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Unread 05-25-2010, 02:03 PM   #1
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1997 TJ Wrangler 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Ohio
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1997 TJ - oil leaking!

Ok so I recently purchased my first Wrangler and, from what I have read, am experiencing some of the typical problems a jeep owner deals with. I bought it two weeks ago, and since then, have replaced the radiator, distributor cap and rotor, pulgs/wires, air filter, and changed the oil in both diffs and the engine.

This is what I have:
97 TJ - 2.5L 4cyl - 5sp Manual - 6" lift and 33x12.5in Coopers STTs
Otherwise it is STOCK.

Anyway, after the oil change, done by a local auto repair shop, I noticed a small about of oil (drops, no stream) leaking from the bottom of the motor. More specifically, the lip on the transmission bell housing. Obviously I took it back to the repair shop and they proceeded to blame everything under the sun for why it is leaking. Regardless of their suggestions, I can tell you this about the leak:

1) The valve cover gasket is new - no wetness at or below this line
2) The head gasket could be old - however, there is NO fresh oil running down the sides or front of the motor
3) There is no oil around the oil pan gasket
4) From a cold start to full temp (about 180 degrees) under idle, no leaking - only when I drive the jeep does oil appear to leak and subsequently shoot all over the front of the trans/skid plate
5) The majority of the oil leakage appears to be running down the front of the trans/inspection box
6) The fluid is BROWN - no red/green

Since it is lifted 6", it is very easy to crawl under and inspect the motor/trans. The repair shop cleaned everything off so you would think it would be easier to pinpoint the leak - all this did was prove out leaking points at or above the head gasket - but I cant be sure.

Ok, this is where I may be shooting myself in the foot here but I am going to mention the REAR MAIN SEAL. I am thinking this is the culprit. What is wierd is that before I took it in for the oil change, I had NO LEAKING problem. What could have happened is that the last owner put a heavier wieght oil to "stop/slow down" the leak and when they replaced it with 5w30, the leak resurfaced - any truth to this?

At this point I am looking for EXPERT advice on what could be the issue - I will try to answer questions if I havent provided enough information above.

Thanks and HELP!!!!!

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Unread 05-25-2010, 02:08 PM   #2
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1998 TJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Charlottesville, Va
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Rear main seal.
[Repair] Rear Main Seal Replacement
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Unread 05-25-2010, 02:17 PM   #3
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1997 TJ Wrangler 
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Location: Ohio
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I have seen those instructions, but aren't they for a 4.0L? From what I have read, the 2.5L sawp out is possibly longer and more difficult - like pulling the trans - but I have yet to come across a good set of instructions.
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Unread 05-26-2010, 09:25 AM   #4
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1997 TJ Wrangler 
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Anyone ever heard of adding a heavier wieght oil to slow/stop the leak? It's got 5w30 in it, thinking of going to 10w30 synthetic and adding lucas oil stablizer.
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Unread 06-23-2010, 06:31 PM   #5
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1997 TJ Wrangler 
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Slightly heavier weight oil really won't do any good leak-wise, and synthetic will leak more than regular dino oil.
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Unread 04-27-2012, 07:46 AM   #6
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1997 TJ Wrangler 
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Location: mission, texas
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I see this post is old but I too had the same problem. My jeep is a 4.0 and what I did was run that "STOP LEAK" stuff that includes stopping leaks for the rear main seal. I cleaned off the oil and ran the jeep about 200 miles and the leak stopped. I was surprised because I was certain that it wouldn't work but it did. It could be worth a try rather than changing out the seal.
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Unread 04-27-2012, 09:03 AM   #7
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2006 LJ Wrangler 
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I noticed mine leaked at the rear main after my last oil change, I had switched to Mobil 1 syn. I will be switching back to the dino oil in a couple of weeks to see if it stops it.
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1997 tj , 2.5l , oil leaking , rear main seal
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