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New Owner! Couple Q's


NAXJA Forum User
Orono, Maine
Hey guys! I was lurking around here back in Novemeber, threatening to buy one... well... I just did! It's a '95 Sport 4L, 4wd, 4dr, w/80k miles. I don't know what the color is called, it's a bright metallic blue, grey cloth, and it's a slush box.

Ok, so here's the deal, it's leaking oil pretty badly because of the rear main seal and oilpan gasket. I'm pretty mechanically inclined, but due to time constraints I'm sort of thinking of letting a trusted shop go at it. Is that ok or am I going to be instantly hounded by you? ;) Or should I buck up and try to do it on my own, how long of a job are we dealing with? I'm guessing the tranny has to be dropped, which is why I'm thinking of avoiding it. My last transmission experience was replacing one on a '95 Volvo 850... and that was a job and a half.

I guess that's my only real question. Anything else you guys want to throw at a new owner is cool, I'd love to hear about specific quirks and the like. I'm also planning on going up 3" and snugging some 30 or 31's under the bugger. Cheers!
Before you go changing the rear main you may want to make sure the valve cover is tight. The bolts loosen up over time. I'd find ou the factory torque and use a torque wrench to tighten all 15 bolts.

On my 88 XJ I have to use a 11 mm deep socket and the torque is 56 in-lbs but you have a different style valve cover and I think the torque is different.

On the 4.0 engine a leaking valve cover looks more like a rear main seal leak than an actual rear main seal leak.

Start at the top and workd down, the 4.0 is known to have rear main leaks but lets start with the simple repairs. Also if it turns out to be the rear main I hear Fel-pro makes a 2 lip rear main seal. The problem is a groove is formed in the crank and this 2 lips seal uses part of the crank that does not has the groove but the second lip does ride in the groove.
I'm pretty confident it's not the valve cover, but I'll double check. The area about 2in either side of v.c. gasket is dry, and from the head gasket area down is wet. The concentration of the leak seems to be more towards the rear, and it's sprayed/spread back over the tranny/TC/etc. The main reason I think it's the rear main, with out actually knowing for fact, is that I plucked this XJ from a stealer's "wholesale" lot. While a Saturn dealer took it in and did the inspection, it actually was sold from the local Jeep dealer who replaced the brakes between trade in and me. They agreed with Saturn's inspection, although I'm obviously skeptical of anything a dealer says.

Thanks though, I'll definitely investigate it more. I'm thinking of trying to clean out the whole bay and just run it for awhile as is to see if I can get a more specific location on the leaks. I'm glad to hear that the engine is "known to have rear main leaks" since I was a bit concerned that something was peculiar about this one... that said though, 2 others that I looked at had similar oil seeping.
Tip: Grab yourself a bottle of UV Oil dye, put a little 4oz. in it and it'll make your oil glow under black light. Really good way to find leaks!

Also, you don't have to drop the transmission to do a rear main, when the time comes that you've decided to replace the seal (if it proves to be bad) somebody here will guide you through the process (if you end up wanting to do it yourself).

If you do it yourself, while you're under there it's not a bad idea to check into the oil pump and rod bearings, although you have a low mileage XJ so you shouldn't have any problems.


Welcome to the XJ!
I really doubt that a main seal would put oil up as high as the head gasket area. You can usually tell if it's the main seal if you open the flywheel cover on the bottom, and see significant oil on the forward side of the flywheel. I'd look hard at the valve cover gasket and also at the mounting of the oil filter. Of course, since this is a Jeep, it wouldn't be unprecedented to find that it's leaking in more than one place. :)

If you do have to do the seal, it's pretty easy, but getting the pan off can be tedious, especially if the vehicle isn't lifted. As mentioned above, Fel-pro makes a two-lip seal that seems to work well. When I did my 87, I made the mistake of using the Fel-pro 4-piece pan gasket. BIG mistake. Spring for the one-piece.
If you just bought it find leak quickly and go back to dealer and insist they fix it or atleast pay the bill for your mechanic to do it.U sually they dont want a bad rep and will spring for the fix,of course you might have to get an attitude and talk very loud infront of prospective buyers.Women are masters at this,my mother being queen of this type of strong arm tactics.
Hey guys, thanks for the replies. I'm definitely going to take a closer look at it here soon. There are a couple things in the way though, one, it's final's week and I'm stupid busy... Second, the XJ's at the dealer still since I can't drive it away (no sticker!) so it's not sitting in my driveway yet, I've got to wait till I can snag my dad's truck and trailer to drag it home. On top of this I'm moving to a different apartment across town in a week... nice timing eh?

As far as making a stink at the dealer's about the gasket, I knew full well about the leak, and so did they (after reading my previous post I guess I didn't make that clear) It was in their "wholesale" lot, those vehicles that come in on trade and don't pass inspection, meaning no expressed warranty. However, this also means that I got a pretty decent price (we have a really expensive market around here on XJs!). Anyway, I'm glad to hear the job isn't that bad anyway, so maybe I'll be able to take a swing at it myself if it turns out to be the gasket... with what you're all saying, maybe I'm gonna luck out! In either case, I was under the impression that the tranny had to be dropped, and I'm not all about doing that right now, which is why I was going to service it out, and the mechanic is cheaper than the dealer, hence not working the repair @ the dealer into the scheme.

FYI I'm replacing a '88 Bronco II, so if any of you are familiar with one, you'll know that messing with the valve cover(s) is already a normal day2day event for me ;)

Thanks again guys!
my rear main is leaking on my 98 with 77k on it I will be doing that very soon, just bought the seal and the gaskets, if you beat me to it let me know how it turned out. Good luck
Depending on circumstances, and perhaps on where the car is usually parked, I would look closely at the gaskets, etc. first, and see what happens if things are just tightened up properly. Of course I wouldn't want to discourage you from doing things right and getting the thing clean and perfect, but remember that a fairly small amount of oil can make a big mess, and an apparently awful leak may make very little difference to the oil level. If you aren't too worried about the spots on the driveway, there may not be that much urgency to the whole thing.

Of course, I have a dirt driveway, so oil leaks can be considered as a strategy for ongoing dust control.
Anyway, I'm glad to hear the job isn't that bad anyway, so maybe I'll be able to take a swing at it myself if it turns out to be the gasket...

IMO, a rear main seal is a major PITA. its an awful lot of work. im not saying not to get it fixed, its just not easy. be prepared to get very messy, the oil pan and gasket can be a fight, and if its not lifted it may be difficult to get the pan out. if you decide to do it yourself, diffenetly get a hayes, chiltons, or a FSM.

to have a dealer do it, its easily going to $500.
My wife's '00 got all wet and gooey between the back of the oilpan and the front of the torque converter cover. This was at 22k miles. They put the dye in, I drove it for two weeks and took it back. They said they couldn't find the leak. I took it back last week with 34k on it and told them it still leaked. They replaced the pan gasket and the rear main seal. Leak stopped. (Every time I take it in, they never can find the problem or fix it the first time thru!!)

My '88 leaks from everywhere, but that's okay. It helps with the rust prevention underneath. :rolleyes:
Good job on replacing the Bronco! My father had one (an '84), god I hated that thing!

Anyway, here's some tips on oil leaks that I've come across with my '89.

1: The oil filter assembely is a usual suspect. There are O-Rings in there that die, and it'll leak a lot. If you're going to do under-the-car work anyway you should just go ahead and do it. The rings are cheap from the dealer.

2: Valve cover. As they've indicated that's a regular as well. Take it nice, slow, and easy and it's an easy fix. I did mine in about three hours, the only reason it took that long is because while I had it off I scrubbed the hell out of the inside of the valve cover (which you should do as well, the CCV gets all cloged up with gunk and it causes blow-by).

3: When doing a rear main there is a certian strategy invovled. Jack up the car as high as you can, put the jack stands on the frame so that the front axle can droop as far as it will (if you can't get it high enough to droop before the tires touch down pull the wheels). Once you have that axle as far away as you can from the oil pan you can generally pull the pan. If you still have trouble disconnect the sway bar (you want to know how to do this anyway for off roading! :)), that may help you out.
Also, when putting it back together I believe I already said to check out the oil pump and main bearings, another thing, go to the dealer and get a one piece oil pan gasket for a '95 XJ 4.0 Litre, that will help you out a lot, those are very nice gaskets. I just got one for mine (haven't put it on yet) for around $45 in December.

If you run into any troubles, just post 'em, there's a few smart people on here that know just about everything XJ. (I'm not one of them. :dunce: )

I just bought the felpro 1 piece pan gasket for around $25 looks to be nice and the rear main was another 20 or so for my 98 and is nice because it is a double lip. doesn't cost too much, what is really odd tho is that it seems to have stopped leaking now, well least I have all the parts for when it decides it is going to leak again. So it looks like you will probably be fixing your before I get to mine.