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All the ways your Jeep Wrangler’s Engine Can Leak in Denver

Hi there. I’m Saul Reisman here at Saul’s AutoTek and today we’re in front of this 2012 Jeep Wrangler because we want to talk to you about a common problem that we’ve seen with these vehicles.

Now you’ve seen some of our videos in the past. We’ve talked to you about some of the steering front end, wobble type issues they have. Today we’re going to talk about something completely different. We see a lot of these vehicles come in with two different leaks from the engine itself. One is the upper engine oil pan. Now, most vehicles are equipped with a single lower oil pan that’s simply bolted to the bottom of the engine with anywhere from 6 to 25 bolts and retains the bottom of the oil. Typically the gasket around the bottom of that pan is made out of rubber or cork and will last a pretty long time, a hundred thousand miles plus, and may have a minor leak into high mileage is. However, in his Jeep Wranglers were equipped with the Chrysler 3.6 Pentastar engine, we’ve seen a fair amount of them leaking from the upper piece of the two-piece oil pan on the vehicle.

We’re going to show you what that looks like on this one. This one just got a repair and we’re actually getting it cleaned up and ready to go out, but we want to show you where to look because if you’re servicing your own Jeep-like many of you owners do if you’re taking care of your own oil changes, you might see this and it’s definitely something you want to be aware of, especially because while replacing the lower oil pan is a very straightforward, easy to do, do it yourself type of repair. The upper oil pan is not. It requires a specific torque sequence and padding and needs to be done by a professional. Let’s take a look.

Now if we come under the vehicle, we see the small engine oil pan that bolts to the lower half of the engine itself. Now, this guy’s easy to service has 10-millimeter bolts around the perimeter, only takes about an hour to remove it, clean it all up, reseal it, get it back on there. The pan I’m talking about is the upper pan. This top edge approximately four inches vertically above where the lower pan bolts to the engine. Now you’ll notice something substantially different. While the lower oil pan is a simple piece of box or cast steel, this upper piece is cast aluminum, which means the fitment of it is going to be very specific. While the steel lower pan may have a little bit of flexibility or a little bit of giving to it, this upper pan is a machine fitment and must be properly secured, torqued, and additionally cleaned on both sides as well.

There are bolts that pass through from the transmission bell housing into that oil pan, so that the upper oil pan is actually providing a stiffening application to the bottom of the engine housing and the front of the transmission. So it’s very important that’d be done by a proper professional.

If you’ve got concerns about yours or you see you’re as leaking when you’re doing your own oil change, be prepared to bring it in and take a look.

One thing that we’ve seen a lot of owners notice as well is that there are two drain plugs at the bottom of the bell housing on the transmission. Now these drain plugs are here so that you can use them as an inspection court to find out if there are any leaks. Now, this vehicle is seen some dirt and some off-road abuse and you notice this a little bit of discoloring right around those plugs. Now the reason for this discoloring is because a very small amount of oil is leaking behind into that bell housing. Now it’s unknown if that’s transmission fluid from the front transmission seal or engine oil from the back of the crankshaft seal. However, if we would remove these two inspection plugs, we’d be able to stick a scope camera in and take a look forward or rearward and find out.

If you’ve got concerns about the oil pan on yours, bring it in. Let us take a look, especially if it’s just due for an oil change. It’s a service that should be done at that point anyway. That way you’re not spending money twice refilling that oil and filter when you don’t need to.

The other piece that we’ll talk about just briefly with these guys is the head gasket concern. Now obviously an oil pan leak is relatively minor comparatively, and while it may be time-intensive, the repair will not do serious detrimental damage to the engine unless the engine were to run out of oil. However, these incomes are also being plagued with a head gasket, or head cracking failure that we’ve seen across the board. In the past 12 months, we’ve replaced approximately 50 different sets of head gaskets or cylinder heads themselves on Pentastar 3.6 engines. Typically owners are coming in with complaints about their heating or cooling system, not appropriately working right. Maybe the heat’s not engaging right or the defroster smells a little funky, but the most common complaint, believe it or not, is not actually overheating, which is what we would typically suspect with the head gasket failure. However, upon inspection, we found a tremendous, tremendous percentage of these come in with externally leaking head gaskets on the front of the driver’s side of the engine block, or with cracks in the cylinder head casting between cylinders four and six.

If you’ve got questions about yours or you seem to notice a little coolant just disappearing and you don’t know where it’s going, or maybe your heat is just not working right, feel free to bring your Jeep on in to see us at Saul’s AutoTek seven days a week. We’ll take a look, have a qualified technician do a certified inspection on the vehicle, and provide you with the most accurate estimate of what’s truly causing your problem. You’d hate to find out that the problem with your heat really has to do with your engine or vice versa after you’ve done a repair. Make sure you get it done right the first time here at Saul’s AutoTek.

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About the Author

Picture of Saul Reisman

Saul Reisman

Saul Reisman has been helping the residents of the Centennial State with their automotive needs for over ten years now. He finished his Associate Degree in Physics at the Community College of Denver. Saul is an active member of the Specialty Equipment Market Association and a board member of the Young Executives Network. He undergoes constant educational training through GMC, MOPAR, Ford, Snap-On, Borg-Warner, and Ozark Automotive, with an emphasis on diagnosis, repair, and improvement.

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