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2004 Toyota Corolla CE 4dr Sedan Manual (GS)

2004 Toyota Corolla
Trim Info:
Front Wheel Drive, 4 Door Sedan, Compact
32 mpg city / 40 mpg hwy
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January 29, 2013, 7:38 pm

Jen S

Question: Oil on engine

2 years ago, I had the valve seals replaced in an effort to stop a mysterious oil leak. A year and a half ago, they found the problem and I had both my rear main seal and my head gasket replaced. They also swapped the clutch while they had it apart. After that, I had no problems. Then my job cut hours and it was hard enough getting food on the table without the added cost of regular maintenance... long story short, it's now been a year since my last oil change and my memory is lousy, so I haven't checked the oil as often as I should. Since that time, my oil light has come on a handful of times when going down a steep hill in front of my house when it's cold. I've always immediately shut off the engine, checked the oil, and added a quart or two. Never more than that, though. Today, I noticed my old nemesis, the smell of burning oil, just faintly when I got out of my car today after a 10 mile drive at highway speed. I opened the hood and found my engine quite greasy. I looked more closely and found that the seal around the top of the engine block (up where the piston heads are) was glossy, as if wet (but very hot, so couldn't confirm) with oil, and a puddle of oil further down on some of the frame supporting the engine underneath. The car is still running fine, (though a little rough at idle). My oil cap was on tightly. Could it be the valve cover gasket going bad again or am I looking at something worse like another head gasket replacement? I'd take it back to my usual mechanic, but I moved across the country since all that work was done and I'd like to know what I'm looking at before I take it to a new mechanic.

February 10, 2013, 3:20 pm

Tyler O

Adding oil isn't the same as doing an oil change. Do an oil change and fix the leaks. You'll probably need to have a mechanic diagnose the leaks.

If you are tight on cash, you have an even greater reason to properly maintain your car. Ignoring maintenance will cost you a lot more in the end.

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