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Hi all, long time lurker but first time poster here.
I'm trying to track down an oil leak in my 00. For a year or 2, it's been slowly dripping on the exhaust and the driveway, but a couple days ago, on a 400 mile drive it suddenly became much more intense. Copious amounts of underhood smoke when stopped, and 6-7 drips even in the time it takes to get gas. Interestingly, I checked the level after what must have been a quart of leak and it was still reading overfull, which is strange as I don't believe I went this high when I changed it last. The only thing of note that happened was hitting a small tumbleweed shortly before the leak got much worse, but I would be surprised if that was it.
It's proving hard to track the leak due to the quantity of oil, and how it seems to be oozing from everywhere. It seems like there's the most caked on residue near the back, but there's plainly some oil on the valve cover gaskets and the cam seals which couldn't come from the back.

Attached are some pictures. They are: Passenger side of engine (USDM), looking towards the driver side, crossmember and jack up plate, back of the front diff, and back of the trans pan and exhaust bracket to show how far the oil has gone. I wiped up some of the oil and gunk before I thought to turn to the forum.

Any ideas? I might throw valve cover gaskets in just to see, as I have them already. I'm leaving on a big trip in the beginning of may so if I need to have the engine out I probably should get that started soon. I thought I read somewhere that the 00 had the aluminum separator plate so I'm stumped.
 

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Update: power steering fluid is pretty low. Coincidence? Perhaps. The pipes around the rack are pretty caked, but I don't know what I'm even looking for there.
 

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Update: power steering fluid is pretty low. Coincidence? Perhaps. The pipes around the rack are pretty caked, but I don't know what I'm even looking for there.
power steering fluid = dexron 3 type ATF in these.
so it should be cranberry colored if new or a little like liver blood if old.
 

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these early EJ251/EJ252 may have plastic separator plates like the old turd EJ25D they replaced.

mine came with a metal one (the car was completed in November of 2001).

if a plastic one lets loose it leaks / weeps a lot.

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my EJ251 had its head gaskets done when I had three oil leaks: a Cam seal, a Rear Main, and a driver side head gasket.

and it was either get her done, or get a oil drip tray like a air cooled porsche.

however: the worst oil leak, one that rots a timing belt,...leading you to source a new engine when the belt breaks and bends the valves.
 

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Sounds like your leaks were mostly the same. Any way for me to check the separator plate without having the engine pulled? I checked the timing belt and at least it's dry. I wanted to hold off another 50k miles so I could pull the front apart and do the seals with my timing belt.
 

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Sounds like your leaks were mostly the same. Any way for me to check the separator plate without having the engine pulled? I checked the timing belt and at least it's dry. I wanted to hold off another 50k miles so I could pull the front apart and do the seals with my timing belt.
they started one at a time, in quick succession.

you can google image search here for pics of the separator plate. and how it leaks.

in a google image search copy:

oil separator plate site:subaruoutback.org

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pull the timing belt cover off and inspect.

subaru says 105,000 miles, or 105 months. but that seems pretty long for something that if it breaks ends the engine.
and not telling if the kit that is on there is changed. or original until something seizes at 120-130,000 miles. (some dealers and garages just change the rubber belt and call it done,...only for something to seize later)..

if you need a kit: make it a Aisin one (japanese made parts,...not chinese junk in a amurican box).
 

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forgot to type:

people replace the plastic separator plates with a metal one.

when any of these engines are out of the car mechanics look for plastic plates (as anyone that has ever worked on a subaru and seen how much they leak, knows a plastic one is a factory mistake, that does not belong in there).

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and today in my garage I have some UV dye that I can add to oil / gasoline/diesel, some yellow glasses, and a UV pen light.
together those cost $15, for a little DIY leak finding.

and you could have more then one leak there.

edit: maybe spray it all clean with simplegreen (simple degreaser) and wipe it up, and see what reappears.
 

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Probably a good idea to give it a good cleaning and try and see where the oil leak is coming from. Too much to really tell where it's coming from. Could be a head gasket.
 

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It looks like a few leaks. Head cover, HG, and with that red fluid, power steering. The power steering hoses get hard and start leaking because of the heat from the pressure over years of use.
 

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Thanks for all the feedback everyone. Sounds like it's prob the separator plate but masked by a bunch of other small leaks. I might scrub it down and do uv dye today. @cardoc: you think that fluid looks red enough to be power steering? Compared to the 2 drops I put on the towel, it looks more like motor oil to me. I guess the hose could have burst when I hit the tumbleweed, but I didn't see it when I was down there. The pump was groaning like it was starving for fluid even after I topped it up which could mean it's leaking. However my engine oil was also way low when I checked yesterday, so I think that's probably leaking out too.

I'm not too bothered by a small seep here and there, if I could take care of the big leak I'd be happy. So saying it might be helpful to just reseal the whole engine if it's gotta come out anyway.

Last of all, I pulled the intake piping and took a picture down in the engine bay of where the engine and trans come together. Looks like damning leak to me. What does everyone else think? Engine on the right, trans on left. This could explain why it was so cakes on the crossmember. IMG_20180418_174944_1524162056451.jpg
 

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Update for anyone following along at home:
I washed down the underside of the engine the best I could, but that proved inconclusive. In a panic that I wouldn't be able to solve it in time, I took it to a local subie mechanic, who pinned it to cam seals as we already knew, but also a busted rack and pinion. Who woulda guessed? The power steering has been groaning recently, but I figured the pump was just unhappy. I felt a little play in what I thought was the tie rod a month or so ago, but I didn't notice any looseness in the rack. Anyway, I guess that's why the oil seemed somewhere between motor oil and ATF. I don't know enough about how steering racks work to really say if this is a viable explanation, but that concludes my saga, at least for now.
 

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I wouldn't jump to separator plate. That's a lot of work. Your car looks like mine before HG change, mostly the oil is from the head gasket for my case. And after opening the head you can clearly see the leak paths. After the change, the car is very clean and dry.

I did not read too carefully but if you have HG issues do that first.

My separator on the other hand, leaks but that is much smaller and in most cases can be ignored. Unless you need to do transmission work I would probably leave it. Once the bottom is cleaned, watch for the seam between engine and the transmission to see how severe it is. If very bad then could be separator + rear main seal. You can make decision at the time.
 
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