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Hi, I have an '08 Outback Turbo Wagon w/180k+ miles. I acquired the vehicle recently for next to nothing. That's my excuse for knowing almost nothing about the car's history. So far it's run like a champ. I've already got my money's worth, but.....

Wanting to be armed with info before taking it to a shop that I don't know in a town I just moved to, I'm seeking opinions from a unique class of experts: Y'all.

Oil leak in an unusual spot. It's probably "traveling" from somewhere else. But where? It's not obvious. Please see this youtube video I posted that explains it all.


Thank you!!
 

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2007 3.0R Outback 5EAT SI-Drive, Push Start JDM 130k km
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Nice video, based on my 2007 if your car is an auto does it have the ATF filter hiding nearby the battery as shown around 0:15 on the video example below? If it does perhaps fluid is leaking from the filter or hoses. Could also be a leak from the ATF hose connections to the radiator.

It could be engine oil too. I guess if the plastic cover under the engine is removed it may be a little easier to track the leak. There’s 3 * 12mm bolts holding this cover in place, two at the front and one towards the centre rear of the cover along with a plastic clip under each wheel arch that can be popped out.

 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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ATF has a very distinct odor, BTW. Take a whiff of what is dripping; that will add some reinforcement to the educated guesses made here.
 

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2005 OBXT Limited, VF37, STI intake, 5MT
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Yup, you either have a loose ATF filter, split hose, or the hardlines running to/from the filter are compromised. Removing the battery provides access to the filter, removing the inner fender liner provides access to the rest.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks everyone so far. One thing I should emphasize is that I'm pretty sure it's engine motor oil because:
1. It doesn't have any obvious smell like other fluids do, especially ATF.
2. I caught some on a paper towel overnight, then compared it to a wipe from my oil dipstick. Color, appearance, smell, all identical.
In the absence of an obvious, well-known, or notorious problem, I guess the answer is not rocket science. I have to find a way to get under there and just take a good look.
BTW, that dipstick comparison also revealed that if it's the oil, the leak is slow. No obvious low level on the dipstick. I still think it's oil anyway, because even a little oil can look like a lot when it's on the floor.
 

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Outback 2011 3.6R Premium
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The turbo vehicles have an oil cooler between the engine block and the oil filter and the gasket between the oil cooler and engine block all leak at some time.

This could be the source of your oil leak BUT the oil cooler is on the passenger side of the vehicle so the oil would then have to travel to the opposite side to get a drip where you are describing. The oil could be travelling across the under belly plastic cover to the other side so this could be an explanation for the drip being on that side.

Seagrass
 

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removing the under cover and inspecting it to see where the oil seems to be dripping - you will see at least where it falls and where else it migrates.... then, that translates to an area under the motor where it's dripping down. Where it originates on the motor is a little more challenging.... when it's not very obvious, I've used ultraviolet dye and an ultraviolet light.
 

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2005 3L LL Bean Outback
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Perhaps check the dipstick for the transmission fluid (driver's side behind the engine, at least on my vehicle). Compare that oil with what's dripping. The color looks distinctly like reddish transmission fluid (1:18 and 1:38 in the video) mixed with some grime.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
OK, I'm awestruck by the level of knowledge on this site and folks' enthusiasm to share it, and I'm equally awed by my own incredible naivete and ignorance on such topics.
Not wishing to leave anyone hanging, here is a (final?) update based on what I've now learned.
Despite my certain conviction that the leak was motor oil, I now believe it is ATF. Based on comments here, I removed the battery and noticed, for the first time, the ATF filter tucked away to the outside of the battery compartment area, sort of within the fender. Studying its location relative to the leak, I became convinced the leak was coming from that area. I found the dipstick (not as easy as it should be), checked it with a cold engine (how can ANYONE reach down in there with a hot engine?!), and found the level was not low. Then I felt around the filter for a leak, and while the underside was oily all over, my biggest discovery was that it was loose. I turned it clockwise to tighten, maybe only a twelfth of a turn, perhaps an eighth, but not more, and it was tight. Since then the already slow leak has been reduced to a trickle. I know this "repair" isn't satisfactory for the long term, but at least I can rest easier knowing with more clarity what is leaking, from where, and how to check the level just in case until I can arrange for a proper fix.
My experience has been good--I now have more questions I'll likely be posting soon. Thank you all!
 
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