mikeatrpi New Reader
Nov. 11, 2011 11:44 a.m.

Wife drives an 01 Subaru Legacy Limited sedan, and its leaking oil. It leaves a few drops on the cardboard on the garage floor, and also drips onto something hot and smells - and occasionally smokes.

I have pics here: http://z.modeltrainguide.com/subaru/

I think its the headgaskets weeping. Its not overheating. I can't tell if the power steering rack is leaking too, of its just got crud from the oil leak running downhill. The reservoir level is unchanged.

She's due for a timing belt. Do I pull the heads too? Thanks for the wisdom and advice!

N Sperlo SuperDork
Nov. 11, 2011 11:47 a.m.

Check under the valve cover before really tearing it apart. Could drip onto the exhaust. I have a minor leak similar in my escort.

16vCorey SuperDork
Nov. 11, 2011 11:59 a.m.

It's probably the head gasket. Very common on those cars. Despite what a shop may tell you, you don't have to pull the engine to change them.

Hocrest HalfDork
Nov. 11, 2011 12:17 p.m.

Before you do the head gaskets, do the cam comer gaskets, cam and crank seals.

SlickDizzy SuperDork
Nov. 11, 2011 12:35 p.m.
Hocrest wrote: Before you do the head gaskets, do the cam cover gaskets, cam and crank seals.

+1. Do the "mickey mouse" oil pump seal, too. All of the gaskets listed previously can create weird leaks that are often misdiagnosed.

Taiden Dork
Nov. 11, 2011 12:44 p.m.

subarus typically leak from

well

everywhere

but I'd first check the various valve cover gaskets

then the cam seals

and finally the more expensive crap

Taiden Dork
Nov. 11, 2011 12:50 p.m.

Just looked at the pics. My vote is one of two things

1) rear main seal

2) this thing here labeled as #3

http://i385.photobucket.com/albums/oo298/GabachoSwine/Engine3.jpg

mikeatrpi New Reader
Nov. 11, 2011 12:51 p.m.

Wow, that's a lot of replies! Thank you!

As far as I can tell the valve cover gaskets are not leaking. I'll check out the cam seals and I don't even know where the crank seal is - hopefully the front of the engine - not the rear main seal...?

mikeatrpi New Reader
Nov. 11, 2011 12:54 p.m.
Taiden wrote: Just looked at the pics. My vote is one of two things 1) rear main seal 2) this thing here labeled as #3 http://i385.photobucket.com/albums/oo298/GabachoSwine/Engine3.jpg

Not terribly interested in pulling the engine, sigh. That thing labeled #3 is some kind of plate that is known for leaking, I also forgot the name but remember reading about it in my google research.

SlickDizzy SuperDork
Nov. 11, 2011 1:16 p.m.

3 would be the oil separator plate.

Pulling a Subaru engine is incredibly easy, takes about 45 minutes. It helps that the bellhousing bolts are smack in the middle of the engine bay! In my opinion it is easier to pull the engine to do seals & gaskets than it is to do it with the engine in the car, and if you're taking a day to piss with it anyways, might as well spend the extra hour and a half to make the rest of the work that much easier.

ValuePack Dork
Nov. 11, 2011 1:26 p.m.

^"seperator plate", for wrist pin access. Always leaks before the rear main.

Taiden Dork
Nov. 11, 2011 2:40 p.m.

It should take you about 2 hours to pull the motor if you've never done it before. Installation is the reverse of removal, as they say.

mikeatrpi New Reader
Nov. 11, 2011 2:55 p.m.

Fair enough. I'll plan to pull the motor. Any recommendations for parts sources?

ValuePack Dork
Nov. 11, 2011 3:59 p.m.

Rockauto has full gasket kits for under $300, though I'd want OE Subaru or better for headgaskets... Just personal preference. Too many horror stories about cheap HG failures.

Do let us know how it works out.

mikeatrpi Reader
July 12, 2012 3:50 p.m.

Update... a few months have gone by and we're ready to tackle the job this weekend. I have the timing belt kit with water pump, Fel-pro intake, exhaust and valve cover gaskets, and OEM head gaskets and thermostat. I got a bottle of "coolant conditioner" from the dealer as well.

Any last words of wisdom before I begin? I'm 99% set on removing the motor, though one guide I found said to remove the CV shafts to improve access to the bellhousing bolts. Uhh... I'd rather not do that!

Do you guys install head gaskets dry?

wbjones UltraDork
July 12, 2012 6:16 p.m.
N Sperlo wrote: Check under the valve cover before really tearing it apart. Could drip onto the exhaust. I have a minor leak similar in my escort.

valve cover leaks .... VERY COMMON with Suby's ... especially older ones

SlickDizzy UltraDork
July 12, 2012 8:27 p.m.

You DEFINITELY don't have to pull the CV's to get at the bellhousing bolts. My trick is to disconnect the exhaust manifold and engine mounts, then to jack up the transmission about 3" from the bellhousing (with the motor still connected). This is also handy when trying to get the motor back on the input shaft during reassembly.

Good choice with the OEM head gaskets and Fel-pro others. I run head gaskets dry, myself.

While you have everything apart, I still say it wouldn't be a bad idea to do the Mickey Mouse gasket (aka oil pump seal). It will eventually fail anyways, very few Subies I've seen don't leak from it, and a lot of people mistakenly blame the front crank seal...do your cam seals too, they are not impossible in the car, but they are cheap and worlds easier to do with the engine out.

mikeatrpi Reader
July 12, 2012 10:20 p.m.

Great tip on the bellhousing bolts, thanks! I bought the cam seals and front crank seal... I didn't buy the oil pump seal or rear main seal. I was kind of thinking to just leave it alone / don't mess with it if it isn't visibly leaking. I changed the rear main seal in my Datsun and I must have goofed it up because it started weeping after I touched it. I'd rather not make things worse.

SlickDizzy UltraDork
July 13, 2012 8:28 a.m.
mikeatrpi wrote: Great tip on the bellhousing bolts, thanks! I bought the cam seals and front crank seal... I didn't buy the oil pump seal or rear main seal. I was kind of thinking to just leave it alone / don't mess with it if it isn't visibly leaking. I changed the rear main seal in my Datsun and I must have goofed it up because it started weeping after I touched it. I'd rather not make things worse.

I still STRONGLY suggest doing the oil pump seal.

The oil pump unbolts from the front of the engine as an assembly, and it is virtually impossible to mess the seal up, and gives you an easy way to take care of the front main. The rear main - those should never be touched unless they are visibly leaking.

But you absolutely, positively, should do the oil pump seal, as it is stupid easy. Here's a tutorial even: http://beergarage.com/SubyOPump.aspx

If you do the front crank seal and not the oil pump, I will facepalm as you are just asking for an oil pump leak, but hey, it's your car.

mikeatrpi Reader
July 13, 2012 11:30 a.m.

Maybe I don't understand enough - that link is for a 2.2L engine - does it apply to my 2.5-L engine? Why do you call it Mickey Mouse, it looks like an o-ring?

I wasn't planning to do the front crank seal unless it was leaking. Won't know that until I dig in. I'm trying to have parts on hand even if I don't touch them. Edit - so that means I'm going to the dealer in a few hours to get the o-ring so I have it on hand. If you're telling me its important to do while I'm in there, I'll do it.

Current plan of action is to remove the battery / radiator / intake manifold / timing covers, then yank the motor unless I change my mind at that instant. Not planning to touch the rear main or separator plate unless those appear to be leaking per your advice.

Thank you so much!

mikeatrpi Reader
July 13, 2012 12:49 p.m.

OK, I'm confused.

In this picture - you're telling me to do the o-ring and the anaerobic sealant, right? I don't need to disassemble and clean the oil pump like the tutorial... true? http://beergarage.com/imgs/Suby/OPump/14.jpg

This picture is the crank seal - I'm assuming this is the one that I already bought from Fel-Pro. As far as I can tell there is no other front crank seal. Right? http://beergarage.com/imgs/Suby/OPump/13.jpg

Many thanks!

mikeatrpi Reader
July 15, 2012 8:02 p.m.

OK - job is done. Thanks for all of the help! I ended up doing it in the car. It took the full weekend, the better part of both days. Since this is an automatic, the intake manifold had to come off before I could yank the motor and by then I was just about ready to pull the heads. I actually removed the passenger side head without jacking up the motor - but I did I have to lift it and swing it over a little way to remove the drivers side.

A couple of observations:

1) The head bolts are long, realllly long.

2) The timing marks on the cams & crank line up every 2 revolutions, but the marks on the belts line up only once. I turned the motor over like 20 times trying to get them back in sync... I guess however that it takes something like 500 rotations for the marks to get back in line.

3) The oil dipstick is attached to the drivers side head, don't forget about it...

4) The passenger side cam had a little bit of... slop?... in it, I guess it was just a flat section of the lobes?

5) When the timing marks are lined up, should #1 have been at TDC? When I pulled the head, it didn't appear to be at the top. I guess every two revolutions lines up the marks, but every 4th rotation would be TDC. I had a 50% chance of getting it. It didn't seem to matter in the end.

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