I recently developed an oil leak coming from the harmonic balancer. When running, you can see a thin stream of oil oozing out from where the pipe-like "stem" of the balancer juts out of the engine block. How expensive is this to have fixed? Is it critical or just a nuisance? Any comments appreciated.
Sounds like you just need a front engine seal. Use a puller to remove the balancer, pop the old seal out and put a new one in. The shop manual will walk you through it. Most local auto parts stores can get you the front seal. If you have trouble finding them I have a good stock of them and sell for $10 + s/h. Shoot me an email to email@example.com if you need one. If you have a deep groove on the balancer you can re-sleeve it. Again local auto parts stores should have a kit. I believe Auto Zone has them for about $10.
I'm no mechanic and have no tools or training, so doing myself is out of the question. I tried to get quotes over the phone from mechanics who worked on this car before, most copped an attitude and implied it would be a huge job involving 1) disconnecting motor from trans, 2) hoisting motor, 3) removing oil pan for some reason, 4) removing front pulley assembly, 5) removing aluminum front of engine, 6) replacing seal, 7) reassembling car. Nobody would give me a ballpark figure on what this insanity would cost, but I'm guessing $1,500 or so. So my question is, is this critical or just a nuisance that can be ignored? Topping off the oil is easy. But I have read that oil in the balancer throws its timing off and destroys the engine.
As long as you keep your oil topped off, there is no problem other than a messy nuisance. Some oil additives may help slow the leaking. If engine is high mileage and will eventually need a rebuild, you would tackle the leak then. For removing the balancer, the engine doesn't have to come out. Fan and shroud, and maybe the radiator need to be removed, but engine does not have to come out. When I part a car out I take the front clip off so I have no clearance issues but in the car you will need to remove parts in front of it. Here' is a video removing one in the car: http://6364cadillac.ning.com/video/removing-harmonic-balancer-march...
I would estimate maybe 4 hr project at the most by any skilled mechanic. That means your guy would be pulling down at least $375 / hr. I need to go to work in his garage!
...and the nice thing about having a shop manual, even if you do not do the work yourself, is that you can read the section regarding removing the balancer (covered in removing front engine cover section) and show to the mechanic. It tells them you know what is involved, and it will help them understand the steps for them to do their job.
Jason, this is so helpful. Thank you. It takes a big load off my mind. I bought the car 2 years ago from California, the guy REALLY misrepresented its mechanical condition. So the 3k I budgeted for upgrades (fixing power seats, windows, heater, AC, wipers, gas gauge, clock, radio) has all gone to maintaining the status quo (new drive shaft, U joints, brakes, trans lines, oil pump). Now to find another leak...at least the car can be driven lightly and enjoyed this summer (for once). All the other stuff was "mission critical." And that's a good tip about the manual, too. Thanks again.
Tony and Ginny, you are so right. In the last 16 years, I've owned a 1959 Mercury, traded on a 1959 Plymouth, traded on 1960 Fury convert, traded on this 63 Caddy convert. NONE of those previous cars were as attractive and pleasurable to drive. And none of them got as much attention as this one. The '63 Caddy seems to have a MUCH broader appeal, getting big reactions from young and old alike. It's a beautiful car.
Lee, if you find a groove on the harmonic balancer shaft, where the seal has been riding for the 100,000 miles, you can put s repair sleeve on. Its the; Pioneer inc. HB-4124 Sold at many auto parts stores.
That's good information to have, thanks Russ!