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Old 12-17-2011, 02:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Real Main Seal - Oil Leak With Pictures

I have a oil leak on my 2003 mdx near the transmission & oil pan. I removed the inspection plate, sprayed everything off with brake cleaner, nice and clean. Drove down the street brought it back and snapped a photo of the exact place where it's leaking, right near the inspection plate (see photo). What's the deal with this. I googled around and most people are calling this a "rear main seal", whatever that is. One post I read said $300 and one said $1,000. Can anyone tell me exactly what this issue is and about how much I should be paying to have it fixed? Also, could it be a DIY'er project?
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Last edited by nateo; 12-17-2011 at 03:30 PM. Reason: add picture
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Old 12-19-2011, 02:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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There is only one way to fix and that is to split the transmission from the engine. Would probably cost $1000. Other option is to add a seal repair liquid. They are at best temporary. Mine leaks, don't like it but not worth the money to repair.

For what it's worth, it's called the "rear main seal" but does not face rear. On front wheel drive I would call it the main seal whereas the one on the passenger side is the crank seal.
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Old 12-21-2011, 11:32 AM   #3 (permalink)
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It is called a "rear main seal", because it is on the rear of the engine. The side of the engine that mounts to the transmission is considered the rear. This is because it is the output side of the engine. So the term "rear main seal" is accepted industry wide.
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Old 12-21-2011, 02:54 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It is called a "rear main seal", because it is on the rear of the engine. The side of the engine that mounts to the transmission is considered the rear. This is because it is the output side of the engine. So the term "rear main seal" is accepted industry wide.
Well said.

The side with belts is "front", the other side with tranny is "rear". Each has a seal for the crank shaft.
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Old 12-22-2011, 09:13 AM   #5 (permalink)
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To elaborate a little on what las4444 said: a rear main seal leak is not as catastrophic a problem as the diagnosis may suggest. Also, it's not that uncommon on cars (of any sort) to have a RMS leak. Speaking generally -- which is to say, without specific knowledge of MDXs that a tech might have -- people frequently ignore RMS leaks rather than fixing them. The reason is that the side effect of such a leak is that you run low on ATF more quickly than you would without one, but the repair process requires that you drop the transmission to access the rear main seal. It is considered by some to be a trade-off: stay vigilant about your ATF levels or pay loads of service time to access the RMS itself and run the risk of damaging your transmission in the process.

This is all couched under the presumption that you have a slow/small leak, rather than a steady flow of ATF coming out of the RMS. If it's the latter, then you should consider replacing it.
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Old 12-22-2011, 11:49 AM   #6 (permalink)
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The rear main seal he is talking about is at the rear of the engine. It's an oil leak, not at leak.




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Originally Posted by austinmark View Post
To elaborate a little on what las4444 said: a rear main seal leak is not as catastrophic a problem as the diagnosis may suggest. Also, it's not that uncommon on cars (of any sort) to have a RMS leak. Speaking generally -- which is to say, without specific knowledge of MDXs that a tech might have -- people frequently ignore RMS leaks rather than fixing them. The reason is that the side effect of such a leak is that you run low on ATF more quickly than you would without one, but the repair process requires that you drop the transmission to access the rear main seal. It is considered by some to be a trade-off: stay vigilant about your ATF levels or pay loads of service time to access the RMS itself and run the risk of damaging your transmission in the process.

This is all couched under the presumption that you have a slow/small leak, rather than a steady flow of ATF coming out of the RMS. If it's the latter, then you should consider replacing it.
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:54 PM   #7 (permalink)
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There is only one way to fix and that is to split the transmission from the engine. Would probably cost $1000. Other option is to add a seal repair liquid. They are at best temporary. Mine leaks, don't like it but not worth the money to repair.

For what it's worth, it's called the "rear main seal" but does not face rear. On front wheel drive I would call it the main seal whereas the one on the passenger side is the crank seal.
Can you recommend any particular brand?
I just had my tranny redone about 3,000 miles ago and the leak just started. Not gonna pay another $1,000 to drop a tranny so soon. This might have to be my only option at this point.
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:54 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Can you recommend any particular brand?
I just had my tranny redone about 3,000 miles ago and the leak just started. Not gonna pay another $1,000 to drop a tranny so soon. This might have to be my only option at this point.
If you just had the transmission rebuilt, they had to split it from the motor, and it sounds to me like the shop did a bad job of getting the seal replaced. You may want to contact the shop that did the work.

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Old 01-06-2013, 10:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Can you recommend any particular brand?
I just had my tranny redone about 3,000 miles ago and the leak just started. Not gonna pay another $1,000 to drop a tranny so soon. This might have to be my only option at this point.
Rear main seal is the seal on the engine side that keeps engine oil from leaking out from the crankshaft. They will leak as the car ages.

You had a bad mechanic replacing your transmission.

For older cars, at the time you remove the transmission, he at least should have recommended replacing the rear main seal at the same time since the tough part of removing the transmission is already done. It would only have cost you the price of the seal and maybe half an hour of his labor.

It's the same reason people always replace their water pump when they replace the timing belt. The labor of getting to the water pump is already part of the timing belt replacement.
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Old 01-07-2013, 01:18 AM   #10 (permalink)
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This is all couched under the presumption that you have a slow/small leak, rather than a steady flow of ATF coming out of the RMS.
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:13 AM   #11 (permalink)
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This is all couched under the presumption that you have a slow/small leak, rather than a steady flow of ATF coming out of the RMS.
He's leaking engine oil, not ATF.
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:54 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I wouldn't use oil additives or "seal lubricants". They either make it worse or fail altogether. If you really want to keep the car then please change the seal. Continue to monitor the oil level while doing so. If not, just monitor the oil level at all times altogether.
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:52 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Check PCV system. A non-working PCV could cause crankcase presssure build and oil leakage by a good seal.

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Old 01-07-2013, 01:15 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Check PCV system. A non-working PCV could cause crankcase presssure build and oil leakage by a good seal.

good luck
Good call. I forgot that, but that seems plausible given the fact that he is leaking quite a bit after a short trip.
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:57 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I have an 02 mdx with oil leak since the transmission redone at 77k. The car right now has 121k on it and is still runnong strong. I used Bars rms repair every 2 oil change, it helps a lot to slow down the oil leak but would not stop the leak completely. I usually change my oil at 4500-5k since the oil always getting low around that time. And it always a good idea to keep an extra bottle of oil in the trunk if you want to live with it.
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