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2008 OB 2.5i 5mt
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Discussion Starter #1
Sorry for the melodramatic title, lol, but I’m having a serious facepalm moment today. 2008 2.5i (non-turbo) Outback 5-speed. I’ve been trying to track down the source of some occasional smoke coming from the passenger side of my engine bay. I check under the hood practically every time I park since I noticed the smoke while doing the break-in oil change for my new shortblock.

Today I crawled under the car to try and take a close look and found there was indeed motor oil seeping from somewhere. It was lightly coating the underside of the far passenger side of the engine and forming a couple of drops here and there. The shop that replaced my shortblock also put in new headgaskets among other things (they told me i was getting “everything new”) and they sent my heads to a machine shop to have them tested (I assumed this meant to see if they were warped but honestly didn’t ask a lot of questions. I trusted them; they’re supposed to be a very reputable shop). I’ve moved out of state recently so I can’t just take it back to the shop, but could potentially road trip back there (700 mi) if they agree to do some gratis work for me. I’m going to contact them for their opinion but have a feeling they will tell me they can’t help unless I bring them the car. Everything appears to be running ok and I’m not losing a large amount of oil.

I am at my wits end with this motor, terrified that somehow it’s a HG leak already, and asking myself how the **** this could be happening? I know it may be of little help but I’m including some photos of the highest point at which I could see oil, but it is the bottom of the engine so I guess it could be running from somewhere higher up? I’m still learning how to get a good view of various parts of the motor, so I’m looking for advice about how to get a better look. I guess maybe I should pull the air intake. If I have to take it in to a shop I want to know as much as possible first. Don’t trust anyone anymore. If the photos seem revealing in any way please share your thoughts. Maybe your prayers too! Lol... Oily spots are circled in yellow.

478718


478719
 

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Outback 2011 3.6R Premium
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1,039 Posts
Could be a rocker cover gasket leak, hard to tell from the photos but this is a fairly common source of leaks.

Seagrass
 

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2006 OutBean, 2005 LGTW
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Probably just rocker cover seals or spark plug seals. Hard to tell from the pics. Looks like the shop that swapped out your engine broke that ground so when you have someone have a look at it ask them to fix that at the same time.
 

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2008 OB 2.5i 5mt
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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you! That's encouraging. Rocker cover gasket did occur to me since I have seen several references here on the forum to that being a common leak, but I only vaguely understand what/where the rocker cover is. Having done some more research I see how that could make sense.

I have a few follow-up questions if anyone can help me out.

It seems like the rocker cover gasket pretty much circles the outer portion of the head. Is there a common area for leaks to form, or could it be anywhere around that circumference? If it's the spark plug seals, would I be able to determine that by pulling the spark plugs?

Would it be foolish to delay doing this work until I'm closer to my next oil change? From what I've learned it's best to drain the engine oil before doing this, and I would be a bit frustrated to discard my relatively fresh (400 miles) motor oil due to bad timing.

If it only seems like one side is leaking, should I still replace the gaskets/seals on both sides?

@aesthetic.rake Is the ground you're talking about the blue and white wires in the second photo?

I'm tempted to try and do this service myself since money is tight for me right now and I'm tired of paying other people to wonder whether or not they did a good job. I watched this video and it seemed like it's not too crazy of a job to do as long as I take my time and am meticulous with labling bolts and that sort of thing:

Seems like if I got in over my head I could always have it towed over to a shop to have them finish the job. Does that seem crazy? I've only ever changed my own oil, but want to build skills.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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You've got things reasonably clean, but as you noted it's still very difficult to tell the source when it gets moved around from wind, gravity, etc. Before you tear into work on the valve covers (which may or may not yield positive results), try some of this - it's an inexpensive diagnostic technique that may help pinpoint the source better.
 

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Outback 2006 3.0Rn 5EAT Wagon.
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467 Posts
@Keilyx - I think the ground rake refers to is the braid in your first photo. Should be bolted onto the bolt in the right hand highlighted circle.
 

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2008 OB 2.5i 5mt
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Discussion Starter #7
Ah yes! I can see that now. Is a generic part fine for a ground cable? That seems like it would be pretty easy to swap out.
 

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2008 OB 2.5i 5mt
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Discussion Starter #8
I’m looking through my invoice from the shortblock replacement to try and determine which seals/gaskets were replaced. I’m seeing “new O-rings and seals to cylinder head, new valve cover gaskets and spark plug tube seals”. So it feels like that would rule out spark plug seals, but not necessarily rocker cover gaskets. Or could rocker cover gaskets be included in “seals to cylinder head”?

478782
 

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I’m looking through my invoice from the shortblock replacement to try and determine which seals/gaskets were replaced. I’m seeing “new O-rings and seals to cylinder head, new valve cover gaskets and spark plug tube seals”. So it feels like that would rule out spark plug seals, but not necessarily rocker cover gaskets. Or could rocker cover gaskets be included in “seals to cylinder head”?

View attachment 478782
I'm triggered by this invoice. What was in the head gasket set for $420? IME a head gasket set includes headgaskets, intake and exhaust manifold gaskets, and even cam seals.. Yet here, there's a separate charge for head gaskets, intake and exhaust gaskets.. so WTF was in the head gasket set? Rocker covers and spark plug seals?

ninja edit
I Googled the part number for the head gasket set they charged you for.. 10105AB140HD. No hits on google. Zip. Took off the "HD" part of it and low and behold.. it's an official Subaru parts kit. Amazon link here
That part number includes head gaskets, intake/exhaust manifold gaskets, and all the other seals they charged you for.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it looks like you got double dipped.

What's the name of this shop?!
 

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2008 OB 2.5i 5mt
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Discussion Starter #13
@Stephsman05 The shop is 700 miles away from me at this point, so it's not impossible for me to take it back, but only worth it if I feel like I can trust them, which given the revelations of @aesthetic.rake seems questionable.

Nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news, but I appreciate getting closer to the truth. I'm really wondering how I should handle this situation. There are other fishy things about the invoice now that I'm looking over it. For example, they told me I was getting a remanufactured PS pump, but the invoice lists it at $325.95 and the part number is for an OEM PS pump. The power steering pump was leaking just as bad if not worse after they did the work so I took it back and they did 'warranty' work in which they were kind enough to 'only' charge me the difference in price between a reman PS pump and a new one. Makes me wonder if perhaps they just replaced an o-ring or something on my old PS pump and charged me full price and then some for the 'reman' and then the 'upgrade to brand new'.

I really don't want to believe that they scammed me and I'm going to hold off on sharing the identity of the shop until I see how they respond to further questioning. I just don't want to believe it. I spent over $7,000 with them.

Does anyone have advice as to how to go about confronting them? I'm not good at this sort of thing...
 

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2008 OB 2.5i 5mt
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Discussion Starter #14
Invoice says they used Denso oil filter with a discontinued part number. I changed the oil and filter myself and it was definitely a subaru filter. Not that there's anything wrong with an OEM filter but WTF?

Do I have any leverage as a customer who paid in full for this work over a month ago? Or am i just screwed?
 

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2008 OB 2.5i 5mt
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Discussion Starter #15
At this point I would only be a little upset about the "double dipping" and overcharges if I could be confident that I in fact have a brand new shortblock, seals, and gaskets. I really hate not being able to trust people. Sorry for the multi-posting, trying to manage my rage.
 

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2009 Outback 3.0R Ltd RIP 2006 Baja Turbo
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Does anyone have advice as to how to go about confronting them?
I'd recommend you have it inspected at the closest authorized dealer so you have evidence when confronting them about the work and parts used. Did you pay by credit card? You can dispute the charges. You might also consider contacting the California Bureau of Automotive Repairs.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
@Duncan Heinz Thanks for the advice, I guess I ought to take it to the dealer. I paid about $2000 on my debit card and my dad paid the remainder on his credit card because he lent me a significant amount to cover the cost. Good to know about the CBAR. Guess my next stop is the dealer... ugh.
 

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2009 Outback 3.0R Ltd RIP 2006 Baja Turbo
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Documentation is what you're going to need. I'd wait before calling Kiavash. His response will probably be bring it back.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
@Duncan Heinz Documentation of what though? The invoice itself shows the double charges. I just talked to the dealer and they basically said they won't really be able to 'inspect' the gaskets and seals, which makes sense since it would involve tearing things apart, draining fluids, etc. They want me to pay them for 1-2 hours of labor so they can read the part numbers off the shortblock and power steering pump. Am I being stingy or does that seem kind of ridiculous? BTW, do you have experience working with Kia? I'm assuming you looked back through some of my old threads since I haven't mentioned his name here.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Something else to note. I did get the results of my oil analysis back, and they (more or less) seemed to confirm that there are new parts in the engine. Would anyone second blackstone's opinion on this, or have an alternative opinion?

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