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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Now that the car has sat for a couple months, I replaced the plug wires. I noticed oil pooled up around the front two spark plugs. The plug wire rubber cap was sitting in the oil. Easy to soak it all up with a couple paper towels.

So, is this a simple valve cover gasket issue? Straight forward to do myself this winter?

I was also contemplating a new timing belt & tensioner after hearing other recent stories, although I did recently (2 yrs ago) recheck and re-tension mine, This time I would take it to a shop to possibly pull the engine, do full service, and fix the oil leak. But, it is an old car, sometimes it's best to just fix the leak, and not pull an engine, might discover lots of other items.

'89 SE
 

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Agree with Bob, but there several other possible locations for the leaks.

The valve cover gaskets.
the o-rings on the brass plugs that cover the access holes for the cam tower bolts.
The cam tower to head sealant (it is an anaerobic sealant, not a gasket!).
and if the leak is only near the ends, then it could also be the o-rings at the end of the cam towers, under the caps. Or the front oil seal on the cams.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the opinions all. I've been traveling for work and have not had a chance to reply til now. Seems like as with any lotus project, I'll know more once I start getting into it.
 

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1988 Esprit Turbo
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Travis covered most everything, but note that there are also small sealing O rings under the red cam cover's bolts.

I vote for the cam carrier-to-head seam, though. :( Pools of oil stay in the lifter area after the engines stop :up: and the sealant leaks after 20 years or so...

:tadts:
 

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If you can see oil tracks from the valve covers seams or the valve cover bolts the fix is simple - pretty much likewise if it happens to be the rear cam tower covers (simple meaning very direct access/little dis-assembly required). If it is the cam tower/head interface - which is what I suspect - then you are looking at a lot of work. You'll have to remove the cam towers, clean and re-seal the interface using an anaerobic sealant (e.g. Loctite 518).
 

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Travis covered most everything, but note that there are also small sealing O rings under the red cam cover's bolts.

I vote for the cam carrier-to-head seam, though. :( Pools of oil stay in the lifter area after the engines stop :up: and the sealant leaks after 20 years or so...

:tadts:
Oh yea, forgot about the little o-rings under the cam cover bolts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
And to be clear, I now also believe it is the cam tower to head interface. Yuk. Called the local lotus shop, discussed engine-out to repair plus timing belt, maybe a couple other minor things. Its 20 to 30 hours plus parts, so in the $5000 range.

Anyone want to do this for me for $1500 plus parts? Nice winter project...
 

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There is no need to remove the engine to remove/reinstall the cam carriers as they are easily accessed from above once the cam belt is off. It is a good opportunity to check/adjust the valve clearances during this job too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
OK, that sounds more reasonable. Thanks for the positive opinions! Still may end up paying a lotus expert shop to do this, but also something I can handle myself given enough time.
 
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