Jim Grant's Tech Tips
‘91 Honda Civic 1.5L, Front Engine Oil Seals
Q: I'm going to change the timing belt on my ‘91 Honda Civic 1.5L, 175k miles. I was advised that while I’m there, I may want to change the front oil seals for the crankshaft and camshaft. If I do that, I would want to make sure I installed them properly so they don't leak. The information I read says to check for leaks by running the engine. I don’t understand that because I think I’d have to put everything back together so the engine would run and then take it all back apart again (hours of work) in order to see and check the seals. Do you know of any way to check the new seals?
A: The only way you can check the new seals for leakage is to put the engine back together and run the engine. This is an excellent example of the people who write the books and are not the ones working on the vehicle. I suggest that you follow the advice you received and replace the front camshaft and crankshaft oil seals when replacing the timing belt. I would also suggest changing out the water pump at the same time. The darn thing is just behind that timing belt and you have to remove almost all of the same components to the replace the water pump as you do to replace the timing belt and the seals. Oil seals can be a little tricky to replace and if you slip or damage them during installation they will leak. What you have to do is trust your workmanship and assemble the engine and run it. If you messed-up installing the seals youíll know pretty quickly and youíll just have to take the engine apart again. Thatís just how it is.