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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Head Gasket Oil Leak Confirmation...

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11 replies to this topic

#1 Buckgnarly



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Posted 12 May 2014 - 08:42 AM

So after pulling the trans from my other thread, it appears that they leak I have had for a few months is the dreaded head gasket.  Anyone want to confirm from pic?....




So a few questions...


#1.  I KNOW I should fix the headgasket, but any idea how quick this could become an issue....


#2.  Since I KNOW I should do this, especially while the trans is out, the more important question is should I pull the engine or do it while in?



If I pull it, both gaskets and all seals will be done, so I think I know my answers, just looking for experience or tips here....I have never done a Subaru headgasket, so any tips will be greatly appreciated!

#2 Fairtax4me



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Posted 12 May 2014 - 10:07 PM

Head gasket would be the last thing I would blame for an oil leak on the Ej22.

Pull the flywheel off and check the separator plate. That's the common leak point and will leave plenty of oil on the exhaust Y-pipe and run down all over the cross member.

That could also be a front cam seal leak that's being blown back along the bottom of the block.

#3 upnorthguy


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Posted 13 May 2014 - 07:46 AM

+1 for oil all over due to separator plate.  


I just pulled my EJ22 and there was so much oil sludge all over the bottom of my engine...I think I had leaky valve cover gaskets in addition to the separator plate. My front seals were OK (crank/cam) but there was oil all over the sides, bottom and back of my engine (in addition to a layer about a foot thick on the cross member, power steering rack, steering knuckle, on top of the Y pipe).  Basically, there was oil all over down there from blow back.

#4 johnceggleston


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Posted 13 May 2014 - 04:20 PM

besides, when the ej22 gaskets fail,

it is usually an internal leak,

exhaust into the coolant.

#5 idosubaru


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Posted 14 May 2014 - 08:36 AM

What year/vehicle/engine?

It's an EJ25 right?  I'm not sure why folks think it's an Ej22, am I missing something?


should make sure it's not valve covers or oil cooler (though that's only on passengers side if it even has one), cam seals, crank seal, etc. we can't see what's going on underneath/up front.


separator plate is on passengers side and doesn't usually migrate "forward" in the engine compartment, and the head looks wetter than the flywheel area/mating surface, so I'm hesitant to call that a separator leak.  Of course hard to tell without more info/pic's/not knowing more, like if it was wiped off/cleaned.


assuming headgasket:

1.  The external oil leaks get worse very slowly, although 05+ models get worse quicker. if it's an 00-04 SOHC EJ25, with original gaskets, that hasn't been overheated before, and this is the start of a leak with no appreciable loss between oil changes - you can drive it probably 50,000 miles with leaking headgaskets as long as you keep oil in it.  


all that to say - you've got lots of time on those engines.


the 05+ models get worse quicker.


2.  Probably best to just replace them while the car is down, be nice to be once and done for good.


3.  They are easily done in the car. Just jack the engine up a few inches in place and they're easily done in the vehicle if you want.  Nicer to work out of the car. 


4.  Resurface the heads (no point in checking them for pressure or cracks or warapge - they never do that so don't waste time/money).  there's a thread on here how to resurface yourself, very easy to do.


5.  Use Six Star, Cometic, or Subaru headgaskets


6. install a Gates timing belt kit from Amazon for $120 and you're done for 100,000 miles.


you can even bolt the engine and trans together and install them as a lump all at one time if you have an engine lift. got to get the angle right and all of course.

#6 mikec03


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Posted 14 May 2014 - 11:54 AM

On his profile, it says his car is an 02 legacy, which means it's a 2.5.    I would say that theres a 99% chance that it is a HG leak given the appearance of the leak and the year of mgf.  It looks just like my 02 did.

#7 forester2002s


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Posted 14 May 2014 - 01:45 PM

My 2002 Forester 2.5 also looks just like this.

It's been leaking for the last couple of years (on the left-side only, the right-side is as 'dry as a bone').

It uses about 1L oil per 5,000km (about 1USQuart per 3,000miles).

And it doesn't drip on the floor, so the oil probably getting blown away when driving.

I just keep an eye on it (wipe it off occasionally), and check my oil-level religiously.

For now, it's not a problem.

#8 idosubaru


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Posted 14 May 2014 - 02:03 PM

yep - as i said, they get worse very, very slowly and can be ignored for a long time.  do exactly what you're doing, just monitor how much it's loosing and they can go many years/miles.


the later ones 05+ can get worse much quicker.

#9 Buckgnarly



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Posted 15 May 2014 - 06:44 AM

Sorry about the delay, the boards were down when I posted and I have not been back since.


It is an 02 Legacy L, 2.5. 


There is no oil anywhere but that lower rear corner (drivers side), so no cover, main seal, valve cover, etc.  Everywhere but that one corner is bone dry.


So am I safe to put the trans in and deal with the leak?  The car had the gaskets done about 70-80k ago by the dealer before we bought it used with 120k on it.  There is now 175k on it.


Just torn between getting my wife back into the car or doing the whole deal now while the trans is out.

#10 idosubaru


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Posted 15 May 2014 - 09:21 AM

I wouldn't worry about putting it off a year or so.  I'd put it off and source the parts for a proper head gasket and timing component job in the future.


As I mentioned earlier - this particular year/engine gets worse over 10's of thousands of miles.  It's probably only loosing a few teaspoons per oil change, barely seeping out.


That being said - repaired heads tend to vary a little bit more in failure modes, so having been replaced before it may exhibit different symptoms. But so far it's looking like a normally installed original headgasket.


The dealers unfortunately don't resurface the heads, which is good enough for their 1 year/12,000 mile warranty, but otherwise poor practice.

#11 Buckgnarly



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Posted 15 May 2014 - 10:35 AM

Only minor drips on the floor, like 4-5 over the past few months/oil changes.... and the underside is not too bad.  I have off all Summer, so I may just throw it back together this weekend and get back to it in a month or so.  After unbolting the trans bell housing bolts are easy to get to, so pulling the engine does not seem to entail as much work as taking out a trans, seems quite easy with the trans in actually.  Just gotta tell my wife to keep an eye on the oil.

Edited by Buckgnarly, 15 May 2014 - 10:36 AM.

#12 idosubaru


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Posted 15 May 2014 - 10:40 AM

that's what i would do, monitor oil and you're golden.  they never fail catastrophically - like bleeding profusely.


when they get really bad - you'll know it as the oil hits the exhaust and burns off, you'll have james bond smoke screen action.  on that engine, it takes a few years to get that bad though.

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