Wrench Tip #30:
Finding Oil Leaks Using Fluorescent Goo
by Dave Coleman
Finding the origin of an oil leak can be a pain in the ass. By the time you even notice you have a leak, the stuff has spread itself all over the engine leaving little hint as to where it came from. If you could turn back the clock and watch the stuff leak out, it would be easy, but how?
This flourescent oil dye is a time machine. Pour a few ounces into the oil, grab a UV flashlight, and watch the oil leak happen before your eyes.
About a week after first putting oil in Project Miatabusa, the puddles started appearing under it. Before the engine had even run for the first time, the oil leak had already spread so far we couldn't pinpoint the source. A few minutes after dumping the glowing green goo in the oil, we could see this. In normal light, the oil leak looks the same as always, but with a UV flashlight, the fresh oil is obvious.
Following the tracer up to the source, its obvious the oil is leaking where the nose of the crank meets the adaptor plate. If you're wondering why you haven't seen Project Miatabusa running yet, this should answer your question. Well, this and the fact that I'm writing this in Hiroshima, Japan while the engine sits on the floor of my garage waiting for me to come home and finish fixing the leak…
Oil is much like maple syrup. As soon as it touches you, it shows up everywhere. The flourescent dye doesn't change this fact, but it does make it more obvious. Less than 10 minutes after pouring the dye in the engine, this glowing stain appeared on the radiator after hitching a ride in my hair. After detecting your leak, you have to be extra careful to clean away all traces of the oil, or your engine bay will look like one of those 20/20 special investigative reports on hotel room jizz.