Jump to content


Welcome to Ultimate Subaru Message Board, my lurker friend!

Welcome to Ultimate Subaru Message Board, an unparalleled Subaru community full of the greatest Subaru gurus and modders on the planet! We offer technical information and discussion about all things Subaru, the best and most popular all wheel drive vehicles ever created.

We offer all this information for free to everyone, even lurkers like you! All we ask in return is that you sign up and give back some of what you get out - without our awesome registered users none of this would be possible! Plus, you get way more great stuff as a member! Lurk to lose, participate to WIN*!
  • Say hello and join the conversation
  • Subscribe to topics and forums to get automatic updates
  • Get your own profile and make new friends
  • Classifieds with all sorts of Subaru goodies
  • Photo hosting in our gallery
  • Meet other cool people with cool cars
Seriously, what are you waiting for? Make your life more fulfilling and join today! You and your Subaru won't regret it, we guarantee** it.

* The joy of participation and being generally awesome constitutes winning
** Not an actual guarantee, but seriously, you probably won't regret it!

Serving the Subaru Community since May 18th, 1998!

Guest Message by DevFuse
 

Photo
- - - - -

to junk or fix?


  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 winelegacy

winelegacy

    New User

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 9 posts
  • SF Bay Area

Posted 08 February 2009 - 06:49 PM

My old 94 Legacy 4WD 2.2L sedan with 250k miles has had an external head gasket oil leak for the last 8 months. If any is leaking into the water jacket it would have to be slight as my oil color seems ok Until I recently managed to get a job, I didn't have funds to get that fixed. I've been local to from work driving about 45 miles a day, none on freeways, keeping my speed under 55mph. Occasionally some oil manages to drip onto the muffler that then smokes and that is a fire concern until I can degrease it, washing it off. Although the car is certainly near the end of its lifetime, I'd prefer to put as much as $2k into it if that could add another year of two of life and allow me to save enough to buy a reasonable late model used car.

I've been the sole owner and the engine has been well serviced and relatively healthy. As a poor American peon another choice would be to gamble doing nothing, hoping the problem will not get worse or catastrophically fail in the year it will take to save enough for a reliable newer used car. Or a third scary choice that leaves me immediately exposed in these tough economic times of junking it and gambling my meager limited savings iimmediately spending $5k on some questionable used high mileage vehicle. Note I don't have the expertise to adequately evaluate less obvious engine problems on old cars. I've done some homework on what needs to be removed just to get at the head gasket and parts that would be replaced in the process, so have some idea how serious that work is. One thing I may do in the next few days is get the engine steam cleaned so I can more clearly see exactly where the leak is showing and also to make it more palatable to working on when I take it in if so.

My automotive engine knowledge is modest. I'm wondering if this repair is a foolish waste of my money and if the wiser path would be one of my above two options?

Dave

#2 lmdew

lmdew

    _______

  • Members
  • 2,793 posts
  • Colorado Springs

Posted 08 February 2009 - 07:47 PM

Clean it and see where the oil is leaking from.

Slight oil leaks at the head gasket are unlikely to catch fire, they don't leak that much and oil doesn't burn well.

Other sources of leaks:

Valve cover gaskets,
Cam rear cover on the passenger side
Power Steering Pump
Cam and Crank shaft seals up front
Rear Air/Oil Seperator Plate.

With the exception of the last one, all can be done with the engine in the car at not much costs.

#3 vwbuge1

vwbuge1

    USMB Regular

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 88 posts
  • Johnstown

Posted 08 February 2009 - 08:12 PM

Why would you put $2k into a car that is not even worth that? Any sentimental value?

#4 Rooster2

Rooster2

    Subaru Master

  • Members
  • 3,516 posts
  • Indianapolis

Posted 08 February 2009 - 08:20 PM

I wouldn't worry about your oil leak starting a fire, even if it drips on the exhaust system. Motor oil is just not volatile, and won't burn without an open flame. It will just smoke some, but won't flame up.

I don't see you mention any driveability problems, so if it is just some drip and smoke, I would just keep driving the car as is. Just don't let the motor run low on motor oil. Check the oil level often, and carry a couple cans (well oil used to be sold in cans) of oil, and fill up as needed.

I drove an old VW a good ten years with minor oil leaks. I just kept the oil level up, and the motor just kept on going.

#5 grossgary

grossgary

    Elite Master of the Subaru

  • Members
  • 19,612 posts
  • WV

Posted 09 February 2009 - 08:11 AM

Thousands of subaru's are leaking oil onto the exhaust, it's not going to catch on fire.

Agreed, make sure it's the head gasket leaking, lots of other things are more likely to leak and those leaks usually end up down by the head gasket, making it look wet there.

I wouldn't put much money into that car at all. Around here you can easily buy a decent soob that needs minor work with far less miles for less than that.

If you have $2,000 to put into it - just buy something else without major engine/trans problems for $1,000 or $1,5000 and have some padding there to tune it up and make it reliable. good to go for 5+ years.

#6 heartless

heartless

    Do YOU Subaru?

  • Members
  • 2,592 posts
  • Central Wisconsin

Posted 09 February 2009 - 08:58 AM

first - clean the engine bay and be sure of where the oil leak is - as already suggested it could be something else.

second, if you are not sure you want to put the money/time into this car, start looking around for something else and use the $2k toward that...

a quick search of craigslist in the SFbay area revealed a couple of interesting options...

these two are under $2K

http://sfbay.craigsl...1026897992.html

http://sfbay.craigsl...1026671297.html

and this one is a little more, but might be worth it...

http://sfbay.craigsl...1026938616.html

just some options - and i didnt even look that hard...

#7 winelegacy

winelegacy

    New User

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 9 posts
  • SF Bay Area

Posted 22 February 2009 - 03:07 PM

Thanks for for the inputs, especially Imdew. Note when I bought the car I also got the Subaru section 2 (engine) and 6 shop manuals so am using its diagrams to make sense of what I am looking at.

As mentioned, I went ahead and got the engine steam clean ($80) done and that was most worthwhile. Immediately it was evident some of the oil was coming out of the old valve cover gaskets on both sides. So had those replaced, and the spark plug seals replaced along with an oil and filter change for about $150. Since then have driven about 400 miles and now I have a fair idea of where it is seaping from 4 cam locations. The seapage is so minor that none drips down below my vehicle but rather gravity seaps over various parts, and dries to a heavier grease.

From below, I can only see the front engine areas because of the blocking rear crossmember. From above for the rear engine areas, I can easily see the right side areas, however the left are mostly obscured by hoses and pipes. The most leakage of the 4 seems to be coming out from the bottom bolt of the RH camshaft support that is in the rear. Some drips down onto the rear crossmember where it dries. Some is coming out of the rear left cam area too though much less. Because of the difficult view, I need to do some more work to identify that.

On the left, that is driver's side, looking up from beneath, I see signs of some seepage coming out of the seam where the cam housing enters the plastic rear left timing belt cover. And likewise on the right cam side see a tiny amount came out the seam of the right passenger side rear timing belt cover. So yeah as the dealer said both my front cam seals need replacing and now I have a better idea of how little oil.

In spring of 2008 after a long desert road trip while my engine was quite grimy and dirty, a Subaru dealer while replacing my water pump that froze up, thermostat, and timing belt, seemed to think I had an internal head gasket leak and my engine might overheat. Think they had done a compression check so recommended a cylinder head job too along with replacing a list of seals and gaskets that cost way more than the vehicle was worth. Except for the above external seal and gasket leaks the engine seems to run well. Easily starts, idles smoothly at 600 rpm, and is fine on highways. No oil in the coolant, coolant overflow, and clean invisible exhaust. In fact my smog tests have always shown exceptionally low values. So my plan is along Rooster2's advice as I'll let it slowly leak as is for a year or two while I save some money to be able to buy something near new. For $6, I bought a gallon of Purple Power, engine degreaser and with a brush on a long stick then water wash off will monthly clean off areas where the oil and grime builds up. And will keep a couple pints of oil in my trunk to occasionally add.

What can I do about the right rear RH camshaft support leak? That small end piece has two large mounting bolts and then an o-ring just inside. Any other good advice would you folks have?

Dave

Edited by winelegacy, 22 February 2009 - 03:13 PM.


#8 ericem

ericem

    First Gen Legacy Master

  • Members
  • 2,477 posts
  • CANADA Maple,ON

Posted 22 February 2009 - 05:05 PM

Maybe try to use a thicker oil weight to get by. What are you using currently? When they did the timing belt they should have did the cam and crank seals especially at that mileage.

These cars are usually pretty good. My 93 wagon has amazing oil leaks, there is literally a puddle on the motor and the bottom is totally drenched. I am usually good without needing to top it off though. My oil sensor is leaking significantly I noticed, will replace it soon was only like $10.

#9 korrupt66

korrupt66

    USMB Regular

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 69 posts
  • Hillsboro, NH

Posted 22 February 2009 - 06:09 PM

Now I guessing your going to keep it. I was smelling oil burning and knew my timing belt was well over due. After messing with the timing belt I discovered I had some of the same common problems cam seals, valve covers and oil temp sensor. I still have to do the valve covers. It would be sweet if you could put 300k on it!

#10 ccrinc

ccrinc

    The Subaru Whisperer

  • Members
  • 572 posts
  • Denver, CO

Posted 23 February 2009 - 02:30 PM

That right rear o-ring is a common issue and an easy fix. Those are 12mm bolts. Take them out, clean off the cover, CAREFULLY replace the o-ring (it goes on the cover itself) and replace.

About a 15 min. job if you've never done it before.

#11 winelegacy

winelegacy

    New User

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 9 posts
  • SF Bay Area

Posted 23 February 2009 - 09:55 PM

That right rear o-ring is a common issue and an easy fix. Those are 12mm bolts. Take them out, clean off the cover, CAREFULLY replace the o-ring (it goes on the cover itself) and replace.

About a 15 min. job if you've never done it before.


Thanks much. Given the name "camshaft support" I was afraid that end piece might actually support the shaft in a way that if it was removed without some special support considerations, the shaft might shift in a way that I might get in trouble. So I just need to buy a new o-ring, remove the two bolts, inspect and notice how the old o-ring is seated, clean the cs piece, carefully install the o-ring into the camshaft support, and bolt it back up?

Edited by winelegacy, 23 February 2009 - 09:57 PM.


#12 WagonMan76

WagonMan76

    New User

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 6 posts
  • Austin

Posted 24 February 2009 - 12:31 AM

You know this car, you can spend 2-3k and you know you have a better car. You spend 5k+ and god only knows. Everyone will say you’re crazy but they are part of the heard, so let them. I just went through the same thing with my 93 Loyale. I opted for a rebuilt motor from Colorado Component Rebuilders $2295 for motor plus 350.00 to have it Cryo-treated plus $500 to put it in. That’s $3145.00 out the door for a car with ZERO miles and a 3 year warranty.

Or you can spend $5500 for a car with 100K. 3rd option, put some stop leak gunk in it and hope for the best.

Everybody else is right other than the embarrassment of someone thinking your Subaru is burning oil in it exhaust like the 2001 Mitsubishi in front of you at the light, you have nothing to worry about as far as a potential fire goes.

#13 ccrinc

ccrinc

    The Subaru Whisperer

  • Members
  • 572 posts
  • Denver, CO

Posted 24 February 2009 - 04:58 PM

Thanks much. Given the name "camshaft support" I was afraid that end piece might actually support the shaft in a way that if it was removed without some special support considerations, the shaft might shift in a way that I might get in trouble. So I just need to buy a new o-ring, remove the two bolts, inspect and notice how the old o-ring is seated, clean the cs piece, carefully install the o-ring into the camshaft support, and bolt it back up?



You got it :)

#14 ivantruckman

ivantruckman

    4 inch lift

  • Members
  • 874 posts
  • caro, MI.

Posted 24 February 2009 - 05:21 PM

get an old windshield washer resevoir fill it with oil and every so often pump some oil into her, run it til she dies :headbang:

#15 nipper

nipper

    Semi Elite Master of the

  • Members
  • 17,541 posts
  • Long Island NY

Posted 24 February 2009 - 05:27 PM

You have the "auto anti-rust system" which does comsume some minor amount of oil.

:banana:


From what i can tell, keep driving the car. At that mileage it is not worth doing HG on this engine, but all old engines weep. Control the fixable leaks. I wouldnt worry about the weeping HG issue.

Drive it like a real car :), baby a sooby and they may not like it.

Do keep doing regular oil changes and coolant changes. My guess is that you can drive the car like this till the doors fall off. It will not catch fire, but if it ever gets to the point where your choking inside the car, something will have to be addressed.

nipper




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users