Replacing the rear main seal

It’s funny when I think of the jobs I used to be comfortable with and here I am ripping into things with a good deal of confidence….he says.

Anyway, the car has always leaked where the block meets the transmission. I hope this is indicative of a failed rear main seal and not something worse (like worn crankshaft). The amount of oil isn’t major so if replacing the seal doesn’t fix the problem it won’t be the end of the world.

First I drained the oil and removed the oil filter and then loosened the crossmember and removed the starter motor as it was covering two of the oil pan bolts. Then I removed the steering arm link bolt which dropped the steering link down a few CM. After removing all the oil pan bolts the pan was able to slide forward and out.

Next I removed the two end cap bolts and slid a scewdriver up one of the bolt holes and lightly tapped the cap with a hammer which caused it to come loose and drop onto the screwdriver.

On the bench I was able to remove the old seal which I was pleased to see was not the original rope type. I was able to tap the seal whilst in a vice which pushed it out. On inspection it was slightly damaged and the Pin (which is there to hold the rope style in place ) was still there. Ahah! this could be the reason for the leak.

I was pleased to have found this 🙂

It was at this point that things started to go sideways…..

Up until now I had managed, either by complete luck or perhaps a little skill to fix/resolve most issues on the car.

The next step was to remove the top half of the seal. As this was the newer type (I thought) , I should be able to tap on it which would drive it out around the crank enough so that I could pull it out with pliers. The punch sunk in to the top of the seal and nothing moved on the other side. I tried on the other side with the same result. It then dawned on me that the top half of the seal was the original rope one!. A previous owner had replaced the bottom half and given up on the top…

I tried a trick I had seen on line with a screw but I only succeeded in pulling out a tiny amount.

Whilst contemplating the removal of the engine to get this piece of the seal out I looked up into the crank case and noticed what I thought was a hair on one of the cylinder skirts. I reached up and touched it and the skirt moved! It wasn’t a hair, it was a crack. The picture below circles the crack but if you look at the top end of the skirt you can see a crack there also 😦

I suppose I’m ‘lucky’ to have found this now before something really bad happened but it’s taken the wind out of my sails completely…. The engine is going to need to be stripped down and rebuilt..

Crack !

Update: After pulling the engine I was able (with a lot of swearing) to remove the old top half of the main seal (Rope as expected!). It came out in very small chunks but it’s out!

Now that it’s out I’ve decided to install a new seal and reinstall the engine and run it until I buy a new engine (I’m on the hunt). The cracked skirt could have been there for decades and as I only drive about 50 miles a year I’m comfortable with it.

Here’s a video of me explaining what I did to finally get the top half of the seal out…

Next I have to install the bottom half of the seal in the main cap, torque all the cap bolts, reinstall the oil pump, reinstall the oil pan and get ready to reinstall the engine but first I want to clean and paint the engine bay 🙂

Update – All of the above done and the engine is back in the car

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