Health Risk of Subaru Oil Leaks?

I was close to buying another Subaru. Then I read someone mentioning the oil leaks causing cancer. I can’t find evidence connecting the head gasket or other oil issues to health problems though. Is there any evidence for a connection? Is this too far-fetched to take seriously?
This was the person’s exact comment: “Stay away from Subaru. The oil leaks cause cancer. Your baby should not ride. Subaru should have updated the gaskets years ago, but decided not to because previous customers would have demanded retrofits. So today many outbacks and foresters blow oil fumes into the cabin for babies to breath. And if yours does not now… give the cheap gaskets a few more years”



If a car had a leak that dripped a lot of oil onto a hot part, if the resulting fumes got pulled into the cabin, and if that situation wasn’t fixed fairly quickly, then perhaps there would be a reason for concern. However, this would be more likely with something like a valve cover gasket instead of a head gasket. As long as you keep the car properly maintained and repaired, I see no reason to avoid Subaru here.

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Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Not even this.


That’s the craziest thing I have heard in a long time.

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Petroleum products can cause cancer.

So, it’s not Subaru, it’s all cars. And it’s important to understand the relationship between scientific study and media reports on the scientific study.

If a scientist does a study and notices that people who eat scrambled eggs for breakfast every morning tend to have higher rates of obesity than people who don’t, she’ll write a paper that says eggs are correlated with obesity and that further study should be done in order to determine whether there is a causal link.

The media will then come out with giant headlines saying eggs make you fat. But correlation is not the same as causation - it just means the two things tend to happen simultaneously, but doesn’t mean that one causes the other. For instance, every time someone dies, the moon is orbiting the Earth. That does not mean the moon killed them.

The people getting fat while eating eggs for breakfast might also be helping themselves to a huge serving of bacon every morning, and washing it down with coffee and donuts. The study didn’t mention that because all it asked was “how often do you eat eggs.”

So back to oil, yes, petroleum products have carcinogens in them, which generally means “we dosed a bunch of rats with oil and they got cancer at higher rates than non-dosed rats,” but unless you’re drinking the oil that’s seeping out of your engine, you probably aren’t going to see any health issues from it yourself.


Yes, oil leaks from Subarus driven by HEAVY SMOKERS can cause cancer!


There’s a good reason for that. The person posting that stuff you mentioned is a nutcase…


I’m heavy and I’m a smoker. Does that make me a heavy smoker? :slight_smile:


If you live in california everything causes cancer.


Just listen to half the drugs they advertise on tv , half of them say they can cause cancer , so take it with a grain of salt .

I have known quite a few old mechanics, never heard of any of their deaths attributed to the danger. Heart problems the most common in my recollection, in their 80’s.

I can’t see how a Subaru would be any different than any other car. All can leak oil.

I also can’t imagine how anyone would actually know that one car is more of a cancer risk, the amount of research needed to establish that is staggering.

Therefore: the claim is BS.

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I like Twin Turbo’s analysis. Whoever stated this is a nut case and those statements are just as loopy as the car salesman VDCdriver mentioned who stated that traction control increases the gravity on the car.

To steal a line from the movie Bad Santa. “You need therapy. Many, many years of blanking therapy”.

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The Subaru engine head gasket problem usually manifests itself – from the reports we get here — as a cooling system problem. So I wouldn’t overly-worry about oil-related health problems and the Subaru engine. If you want to worry about something, worry about the effect on your pocketbook and the inconvenience of not being able to use the car, in the event a head gasket replacement job is needed. Also remember to put things in perspective: head gasket failure doesn’t happen to every Subaru engine; when it does it is a straightforward albeit expensive repair; and, who knows, the head gasket problem might be entirely solved on newer Subarus. If you generally like Subarus and they have one that meets your needs on their lot, priced to your budget, suggest to definitely consider it.

I used to take diabenese for diabetes. It was a good medication for a working, over the road trucker, because it was very slow acting and maintained a steady level in your bloodstream, Important for a diabetic who doesn’t know when hus next meal or next sleep will be.

My doctor wanted me off this medication “because it is hard on your heart”.

I was in our local libraey when they had a copy of the study his opinuon was based on. It tracked 500 people for a period of years. 250 were given diabinese and 250 who were not.

There was one more death due to heart disease in the diabenese group but the overall death rate between the groups was the same. There was no statistical significance to this study. You would get more varuation if you flipped a coin 250 times, twice.

If oil fumes caused cancer the mechanic mortality rate would be through the roof. This is just as ridiculous as that guy quite a few years back who swore that a rough idle on a Subaru was caused by a worn ring and pinion gear in the transaxle.

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The mechanic who I used, back in the '60s & '70s, lived to a ripe old age, and finally succumbed to heart problems when he was in his late 80s. I used to cringe when I saw him using compressed air to clean the asbestos dust from brakes, thereby creating a cloud that enveloped him. Yet, he didn’t develop lung cancer, or any other type of cancer.

The OP should disregard everything stated by the nutcase who told him this tale.


To me anyway, stress is the big issue when it comes to mechanic health problems. Especially when you’re dealing with management idiocy on a daily basis.

Well, I made it to 69 before the ticker acted up. Two open hearts in the past year and during the last one I was essentially DOA at the ER. Somehow they brought me back. I asked the nurse in ICU when I woke up what they did to me and she simply said, “You don’t even want to know”.

I feel fine BUT the problem for me is that I’ve been a gearhead since I was 12 years old. Since the last incident I’ve somehow lost the urge to turn nuts and bolts. The thought of paying someone to change my oil grates on me… I did the oil changes on my cars last week and it just irritated me to no end.

I can’t complain. Dodged the Reaper 5 times now. Two heart failures, 2 nasty motorcycle accidents, and getting caught in the middle of one tornado. Wife always said God was covering my back: I said it was luck of the draw. Can’t wait to see what No. 6 is…


True. Pick up a product in the store, even extension cords, and it will have the standard warning that it contains a substance known to cause cancer per the California proposition. So after a while it is just ho hum, it’s all meaningless. Life causes cancer. Everyone will get it if you live long enough.