hoping you can help me identify the questionable seal. At least I think these are engine seals, or something like that. Now I am not even sure if it is one of them, or all of them, I need to take some further time to figure that out, now that I have a general target. In the second pick, you can see a dark spot to the right of the seal in the front which appears to be the place that oil pools and then drips onto the exhaust pipe.

I linked them since they are 1024x768, I dont want to tick people off.

Thanks,
Doug

pic1
pic2
 

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Do you have any pictures that are zoomed back a little bit more to include more stuff? I'm having trouble telling what I'm looking at and from where.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
No, I should have taken one way back. I will take one tomorrow.

But I did find this pic that I took of things before.

pic

It is essentially the area above the large area that is circled, and where the area is pointing. The pictures I took are looking straight up behind the large portion of exhaust pipe I had circled.

Thanks!
 

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The first two pics looks like the edge of the oil pan, part of the transmission housing, and a section of the exhaust where it turns down and back toward the catalytic converter. The only "engine" seal in that area is the rear engine seal. There is also the transmission seal, and the oil pan. Oil can flow down the side of the engine or transmission, or along the oil pan and collect in the lowest point. The last pic looks more like that.

The rear engine seal is the obvious suspect because they leak on older 900 and 9-3 models. Usually there is hardly any oil loss to speak of. Seems early for the engine seals to be leaking on a 2002. The rear engine seal is normally replaced at the same time as the clutch, because you can't get to it w/o removing the transmission. I will ask a real mechanic if there is an issue with the engine seals on newer production cars when I get a chance, Monday or Tue.

In the meantime, I would look on top of the transmission, straight down along the driver side of the engine, and front driver side corner. In case there is some seepage from the head gasket area flowing down.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
We'll to this point I have not noticed any loss of oil in the engine, and I changed the oil about a month ago and have not added any additional. The oil does not seem to collect overnight, but seems to arrive after the car has been driven.

I have been looking all around the top of the engine and I cannot seem to find anything. The only evidence I could find of oil leaking or seepage is from the "bolts" shown in the first two pics. Of course the oil could just be pooling up in that area.

Where exactly is the rear engine seal in relation to the pictures I took?
 

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The rear oil seal is actually on the left "side" of our engines. If you find the bell housing, which is the flared part of the transmission that connects it to the engine, it lives inside there. It seals the spinning shaft that comes out of the motor and runs the flywheel. A leak here will show up (first) as a drip where the engine and transmission mate.

Your mysterious leak could also be transmission oil (it's often the same as engine oil in our cars). Since there's a lot less (1.8 l), it might be worth checking the transmission oil level. I think that there is a link on how to do this in the transmission FAQ.
 

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As JMarkert said, it is one of two crankshaft seals. Full name should be "rear crankshaft seal", or something like that, but online most people call it the rear engine seal.

The crankshaft comes out of the block at two ends. On the passenger side, there is a "front crankshaft seal", a.k.a. front engine seal, or oil pump seal. It seals the shaft between the oil pump inside the engine and the crankshaft pulley which is outside the engine.

On the driver side, the rear seal, then the flywheel and the transmission. The two seals keep the oil from leaking out of the engine around the cranshaft ends... until the seals start to leak.

The early production cars had leaky rear seals. I thought my production year was the last one with the problem, one reason why I never put synthetic oil in my car. The seal changed in 1995 and again 1997, and from then was the same until 2002. Your car should have the new version.

Independent mechanics seem to be aware of the problem. That is how I found out, asking where the oil was coming from on my car. The trouble is there is no directive from Saab to change it along with the clutch, so some cars get a new clutch at the dealer, and the rear seal is not replaced. Then a few months later, you have to drop the transmission again to do the seal...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I don't think it's tranny oil simply because the oil looks the same as my engine oil as far the color. I would expect after 56k the tranny oil would look a little darker, but I could be wrong. Although I should definitely get it checked out.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Also, of course the pics are not of the area I said it was, I got things reversed, it is the area above/inside of the exhaust and up, next to the bell housing. So to get things straight, the ones that I took pictures of and am speculating that are leaking are the rear seals?

And is the one at the top of pic two the one that can only be accessed if you drop the tranny? I did notice that one looked like it was blocked by the tranny, so it would.
 

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I don't think it's tranny oil simply because the oil looks the same as my engine oil as far the color. I would expect after 56k the tranny oil would look a little darker, but I could be wrong. Although I should definitely get it checked out.
Yeah, you're probably right, and I missed the year of your car the first time. Older models used engine oil and it would stay clean loking for a long time. However your '02 probably uses some stuff called MTF0062 and it would be reddish and smells funny.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Well I looked up my vin, and found that my 9-3 definitely fits into when saab started using MTF006S. So I guess I can rule out the transmission leaking at this point, which is a relief to me.
 

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Oil leaks are typically a screaming pain to track down, especially at the bottom of the engine. The oil gets blown around easily and I've even seen it get blown forward because of the aerodynamics under the car. Your oil leak looks just like mine and unfortunately my leak is a rear main seal:cry: (crank seal behind the flywheel)...

To find out for sure you'll need to remove the flywheel inspection cover- its a small half moon shaped piece of stamped steel about 3" tall. On my 99 5 speed there are 2 allen bolts that secure it to the transmission. Once it is removed you'll be looking at the flywheel. There is VERY little space between the flywheel and the engine block and I found it impossible to see between them. You can tear a small piece of paper towel and slide between the flywheel and engine block.. If it has oil on it when you pull it out you have a bad rear main seal. This little devil face says it all:evil:.
Oh, please don't do any of this with the engine running..
 

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Discussion Starter #14
kemosaabie said:
Oil leaks are typically a screaming pain to track down, especially at the bottom of the engine. The oil gets blown around easily and I've even seen it get blown forward because of the aerodynamics under the car. Your oil leak looks just like mine and unfortunately my leak is a rear main seal:cry: (crank seal behind the flywheel)...

To find out for sure you'll need to remove the flywheel inspection cover- its a small half moon shaped piece of stamped steel about 3" tall. On my 99 5 speed there are 2 allen bolts that secure it to the transmission. Once it is removed you'll be looking at the flywheel. There is VERY little space between the flywheel and the engine block and I found it impossible to see between them. You can tear a small piece of paper towel and slide between the flywheel and engine block.. If it has oil on it when you pull it out you have a bad rear main seal. This little devil face says it all:evil:.
Oh, please don't do any of this with the engine running..
You seem to be devistated by the fact that you have a rear main seal leak. Is this because you would need to drop the tranny to do anything about it?

At this point, if that is what it is, and I am not losing oil noticably, I am not terribly upset. At some point I am sure that I will need a new clutch, and at that point then I will take care of it. But in reality, I don't care if this leaks like this forever, as long as it does not get out of control. It is a very minor neusance, and something I could live with, I just want to make sure this isn't something major. Finding that it is not tranny fluid has me relieved for the most part, as that was my biggest concern.

I just cannot see doing something about it until I need to replace the clutch.

So is the main rear engine seal the one pictured up top in my first pic?
 

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Just irritating. It's a fairly easy fix that requires a lot of work to get to. Plus, I hate sitting at a stop light with the top down and, all of the sudden, get the wisp of burning engine oil;oops:.

I'm doing what you are doing and that is drive it until it needs a clutch- which might not be too long since I've been playing the horsepower game. my Viggen I/C should be here any day.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Mine must not be as bad, I never smell anything. I think a lot of mine at this point was buildup that I never wiped off, then it would get hot, and drip. Does still suck but I can live with it, being that the car is so damn fun. Do you have any pics of your leak?
 

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Tarpot said:
MTF0063 manual transmission fluid was used beginning in late MY '97 and forward.
That's another oil you're thinking of. Saab's first synthetic transmission oil came out in July 1997. It's part number 400 108 247. They switched to MTF0063 in about 2002.
 

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No pics. I did what you did and cleaned the bottom of the engine as good as possible and let it idle on the drive-up ramps. After about 5 minutes oil started to congeal around the middle-back oil pan bolt right next to the inspection cover. Turns out it was running down the back of the block and behind the cover. Not a gusher by any means but enough coat the bottom of my car with oil over time. Take care All.
 

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I asked about the rear engine seal today. The mechanic I spoke to was of the opinion that the seal used after 1997 was not very different, just a new part number. So, the seal still goes bad in newer engines, despite what I posted above.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks a lot for checking that out PMI!

We'll the car has ~56,000 miles on it, so although it is a relatively young engine, I imagine that is enough to start to develop a problem. Especially since I moved it to full synthetic. When I bought the car I would have noticed a leak like that, since I inspected the car after I drove around for a while, but if it was really minor, I may not have identified it as a leak, since I am far from a mechanic. I think the synth probably exposed something. I would actually rather run synth and have a small leak for now.
 
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