2.5 Oil Leak history - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Rate Thread
post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-15-2011, 02:24 PM Thread Starter
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: NC, USA
Car: 1999 Subaru Legacy Outback 2.5
Posts: 34
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Question 2.5 Oil Leak history

Hi,
As the owner of a '99 Outback I am well acquainted with the tendency of the late '90s era 2.5 engines to leak oil at the front engine seal and cam shaft seals. I have had such leaks repaired on my Outback 3 times by 3 different mechanics, and only one repair lasted for any significant length of time. That repair, the last effort to fix oil leaks on this car, was done by a mechanic who took the time to research the updated parts and procedures form Subaru and perform the repair accordingly. It lasted about 3 or 4 years.

The first repair lasted about 4 months, the second repair never stopped the leaking. Anyway, the Outback is now well over 200k with one internal cylinder head gasket repair behind it, its leaking like a sieve again and I am ready to replace it. What I would like to know is, since 1999 has the leaky engine seals issue been successfully addressed, and if so about what model year did it get resolved. Ditto the cylinder head gasket failure which was common to the engine in my car.

I'd like to get a newer Outback, but not with these same issues.

Thanks for the feedback!
westone is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-15-2011, 02:35 PM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 17,364
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Quote:
Originally Posted by westone View Post
Hi,
As the owner of a '99 Outback I am well acquainted with the tendency of the late '90s era 2.5 engines to leak oil at the front engine seal and cam shaft seals. I have had such leaks repaired on my Outback 3 times by 3 different mechanics, and only one repair lasted for any significant length of time. That repair, the last effort to fix oil leaks on this car, was done by a mechanic who took the time to research the updated parts and procedures form Subaru and perform the repair accordingly. It lasted about 3 or 4 years.

The first repair lasted about 4 months, the second repair never stopped the leaking. Anyway, the Outback is now well over 200k with one internal cylinder head gasket repair behind it, its leaking like a sieve again and I am ready to replace it. What I would like to know is, since 1999 has the leaky engine seals issue been successfully addressed, and if so about what model year did it get resolved. Ditto the cylinder head gasket failure which was common to the engine in my car.

I'd like to get a newer Outback, but not with these same issues.

Thanks for the feedback!
I do believe that the early 2.5 engine is quite different even from the 2.5 I had in my 2001.

I can tell you that the 2001 which had the 2.5 used from 2000-2002 then fairly decent updates to it were made for 2003 larger exhaust ports and a couple of other minor tweaks.

The 2001 - that I had from 0-180,000 miles didn't leak till 150,000 and that leak was the valve covers starting to fail. Having said that my experience has been that oil leaks in these newer engines are generally directly related to the quality of the oil used - and maintained in the engine. If you run decent oil and change it at proper intervals oil leaks should be little to no issue till your getting into the 150+K range.

Now having said that I can tell you that replacement of seals can have very wide range of lasting performance. Non OEM seals can have far shorter life spans - the quality of the work done by the person replacing the seals etc etc - and yes once again the quality of the oil run in the engine can impact this also.

I ran Mobile 1 synthetic or Cheveron Synthetic in my 2001 and changed it every 4500-5000 miles any longer and the oil was just too dirty which impacts all the seals.
subiesailor is offline  
post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-15-2011, 04:08 PM
Registered User
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: WV
Car: OBW H6 VDC, H6 OB Sed, XT6's
Posts: 5,672
Feedback Score: 1 reviews
the EJ25 changed the following year in 2000 (actually it changed your year - but only the foresters and RS got the newer EJ25 that year), so any newer Ej25 equipped vehicle (or 99 forester/RS) will be the newer EJ25. yours is called a Phase I EJ25 and the newer EJ25 is called a Phase II EJ25.

Phase II EJ25's still have headgasket issues but they're a little different.

Phase I EJ25's (your old one) internal combustion gases leaked into the coolant. Random and uncontrollable overheating. generally renders the car unusable as overheating can be random and uncontrollable.

Phase II EJ25's. external leak and can leak coolant or oil. no overheating unless you run it out of coolant. can essentially be driven as long as you care to keep adding fluid, which can be a long time if it's a very slow seap which it often is. Subaru requires a Subaru COolant Conditioner Additives - $1.50 a bottle from Subaru with any coolant change.

The headgasket leaks are far less complicated on the newer models and *seem* to have less frequency. But that's hard to gauge because more older cars hit the market with issues so that makes it seem like more. Where newer cars are worth more and more people are prone to fix them without talking, posting, or selling them.

your 99 oil leak was not an issue for these engines - it was just an issue with your car. you won't find threads or folks doing a lot of these engines suggesting this was "common"....any more so than any other subaru seals leaking anyway.

H6 VDC OBW, H6 OB Sedan, XT6's, castrated LSi - FWD EJ18
grossgary is online now  
post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-15-2011, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: NC, USA
Car: 1999 Subaru Legacy Outback 2.5
Posts: 34
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Quote:
Originally Posted by grossgary View Post
your 99 oil leak was not an issue for these engines - it was just an issue with your car. you won't find threads or folks doing a lot of these engines suggesting this was "common"....any more so than any other subaru seals leaking anyway.
Thanks for info, both of you. Yes the head gasket leak on my Phase1 engine was exactly as You described, and as I found described numerous places. That's how I determined my car must have the Phase1 engine, by the type of symptoms resulting from the head basket leak.

However, my experience is that these oil leaks were common to this engine. I had no trouble finding info the issue on the 'net, and Subaru does spec revised parts and installation procedures for the crank/oil pump seal and cam shaft seals on this engine. A quick Google search will yield results on the topic, such as this: Subaru Oil Leaks, Outback Oil Leak, Outback Leaking Seals. The leaks tend to develop after 100k. A friend with the '99 Outback had the same experience with the leaks and the failed repairs. She had her repairs done at the local dealer, twice, while I avoided the dealer.
westone is offline  
post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-15-2011, 05:15 PM
Registered User
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: WV
Car: OBW H6 VDC, H6 OB Sed, XT6's
Posts: 5,672
Feedback Score: 1 reviews
Quote:
Originally Posted by westone View Post
However, my experience is that these oil leaks were common to this engine.
not any more common than any other engine.

those websites are generic oil seal replacement guidelines and leaks. i can find oil seal leak examples for any other make/engine...toyota, nissan, honda...they leak too. there's nothing specific suggesting "this engine" is any more prone to leaking than any other. a properly installed seal always lasts longer than a couple of months. if it doesn't then the seal was compromised, out of spec, or not installed properly.

not trying to argue, just trying to help you. either something was wrong with the engine - it's very common for people to scar the sealing surface while trying to remove a seal - have you ever removed one? they can be very tricky to remove in confined spaces. this is far more likely. or the mechanic messed up the install, the seal was bad (aftermarket? - though EJ aftermarkets generally seem well constructed, it's usually older generation subaru's that seem to have lower quality aftermarket seals). etc.

go visit any other car forum and you'll see similar issues and recommendations. folks typically replace seals with a timing belt job because they are prone to leakage over time/mileage - true of honda's, toyota's, subaru's - nissan's, etc. this is not EJ25 specific....nor even subaru specific.

factors:

subaru's have twice as many heads as some vehicles - so twice as many cam seals and valve covers in some instances - so maybe they have "twice the propensity" to leak if you want to look at it that way - but still a low percent, and they dont' have "repeat" or low mileage failures if properly done. something is wrong if that's the case.

subaru oil leaks can be really annoying because of the layout of the engine, the exhaust manifold can easily get dripped on, where it burns off, smells bad, and smokes it doesn't just hit the ground like some other layouts. so they can "seem" worse than others sometimes when they're laying out a james bond smoke screen.

also, subaru's actually last long enough and retain value to the point that engine seal wear and leakage becomes an issue. some makes (like ford cars) don't have that "problem". they're generally not worth repairing once they reach ages/mileages where seals start to leak. LOL

H6 VDC OBW, H6 OB Sedan, XT6's, castrated LSi - FWD EJ18
grossgary is online now  
post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-15-2011, 05:36 PM
H-D
Registered User
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: NW TN
Car: '99 Outback 2.5 GT auto & '97 LegOB w/ grossly insulted 2.5
Posts: 142
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Have you cleaned/replaced the PCV valve? Perhaps you're having some problems with positive crankcase pressure? The oil separator plates are known to have some leakage issues (especially the plastic ones) which don't leak as badly stopped as they do on the road. The wife's '97 2.5 has 183K on the clock & hasn't dropped its oil level since its last oil change ~1,500 miles ago (so they all don't leak).
H-D is offline  
post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-15-2011, 08:05 PM Thread Starter
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: NC, USA
Car: 1999 Subaru Legacy Outback 2.5
Posts: 34
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
@H-D: This engine has the metal oil separator, the oil & filter is changed every 3k, and the PVC is changed annually, ~20k.

@grossgary: Those links are NOT generic, they are specific to the very car we are discussing. Two of those links were to threads on this very site concerning late '90s Outbacks with the exact issue I brought up in the OP. Threads which you indicated earlier would be difficult to find here, but were easily turned up with a simple search. And that's just this site, not others where I have found the same topic, and not my personal experience in the real world. If there was no issue, what prompted revised seals and installation procedures on the part of Subaru?
westone is offline  
post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-15-2011, 08:48 PM
Registered User
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: WV
Car: OBW H6 VDC, H6 OB Sed, XT6's
Posts: 5,672
Feedback Score: 1 reviews
i'm not trying to argue, generally trying to help. i'm surprised others aren't saying anything because i know the majority of folks like me that do and have done a ton of subaru work over the decades would say the same thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by westone View Post
@grossgary: Those links are NOT generic,
the first link references every Subaru EJ engine made for 15 years - 1990-2004 EJ18, EJ22, EJ25, EJ22T. a very generic website. it does not specify an "issue" - just good maintenance protocols. many people (like me and others on this forum) are doing that for ALL engines and make vehicles, not just one year EJ25. it's just smart maintenance to replace a $3 seal on a $700 timing belt job, they're just glorifying a simple idea with verbose language and pictures that many are doing anyway.

yes - it's good and relevant info - but it is not specific to any particular year or engine or subaru's.

and yes - you can find your year engine leaking oil in a thread - but it's impossible to not find an engine that doesn't leak oil. i could do that for every car/engine ever made. you'd rule yourself out of buying any engine with that kind of anecdotal logic.

seal material has changed over time - because there are better materials, not because the "1997 Subaru EJ25 engine had issues leaking". the change had nothing to do with EJ25 engines and everything to do with improved quality materials and construction. same with timing belts and other components - they are changing and evolving over time, not always just to compensate for issues but to provide better products.

it's not a big deal or worth arguing about. i'm really trying to help....because the later EJ engines are not different....more or less prone to oil leaks.

yours had something wrong, because me and others that do a lot of subaru work are not having cars come back within months to be resealed again.

H6 VDC OBW, H6 OB Sedan, XT6's, castrated LSi - FWD EJ18
grossgary is online now  
post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-27-2012, 07:41 PM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Page,AZ
Car: 99 Legacy Outback Wagon 2.5 5SPD
Posts: 41
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
99 Outback 2.5 oil leaks

from my experience and what I have heard from other Sube owners, the 2.5's almost all leak but not everyone admits it. Mine has 190,000 miles on it and has heads done recently and all the seals were changed at that time. Mine is now leaking in three spots and of course onto the crossover exhaust pipe so it has that lovely burnt oil smell. I have only used synthetic oils and change it often but it still leaks. I did have good luck with Bars Leak Oil Stop Leak from Walmarts. It worked great and totally stopped all the leaking for months until I took it out on the highway at higher speeds and then the leaks started again. PCV was changed not long ago. I'll find another motor maybe a little newer reseal and rebuild that one and then swap them out which there is a good video of doing that on Youtube.
JoeCool is offline  
post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-27-2012, 08:04 PM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 17,364
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeCool View Post
from my experience and what I have heard from other Sube owners, the 2.5's almost all leak but not everyone admits it. Mine has 190,000 miles on it and has heads done recently and all the seals were changed at that time. Mine is now leaking in three spots and of course onto the crossover exhaust pipe so it has that lovely burnt oil smell. I have only used synthetic oils and change it often but it still leaks. I did have good luck with Bars Leak Oil Stop Leak from Walmarts. It worked great and totally stopped all the leaking for months until I took it out on the highway at higher speeds and then the leaks started again. PCV was changed not long ago. I'll find another motor maybe a little newer reseal and rebuild that one and then swap them out which there is a good video of doing that on Youtube.
Joe one thing I learned a long time ago and this applies to ANY ENGINE subaru or other wise the quality of work or talent that the person who did the work has can have a huge difference between an engine that is leak free and trouble free for many many years vs an engine that develops leaks and issues very shortly after having a bunch of work done on it.

One thing is absolutely true - Mechanics come in all sizes - shapes and skill levels many come with little to zero skill at all. Though their office window is not marked with an A or an F by the mechanic inspector so you would never know till you have work done and find that they did a really poor job.

I had a dealer replace an inner axle seal on my strait solid axle Land Cruiser just a few months back. I've done these seals my self many years ago on a different truck - if you don't get the area cleaned out really well the seals will not seat and will start leaking right away. If you do them correctly they are fine for another 140-150,000 miles.

The dealer ended up doing them again given they were leaking less than 5000 miles later! I gave his tech some good ribbing given I knew exactly what he did regarding the mistake that resulted in the leak with new seals. His tech admitted to me that he had only done two of them prior to mine and didn't realize how sensitive the seals were to getting the seating area 100% cleaned up.

Same thing applies to Subaru engines - headgaskets - timing belts - rear seals - even valve cover gaskets! It really does require some skill and know how to do it without having issues again very shortly.
subiesailor is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome