The national cost for a front main seal replacement with CarAdvise in 2024 is between $16 and $627 with an average of $153.

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What is a front main seal and how does it work?

When your engine is running, it circulates motor oil throughout the engine block to coat all of the internal moving parts. After the oil lubricates the bearings and other components, it falls back down into the oil pan beneath the engine to be pumped through the engine once again. Many gaskets and seals serve to close up potential gaps between parts of the engine. That way, oil stays inside the engine rather than leaking out.

One such seal is called the front main seal. Sometimes referred to as a crankshaft seal, it forms a seal around the front end of the crankshaft in an engine. The seal takes up space between the end of the crankshaft and the engine block or the front timing cover.


How is a a Front Main Seal Replacement done?

Front main seal replacement requires significant access to the front of your engine. That can require that a technician remove several other components as part of the service, since space inside an engine compartment, especially in vehicles with transverse (sideways) mounted engines. To replace the seal, a technician will generally perform the following steps:

  • Disconnect the negative battery terminal to cut power to the vehicle
  • Remove any shields, guards, covers, or ducts to gain access to the front of the engine and serpentine belt area
  • Remove the serpentine drive belt
  • Remove the crankshaft pulley and harmonic crankshaft damper
  • Remove any other components attached to the front timing cover
  • Remove the timing cover
  • Extract the old seal, taking care to avoid damage to the timing cover (or engine block)
  • Press in the new seal, avoiding damage to the seal
  • Reinstall the front timing cover, as well as any accessories that were removed
  • Reinstall the crankshaft damper and pulley
  • Reinstall any shields, guards, covers, or ducts that were removed
  • Reconnect the battery terminal
  • Start the vehicle and verify the repair by allowing the engine to warm up and observing for leaks
  • On some vehicles, the engine may have to be partially or completely removed to allow access to the timing cover or front main seal. If this is necessary, the repair will take much longer and require additional steps.

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National average cost of a a Front Main Seal Replacement
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How do I know if my vehicle needs a new front main seal?

The main symptom of a bad front main seal is an oil leak on the engine. Your engine might need this seal replaced if you notice one or more of the following:

Oil is leaking on the ground near the front of the engine (front or right side of the engine compartment, depending on whether your engine is front or transverse mounted)

The serpentine belt is soaked with oil

The harmonic (crank) damper is damp with oil

The front of the oil pan or timing cover is leaking or wet with oil

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Other questions customers ask

Can you drive with a bad main seal?
Although a bad main seal will typically not cause your engine to run poorly, it will cause it to leak oil and can eventually result in ruining the entire engine due to lack of lubrication. Because of this, driving with a bad main seal is strongly discouraged.
Can you stop a main seal from leaking?
There are many products on the market that are supposedly designed to "repair" leaking gaskets and seals, however these are often very short term fixes and many consumers report that such products actually make the leak worse in the end. The only true and correct way to stop a main seal from leaking is to have it replaced by a qualified professional.
What causes a main seal to go bad?
A main seal may go bad for several reasons, including a bad main bearing that fails to steady the crankshaft, a failed PCV system that causes pressure inside the engine (crankcase), or high mileage whereupon the seal simply wears out.

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