I am not a mechanic

Time has proven this to be true over and over again. I spent the better part of three days last week working on my panel truck. The oil pan gasket was leaking pretty badly, enough that I was pulled over on the freeway by a Sheriff’s Deputy. Apparently the oil had been blowing against the exhaust pipes and smoking off.

I had thought I saw a tinge of blue behind me as I was driving but it was very difficult to tell. Apparently it was not so difficult to tell from behind. He was really cool about the issue and let me motor on but said I needed to get it fixed, which brings me to my current state.

The pan gasket was clearly leaking and after removing it I could see that there were some cracks in the gasket around the arcs for the front and rear seals. After some ludicrous drama in figuring out which gasket to get (I had to pull casting numbers from the engine) I reinstalled the oil pan and gasket. I should mention that I do not have a service manual for this vehicle, I have been having difficulty finding one, and I can find very little information beyond that online.

I reinstalled the gasket, performed a full oil change including filter, and was rewarded with a gigantic oil leak from the rear of the engine. I thought perhaps I had not seated the gasket properly so pulled it down and reseated it. Kristopher and I went for a test drive, I swear we looked like Cheech and Chong blazing down the road. Every stop sign allowed the cab to fill with smoke from the fountaining oil leak as it sprayed against the exhaust.

At this point I could not fathom what I had done to get such a negative result. The only thing “different” was that I was absolutely sure about the quantity of oil in the engine for the first time since I bought it. We tried vainly to find the source of the leak but since it was blowing out the back of the motor and dripping from the shroud that covers the flywheel it seemed that it could only be the rear main seal. That’s the seal that allows the crankshaft to pass outside of the engine proper and engage the flywheel and transmission.

I was stumped and generally peeved that I had spent so much productive time being UNproductive. I took it to the shop this past Monday and while I don’t yet have it back (I’m having other things done as well) I do know the source of the leak finally. The shop manager called me yesterday afternoon and matter-of-factly said:

“The oil pan gasket was improperly installed and missing some sealant by the rear main seal.”

…of course it is.

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