Leaking Valve Cover Gaskets

I took my '02 Subaru WRX in to the dealership to get the brakes inspected, and they told me I have leaky valve cover gaskets, as well as a leaking DOJ seal on the front passenger side axle. The repair cost quoted for these repairs was almost $700…are these things that need to be addressed immediately, or should I check out another mechanic? I have never seen any oil leak reaching the pavement underneath my car, so I’m doubting the severity of this issue, besides the fact that the dealer always seems to find some problem that needs over $500 in work that no other mechanics seem to notice. Let me know what you think…Thanks!!

I’d get a second opinion. If the valve cover gaskets were leaking you’d see oil spots where you park the car. As you say, dealers are always finding ways to increase their profit.

What’s a DOJ seal?

Get a second opinion.

It seems as though many repair shops… dealers,independent,chains,etc. have been headed in this direction. A customer goes in for a concern and the repair shop starts looking for unrelated repairs, the estimates are really high and the work needs to be done right away.

I have seen this happen alot recently with friends and co-workers. I’m not saying the work doesn’t need to be done but the repair shops are putting more and more pressure on customers to have the repairs done right away. A good repair shop will inspect a customers car but will list the repairs in order of importance.

Brakes and safety related items should be addressed right away but a slight oil leak from a valve cover could wait for awhile.

I have no idea what a DOJ seal is, they tried to explain it as having something to do with the front axle on the passenger side- not sure what could possibly leaking from there though- definitely going to have another mechanic check it out- Thanks for the reply!

That’s what I was thinking- I don’t know much about cars mechanically but I can feel the brakes going, not to mention I have had the car for about 60k miles without them ever being replaced (bought it with 35k on it). They tried to tell me the brakes were ok at first and then only after I began questioning the leaks over the phone did they “re-test” my car and decide that the front pads and rotors probably should be replaced too. Is $500 for new pads and rotors reasonable or should I do that repair elsewhere as well? Thanks for the help!

I concur with a second opinion. Sounds like the dealership is fishing for a a couple of boat payments.

$500 is extreme for front pads and rotors, unless your WRX is the STi model, in which case that’s about right. But for a standard WRX? No.

I’d think you could have pads and rotors installed for half that elsewhere.

You need to find an independent Subaru Guru and get away from the dealer.

While the perception may be that any repairs recommended by the dealer are nothing more than a fishing expedition to relieve the car owner of their money, this is seldom the case.

It is common practice while a car is on the rack to look it over for other problems. This not only drums up work for the mechanic and shop but also lets the car owner know of other problems that may exist. Any mechanic who does not do this is lax in my opinion.
The vast majority of cars that come in to a shop WILL need other things, whether the car owner knows it or not.

As to the repairs listed, it is quite possible to have leaking valve cover gaskets (or anything else) and not leave spots. Oil has a tendency to blow back and there simply may not be enough there to leave a puddle, or even a spot.
And the use of the word “seal” is a bit misleading. A DOJ on a Subaru is Double-Offset Joint so this means a halfshaft boot, and the passenger front side boot is the one most prone to failure.

If the valve cover gaskets were leaking you’d see oil spots where you park the car.

That isn’t necessarily true. Sometimes the oil leaks down onto the spark plugs, or leaks so slowly it doesn’t show up as an oil spot. I have a leaky valve cover gasket on my car, but no oil spot in the driveway.

The DOJ seal is the Department of Justice seal. And you thought “big brother” wasn’t watching…

Seriously, OK4450 is the Subie Xpert here. His advice is respected.

And get a second opinion. While I agree with OK4450 that most older cars need things that the owners may be unaware of, I have to agree with Willey’s observation that shops are hunting for work (read: revenue) whenever anyone stops in for anything basic. It’s a good idea to get a second opinion.

When I go in for my state inspections I always go early in the month and to the shop that knows me. I’ve been going there for many years. They know that whatever they find will get corrected but they’ll get no business from it. When they find something they usually just let me know and then give me the sticker anyway.

I just had an inspection done just 2 months ago at a shop that seems to have some good honest employees, and I know they probably just try to get state inspections in and out quickly, but it makes me a bit suspicious of Subaru when this shop didn’t notice anything leaking. I understand that the Subaru guys are probably more knowledgeable about my car but without fail they seem to be the only place that finds something that needs repair every time that will cost me $600-$700.

I agree with you about technicans checking a vehicle over while it’s in the shop. What I am seeing is increasing pressure by technicans,service writers,service managers for customers to fix their cars right away.

Service people are not telling customers what repairs are needed right away and which ones can wait for a week or month. They want the customer to empty their pockets before they leave their shop. They would rather the customer spend all of their money in one trip instead of them returning a few times to have the repairs done when they afford them.

I have always prioritized repairs for my customers and they don’t leave my shop feeling like they have been ripped off. I feel I have a strong customer base because of this.

The place of which yuo speak has a lot of company.

I stopped at a place a few years ago for an inspection (figured I’d find something more convenient than my normal place) and got in line. This place puts an orange cone behind the cars as they drive up into line. I wondered about that. Then I started watching them. They were failing cars for leaky valvecover gaskets, checking fluids (these are not required in NH), and even checking trunk light bulbs. They were finding something for everyonne, no matter how petty. After wtaching them do their magic on two cars, I put mine in reverse, backed over their cone, and drove away. I’d seen enough.

Wow, good for you for literally backing away from that place! It’s so hard to judge the integrity of many repair shops. Unfortunately the majority of drivers don’t really know all that much about what’s going on under the hood, so it’s easy to go along with what they say you need to do.

yeah, there are a lot of predators out there. The policy I follow generally is to go at the beginning of the month rather than the end. My feeling is that by going at the beginnning of the month they’re less inclined to look for petty stuff, simply because they know I’ll probably do the repair myself.