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The cylinder head gasket or a cracked cylinde rhead or heads can cause this problem, a new engine is not required to fix these problems, just new gaskets for heads or rebuilt heads. Cost about $1200 worst case.
An oil leak, could be drastic or small and could come from ANY part of the engine where oil flows. If you haven't had a low oil pressure light before, it might be safe to assume it's a slow leak. Depending on how many miles you have, the oil leak could be coming from the oil pan gasket seal, the head gaskets/valve cover seals, or maybe the oil filter itself! Sometimes a technician could not tighten it all the way and this could cause a mess. Even if you have oil "under" the car, which is normal for any old worn out car, it shouldn't be a reason to NOT have a oil change done. I would suggest doing it yourself or taking it somewhere else.
Get the car cleaned underneath (in an environmental safe and responsible manner) and try to check daily for oil sweating and where it could come from.
Also check some Eclipse owner's forums online to see if this is a common issue with your 1997 model. Good luck
Your problem will be on the oil seal, mechanical seal and gasket. This oil seal are located near the pulley of the engine or in the transmission . This seal need to replace when your car getting old. In gasket the best way is to replace the this with new the oil pan and the valve cover or did you check your oil filter maybe the it needed to tighten or need to replace. This is a heavy work it need service personnel to do this job because they going to open the engine. Your can still use your car as long as you monitor the oil level.
the only way you can tell you blew a head gasket is if there is white smoke coming out of tail pipe or if there is anti freeze mixed with your motor oil ,check the dip stick if oil is creamy then you have a blown head gasket ,check your valve covers and hoses for leaks
could be, the first thing i would do is get the cyclinder head bolts torqued to right setting.Provided the cyclinder head is not warped ie the engine did not overheat before gasket was replaced?All heads have to be rechecked/retorqued after about 1000mls anyway,adrian,,,,,,,,,,,,
Removing the heads and replacing the gasket is not that difficult assuming you don't have a problem with the deck surface or other problems with the top end. These issues will require a machine shop and precision machining. Usually there's a reason for the leaking head gasket. Go get the mechanics manual for you car, it will list all torque values and sequences.
Gm says a 3800 engine should last ove 400,000 miles with normal service. This engine for 97 will probably need a new plastic intake manifold one day. They will leak coolant into the combustion chamber and some un-educated mechanics will tell you that it needs head gaskets as they don't have a head gasket problem. The oil pan may leak on this car too, replace it with a fel-pro perma dry gasket and it will stop it. Mine has 297,000+ miles on it.
Was a leak down test performed on the motor?This will determine if the oil loss is due to bad rings or a head gasket.A head gasket can be repaired,rings will require an overhaul or new motor.Have checked the coolant for oil contamination?