Black Light Special
My '95 Ford Explorer is leaking oil somewhere at or near the front of the engine. I have an aggregate driveway, so it's a pain to clean up the oil spots. The truck runs fine, and it doesn't seem to use anymore oil than normal, so I'm thinking the leak might be coming from the front axle or differential.

The Explorer has four-wheel drive, but it's never been off road. Although, I do occasionally engage the 4x4 system and put it through the gears on a gravel road. Someone told me a long time ago that using the 4x4 components occasionally was a good preventative measure. That's the only time I use the 4x4, especially since I put some dubs and low-profile rubber on it.

If the problem is the front axle, is there an easy way to seal it up? Would some RTV silicone do the trick? How can I separate engine leaks from drivetrain leaks? This isn't a serious problem, but I'd still like to fix it. Any advice would be most appreciated.
Branson Hermes
via e-mail

Oil leaks coming from the front differential are a common enough problem for '95-and-later Ford Rangers and Explorers that Ford issued a service bulletin (#02-4-2) on the subject. Oil gets forced out of the axle vent as the gears move. Ford developed a new housing cover with an internal baffle that keeps the oil in the differential.

If you want to determine where or if you have an engine leak and have some retro fun at the same time, you can get an engine dye test kit. These kits-there are different ones for different types of fluids-have an additive that's put in the crankcase, cooling system, or fuel system. Then, after the engine has been run sufficiently, a black light (ultra violet) is used to inspect the suspected leak area.

You can find these inspection kits at well-stocked automotive tool outlets or online. We found several kits starting at about $45 at www.thetoolwarehouse.net. After you've found and fixed the leak, you can look in your parents' attic or at garage sales to find some Sixties psychedelic concert posters. Turn on the black light and experience the Sixties.

Jumpty Dumpty
I'm ready to dump my '00 Chevy Silverado because the transmission keeps jumping out of First gear for no apparent reason. The truck is equipped with the 4.3L V-6 and five-speed manual transmission. This problem is very annoying, but I'm afraid I'll have trouble selling the truck. Anyone taking a testdrive runs a good chance of it jumping out of gear when they're driving it. Is there a quick, easy, and cheap fix for this problem? Thanks.
Jay Roth
via e-mail

Five-speed manual transmissions that jumped out of First gear were a problem experienced by many '99-'00 Silverado pickups. Most of these trucks had the problem fixed under warranty. Apparently, your truck jumped through the cracks. The problem transmissions were built without a detent ball and spring.

Those are inexpensive parts, but there's a lot of labor involved in removing and replacing the transmission. It's mostly grunt work, so you could rent a transmission jack, remove the tranny, and take it to a repair shop. By doing the hard labor, you should substantially lower the cost.