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Thread: 1980 Series 3 Santana rear main seal leak

  1. #1

    Default 1980 Series 3 Santana rear main seal leak

    I just bought a fully restored 1980 Series 3 88" with the diesel. It's a santana. The rear main seal is leaving about a 6 to 8" puddle of oil after driving. Longest trip has been about 20 miles around town. The shop that restored it claims it's a break in issue. I'm having trouble buying this argument. My dad and I restored a 73' series 3 in highschool. We had the motor rebuilt. Oil leaks eventually happened but 6-8 months and 100's of miles.

    This is my first Land Rover with a diesel. Trying to educate myself on it. This oil leak doesn't seem like a break in issue. Anyone else with a similar issue? Very frustrating on a fresh restoration. This thing also sat in a shipping container for 4 months. I imported it out of Spain.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    SF Bay Area


    Series Land Rover owners seem to have a high tolerance for oil leaks. I think it's just that there are so many places to leak from(engine, gearbox, transfer case, swivel balls, etc). The trucks last forever and take many owners just drive them leaky anyway. Also, it's cheaper to put in more oil and put off an expensive repair.

    They're often farm vehicles or seldom driven fun it's not a big deal if it leaks, or it doesn't have to put alot of miles on them.

    So, you'll get multiple opinions on leaks. Most will self-deprechatingly say they all leak ;D.

    But, I'd be pissed if someone put a fresh motor in for me and the truck is leaking. That's BS. I could live with it if I did it. But if I paid "professional rates" for that work ...that thing better not leak. I'd say they are trying to dodge an expensive or tedious fix on their dime.

    The rear main seal is notorious on Series engines for leaking because it's a 4 piece disaster of engineering. Everyone puts them in wrong and every seam is just an opportunity for a leak. That's why GM went with a 1 piece rear main seams. Maybe Land Rover thought the 4 pieces made it more serviceable? Either way. People change them and manage to keep them from leaking. Professional people. Nothing on a car "breaks in" and forms a better seal. That's not how rubber seals and cork gaskets work. Not your fault, though.

    Now what you do is up to you, but you have the info. It may be that you bought the car "as is", in which case it's your problem to fix. You might not have legal case to force them to fix it. Could be one of thise things where you see what they are made of - do they value customer satisfaction? Will they lose a repeat customer just to save a buck? Or will they do the stand-up thing and fix it for you? How they treat you will give you your answer. If they keep trying to pull this BS, well you should look elsewhere.

    But, the truck is probably still a good truck. It's old. These older cars need more attention than newer cars, right? It's kind of part of the pride of ownership.

    Good luck!
    ...d ..__ ......... |... | ..__....p
    └/ | \────┴──┴/ | \─┘≡

    1973 Series 3, 109

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2020


    As a matter of interest, is it a 3 bearing or 5 bearing crankshaft, as LR changed the rear crank seal to a one piece design in about 1980 with the 5 bearing crank., Not sure if Santana went the same way. Sitting in a container would not help things.

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