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i have a 98 forester and the seals have been leaking for some time , 25k mi, does oil on the plastic timing gear or pulley make it weak and does a 98 and 99 forester have the same gears both 2.5, thanks

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Best/most thorought solution is to do a complete timing belt/idler/seals job.

 

Most of us get Emay kits. I use allimport(it's been so long I forget) and some use mizuauto? Someone will come along with the names.

 

Anyways oil won't hurt the cam pulleys, but will harm the timing belt.

 

If you plan on keeping the car at all and HG's have been done already then crank seal, cam seals(which is what is leaking on yours), ibleds, timing belt, water pump, and I do accessory belts and you'll be good until the HG's go(or go again).

 

A 99 Forester is different (A SOHC 2.5) but 95-99 DOHC 2.5's like in outbacks will work.

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oil on the cam sprockets doesn't matter.

 

oil on the timing belt at all is very bad. i've seen oil/coolant leaks onto new timing belts cause failures in a matter of months, it degrades the material.

 

if you're doing the timing belt the $100 - $200 ebay timing kits with all new pulley is the way to go. the 15 year old pulley bearings are devoid of grease by now.

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