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Outback 2003 Sage Green
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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2003 with 108K on it. It's dripping a small amount of oil from the HG. Not enough to worry me about the gasket - as many have already said in these forums, if you keep the fluids topped and don't let it overheat, a small leak isn't a serious problem and won't get worse quickly.

My problem is the burning smell caused by the oil dripping onto the exhaust. It doesn't take much oil to get pretty stinky and my better half grumps about it.

Any thoughts on how to keep the drips off the exhaust? My mechanic says there's no obvious place to mount a piece of sheet metal between them. Would any of those wraps they sell to temporarily block exhaust leaks work or would it get just as hot and still burn the oil?

I don't mind so much that she complains that I smell bad at times but it would be nice to fix the car smell.

Jon
 

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01 Outback H6 VDC, 97 GT wgn w/ ej22, 98 OBW w/ej22
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i would think the oil leak would have to be pretty big to drip and stink on the exhaust. a more likely cause of the stink is either the valve cover gaskets, they will drip after you turn the car off, or a torn axle boot slinging grease on the exhaust.

check you axle boots, inner and outer. the passenger side usually goes first but check both. if torn, reboot is your best solution. especially if it is a subaru axle (green inner cup). after market axles are usually only as good as what you pay for them, sometimes less. subaru axles will likely last the life of the car if you replace the boots and keep grease in them.
 

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Outback 2003 Sage Green
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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks canubaru. I will check the valve cover gaskets, but my mechanic said it was the head gasket (and it looked like that to me when we were under the car on the lift). As for how big a leak it is, I guess it may be depend on your definition of "big." So far it doesn't seem to be enough that I have to add oil between changes. And the drips on the driveway are very small, so I don't think it's dripping while it sits (the car occasionally sits unused for a couple of days).
 

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I put my money on Valve cover gaskets. The 03's are not known for leaking oil from the HG - coolant yes but not oil. However an 03 is getting up there in age regardless of miles and valve cover gaskets would make perfect sense.
 

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Outback 2003 Sage Green
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Discussion Starter #5
OK, two votes for valve cover gasket. It's going back to the mechanic for a few minor items soon so I will ask him at that time to take a more careful look. Thanks.
 

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The two standard sources for oil leaks

Valve cover gaskets and the o-ring seal in the oil pump located behind the plastic timing belt cover. The Oilpump o-ring seal can make a big mess on an old car that has been ignored regarding replacing the o-ring etc. The standard process for the o-ring is to replace it during the timing belt service at 105K given more often than not it shows signs of leaking by that point.

Cars which have been run on synthetic oil and seen proper oil change intervals may actually be 100% clean and leak free which case no o-ring seal replacement is needed.

My 01 which is very similar to the 03 very minor changes in 03 did not have any leaks till 150K at which point the valve covers were starting to show very very early signs of starting to leak. I ran synthetic in it from 20,000 miles on and always kept up on the oil changes. Another friend had an 02 and changed the oil whenever he happened to recall that it might need to be done - his 02 was leaking oil from the o-ring - the valve covers and the back of the oil pan by 110,000 miles. Oil quality impacts the life of seals in a big way.
 
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