Expensive car repair question!!!

Is a ten-year-old car with a couple of oil leaks repairable to the tune of $950 p&l (OUCH!) worth the expense?

Princess has an oil pan gasket leak and a leak from somewhere up front around the passenger side of the engine. She’s got about 60,000 miles on her and has been exceedingly reliable - up to this point.

Oh, and I bought her for a dollar from the ex-fiancé when we split.

There you have it. I bow to superior knowledge about cars.

Make and model? Repair details?

In general, ten years isn’t a big downcheck if those ~6k miles per year were reasonably well maintained.

What model of vehicle is it?

60,000 miles isn’t a lot these days.

2004 Chysler Sebring convertible. i’d have to pull the car maint. file to tell you how much work she’s had done. not a lot i’m guessing if i can’t recall.

I owned a car in England named Princess. Not a nickname; rather, the actual model name!

How bad is it leaking? You can buy a lot of oil for nearly $1K. If it’s a small leak, just check the oil level weekly and top it up. If you park it in a garage, you may want to buy a drip pan. Of course it isn’t very ecological dripping oil all over the place. If it’s a large leak, like a constant drip or stream of oil, then need to fix it as you may run the engine dry or low on oil and destroy the engine.

There are products available to add to the oil which may stop the leaking or slow it down. They work by swelling the seals and this could help if it’s a front or rear main seal.

Often oil pans leak just because the bolts/screws loosen up. You might want to find someone who would get under the car with a wrench or two and gently tighten down the pan bolts. Use something like a small 1/4" socket wrench so as to not over-tighten them.

However you might want to consider trading it in on something new or newer. My wife’s 2002 PT Cruiser’s automatic transmission went out at about 70K miles. That was nearly $3K to fix. Your car may have the same or similar transmission. Chrysler products have a reputation for transmission problems around that time frame.

Before you get the work done, get an expert opinion on what other work may be needed now or in the near future. Then compare that with the cost of replacing it to make an informed decision.

Once you get past the ‘keeping up with fashion’ thing, it is mainly about money, but also about better the devil you know. Buying a secondhand car is a risk.

The oil pan gasket leak is an easy fix. However the leak “up front around the passenger side” will require more specifics. It may be a valve cover leak which again is simple or it may be main seal which is anything but.

From the quote, I would say it is the latter or your mechanic is trying to rip you off.

All that said, how bad is the leak in terms of extra oil per mileage (i.e. 1 quart every 3000 or 1 quart a day) :smiley:

Does it leak oil when parked in driveway or only when running?

60k miles is awfully low for two oil leaks and my experience is that almost all Chrysler products from the late 90s to about 06/07 where VERY poorly made (as evidenced by your issues and such low mileage).

To date it’s a very slow leak. I’m not having to add oil. It appears to leak when sitting in the garage. i Don’t know if it’s leaking while running. Something i’ll check on.

Agree about the low mileage and Chrysler products leaking. They do tend to develop seal issues later on in their lives. All said, I could hardly turn down buying a then six-year-old car for a buck.

I will definitely get the oil additive as mentioned by JerrySTL upthread and keep an eye on oil consumption.

Is it worth trying to get another opinion on the sitrep? Dare I take it to a Chrysler dealership?

I’d suggest getting the oil pan leak fixed first. A simple fix and it shouldn’t be very expensive.

Then see how bad the other leak is. Can you put up with it? If it has to be fixed get several estimates and an explanation of what is leaking.

You can buy granules that soak up oil. Spread a small pile where the car is leaking.

Less than quart every few weeks: Get the opinion of another mechanic and then get the leak repair. $950 to fix an oil leak is ridiculous, unless it’s a head gasket, which another matter entirely.

More than a quart:You may need take a hard look at owning the vehicle in the long-term. Most 1990 models of any car manufacturer don’t hold their value and spending a lot of money and time having one repaired might be a waste of limited resources.

Did the person who diagnosed the issue try checking that all the pan bolts were tight? A loose one probably isn’t all that likely, but it’s cheap and worth a try.

Otherwise, a slow oil pan leak is really just embarrassing, not something that’s going to blow your car up. An oil pan gasket should be an easy job, but often it isn’t because of having to remove other stuff to make room to maneuver the pan out. A quick google seems to suggest that if you’ve got the 2.7L V6 engine in this car, the pan is indeed a pain to get out, requiring removal of some exhaust components and loosening some other parts. You might try shopping around, but it looks like $950 is probably in the ballpark for what you’re going to pay to fix it.

If it were me, I’d get one of the big flat drip pans you can park on and just be mindful of what you’re leaking on when you park the car. Park down the block from friend’s houses.

I’ve got some bad news for you. 1990 was 20 years ago. I know, right?

A head gasket would never leak oil, just use coolant and cause a miss (if large enough) due to the introduction of air into the cooling system.

If the oil leak is a valve cover, you can look at actually tell (just look for fresh oil on the bottom of the valve cover. I would let the car sit overnight in a clean spot and then trace the leak.

Oil leaks - if small - are more of an irritant that damaging to the car. Understanding of course that they can grow. That said I have an old farm truck with 400k miles on it (all original) that has leaked the same amount of oil (about 3/4 quart a month) for 5 years now. Its a rear main seal and not worth fixing, keep waiting for it to go out, damn thing wont die so we drive it semi regularly :smiley:

Actually a head gasket can leak oil. I owned a car that did. The oil for the valve train came up a tube about a 1/2" from the edge of the block and head. It was common for the head gasket to weaken there on these engines which allowed oil to leak at first, then squirt, out the side of the engine. However I don’t think this is an issue with the OPs engine.

Since the OP is looking for advice, let’s move this to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

Thank you.
I was just about to write a similar response.
I don’t think that it’s the problem either, as the OP didn’t complain any other issue than the oil leak.

I’m just not a fan of dumping money into vehicles with limited resale value and which may require additional maintenance.

I meant to say 1990s models, including all of those manufactured during that decade. Being 47, I am aware of the passage of time though.

A car that’s 10 years old is a 2004.

The real question is weighing repair cost against the cost of replacing the vehicle. What’d be best would be for the OP to find a car person she knows and have them look at it. Many’s the time someone in the family brought a car to me needing hundreds in work that was fixed in a couple of hours in the driveway.

Gear head here. Dad and granddad were professional mechanics. I have a car with a turbo, 2 trucks and 5 motorcycles.

I know 2 people that had sudden, major transmission problems with that era of Chryslers. I also know that one of their engines was so bad that you can’t even buy a remanufactured one.
So I say put the oil additive in it and start looking for a replacement car.

You can soak up the oil from your garage floor with generic kitty litter (it’s clay).

IF you do have it repaired, consider having the water pump and timing belt changed at the same time. 60K is early for them, but they’ll have to take off a lot of the ‘accessories’ to find or fix the ‘front side’ leak and be ‘in the neighborhood’ of the pump and belt.

These products can sometimes be helpful, but they can also be “too helpful.” Often they continue to soften and swell the seals to the point that they start leaking again worse than before.

With that small of a leak I recommend do NOT use a stop-leak additive.