Piston Slap: Leaking Like A…Santa Fe?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap leaking like a 8230 santa fe
Luke writes:

I have an ’09 Hyundai Santa Fe, 3.3L, with 117,000 km (73,000 miles). It’s losing oil from a leaking timing chain cover gasket at a rate of one litre per 1,400 km or so. The repair is estimated to be around $1,500. We have this vehicle because we have three young children (ages 4, 2, and 6 months) and the Santa Fe is one of the few that fit three car seats across one row safely and easily, and was within our budget.

I’ve only owned the vehicle for a year. What do you think I should do? Pay for the repair, just keep adding oil, or look for a different vehicle?

Sajeev answers:

I was gonna suggest addressing the timing cover oil leak during a timing belt change, but that applies to the 2.7L Delta, not the (timing chain equipped) 3.3L Lambda. So much for two birds, one stone!

The $1,500 quote sounds a bit looney, until you see the work involved. Dropping the front subframe makes sense, considering the engine’s location in relation to those narrow frame rails.

Maybe someone will do it for less … but not much less!

I checked a few online valuation tools: your Santa Fe (good condition) is worth CAD $8,000-9,000 on a place like [s]Craigslist[/s] Kijiji. Using Google’s currency calculator (more approximations) and even if you get a deeper discount, the repair’s gonna account for 15%-ish of market value. That’s a rather big piece of the pie! And I’m not feelin’ it, son.

It’s not like you’ve had this rig since new, so what else is around the corner? New tires or brakes? EGR issues?

I’d add oil until you find a [s]medium brown metallic Crown Vic[/s] suitable replacement. Sure, I pontificate on Panther Love far too often, but they’ll fit your budget — and (probably) all three car seats.

[Image: Hyundai, Sajeev Mehta]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Join the conversation
2 of 148 comments
  • HotPotato HotPotato on Feb 23, 2019

    I should say: a lot depends on how much you like the car. If you love it, you'll keep it even when you shouldn't. If you hate it, you'll trade it even when you shouldn't. And on how much you trust its future: e.g. in my experience German cars are durable but not reliable (they'll look and work like new as long as you keep spending dough replacing things), Japanese cars are reliable but not durable (they'll keep running fine but normal parking lot use will dimple the car like an asteroid belt and the exhaust system will rust to dust every couple of years), and Korean and American cars are neither (best if you like to lease or trade often). But I realize those are pretty gross generalizations, especially these days.

  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Feb 24, 2019

    Trade it for whatever 4Runner you can afford

  • Keith Maybe my market's different. but 4.5k whack. Plus mods like his are just donations for the next owner. I'd consider driving it as a fun but practical yet disposable work/airport car if it was priced right. Some VAG's (yep, even Audis) are capable, long lasting reliable cars despite what the haters preach. I can't lie I've done the same as this guy: I had a decently clean 4 Runner V8 with about the same miles- I put it up for sale around the same price as the lower mile examples. I heard crickets chirp until I dropped the price. Folks just don't want NYC cab miles.
  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.