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Leaks Oil From Where?

By Norman Nock

Originally published in the Austin-Healey Magazine, March 1999


It is not unusual for British cars to leak oil, the common places are rear of the engine, transmission, rear axle, into the inlet manifold and many other places. Leaking oil onto your lap while driving is unusual, but it happens.


I encountered my first case of "Oil Lap Leak" when I had my business in San Francisco in the 1960s. Some of my customer sparked their Healeys facing uphill on the steep hills of the city. This would cause the oil in the steering box to slowly creep up inside the steering column. The switch mechanism in the trafficator would become saturated and voila! oil leak onto the lap.


The "Left Leg Leak" occurs when the fitting between the oil gauge and the oil feed pipe is compromised. If the fitting is loose or the seal between the connection is missing a leak will occur, dripping oil onto your left leg. If the seal is missing you can order part #2K4936.


Here are some oil leaks that don't involve your leg but should be repaired nevertheless.

Rear air cleaner leaks are caused by worn rocker arms directly below the valve cover "T" piece. At speed the oil squirts directly into the "T" piece, then into the rear air filter. If the rocker arm is worn beneath the oil filler cap it will squirt out of the filler cap hole. If the rocker arms are worn overall you will have many valve cover leaks.


To check for rocker arm leaks remove the valve cover after the engine has warmed up to operating temperature. If you see oil squirting up from the small holes in the rockers you need to rebuild the rocker shaft assembly


Even the ignition system can be subject to oil leaks. If you notice oil leaking from the distributor you should check the seal in the distributor pedestal. It can also be caused by engine blow‑by.


Not what you were looking for? Don't forget you can check our back issues using the AHCUSA Magazine Index.

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