SOLVED (I are dum): Dip stick low but oil almost up to the fill cap? (1 Viewer)

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Nov 19, 2011
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I'm at best parts-changer level as a mechanic, maybe a blonde one past that, but by no means do I have much to brag about. I'm working on it, but it's slow going, so please bear with me.

I also live off in the mountains in Montana, miles down a trail that would qualify as semi-challenging offroad, and about 1.5 hours from the nearest auto parts store - or anything else, really. So any help would be appreciated - winter's coming soon and I'd like to get my small vehicle back on the road ASAP (my other truck is an M35A2C 6x6).

I've got a '96 LX450, and it's been treating me well for the past 12 years or so, with very few problems. I keep my fluids changed on schedule (yeah, including the diffs, and I grease zerks per advice on here). Try to do decent PM all around, and have only had a power steering pump crap out on me. Have the tundra alternator on the custom bracket, and a 40 gal Aussie fuel tank, as well as dual batteries.

It's developed a pretty messy valve cover leak over the last year, but it's been an insane year for my schedule so I've been putting off doing the gasket job. Par for the course with a lot of these rigs, probably.


Today my oil light came on again, and I figured I'd just put another quart in (is been losing that much every 1000 miles or so since it got leaky). Popped the hood and saw WAY more leakage from the valve cover than there has been any time before. Liked like a few ounces of oil on the front of the engine, mixed with the usual trail dust, making glossy mud.

Checked the dip stick and yep, it was down to the low mark.

Opened the oil fill cap and the oil, unexpectedly, was staring right back at me from just below the threaded hole.


What does this mean?

Seems like the oil isn't making it down to the pan, and maybe it's being forced up under pressure, driving it out past the valve cover gasket? Maybe a clogged oil filter?


I also just snapped the heads off 2 of the valve cover bolts, so I'm going to snag the appropriate replacements from town ASAP. No worries about that, I found a great thread about it already.


Any advice would be appreciated!

IMG_20220923_171513.jpg


IMG_20220923_171625.jpg


IMG_20220923_171522.jpg
 
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Pulling that valve cover off is going to be messy! But necessary.
 
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Something is very wrong with that
 
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I don't know where you are, but Overland Cruisers, in Bozeman, is an outstanding Land Cruiser shop.

It might be worth a call.

 
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I don’t mean to assume you don’t already know this, but there is a flat surface under the fill cap in the valve cover, with an opening toward the front for the oil to move through, when filling for example. Hard to tell from your pictures on my phone, but my initial thought was you are just seeing residual oil sitting on top of that. If there is actually oil filling up that high, it would mean your entire engine cavity is full, no? Or, it would be quite the clog for all your oil to be sitting up there and not draining into the pan. But if that’s the case, how was the oil pumped up there in the first place?

If you stick your finger in that little opening, is there actually oil filing the valve cover cavity above the cams? I hope not, but best to get the dumb questions out of the way first, hah.
 
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^^^This^^^

Get a flashlight and look directly down from above at the oil filler hole, not at an angle as in the photos. There is a ledge occupying the rear 2/3 of the hole, the front side is open so the oil can flow down to the oil pan.

Did you attempt to tighten the valve cover bolts to stop the leaks??

The valve cover has nibs or stops on the underside where it mates to the head; once you've reached those any further tightening of the bolts will result in them snapping off. The valve cover gasket develops cracks with age, further tightening of the bolts won't help at all. The only fix is to replace the valve cover gasket along with the six spark plug tube seals and PCV valve grommet while it's all apart. Might as well replace the spark plugs at the same time if they're high mileage. And if you don['t want to touch the spark plugs for another 100,000++ miles install something like Denso-Iridium TT plugs.
 
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Joined
Nov 19, 2011
Messages
119
I don’t mean to assume you don’t already know this, but there is a flat surface under the fill cap in the valve cover, with an opening toward the front for the oil to move through, when filling for example. Hard to tell from your pictures on my phone, but my initial thought was you are just seeing residual oil sitting on top of that. If there is actually oil filling up that high, it would mean your entire engine cavity is full, no? Or, it would be quite the clog for all your oil to be sitting up there and not draining into the pan. But if that’s the case, how was the oil pumped up there in the first place?

If you stick your finger in that little opening, is there actually oil filing the valve cover cavity above the cams? I hope not, but best to get the dumb questions out of the way first, hah.
It was just the shelf, I'm an idiot. Big bumper and leaning over, couldn't see the opening and forgot it wasn't straight through.

IMG_20220923_190517.jpg
 
Joined
Nov 19, 2011
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^^^This^^^

Get a flashlight and look directly down from above at the oil filler hole, not at an angle as in the photos. There is a ledge occupying the rear 2/3 of the hole, the front side is open so the oil can flow down to the oil pan.

Did you attempt to tighten the valve cover bolts to stop the leaks??

The valve cover has nibs or stops on the underside where it mates to the head; once you've reached those any further tightening of the bolts will result in them snapping off. The valve cover gasket develops cracks with age, further tightening of the bolts won't help at all. The only fix is to replace the valve cover gasket along with the six spark plug tube seals and PCV valve grommet while it's all apart. Might as well replace the spark plugs at the same time if they're high mileage. And if you don['t want to touch the spark plugs for another 100,000++ miles install something like Denso-Iridium TT plugs.
Yep, gave them an extremely gentle touch with the stubby ratchet, maybe 8 ftlbs, and snap.

Now I know!

New gasket and seals incoming, and some Toyota FIPG for the half moons. I'll add some oil and snag some M6-1.0x22 or 25 mm smooth bottom flange bolts in town tomorrow, or flanges and washers and a little extra length to accommodate. Takes about 2.5 hours to get there with the Deuce and a Half, but it's gotta be done.

Thanks everyone - guess my brain got fried this morning unloading cement. :)
 
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I don't know where you are, but Overland Cruisers, in Bozeman, is an outstanding Land Cruiser shop.

It might be worth a call.

I'll check with them about gaskets and such, maybe they can beat ebay's speed!

I'm near Cascade, MT. A good ways out from there, but it's the closest named township.
 
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Haha, good news! We all have those moments. I’ve had a few recently. Sounds like you just have a leaky gasket. I did mine very recently - wasn’t too bad of a leak, but old one easily cracked when I flexed it, and I found a couple less than snug bolts at the back.

While we’re at it, have you looked for other common oil leaks? Distributor seal, oil pump cover, front main seal, etc.

I’ve snapped VC bolts on other vehicles and although it’s not a huge deal, avoiding is nice. I bought a new OEM set from wits end and gently used a 1/4” ratchet, all went well - dry as a bone
 
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Haha, good news! We all have those moments. I’ve had a few recently. Sounds like you just have a leaky gasket. I did mine very recently - wasn’t too bad of a leak, but old one easily cracked when I flexed it, and I found a couple less than snug bolts at the very back.

While we’re at it, have you looked for other common oil leaks? Distributor seal, oil pump cover, front main seal, etc.

I’ve snapped VC bolts on other vehicles and although it’s not a huge deal, avoiding is nice. I bought a new set from wits end and gently used a 1/4” ratchet, all went well - dry as a bone
I haven't - I figured I'd seal this up, clean the engine, and spot anything else leaking, then as I mentioned, I delayed fixing the VC gasket for a bit longer than I expected. I'll prioritize them as soon as this is buttoned up and I hose off all the muck. It's a very good call out.
 

mudgudgeon

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snag some M6-1.0x22 or 25 mm smooth bottom flange bolts in town tomorrow
You might find you need JIS fasteners.

They have a smaller head size than regular m6.

Going away from JIS fasteners might mean a socket won't fit on bolt heads that are close up to a vertical surface, or in the little scalloped areas around the valve cover.

Plus you end up with mismatched hardware which sucks balls when you're working on it in the future.
 
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You might find you need JIS fasteners.

They have a smaller head size than regular m6.

Going away from JIS fasteners might mean a socket won't fit on bolt heads that are close up to a vertical surface, or in the little scalloped areas around the valve cover.

Plus you end up with mismatched hardware which sucks balls when you're working on it in the future.
That's an excellent tip, thank you!

Just the two of the front ones sheared on me, so I left the rest alone - have to reverse drill one of them out, but the other came free. I ordered the proper ones from Wit's End, so I'll (seriously, not putting it off this time) swap them in once they arrive, if I bodge some temporary ones in place for the weekend.

Got the gaskets and such coming too, so I'll be tearing it all apart soon - mail is _slow_ out here, and I have a long adventure of a drive to check the PO box in town to see if anything's in.
 
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This summer I forgot to close my oil cap after a change and wondered why there was a stumble the next morning. I also changed my PCV valve & hoses when I did my valve cover recently, and wondered why my my idle would drop a little low and feel slightly strange after driving next. I neglected to tighten the intake hose to the throttlebody 🤦‍♂️

These are opportunities to laugh at ourselves and make sure we’re on point in the future
 
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The OEM/Toyota correct bolts are not all that expensive and if you order them now you could have them in a few days (local dealer or online order).

You have to remove the Throttle Body for the job so might as well order a new TB gasket (many people reuse the old, by the book it's supposed to be replaced).

And with the TB off now is a good time to replace the water bypass hose that runs down to the head.

And with the valve cover off is a good time to replace the heat control valve if that hasn't been done yet.

And while the valve cover is off is a good time to clean out the old sludge and varnish from the oil baffle box (a can or two of Brake cleaner will not be enough)

And if the PHH is the original, it's another thing that could be done now, just a bit easier while the valve cover is off if you have to remove the PHH pipe (they get corroded usually under the PHH hose).

And with the TB off you can to some degree clean out the upper intake plenum, and then the EGR passageway via the EGR temp sensor port.

And with the TB in your hand you can clean all the passageways, IAC port (you'll need a new O-ring for the IAC valve if you remove it), clean the butterfly and lube the shaft, ----

And, if the main engine harness has drooped now is a good time to rewrap it maybe add a heat reflective sleeve, and ensure it's not sagging down on the EGR pipe.

And if the spark plug wires are the original, you could replace those while things are apart.

And while the spark plug wires are being replaced might as well install a new distributor cap and rotor.

And while the cap and rotor are off is a good time to pull the distributor to replace the O-ring on the housing where it slides into the head.

And, ----
 
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jaymar

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The OEM/Toyota correct bolts are not all that expensive and if you order them now you could have them in a few days (local dealer or online order).

You have to remove the Throttle Body for the job so might as well order a new TB gasket (many people reuse the old, by the book it's supposed to be replaced).

And with the TB off now is a good time to replace the water bypass hose that runs down to the head.

And with the valve cover off is a good time to replace the heat control valve if that hasn't been done yet.

And while the valve cover is off is a good time to clean out the old sludge and varnish from the oil baffle box (a can or two of Brake cleaner will not be enough)

And if the PHH is the original, it's another thing that could be done now, just a bit easier while the valve cover is off if you have to remove the PHH pipe (they get corroded usually under the PHH hose).

And with the TB off you can to some degree clean out the upper intake plenum, and then the EGR passageway via the EGR temp sensor port.

And, if the main engine harness has drooped now is a good time to rewrap it
maybe add a heat reflective sleeve, and ensure it's not sagging down on the EGR pipe.

And,----
I was waiting for ...is a good time to replace the head gasket. :)
 

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