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Verdict on crank and cam seals nowadays?


Well-known member
Nov 3, 2016
Livermore, CA
What brands are decent? I haven't looked in a while and its been a few years since I messed with them. Crank seal on my B21 is leaking. No history on the timing belt either so it is all getting done in one go.
I try to use elring whenever I can get them and they don’t seem to leak instantly. I’ve only got like 2k on my seals though.
I messed with Elring and Reinz and the other, reputable aftermarket brands, until I used a genuine Volvo one. Now it's the only one I use. They're manufactured by some company I hadn't heard of (it's on the seal) and I've found them to be superior (by that I mean they work they way you'd expect for a timeframe you'd expect) by a fair margin.
Don't even consider using Elring seals anymore. Almost every one I installed leaked within 1,000 miles or less. They were the orange/red Elring seals. I won't ever use them again. The seals that are considered "Volvo" seals work fine still. So do the Victor Reinz.
I've got engine leaks at the front from fresh Elring seals. Didn't have any issues with the old ones it was just a "while you were in there" and now I'll have to be in there again. Genuine Volvo is what you want.
I’m screwed.

Yet to leak tho.
Maybe, you will be one of the lucky ones that doesn't have to replace them. It was about 80% of the cam/aux shaft seals that leaked. I am going to put "Volvo" seals in my 940 because the Elring seal that is in there leaked within 1,000 miles and is leaking so bad now my car leaves oil stains everywhere it goes. A 240 I put the Elring seals in leaked the following day. I used a red Elring when I installed a B-cam in his 240 and it was fine the 30+ minutes it was running at my shop. When he got home after driving the 50 miles to his house the car was 3/4 quart low on oil and leaking like a sieve. When I went back into that engine to replace the seal with a Volvo seal from the dealer I pulled the cam bearing caps and removed the seal by sliding it off the cam snout with my fingers. It looked perfect inside of the seal. No difference from another brand new seal I had on hand. That was it. Never again. IIRC hiperfauto said he has had trouble with these same seals.
Don't even consider using Elring seals anymore. Almost every one I installed leaked within 1,000 miles or less. They were the orange/red Elring seals. I won't ever use them again. The seals that are considered "Volvo" seals work fine still. So do the Victor Reinz.
I changed timing belt, and inspected the orange Ering cam seal, which appeared 'like new' condition. A couple months later, under moderate driving it began leaking, I assume a quality control and/or material quality issue ? I saw Volvo (dark grey) cam seal on sale and ordered.
I too have had some issues with the orange elring cam seals. I put a B cam in my friends 90 245 and two seals wouldn't stop leaking. I spent some extra time cleaning he surface of the cam and then used a different seal and it's been fine since then.
Thanks all. I had luck with elring in the past but I guess it is OEM volvo for me. Thought I'd see if anything else was ok or equivalent to OEM so I could save a couple bucks.
There are other aftermarket seals I've used with success. The Reinz ones have worked for me so far. I think you want to use the ones that are made of viton or some such synthetic material. I think what has happened with the elring ones are they are too soft to give a long service life and good sealing.

I will say that it's important to make sure the sealing surface is really clean and smooth.
Elring cam and aux seals on both my redblock cars started leaking soon after install. Redid both with OE and they have been fine.
The Reinz cam seal I put on my brothers redblock last summer also seem to work so far.
I replaced front and rear main seals and the aux shaft seal back in June with Grey elring in the front and an orange elring in the back, no leaks anywhere as of last week. I haven't had the elring seals leak on me yet
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Just for clarity. I have installed literally hundreds of sets of seals. I always polish the shafts in the direction of rotation just as a crank/cam grinding shop does. The seals are oiled and installed using a driver that presses the seal evenly all the way around the seal. Long before I had any problems with the Elring seals others on here began warning of leaks when using them. I had never had a problem with them for at least 10 years of installing them in my own cars I resold and customer's cars. Then, about 7-8 years ago one after another leaked. If they were given to me I wouldn't install them. I still have a set sitting here that will never go into any car I'm working on. I still have to replace one set on a 240 I got ready for resale and hit a deer on the way home from my shop. The seals in that car started leaking the day after I installed them. That car was the final straw. There was no doubt in my mind the Elring seals were garbage. Whether Elring ever correct the issue, I don't know and could care less. I'm not willing to experiment in order to find out.
I gave up on aftermarket seals a while back to be honest. Did SKF on the Toyota RMS given availability, regretted that when it started leaking within a month, and not just a random drip. Had it replaced when the trans was rebuilt, that seal was JUNK, not from installation, just from materials. Elring was on my 'no way in hell' list a good 6+ years ago.
I'm gonna hijack this thread to ask about installation of the seals.
I have the timing belt coming up and I want to do all the seals while I'm there.
I've never done this so I'm unsure what the best way is or how hard of a job it is.
Can anyone tell me how I should proceed, which (homebrew) tools I should use to get them out and more importantly back in (I've read of using PVC piping)?
Appreciate any advice.