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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I noticed a damp oily patch below the engine oil fill cap. No puddles under the car or anything major like that.
Oil at the full mark (and light brown in colour) on the dipstick.
Photos were taken with the camera fixed on the passenger side strut tower (LHD car):

(http://www.rav4world.com/forums/members/albums/37389-mick-hatzo/used-forums-8706-picture50522-oil-spill-1.png)


(http://www.rav4world.com/forums/members/albums/37389-mick-hatzo/used-forums-8706-picture50530-oil-spill-2.jpg)

What would the "leaky" component be in your opinions?
 

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Looks like some oil was spilled while using the engine oil filler and has worked its way onto an adjacent component.
 
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1999 Toyota RAV4 with 3MZ-FE 6 cylinder engine, camo wrap, OME lift, heavily modded
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If it was right at the oil fill cap, could it be spillage from adding oil? Clean the engine well and then watch to see if it recurs.

The only things in that area to leak oil is the valve cover gasket and up above it the power steering hose goes close to it, check it for leaks as well.

Smell it does it smell like transmission fluid or oil? The Rav4 uses ATF Dexron II/III fluid in the power steering system.

My guess is spillage. Here is what the back side of the engine looks like when stripped so you can see there is nothing there, that "hole" just below the cap is just a fuel rail spacer position like you see on the other side. Oh and keep us posted on what you find.

 
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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you both for the replies.
Although it looks wet, it didn't feel wet when I fingered :)mrgreen:) the area. The last oil change took place around a year ago, so spillage from that change seems a very reasonable guesstimate.
I will try to clean the (very cramped) area, keep an eye on the oil and power steering fluid level and report back at the end of the month when I am due for service.
 

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1999 Toyota RAV4 with 3MZ-FE 6 cylinder engine, camo wrap, OME lift, heavily modded
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Slight chance it could be a bad oil cap/seal. And/or PCV isn't working well so oil mist is being forced out (change the PCV valve).

Are you losing a significant amount of oil? If so, how fast?
Good points
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Slight chance it could be a bad oil cap/seal.
Excellent recommendation. I will try to clean everything up to the cap and monitor the area over the next days.

And/or PCV isn't working well so oil mist is being forced out (change the PCV valve).
The PCV valve was replaced preemptively about two years ago when I noticed a minor leak around its grommet.

Are you losing a significant amount of oil? If so, how fast?
Nope. Last oil change occurred a year ago, dipstick reads full (cold motor). Never had to top up oil between changes.
 

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1999 Toyota RAV4 with 3MZ-FE 6 cylinder engine, camo wrap, OME lift, heavily modded
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And, if the power steering reservoir is full then I would say your problem is most likely spillage. Take it to a car wash and give the engine a good cleaning, if it recurs try replacing the oil cap.
 
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Also, since you noted that the oil on the dipstick is light brown and you last changed the oil about a year ago, it would be good to do an oil and filter change as soon as you can do so.
 
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Discussion Starter #10
Finally I got around to changing the oil and filter (as part of the 110000km scheduled service procedures). No oil (or power steering fluid) losses prior to that.
The mechanic also concurred that it must be spillage from the previous oil change, although I should definitely clean the adjacent area (and the entire engine bay for that matter) just to be sure.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
More leaks require your input for identification:

A) Two areas on the valve cover. These leaks look exactly like the leak I had around the PCV valve's grommet (which was replaced and doesn't leak anymore).

(https://www.rav4world.com/media/trouble-areas-png.52796/)

B) A more sinister oily leak (probably related to my first post in this thread) on what I presume is the fuel rail. All the way accross the valve cover, below the intake manifold:

(https://www.rav4world.com/media/fuel-rail-png.52794/)

(https://www.rav4world.com/media/engine-back-side-png.52798/ , image courtesy of eodgator)

C) And something I already know, the steering rack / pinion valve seal leak:

(https://www.rav4world.com/media/pinion-valve-seal-png.52795/)

(thanks to demoder and these threads:
https://www.rav4world.com/threads/exposed-steering-rack-seal-replacement.76180/
https://www.rav4world.com/threads/diy-replace-power-steering-rack-seal-pinion-valve-seal-stop-a-common-4-1-ps-leak.264929/ )

There are no pools / drips, power steering level is correct (although I expected it not to be), oil level is correct (it was also correct when I changed the oil 4 months / 1000 kms ago, never had to top up between service intervals).
I did notice that the coolant level had dropped about 1.5cm (0.6 in) from the "fill" line in the expansion tank (last time I had to top it up was 15 months ago). I re-filled it and I am going to keep an eye on it.

And, yes, I really need to clean that engine! I am a bit hesitant though, I don't want to start investigating electrical issues if I don't have to. Too many electrical connectors around the area in question.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Am I looking at a valve cover job here? Leaks below the valve cover mating surface I can understand, but how is it possible to stain the top of the cover? Still no leaks or fluid losses by the way.
 

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Hey Mick! I think I might have something like this on Rav (98) that I'm working on. Does your Rav have an air control valve on the power steering pump? It's a little valve with two vac lines going in. On the Rav I was looking at (street inspection for a Craigslist car), it had a slow but very, very, VERY messy PS fluid leak. The pinion seal was fine (the "usual suspect" for PS leaks on our Ravs) so I started looking over everything else. I found that one of the vacuum lines on the ps valve was disconnected. I hadn't seen this before, but apparently on some other Toyota engines, this can cause a major PS leak.
The end of the hose was so old that it split and the hose is too short to reach if it's cut. The other end of the vac line was too far up to reach and went somewhere under the intake, so I slipped on a larger diameter hose onto the original, then a small hose into that larger one to reconnect to the nipple on the valve. I had the Rav idling for 30 min, and it appears to have stopped the leak, and the idle assist (bumped up idle when turning) it working again.
I didn't have my FSM with me, so I'm not sure how this valve works and where the PS leak would be, but I will check when I get home. I took some pics of the leak, and man, it looked JUST like yours! I'll post some pics later. It was a mess. You can see the PS valve if you look from behind the passenger side tire, it's on the back of the pump. If you have one, double check that both vac lines are connected (they are right next to each other, the valve is about the size of a Zippo lighter).
 

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@eodgator has some great pictures of the vaccum lines and a diagram on this post:


Here are his pictures, reposted here from @eodgator. I added a green circle show the PS valve -- this is intake side of the engine (side facing the firewall):

PS valve 2.png


Here's the vac line diagram for that part, also courtesy of eodgator; I just added the red square around the PS valve and arrows to the vac lines:

PS valve.png


I saw this older video on youtube when I got home. I'm not sure how PS fluid ends up in the intake, but apparently it can, at least on this Lexus, when the valve fails. I also read on the 4Runner forums that it happens there, too:




If anyone knows anything about how this works, please explain! As you can see in the video (slideshow style), that person just decided to block the valve instead of replacing it, which is an option if the valve has failed and your can't obtain a new one.

Here are my pics from today:
IMG_20191003_160648456.jpg




View from just behind the passenger side tire, steering wheel turned left:

IMG_20191003_162208453.jpg




Same vacuum line, but now reconnected (larger hose slipped over smaller hose, then back to smaller hose):

IMG_20191003_172535868.jpg




Leak on valve cover (unidentified):


IMG_20191003_175235862.jpg
 

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I am watching this thread. I have some kind of small leak (oil?) onto the passenger side outboard cv joint boot. The boot is shiny like oil is dripping on it. It is not enough to cause a recognizable drip onto the ground beneath. Nor is the oil consumption notable. Power steering fluid level is steady, and there are no other signs of any power steering leak.

The two hoses that connect to the power steering air control valve do seem to get oily. Now I am wondering whether the PS air control valve (part number 17630-70020) has failed. The OEM part sells for about $60 on eBay. My 1998 Rav4 seems to be driving fine, with around 28 mpg driving around town and 30 mpg on the highway for this time of year (low to o ethanol in the gasoline).

I bought the Rav about a year ago with this passenger side outer CV boot all tore up and noticeable oil drips from a few points. I do suspect the oil drip onto the rubber boot caused the rubber to deteriorate. I replaced the passenger side halfshaft shortly after purchase. I did a full timing belt replacement, with all associated parts, shortly thereafter as well. Lots of oil leaks disappeared after this. But evidently not the one onto the outer CV joint rubber boot.

From a 2011 post by Rehabber at Rav4world[dot]com, the purpose of the IAC valve's vacuum connection to the power steering air control valve et cetera is to increase idle speed just slightly when turning the steering wheel at a full stop. This helps prevent engine stalling. (See post and related discussion at https://www.rav4world.com/threads/1996-power-steering-vacuum-lines.85246/ .)

Here's a photo of my Rav4's PS air control valve hoses:
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
I went ahead and replaced the cylinder head cover gasket and the oil filler cap gasket because it was cheap and easy and I wanted to eliminate them as culprits for the leak.

Cover with old gasket attached and parts used (with part numbers):

(https://www.rav4world.com/media/cylinder-head-cover-png.52828/)

Internals of the glorious 3S-FE engine (and the still uncleaned residue on the fuel rail):

(https://www.rav4world.com/media/cylinder-head-jpg.52829/)

Both the cover gasket and the filler cap gasket (original, 20 year old parts, 116000 kms) were undamaged and in good condition. Probably a bit stiffer than the new replacement ones.
I cleaned the (outside of the) valve cover thoroughly and I am planning to de-grease the fuel rail grime as soon as I figure out a safe way to attack the area.

demoder, I am definitely going to check the power steering valve and accompanying hoses as I am not at all convinced that I have resolved the issue.
 

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Wow, Mick -- that is one clean top engine! Everything in there looks new. Nice!

I am curious to see if those mystery leaks are resolved. Did you happen to see any other clues when you looked on the back of the head?
 

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