Head gasket or valve cover gasket/seals?

Hi. I have seen variations on this topic, but none specific to the issue I have:

2003 Subaru Outback, 2.5L has oil in the spark plug wells. The local dealer says it is the head gaskets, $2000 and a week down time.

Hmm, not specifically familiar with this car but. Does the valve cover have tubes which go down to the spark plugs? On my mitsu engine there were rubber seals at the top of these tubes that kept the oil out until they got old. Then the oil under the valve cover dripped into the tubes.

Get a second opinion from an independent mechanic.
I am very skeptical of their diagnosis.

The engine is horizontally opposed with deep wells for the plugs. I was expecting an estimate for valve cover gasket replacements and got this piece of news instead.

Second opinion appointment is tomorrow at a well respected local shop. I want to be as well armed with information as I can be. Maybe I’ll just use the “denial” method and keep getting estimates until someone tells me it doesn’t need fixing. :smiley:

Thanks for the replies.

It’s valve cover gaskets and/or o-rings, I have no doubt.

The dealer was fishing for a trade-in.

It was, in fact, the valve cover gasket and seals. It was interesting. The tech showed me the seals he removed: nice, shiny flanged disks the texture and feel of hard plastic…except they were supposed to be soft rubber.

Thanks for the input. Not only did the dealer not get the trade in, he won’t be getting any more maintenance business either. BTW, the guy who ended up doing the work was found on the referrals page on this site. Thanks again, everyone.