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I have a Gen4 with only about 20k miles on it. Every single oil change has been at the same place. Yesterday I stuck my head under the car to line up my jack with the front lift point (swapping winter wheels out), and noticed the weirdest thing on the drain plug. White crusty crap all around it. I reached up and felt it, and it was rubbery and falling apart and had oil all over it (I just got an oil change like 500 miles ago). I figured the white rubbery thing was part of the gasket (but I'm not sure on that), and it was falling apart and leaking very slowly. Checked my oil level and it was not low (actually, it was way too HIGH which is another thing which is another thing that instills great confidence in this shop).

Drove straight to the shop today and asked them WTF was up. They said possibly the last guy forgot to replace the gasket, and they apologized and did a whole new oil change, refilled the proper quantity, swapped the filter, and said they replaced the gasket too. I took their word for it.

Got home, checked the oil level, it was correct now, looked under at the drain plug and saw all the white crusty crap still there! But... it does not seem to have the slow leak any more, so they seem to have got the gasket right this time. But still the question remains, WTF is the white junk? It looks like some sort of sealant to me, which scares me and makes me think they damaged the pan somehow in the past and used this to stop a leak? Since I had previously thought it was part of the old gasket, I expected it to be gone after the latest oil change and gasket swap. But now that I look closer it appears probably too large in diameter to be a gasket? But I really don't know what the gasket should look like, but I'm assuming it is smaller and more solid and mostly hidden under the bolt head.

Any ideas? Thanks!

Whatever comes out of this, I think I'm done letting other people change my oil. Want something done right, have to do it yourself. :28:

 

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13 Outback 2.5 Premium CVT
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It has nothing to do with the gasket, at least no gasket that I have ever seen.
My gasket is a crush type washer with the outside diameter no bigger then the head of the bolt and you can't really even see it unless you look closely under the bolt head flange and then you might see it.

Looks like you have some type of sealant smeared on the bolt and I couldn't guess as to logical reason why because trying to seal something by applying a bead on the outside would certainly never work
 

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00 Outback Wagon...269K 09 Legacy 2.5 Sedan...93k
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It's sealant and they just didn't clean it off. Probably forgot the washer last time so they used that to cover their tracks. If it's not leaking...clean it off and don't loose any sleep. Check it next oil change.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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It's sealant and they just didn't clean it off. Probably forgot the washer last time so they used that to cover their tracks. If it's not leaking...clean it off and don't loose any sleep. Check it next oil change.
......and consider going elsewhere for oil changes.
 

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06 Outback 2.5i, 06 BMW 325xi wagon, 02 2.5rs, 82 CB750, Polaris XC SP 500, and a single speed bike.
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Some oil change places will mark drain plugs in this fashion as a CYA measure. It's very easy for them to tell if the drain plug has been removed, as the marking they've done has been compromised.

Imagine you're a person with less-than-stellar morals. Go to Jiffy Lube, get an oil change, and then you decide you'd like a new engine. Take the drain plug out, let all the oil drain out, and replace the drain plug. Start the engine, put a brick on the throttle, and when it pops call 'em up and say "you never put any oil in my motor!"

These types of markings allow them to say "no, you removed the plug" and have actual evidence of it.
 

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Get a crush washer or two keep them in the glove box. El cheapo oil change places will loose the existing crush washer and not have one and try to seal the oil drain plug with not so clean or effective efforts.
 

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2013 Outback Limited 2.5i/CVT/Graphite Gray
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Not sure about Subaru as I haven't had any need to work on my Outback myself (and hopefully won't) but in the case of Honda/Acura they even mark sensitive/important bolts at the factory to indicate they've been tightened to spec.

My honda motorcycle(s) had many bolts that were marked like this, especially the few that were specified to never be touched once they left the factory. (e.x. the ridiculously complex throttle butterfly mechanisms)
 

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This doesn't look like marking. It looks like sealant (like pipe dope).

If the sealant is also on the threads, it may be that someone stripped the threads in the pan, and added sealant to avoid leaking and having to fix something.

Hope I'm wrong...........
 

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Some oil change places will mark drain plugs in this fashion as a CYA measure. It's very easy for them to tell if the drain plug has been removed, as the marking they've done has been compromised.

Imagine you're a person with less-than-stellar morals. Go to Jiffy Lube, get an oil change, and then you decide you'd like a new engine. Take the drain plug out, let all the oil drain out, and replace the drain plug. Start the engine, put a brick on the throttle, and when it pops call 'em up and say "you never put any oil in my motor!"

These types of markings allow them to say "no, you removed the plug" and have actual evidence of it.
That explanation would fly if not for the OP stating that all the oil changes have been at that shop so if that were their policy they would need to clean off the stuff at every oil change and reapply which they clearly didn't do.
 

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That explanation would fly if not for the OP stating that all the oil changes have been at that shop so if that were their policy they would need to clean off the stuff at every oil change and reapply which they clearly didn't do.
When was the last time OP was under the car and looked at the drain plug? From the picture, I can clearly see at least two different layers of paint. The line on the head of the plug probably corresponds with the line on the pan at 1 o'clock from a previous oil change.

Without knowing the frequency that OP has changed his oil, at 20K it's possible there's only been two or three changes, and I can see at least two separate markings. Depending on the tech that did the work... one tech may do a line, one tech may do a ring where the flange of the bolt meets the pan... every tech is different.

From my experience as an auto tech and a service adviser, I doubt they take the time to scrape off the old mark every time. It's quicker and easier to just put a fresh mark over everything and say "next time, I'll clean it up" or "the next person to do the oil change will clean the old marks off."
 

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This doesn't look like marking. It looks like sealant (like pipe dope).

If the sealant is also on the threads, it may be that someone stripped the threads in the pan, and added sealant to avoid leaking and having to fix something.

Hope I'm wrong...........
I agree - it looks like teflon pipe dope used to seal pipe threads. Why on earth someone would use it on a non-tapered thread on an oil drain plug, I have no idea. My best guess is that the plug was leaking a little so they backed it out slightly, smeared the pipe dope around the plug, and tightened it back down in an attempt to stop the leak, without losing all of the oil in the oil pan if they completely removed the plug.
 

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without losing all of the oil in the oil pan if they completely removed the plug.
Although a little messy...two people(especially if standing under)can replace the plug with only a small amount of loss. One removes/replaces the plug, one holds the oil back with a thumb. Gotta be quick...but it can be done.
 

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Although a little messy...two people(especially if standing under)can replace the plug with only a small amount of loss. One removes/replaces the plug, one holds the oil back with a thumb. Gotta be quick...but it can be done.
hook the shop vac to the fill tube.


 

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I have wondered if the shop vac trick actually worked.

Just don't do it if you have leaky injectors and a pan fulla gas!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for the replies all. I'll scrape it off on my next oil change, which I am definitely doing myself from now on.
 

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The shop vac trick works good.

That looks like pipe thread sealer to me. Maybe change your own oil from here on out or find another shop to do it. Lazy techs or they ran out of the crush washers.
 
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