Oil Spitting from Dipstick Tube


Digiko37
12-18-2004, 11:24 PM
My friend owns a 91 Camry with a 4 cyl. DOHC 3F-SE engine. He was driving down the road and his lower radiator hose came off. He did not hear it at first and says the temp gauge stayed normal. It starts steaming so he pulls off the road and we tow it to my house. We replace the thermostat and put the hose back on securely and it starts and runs but runs hot. I notice something dripping underneath and find oil is blowing out the dipstick tube. I hold my hand over where the oil cap goes and get a lot of air coming out of the valve cover. So I figure the head gasket or head must be busted or worst case the block.

I installed a new head gasket and had the head serviced. I had problems with getting it to start after this but, thanks to this great forum, got it running again (special thanks to Brian R.).

It now starts and runs great! but it still is spitting oil out the dipstick tube. It drips when at idle but blows out on to the exhaust when driving/accelerating. The rubber at the top of the dipstick tube is broken so does not seal good. There should not be oil coming up that far in the dipstick tube... Right?

P.S. - It does not seem to overheat any more.

jsinton
12-19-2004, 03:12 AM
Is the ERG valve stuck in the open position or something? Did you try to relieve the pressure a little bit by maybe loosening the oil cap enough to break the seal? These engines do have some positive pressure in the crankcase, and I think it won't run at all if you take off the oil cap completely.

Brian R.
12-19-2004, 03:57 AM
Get a new dipstick and replace the PCV valve. Might be the solution.

Allen McCready
12-19-2004, 11:09 AM
Though I don't have an answer, I have some comments and speculation, which may help, but also seem naive.

These are just rhetorical questions, so I am not expecting answers.

Was the dipstick seal that way before the radiator hose failed?

Was there any similar oil leakage from the dipstick prior to the radiator hose failure?

If the cylinder compression is now back to spec or close enough on all cylinders, then blow-by of oil through the piston rings does not appear to be a likely cause. If it were, you would probably be seeing oil smoke coming out of the exhaust. Are you?

There may be a possibility that due to the overheating or in reassembling the valve assembly after replacing the head gasket, or just coincidentally, although the valves are opening and closing at the right time, compression gas is leaking by one or more of the valves, while they are open.

If you know anyone with a similar camry, you may consider checking it for similar behavior at the dipstick and even trying the leaking dipstick from your friend's car on it. When I get a chance, I will try to check my Toyoughta for its dipstick behavior and let you know.

In any case, replacing the seal or the whole dipstick and emission valve(s) may solve the problem, and are certainly worth a try, but I would be leery of possibly masking an underlying, potentially serious problem that could eventually worsen and reappear.

Years ago, I had a car with a hairline cracked head. The crack didn't open up until the engine got up to operating temperature in hot weather. So, it didn't show up in the shop with the head removed. After replacing the head gasket and resurfacing the head several times, the shop finally replaced the head and solved that problem, but the rest of the engine was far worse off, due to the prolonged overheating. Luckily, I traded it in on a new car before the rest of the --- hit the fan.

I hate to bring this up, but if nothing else turns up, then, unlikely as it seems, you may have to go back to considering that there may be a crack in the block. However, it would seem that a crack would probably evidence itself in somewhat lower compression in one or more cylinders.

Good luck!

Allen McCready
12-19-2004, 06:56 PM
As promised, I just checked the oil dipstick/tube on my 97 camry le 4 cylinder engine. Although there is definitely air continually blowing out of the tube, while the engine is running, there is no sign of oil coming out of the tube. I ran the engine for five minutes and there was no change. I accelerated the engine and there was no change.

You may want to double-check the oil level, just to rule out the remote possibility that there is so much oil in the engine that it is getting blown out of the dipstick tube. You have probably already done this.

Digiko37
12-19-2004, 07:27 PM
Was the dipstick seal that way before the radiator hose failed?

Was there any similar oil leakage from the dipstick prior to the radiator hose failure?

If the cylinder compression is now back to spec or close enough on all cylinders, then blow-by of oil through the piston rings does not appear to be a likely cause. If it were, you would probably be seeing oil smoke coming out of the exhaust. Are you?

I don't know if the seal was that way before the hose came off but it was not leaking oil from the dipstick tube before. There is some oil smoke coming out the exhaust but the same amount was puffing out prior to the hose coming off.

Thanks for checking on your Camry, Allen. I agree I don't want to mask another problem. I plan to check the EGR and replace the dipstick and PCV as Brian mentioned and then go from there. The oil is full but not over the full line.

typesix
12-20-2004, 03:49 PM
The 91 4 cyl Camrys do not have a PCV valve but do have a hose that connects to throttle body from the crankcase that performs the same function. It's above the distributor and is about 1/2-inch? diameter. Check that hose for obstructions.

Brian R.
12-21-2004, 01:38 AM
I stand corrected. I had heard only '87 and '88 engines lacked PCV valves.

Also check hose for vacuum when the engine is running.

typesix
12-21-2004, 03:45 PM
I have an 89 but I've read somewhere? that the 87-91 4 cyls don't have the PCV valve.

WickedNYCowboy
12-21-2004, 04:18 PM
It sounds like a vaccum or pump problem. There would have to be a LOT of extra oil for that to be the cause I mean atleast the amount required plus 1/2 or more.

Digiko37
12-23-2004, 10:34 PM
Problem solved! Yah!

I pulled the PCV hose from the valve cover and intake. The valve cover side had air movement, not a lot but some. The intake side... well, there's bad, then real bad, then seriously bad. This was past seriously bad! It was caked solid with carbon buildup. I used throttle body cleaner, a tooth brush, picks, etc. and gave the intake a good cleaning. Then I used an air gun to make sure the channels were clean. I used the air gun on the valve cover also. I pulled the valve cover off hoping I could unbolt the top part of it and clean whatever mesh was right before the PCV outlet but the cover is molded on so all I could do was blow air thru the outlet and watch chunks (yes, chunks) of carbon come out the bottom. I went to the junk yard a couple days ago and got another dipstick and PCV hose. Once all this was done, no more oil from dipstick tube and the car is running great!

Thanks for all the great advise once again!

Allen McCready
01-01-2005, 11:30 PM
Problem solved! Yah!

I pulled the PCV hose from the valve cover and intake. The valve cover side had air movement, not a lot but some. The intake side... well, there's bad, then real bad, then seriously bad. This was past seriously bad! It was caked solid with carbon buildup. I used throttle body cleaner, a tooth brush, picks, etc. and gave the intake a good cleaning. Then I used an air gun to make sure the channels were clean. I used the air gun on the valve cover also. I pulled the valve cover off hoping I could unbolt the top part of it and clean whatever mesh was right before the PCV outlet but the cover is molded on so all I could do was blow air thru the outlet and watch chunks (yes, chunks) of carbon come out the bottom. I went to the junk yard a couple days ago and got another dipstick and PCV hose. Once all this was done, no more oil from dipstick tube and the car is running great!

Thanks for all the great advise once again!

Congratulations! Great detective work. I will have to keep an eye out for this problem and the solution. I plan on keeping my 97 at least another ten years.

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