My car has an oil leak, and I can't find where it's coming from. It looks like it's coming from the oil pan, but it could also be a leaky oil seal. I took the top of the timing cover off, but it looked clean. Also, the owner's manual says that I should replace the timing belt (based on mileage; the car has about 87,000 miles), but I am afraid of that doing that. The tech at the auto parts store said I should I replace the water pump as well but that seems very expensive. So, how do I find the source of this oil leak? And once I do, I will change the oil; is it okay to switch to synthetic oil if the car has always used regular oil? Lastly, do I really need to replace the timing belt and water pump?
Yes, it is definitely recommended that you replace the timing belt at the service interval or it may break at an inconvenient time. Since the water pump is driven by the timing belt, it's often recommended changing the water pump as well to reduce the cost of labor replacing it later.
You can switch to synthetic oil but once you make the switch it is not recommended switching back to conventional oil. You may want to seek out advice of a mechanic, who can recommend the repairs related to a timing belt replacement and oil recommendation.
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