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2003 Forester - again

My mechanic advised me that the rear seal needs to be replaced and that the engine needs to be removed to accomplish this. Sounds extreme to me, but what I know about engines wouldn’t fill even a small thimble.

If the rear main seal is what is being referred to then yes, the engine or transmission must be removed to replace it. If the car has an automatic transmission then the transmission torque converter seal should be replaced at the same time.

A few cautions. The surfaces of both the crankshaft and torque converter nose should be inspected for grooving where the seal rides. A substantial groove will mean that the new seal will probably start leaking before long.
These grooves can be repaired with a Speedi-Sleeve at the same time.

Before the engine and transmission are bolted firmly together the mechanic should make absolutely SURE that the converter is fully seated on all splines. Failure to do this will likely mean that with some use the center of the flex plate will be ripped out and the car will quit moving. This means a tow and removal of the engine or trans again.

Subarus are not really known for rear main seal leaks so it should be verified beyond all doubt that the seal is actually leaking and it’s not a misdiagnosis.

Thanks for your speedy & comprehensive reply.

You say: “Subarus are not really known for rear main seal leaks so it should be verified beyond all doubt that the seal is actually leaking and it’s not a misdiagnosis.” Is there a reliable way to do this? As far as I know, my mechanic made this determination visually.

Do you check your oil on a regular basis? How much is it dropping? If not start.

Is there a mess in your driveway or nothing too noticable.

You can buy many many cases of engine oil for the cost of this repair.

How Many Miles On This Forester ? This Bit Of Imformation, Along With Answers To Questions By Andrew, Is Often Helpful In Determining Whether To Perform An Expensive Repair.


These usually leak more with the engine running, when the oil is under pressure. Unless you’ re losing a lot of oil and/or making big messes everywhere you go, I’d just ignore it and live with it.

I haven’t noticed a big mess on my driveway. I check my oil every couple of weeks, and don’t appear to be losing much. The car is a 2003 with 116K on it. The most noticeable symptom is the odor that I occasionally get. It smells like burning rubber

The first thing that should be done is to inspect the PCV valve. If this valve is sticking the crankcase can pressure up and cause oil leaks. The rear main is usually the main one affected by something like this. Pretty pricy at 20 bucks or so for a PCV but it’s worth checking.

The point about making sure that the rear main is really the cause of this problem is because it’s quite possible to have an oil leak from somewhere else (up top, to the side, etc.) and oil will seep back and down giving the impression the rear main is the cause.

For what it’s worth I’ve worked for 3 Subaru dealers over the years (none still around) and my slightly fuzzy memory only recalls replacing one rear main seal on a Subaru due to leaking. I have replaced a number of rear main seals while doing other repairs that involved removal of the engine or transmission but this was done only as a preventative measure to prevent problems later on.
It’s a matter of being there anyway so head any problem off rather than put it back together and have the seal start leaking a week later.

Coming home from a weekend away, we smelled coolant almost every time we stopped. My mechanic in now recommending replacing the engine. Subaru replaced the #2 & #4 piston? to eliminate piston slap. They also did the catalytic converter. I’ve done brakes, tires and routine maintenance. This vehicle has 117k on the clock. Does it make sense to do this or should I cut my losses? Any idea what this might cost?