Advice for Newbie on 328 purchase re oil leak

Discussion in '308/328' started by GTB DownUnder, Dec 28, 2018.

  1. GTB DownUnder

    GTB DownUnder Rookie

    Nov 12, 2018
    Sydney, Australia
    Full Name:
    Timothy Martin
    Hello All - firstly thanks to all for the great content on the site - fantastic knowledge base. I'm a newbie to posting on the forums and am getting close to buying a local 328 - RHD late 1988 Australian delivered (still in Australia) car that seems very original. I've read the buyers guides etc - all ve helpful. The car I'm looking at drives well, gearbox is good, everything (except a/c) seems to work. Cosmetically it needs attention inside and out but I'm looking for a bit of a project anyway so that's fine and all addressable.

    Issue is as it is Xmas/summer break down here no specialists here are open to do an inspection for a week or two. During my own visual inspection I was able to briefly get it up on a hoist - and there is a good even coating of 'old looking' oil all over the rear facing bank of the engine block (as viewed from standing underneath the rear wheels looking towards the front of the car) as well as all over the drive shafts/surrounding area. This could be just accumulated grime over time (current owner has had it 20 years, only done 25k km in that time, done his own oil changes in between majors and I doubt has ever cleaned the underside). I imagine oil from top-ups, old leaks etc would rundown and then spray around pretty well there given airflow. The oil pan itself is clean and I could not see any fresh oil actually dripping from anywhere on the engine even when it was warm (although it was not running on the lift). His garage floor is spotless. I couldn't see any current leaks or weeps up top but again the engine is not clean there so hard to be definitive. Car has also been driven v little in past couple of years. Oil on the dipstick seems fine with no sign of coolant - but very fresh oil so could have been changed v recently and seen almost no miles. Coolant seems fine but again v fresh and not driven much so hard to be sure.

    The engine runs and pulls well, no smoke from the tailpipe at all when running or on warm or cold start-up. Engine temp in a 15 min test drive on a warm day seemed steady and the car pulled well. No apparent misfires or odd noises.

    In the price I've negotiated I've allowed for a major service plus some other work - but not for a head gasket job or worse engine rebuild if there is a problem

    Questions are:
    1) how prone are the 328s to a good coating of oil around the block (I'm used to E-Types etc where it is considered part of the rust prevention system!) - should i expect it to be like it is after 20 years accumulation? Is it likely that just oil would leak from a head gasket (no clear sign of any coolant)?
    2) would a 'professional' inspection even reveal the truth of the situation re head gasket or source of oil leak - I assume a compression test/leakdown test would show up a gasket issue? Anything else I should have them do?
    3) assuming the worst, what is rough hours needed and cost of a head gasket fix on the rear facing bank (is it an engine out job?)

    Any thoughts much appreciated!
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  3. Grim Reaper tr

    Grim Reaper tr Karting

    Oct 6, 2014
    On a car that has sat for a long time with little use its most likely leak(s) from a cam seal and very common.

    These are normally changed as part of a major service along with valve adjustment, new rocker cover gaskets and timing belts and tensioners etc:

    Most common other area for leaks is the shift shaft seal and oil pan gasket around the bolts. To get a true oil level reading the engine needs to be run, warmed up and the dipstick checked within 15 minutes off engine turned off as per factory and owners manuals..

    Even a major service on a 308/328 isn't an engine out job like most later models..

    Compression and TK leak down test will show any issues and an overheating 328/308 is not easy to hide.

    Make sure car has its books and both toolkits....critical and if its a GTB it's not an Oz delivery (they were never officially imported, only GTS models.

    And remember the old saying "There's no such thing as a Cheap Ferrari".

    Rosey likes this.
  4. GTB DownUnder

    GTB DownUnder Rookie

    Nov 12, 2018
    Sydney, Australia
    Full Name:
    Timothy Martin
    Thanks Grim - v helpful. It is a GTS (despite my moniker) with the 'D' in the VIN so a native Aussie. I was aware that major service can be done via the wheel arches - wasn't sure about a head gasket on the rear facing bank in worst case scenario though......seems likely that is much harder. Agree it is likely a leak resulting from low usage - seals drying out etc. and I've budgeted for remedial work incl major service which is well overdue time wise. Hopefully nothing unexpected beyond that but was trying to get an idea of potential additional costs if it was a head gasket issue.....
  5. Brian A

    Brian A Formula 3

    Dec 21, 2012
    SanFrancisco BayArea
    Full Name:
    1983 US 308 GTS QV
    #4 Brian A, Dec 29, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2018
    If you are used to E-types, the same principles apply to 3x8s.

    I've been hunting oil leaks on my 308 for years.
    thorn likes this.
  6. pappy.72

    pappy.72 Formula Junior

    Nov 13, 2010
    Elgin, IL
    Full Name:
    Unless the car has just been resealed, if it’s not leaking then it’s out of oil. Ha. They all seem to weep a little and usually the can seal, valve cover, dipstick o-ring, oil pan gasket/nuts, etc. My 89 328 has leaked a drop or two every time I shut the car off since I have owned it. Mine is the front valve cover gasket at the corner. I just live with it until my next major probably next year. Then it will probably leak from the back one. These cars love to be driven so get it and don’t look back.
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  8. GrigioGuy

    GrigioGuy Splenda Daddy
    Global Moderator Owner

    Nov 26, 2001
    E ' ' '/ F
    Full Name:
    Chris P. Bakon
    I'd just steam clean it and look for new leaks after. My GTS has seeped from -somewhere- for the entire 16 years I've owned it. Chasing the leak just moves it. :)
  9. moysiuan

    moysiuan Formula 3
    Silver Subscribed

    Nov 1, 2005
    #7 moysiuan, Dec 29, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2018
    I doubt it is a head gasket leak, there are lots of other more common leak areas as noted, and your car appears to be running fine.

    Don't forget the leaks at the seals at the driveshaft's attaching to the differentials, they leak and fling the oil in the areas you have described. I am replacing mine now, its not that bad a project with a few tools an tips, and best done if renewing the driveshaft CV boots at the same time.

    You should also simply get a socket and ratchet and tighten up many of the bolts on the engine, the cam covers, etc., as some of these loosen up over the years.

    Get some degreaser and a rag, and clean things up a bit and then you can have a better chance of seeing exactly where some new oil leaks might be weeping from. I would not recommend steam cleaning or using water based degreasers that require you to spray things down, the electricals in these cars are not waterproof, and you don't want to frazz a computer or sensor with excess moisture. Just swab things up with a rag, or perhaps some aerosol brake cleaner or a similar evaporating degreaser (on a cold engine) sprayed carefully on the dirtiest areas.
    Portofino likes this.
  10. Rifledriver

    Rifledriver Two Time F1 World Champ

    Apr 29, 2004
    Austin TX
    Full Name:
    Brian Crall

    The worst thing about stem cleaning or cleaning with any soap or degreaser is it destroys the grease in the tensioner bearings and other sealed bearings on the motor. Neither should ever be used one one of these. Seals on bearings were never designed nor are they capable of protection against such cleaning methods.
    Portofino and theunissenguido like this.
  11. Rosey

    Rosey Formula 3

    Nov 5, 2015
    Full Name:
    Mark R
    The cam seals tend to leak when they sit around for ages.
    Had mine replaced a few weeks ago with valve clearance checks and timing belts done.
    Not a drop on the garage floor.
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  13. Iain

    Iain F1 Rookie

    Jan 21, 2005
    As above, most likely culprit is the cam seal area. Could be the seals themselves but equally likely the O ring round the seal housing or even just the cam cover gasket where they ajoin the seal housings.

    The design of the whole sealing system round the front of the cam cover is best described as "unfortunate" .

    There is a lot of air moving around in a 3x8 engine bay when the car is running (and some moving parts (driveshafts etc) so anything that leaks gets flung everywhere by default!
  14. yelcab

    yelcab F1 World Champ

    Nov 29, 2001
    San Carlos, CA
    Full Name:
    Mitchell Le
    You can chase the leaks or you can drive your car, you decide.
    Portofino likes this.

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