2016 Subaru Forester - Cam seal leak scam? (Say it five times fast)

My car is great w/67000 miles.
My dealership mechanic told me I have, according to a diagnostic, a camseal leak. He showed me what looked like road dirt no streaks of oil, no pool. And absolutely nothing in my regular recently paved parking spot. Is he trying to hustle me?

Suggest to keep a close watch on the engine oil level, & continue to check under the car for signs of oil leaking onto the ground. Now is also a good time to find a well recommended independent mechanic for a second opinion. Ask the second-opinion mechanic if it may make sense to just keep an eye on the situation, and replace the camshaft seal at the same time other work in that area is needed. Most of the expense of replacing a camshaft seal is the labor fee.


This seems to be a common problem on some Subaru’s. if you cannot see a leak and do not have oil drippings on your driveway, I do not think it is an immediate concern. but I would keep an eye on it and check your oil level frequently to make sure it is not getting worse.

MC-10216980-0001.pdf (nhtsa.gov)

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You may have a camshaft oil seal that is seeping, leaving a residue for the dirt to stick to it… Very common on vehicles, as long as it is not leaking (dripping) and you keep an eye on the oil level you should be fine… But if you start seeing oil on the ground and or the oil level starts dropping faster than normal, then have it repaired…

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I’m a four-time Subaru owner and just traded my 2016 Forester. I love them when they are and stress about them when old. It’s stuff like this that sends me away.

Not a scam, but not something I’d fix until it made me add oil between oil changes ( assuming it’s not needing that right now). Monitor your oil level.


If the vehicle uses a timing belt I might worry a little about that.

Timing chain for both the 2L and 2.5L engines.

Wouldn’t the cam seal then be inside the timing case with a timing chain config? hmmm … I wonder how the shop knows the seal is leaking? Even if it did leak, it seems like no oil would leak out onto the ground. It must not be the camshaft seal itself that’s leaking. I’m presuming it is a seal for the timing chain cover, camshaft carrier, etc, per @weekend-warrior 's link above.