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Guest Message by DevFuse

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leaking oil..front of engine????

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9 replies to this topic

#1 chnorell


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Posted 31 December 2003 - 10:54 AM

1998 Outback...It seems that oil is coming out at the bottom of the engine between the pkastic timing belt cover and the alum. engine block...about a quart/400 miles.
Anyone have any ideas as to the source???

#2 Opie


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Posted 31 December 2003 - 11:05 AM

Sounds like the Cam Seals, quite common on Subaru's. The seals themselves are cheap, not sure about the cost to install them though.

#3 Commuter


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Posted 31 December 2003 - 11:42 AM

Crank seal is a common leak.

Cam seals and oil pump O-ring are suspect too.

Are you due for a timing belt? Best to have all this work done at once. Perhaps water pump too depending on age / mileage.


#4 mattocs


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Posted 31 December 2003 - 12:33 PM

Sounds like cam seals. That is what mine did when they were bad. It was under $1000 for parts and labor...and we also had the timing belt done then, too.

#5 color-blind


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Posted 31 December 2003 - 02:00 PM

Replace the front crankshaft oil seal and the oil pump o-ring. While you are in there install a new water pump and thermostat along with a new timing belt. The camshaft seals on the 2.5 are optional to replace. The oil pump is the common oil leak. Be sure to use only oe Subaru parts. Good luck.

#6 Chip Hedrick

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Posted 21 January 2004 - 07:43 PM

I just found this thread after doing a search for "oil leak."

Recently here in Maine we have had a spell of very cold weather (not infrequently sub-zero). Several times after driving my '98 OBW (EJ 2.5) in the cold, I have noticed a burning smell, similar to the smell of a burning clutch. Then one day during some particularly cold weather I noticed oil on the garage floor where I park the OBW, under where the engine would be.

I checked the oil and noticed that it was down about 3/4 of a quart, and that was only about 500-600 mi after the last time I changed the oil. This was extremely unusual!! I thought I might have failed to fully tighten the oil filter or the drain plug, but the exterior of both turned out to be dry and oil free.

I put the car up on jack stands to look for the leak. The only place I could see oil dripping was at the bottom of the seam between the plastic timing belt cover and the front of the engine.

It has been about 450 miles since I found the low oil level, which I topped off. The oil level has not dropped since then, but the "burnt" smell persists after the car has reached operating temp. It is particularly noticeable when the car is stopped. I suspect oil is leaking on something hot, such as an exhaust component, thus causing the smell. Also, there continue to be small oil leaks under where I park the car (but not as big as the ones I first noticed).

I guess these are symptoms of a worn seal (crankshaft oil seal, cam seal?). I do not think the engine is overpressurized as I replaced the PCV valve about 7,000 mi ago and at that time inspected all the ventilation hoses for blockages.

The OBW has 101,000 mi. I might bring it in for a slightly early t-belt and water pump replacement, valve adjustment, and seal inspection/replacement (I had wanted to do those things myself in the spring, but won't do them in this weather in an unheated garage).

Any other thoughts?

#7 outback_97


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Posted 22 January 2004 - 11:14 AM

Here's a photo that might help clarify:


Mine was the oil pump seal, and it leaked from the bottom of the timing belt cover, not enough to really pool on the ground but it would blow back on the engine and one could smell oil. The oil would lose 1/2 to 1 quart every 3000 miles. This is quite common on these engines, mine did it at around 70K miles IIRC.


#8 hawksoob


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Posted 22 January 2004 - 12:13 PM

Me too....

1996 OBW

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#9 hawksoob


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Posted 31 January 2004 - 09:47 AM

By the way ... when I was at the dealer yesterday, after having my wheels balanced, he mentioned, "You know, you have a little oil leak."

I told him I know that it's likely the oil pump seal. He said the repair (in order to be absolutely thorough) would entail oil pump seal, cam seal, crankshaft seal, baby harp seal .... oh wait, no ... may as well do timing belt and water pump, since you're there anyway. (What people on here have told me as well).Estimated cost, $800.


#10 Chip Hedrick

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Posted 01 February 2004 - 08:45 AM

hawksoob: $800.00 sounds a little high.

I just had my OBW's oil "hemorrhage" cured for $540 (incl. 5% tax on parts) by an independent who specializes in Subarus. He didn't replace the water pump because he said it showed no signs of wear (some will question the wisdom of this), but he did replace/perform all of the following:

Front crank seal
Oil pump O-ring
All 4 cam seals
T-belt tensioner
Lower timing cover seal
Upper timing cover seal
Oil and filter change

BTW: Mechanic said my OBW had the worst oil leak he'd ever seen. In addition to leaking crank seal, one of the cam seals had "popped" out of place. Said he'd only seen this 3 times in 25 years of experience.

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