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Oil leak = head gasket?

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 25 Jul 2011, 02:41 pm
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Default Oil leak = head gasket?

Hi, I'm Dawn.
I'm new. But I've lurked ever since I got my PT.

I tried to search for this topic but captcha is frustrating.


I have a 2005 Limited Edition Turbo, almost 80k miles.

He (my car is a "he") seemed to be going through oil rather quickly.
Then I noticed the oil spots on the driveway.
Took him to my regular mechanic shop and they said Gasket Cover Seal (or whatever the wording was). They replaced that. ($150)

Three weeks later (today) the oil is disappearing faster than I can pour it in.
(okay, maybe that is a bit of an exageration, but it is using a quart for every 200 miles).

Took him back to the regular mechanic and they said they don't know what to do, they couldn't find the leak... I should take it to the dealership.

Dealership says Head Gasket ($1200).


Insight is appreciated.
(And thanks for having this forum!!)

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Old 25 Jul 2011, 03:40 pm
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Default Re: Oil leak = head gasket?

Hi Dawn. First, get your $150 back from the first mechanic because he didn't fix your leak.

The dealer (if right with the head gasket) is known to charge large sums of cash to do anything. A competent mechanic could do it for less. Keep looking around for a trusted mechanic if you can. The dealer is usually about 80% right in diagnosing what the problems is, if it's not electrical and then they just throw parts at it till they get it right. Hopefully they could see where you leaking BUT usually a head gasket will give you other signs other than using a lot of oil. Do you know if the dealer did any engine tests? With that much oil you should see some white smoke out of the tail pipe and it might run a little ruff under the crack in the gasket gets bigger than you really feel it.
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Old 25 Jul 2011, 03:44 pm
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Default Re: Oil leak = head gasket?

First, I would go find a new mechanic. Oil consumption at that rate is pretty obvious to spot - the oil is going somewhere! If it's an external leak, it's starting somewhere and ending somewhere (presumably the ground). If your engine is gunky, have it steam cleaned somewhere and it will make the leak exceptionally easy to spot. The leakiest valve cover gasket in the world could not lead to that kind of loss - you'd need something lower, or maybe under pressure... perhaps the oil pan or the turbo's oil feed line or drain.

If the leak is internal and there are no outward signs of leakage there are really only a few spots to check... Valves, pistons, and turbo. Chances are if the oil is disappearing at such a prodigious rate through the valve seals or pistons, you will have low compression and a compression test or leakdown test will reveal that. Both may cause smoking, especially at idle or part throttle. If you have blown turbo seals, that oil may be going straight into the exhaust or it may be going into the intake. If it's going into the exhaust, it will probably be smokey. If it's going into the intake, it will be coating your intake pipes - pulling one off will show you.

Head gasket is very unlikely IMHO. You would have other signs, and more likely than not they would be far more obvious than some missing oil.

At 80,000 miles that kind of disappearing oil trick is highly unusual for any car, although if it's going to happen it's going to happen on a boosted car. Assuming the leak is internal, the car is well-maintained and hasn't suffered any major damage (like overheating, infrequent oil changes, or being run without oil) I would put the turbo as the #1 suspect. Bad turbo seals can disappear a lot of oil fairly quickly, and often times there is no obvious sign.
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Old 25 Jul 2011, 04:11 pm
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Default Re: Oil leak = head gasket?

but wouldnt that much oil leave a smokey trail???? i dont think its a head gasket and I agree to start with the turbo does your car smoke a lot???
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Old 25 Jul 2011, 05:07 pm
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Default Re: Oil leak = head gasket?

I haven't caught him smoking at all.
He only has one friend he hangs out with, an S10; and she's a non-smoker, maybe she is a good influence. ( < --- ha ha, that was supposed to be funny)

I guess that's why I came out of lurkdom; head gasket would not have been my choice for what is wrong. I also thought when that goes out - or "blown", the car doesn't operate. I'm a courier, so I've gone though a lot of cars... and I've experienced a lot of what can go wrong with a car, but never had this situation.

Do you know if the dealer did any engine tests?

They didn't say they did, they just said it 'matter of factly' after I left him there this morning, so they had him for over 3 hours. He did mention the word Turbo, saying something like "this is a Turbo, so we need to do this". (Okay, so there was at least 4 minutes of conversation to me but all I really retained was oil leak, head gasket, turbo, if I don't fix it the engine will die, and $1200).
This is the only Chrysler dealership for miles and everyone around here goes there. ( I didn't think to check online for complaints, though, I will do that next)

I definitely need to break up with my regular mechanic shop. This is the 2nd bad call that they've made within a few months.

I live in a small small small (did I mention small) town. Not a whole lot of choices.
I'll talk to his father tonight and see how he wants to proceed. Thanks for all the input!
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Old 25 Jul 2011, 05:43 pm
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Default Re: Oil leak = head gasket?

Originally Posted by cruserdad1976 View Post
but wouldnt that much oil leave a smokey trail???? i dont think its a head gasket and I agree to start with the turbo does your car smoke a lot???
IME turbos can blow a lot of oil out the tailpipe under boost but be pretty civilized otherwise. This can make it hard to see what's going on, since the only time it's blowing any smoke is while you're under way and not seeing what's coming out the tailpipe. Nice turbo failure causes big smoking under vacuum, like at idle. Then it's pretty clear what you need to do.

One thing that occurs to me: If the mechanic thought it was the valve cover but that didn't fix it, it's possible that it could be the cam seals or the little "notch" on the intake cam opposite the cam position sensor. Those are low enough on the head that *maybe* you could get a good leak that would appear as the valve cover, but isn't. Frankly, I doubt this is the case. It's still a LOT of oil to be lost from that high up on the engine, and it'd be pretty odd to suffer that kind of failure at such low mileage.

Any decent shop should be able to ID this problem. It may be that the dealer knows something we don't - I would give them a call and ask for more information about their diagnosis, put them on notice that if you pay for their $1200 repair you expect it to be PERFECT when they're done. FWIW, I don't think $1200 is a crazy amount of money for the job if it's done right. There is a solid $200 worth of parts involved (more $$$ at dealer prices) and a justifiable $100-$200 worth of machine shop time. That's $800 worth of labor, which from my recent experience seems about spot-on.

I'm still not clear - is this vehicle leaving puddles of oil or not?
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Old 11 Jun 2012, 03:42 pm
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Default Re: Oil leak = head gasket?

It may be a little late but have a anwser for you. There is a port that goes from your engine block to your cylinder head. This is a pressurized oil galley, it is located on the rear of the drivers side between the head and the block. unfortunatly the only way to fix this problem is to remove the head. This is a very common problem on pt cruisers and will probable happen again even after it is fixed. my advice to you is get rid of your car. I have been a mechanic for many years and every pt cruiser I have ever worked on has this problem. Sorry for the bad news
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Old 11 Jun 2012, 03:56 pm
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Default Re: Oil leak = head gasket?

bignick wow thats a bold statement
I ahev been on this site a long time and while some turbos have issues to say get rid of the car its not fixable??????DOnt think I can agree with that this si the first time i have heard of a unfixable port??? just saying

I think that loosing a quart in 200 miles ia a HUGE amount
I think every one is correct it is probaly loosing it under boost
but my question---since i dont ahve a turbo---
isnt there always boost????so arnt you always loosing oil????
a quart will make a BIG puddle on a driveway so it almost has to be when driving
partyd likes this.
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Old 11 Jun 2012, 04:44 pm
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Default Re: Oil leak = head gasket?

The original 'composite' head gaskets ('93-96?) build on this engine family would leak at drivers rear as Rick said.
MLS gasket came along and cured it. Mine's still going after such a leak in '03
Not- at all- saying it couldn't be internal-external head gasket oil leak, but just based on what's heard for complaints on board- Uncommon.

The absolute, most common leak is oil pressure sender.
I'd suggest having that replaced, Dawn- It's very inexpensive AND can leak alot!!!!

Then cam sensor, but TheSameGuy has something, very few items could leak that amount.

I'd guess the local guys saw leakage and took their best shot,

Other things;
rear main (don't hear of this much)
Front main (sometimes, but from another issue we won't go into.

Don't know much intimate about turbo's, but there are two external oil lines, and external lines are s c a r y.
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Old 11 Jun 2012, 08:57 pm
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Default Re: Oil leak = head gasket?

Uptown had good points--the oil-sending unit leaking was a good place to start. And believe it or not, your PCV valve can allow a lot of oil into your manifold--and no smoking to let you know.

My PT used to use a quart every 400 miles, but after changing the PCV valve, I can go the whole 3 thousand miles between oil changes and use only a half-quart, total. That's a big difference.

You may have a combination of a leaky oil-sending unit, as well as, a PVC valve that needs replacing.

Good luck,

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