Sunday, March 29, 2015

Replacing the crankshaft front oil seal on a GM 2.2L Ecotec engine in a Cavalier, Cobalt, HHR, Malibu, Grand Am, Sunfire and more

     When this seal gave way on a 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier with GM's 2.2L Ecotec engine, the leak was huge. If it's a big leak and it seems to be coming from the front (belt end) of the engine, the crankshaft front seal is the major culprit. The serpentine belt will tend to become oil soaked and throw the oil all over the bottom of the engine, so the drips will seem to be everywhere.  This repair is simple, relative to many other vehicles. It can be fixed in just a few hours. Other GM cars with this engine are the Cobalt, HHR, Malibu, Alero, Grand Am, Sunfire, Saturn L series and Ion, a well as some Opel and Vauxhall cars

                                                      The Repair Basics                                       
  • Safety: Safety glasses, gloves. 
  • Tools: A hydraulic or scissors jack, jack stands or substantial wood supports, 19,21 and 7 mm sockets, a 24 inch breaker bar, 3/8 and 1/2" ratchets, a pry bar or other sprocket holding tool, a small seal prying tool 
  •  Parts and materials: Crankshaft front oil seal (Fel pro TCS 46112), new crankshaft pulley bolt, serpentine belt (if needed), rags, engine degreaser, grease, oil. .
  •  Cost of materials: Seal $7.50 (Napa), pulley bolt $7 (GM), Serpentine belt $21 (Napa) , consumables $4.00. Total $31.50  
  •  Shop labor cost for the job: $100 
  •  Home mechanic estimated time: 2-3 hours   

1) Break the 19mm lug nuts on the right front tire
2) Jack up the front of the car and place on stands. Used two RR ties behind the wheel
3) Remove the right front wheel
4) Remove the right front wheel well cover. This is a complicated cover and will take awhile to get off. It is held on by 8 or ten 7mm hex screws. The topmost one is shorter. Two panel fasteners must also be removed, one by the horn in front and one way low behind the wheel. Two wires are also clipped to it, one in the front by the horn and the other along the bottom, clipped on in three places.
5) Disconnect the battery.
6) Remove the serpentine belt by moving the tensioner upward to release tension on the belt. Use a 3/8” square bar as found on a ratchet in the square hole in the tensioner arm.
7) Remove the crank bolt with a 21mm socket and 24 inch breaker bar. Jam a pry bar or other bar in an opening in the pulley and against a solid part of the car to keep the pulley (harmonic balancer) from turning.

Jam a pry bar in a spoke of the crank pulley and turn counter-clockwise

8) Remove the crank pulley. Mine slipped right off. It may be necessary to use a puller. There are three holes for a puller to be attached on the pulley.
9) Remove the bad seal. This one comes out by prying along the underside. I used a six inch long prying tool and it came out easily.

An ordinary prying tool will remove this seal

10) Thoroughly clean the belt path. An engine degreaser  and plenty of rags will help here.


1) Install the new seal by pressing it in carefully. Put some grease on both sealing surfaces.  I used a 2” (OD) piece of pvc to push the seal on.
2) Re-mount the crankshaft pulley. Line up the key slot with the key in the crankshaft and seat the pulley.
3) Install a new crank shaft pulley bolt and torque to 74 foot pounds plus and additional 75 degrees of rotation. A pry bar must be inserted into the spokes of the pulley to prevent turning in the clockwise direction. This works best with two people, one holding the pry bar and the other with the torque wrench.
4) Install the serpentine belt. It runs around the outside of the alternator and AC compressor and crank pulley and then under the tensioner.

Using a 3/8" ratchet to release tension and seat the belt

5) Put the wheel well cover back on
6) Mount the wheel and just snug up the lug nuts.
7) Raise enough to remove the stand and then lower to the ground
8) Re connect the battery
9) Torque the lug nuts and test the car for leaks.



  1. Thank you so much for covering this. My 2004 Cavy has a leak and I "thought" at first that it was the oil pan seal and that it needed to be replaced. "Now" I see what the probable "culprit" is . Thanks again for helping a guy out!! -Anthony Church

  2. Isn't the crankshaft pulley bolt torque to yield? Repair specs indicate a new bolt must be used. Isn't it dangerous to reuse it?

    1. This post is incorrect on the torque procedure. The bolt is supposed to be replaced. The torque spec. is 74 lb.-ft. plus an additional 75 degrees of rotation.

    2. You are correct. I will fix it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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  4. anyone have a part number for the crank bolt on the ecotec crankshaft?

  5. I would contact a GM parts department for the bolt.

  6. Changed out my balancer and seal and bolt, I have looked for damage in the shaft area. I still get oil out of my balancer. What else could be causing this leak? I have torqued to specs out of haze book. Any ideas? 2.2 ecotec in a 2009 Chevy cobalt

  7. Thank u buddy that's exactly what's going on with my cobalt 2010 gonna get it took care of have a good day and thanks again