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Old 03-29-2021, 06:44 PM #1
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what is leaking? (pics enclosed)

Bought a 99 Limited with 219k on it in October. Replaced valve cover gaskets, brakes, timing belt, thermostat, etc. Drives well although I've always noticed a slight wet spot near front axle. Shop didn't seem that concerned about it - "steering column catches anything that leaks from engine, could be anything..."

I've put 3k miles on the truck this winter and have started noticing wet spots in the driveway. Took a few pictures for a second opinion ó any advice?





Thanks!
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Old 03-29-2021, 07:00 PM #2
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Check your power steering fluid reservoir, if that's good.
edit: smell the fluid also gear oil has a nasty smell. It could also be the transfer case shifter oil deflector. Will have to remove the center console remove the shifter remove the bolts for the cover plate and check. Replace the breather as well while you are in there.

Last edited by spartacus; 03-29-2021 at 07:08 PM.
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Old 03-29-2021, 07:09 PM #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spartacus View Post
Check your power steering fluid reservoir my guess, rack is leaking.
Power steering fluid is combustible too, so that should be fun if it's getting near the headers/exhaust.
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Old 03-29-2021, 07:12 PM #4
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I've been checking the power steering reservoir for the last month and fluid level cold is remaining the same.

I may regret this, but can you define "nasty smell"? :-D
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Old 03-29-2021, 07:17 PM #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by summcat View Post
I've been checking the power steering reservoir for the last month and fluid level cold is remaining the same.

I may regret this, but can you define "nasty smell"? :-D

Gear oil has sulfurous compounds in it so it would smell like rotten eggs.
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Old 03-29-2021, 07:23 PM #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by summcat View Post
I've been checking the power steering reservoir for the last month and fluid level cold is remaining the same.

I may regret this, but can you define "nasty smell"? :-D
Gear oil has a very recognizable and very unpleasant smell to it, but it's one of those things that you have to be familiar with in order to sniff it out, especially if your other fluids are worn - then they'll all smell like shit and I doubt you'll see what we're talking about (you could always open up a bottle of 80w90 and take a whiff). Really, I doubt it's gear oil, as you need a pretty substantial leak for oil that heavy to flow from. Seeing as how there's a little bit of shine on the sway bar I'd take a stab and say it's coming from your trans somewhere. Personally I have a small leak around the bell housing, and it took me a little while to find it but once there was a dry week with no rain it was much easier to spot. Is there color to it, or simply black?
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Old 03-29-2021, 09:25 PM #7
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Quote:
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Power steering fluid is combustible too, so that should be fun if it's getting near the headers/exhaust.
4runners use dex-iii atf for power steering. Atf fluid flash point is like 300+ degrees.
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Old 03-30-2021, 11:12 AM #8
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While you're at it, reach your hand to the back of your valve covers and check for oil. There's a good chance the valve cover bolts need to be re-torqued...or the shop did not replace/reseal the halfmoons. Leakage towards the back of the engine can be attributed to the valve cover gaskets A LOT of the time and there's always the possibility of them leaking even though they were replaced.

I'm mostly basing this on the fact that there still appears to be a lot of oil and grime up high on the engine, but maybe this is still there from before the repair.
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Old 03-30-2021, 02:24 PM #9
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Were the half moons and camshaft seals replaced with the valve cover gaskets?
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Old 03-30-2021, 10:39 PM #10
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if it's PS fluid and it's seen more than a few thousand miles, it will take on a burned, slightly cigarette-butt scent. it's really awful to my nose. just pop off the PS reservoir dipstick and have a sniff. then go wipe a bit of the leaked fluid and smell that. as devbot said, gear oil does *not* smell like this, but instead has sulfur additives and those are unique in a vehicle. PS fluid doesn't smell anything like that. someone recently posted up a photo that looks a bit like your trouble -- a potential PS rack leak. given its location in your vehicle, it's definitely worth a check. after you take a sniff, clean up the rack really well with a cloth, above and below, and then watch it over a couple days to see what develops or drips onto it.
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Old 03-30-2021, 10:49 PM #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by photoleif View Post
if it's PS fluid and it's seen more than a few thousand miles, it will take on a burned, slightly cigarette-butt scent. it's really awful to my nose. just pop off the PS reservoir dipstick and have a sniff. then go wipe a bit of the leaked fluid and smell that. as devbot said, gear oil does *not* smell like this, but instead has sulfur additives and those are unique in a vehicle. PS fluid doesn't smell anything like that. someone recently posted up a photo that looks a bit like your trouble -- a potential PS rack leak. given its location in your vehicle, it's definitely worth a check. after you take a sniff, clean up the rack really well with a cloth, above and below, and then watch it over a couple days to see what develops or drips onto it.
As mentioned earlier, these use ATF fluid rather than PS fluid.
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Old 03-31-2021, 03:03 AM #12
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I've seen these leak where the steering shaft connects to the rack before and it would show up in that location, usually a pretty minor leak although rack replacement seems to be the best option due to the complexity of the rack components. Could be the front diff pinion seal aswell I guess.
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