how do you find an oil leak?

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crw

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Well, the question is just that. I'm not sure how to use dye, or where to find it. The car is a 1995 Mazda Protege, 1.5l DOHC engine. This car had no leaks! Then my wife took it out for some "unexpected" off-road duty.... ended up scraping the catalytic converter. I don't "see" any other damage. However, when she got back the car had developed a slow oil leak. I can't see any problems with the oil pan. Bolts are tight. The oil seems to be coming from higher than the level of the oil pan... The filter is tight. I don't think it's the front seal. Does an oil leak tend to get "blown upward" as you drive?
 
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Go to Carquest or NAPA and get some UV dye for oil. Dump it in the oil, and drive it for a day, then check it with a good ultraviolet light. A low powered household black light will work, but not as effectively as a bright UV light designed for the purpose. I see now they have LED blacklights that work quite well based on what I've heard from the guys using them. Don't know how much they cost though...I'm sure it's up there. A regular white LED flashlight will emit enough UV light to get the dye to show up to some extent, but the white light impedes it quite a bit. You could play around with different lights till you found one that works good enough to get the job done. Worst case scenario is to have a shop look at the leak with their blacklight once you have the dye added. They shouldn't charge too much for a simple diagnosis of this nature.
 
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I'd simple green clean the motor up to the head gasket so its clean and then watch for the new seep/ leak. If it doesn't work - you still end up with as clean motor for the uv test. See simple green in wax and clean section.
 
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Try a light tap or shake test on the converter to hear if her impact did damage. Sounding like a can of marbles isn't spec for a converter. Also when you clean the motor you may get a better look at new scratches on the pan, trannie. Clean up the front suspension also if it needs it to look for possible damage.
 
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Try a light tap or shake test on the converter to hear if her impact did damage. Sounding like a can of marbles isn't spec for a converter. Also when you clean the motor you may get a better look at new scratches on the pan, trannie. Clean up the front suspension also if it needs it to look for possible damage.
 
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For a little less than $30, you can buy a UV kit at Autozone. The dye can go into the a/c, oil. coolant etc. It is made by Mastercool and is where the ac stuff is. I bought it to find a leak on my a/c, and it works fine. The light is small but works.
 
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With the engine off use some spray on brake cleaner to remove any oil / dirt that has accumulated. This will not only clean the engine it will dry out any areas that were wet with oil. Now start the engine and look for leaks.
 
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Doubt it's from the heads in this case, I'd look at the front and rear seals. Don't laugh, but are you sure it's engine oil?
 

crw

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It very much looks like engine oil to me, but it's very puzzling. One thing that I had noticed, is that she managed to bang up the oil drain plug a little bit. It's still solid, but the rim of it was a little off... anyway I replaced that and thought it was solid... But the leak seems to be coming from above the level of the oil drain plug or the oil pan gasket, unless the oil somehow gets blown upward as you drive. I think I'll have to try the things you'all have suggested, clean things up, and then try out a UV kit if I still don't find it. Thanks.
 
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UV dye is an almost foolprrof way to find the leak. However, it too will run just like oil so some common sense comes into play as far as tracing it's origin. Those household black light bulbs are feeble at best, in my experience. Unless you can find one that's "hotter" than the typical 25 watts. They do work, but only on a moon-less night away from street lamps, etc. I think the kit from Autozone or similar is a good way to go.
 

crw

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Ha ha... the wife was taking one of the daughters up to "girls camp". They got onto a rough dusty road and of course the Protege has very little clearance. *** That's all I know... ***
 
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