Piston Slap: The Sable Preservation Society? (Part II)

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap the sable preservation society part ii

TTAC Commentator Halftruth writes:

Hey Sajeev,

I’m trying to help my aunt out with her Mercury Sable, which has a 3.0-liter Duratec engine. It has an oil leak from the front passenger side which I believe is coming from the timing chain cover. How hard is this repair and what else should I look for if, say, the leak is not the cover or oil pan? I have checked the valve covers, oil press sender, and cam sensors — all dry.

Sajeev replies:

I agree with your assessment, it sounds a lot like a leaky timing chain cover, especially considering the age of any Mercury Sable equipped with a 3.0L Duratec. You will have to remove all the accessories, the CV shaft, and anything needed to get to those things before getting to the cover. If I read between the lines on the internet correctly, it’s a 9-ish hour job for a pro.

Certainly not for the faint of heart, but it isn’t the water pump on this engine’s successor. (shivers)

Your thoughts on this?

Halftruth responds:

Unfortunately I think we’re both right and the timing cover is more than likely the culprit. The leak is def sourcing from above the oil pan. I can do it but I think I am past driveway engine dismantling/repair at this point in my life. I will find a mechanic to look at it.

I may even see if I can pull some stuff out of the way, clean it up and simply silicone it from the outside. I have done that before with some success — just looking for a couple more years out of this car.

Weeks later, Halftruth adds:

On a whim I decided to use Lucas oil treatment. The leak slowed but now it’s coming from the other side where the transmission mates to the engine. At least the leak has been greatly reduced at this point, so not all bad. Def think the leak is starting high up somewhere but can’t see it yet. Might be time for some dye. Anyways, thought I’d give you an update!

Sajeev replies:

Sounds like it might be the engine’s rear main seal. And that’s a repair nobody wants to do on a newer car, much less a fully depreciated Mercury sedan. Even worse, since this isn’t a Sable that I want to appreciate for the rest of my days, I can’t be of any further help!

What say you, Best and Brightest? LS4-FTW?

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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 27 comments
  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Jan 24, 2020

    Dye + glasses + UV light kit is your friend - check it at night. The "no snake oil" statute of limitations has run out on this vehicle - time for "better living through chemistry." Try a bottle of "STP High Mileage Oil Treatment + Stop Leak" (it includes the 'seal conditioners'/'seal swell' stuff others have mentioned). When my family had an XJ Cherokee, I heard the theory that full-synthetic motor oil is 'so slippery' that it would 'find its way out' of the seals on that engine - so we ran conventional oil in that vehicle. If you are currently using synthetic, it would be worth a shot to go back to conventional motor oil (and as others have mentioned, go thicker viscosity if anything). Also, take it for a road trip so it gets a workout and feels appreciated.

  • Jagboi Jagboi on Jan 26, 2020

    I have the Jaguar version of the Duratech in my X Type, so take this with a grain of salt if the Ford version is different - and there are major differences, but the basic block is similar. On mine, the leak was from the serpentine belt tensioner. There is one hole for the bolt that holds the tensioner to the block, and that's blind. The other hole is for the locating pin and that was through drilled and then had a plug installed. The plug leaked, so I took off the tensioner, cleaned everything, and put a bit of silicone in the hole and so far that has cured the leak.

  • Kwik_Shift Oh, just wait until everything is electrified and linked. Then they'll say "Demand is up!", thus raising prices exponentially. They got you under their control now.
  • Cprescott Yawn.
  • 28-Cars-Later Wrangler people are crazy.
  • 28-Cars-Later "Transition" to layoffs, this guy is the Bob(s) from Office Space.
  • Vap65689119 As a release engineer I also worked in quality, if they are serious they should look at Toyotas business model which has their suppliers as genuine partners, thats how you get a quality product