I have a 2000 Subaru Forester that had blown a head gasket (internally) last February on a very cold morning so overheating was minimal. We had only purchased the car about 13 months prior so I do not have a huge history on it, but it was running fine, did not burn oil, did not smoke, nothing… Well, we bit the bullet and fixed the head gasket. About 3 months ago, at about 4k miles since the last oil change, which was when the head gasket was fixed, I decided to check the oil; it was LOW, barely on the stick. I added enough oil to top it off and fully intended to get the oil changed that week… time went by and no oil change. The engine has kinda been sounding “clickity” so i checked the oil again today and found that my oil level is WAY past full, about an inch farther up the dipstick than the FULL line, and smells heavily of gas. I know that some gas gets into the oil, especially if you only drive short commutes, but this is not the case here. I called my mechanic and have an apnt for next week… he thought it could possibly be a leaky injector. We are not “pouring” gas out the tailpipe, as Ive seen written elsewhere. Upon doing lots of internet searches, I see “bad rings” left and right on a lot of forums. Now, I do not think that my rings were changed in the head gasket fiasco, as I understand that it is in a different part of the engine than the gasket… But, can the overheating of the engine have caused bad rings which then allow gas to leak into the oil pan?? If so, is this something that should have been repaired by my mechanic during the head gasket repair or at least should I have been told about the possibility of bad rings? Or is it not rings at all, but most likely an injector? Ive also seen someone say PCV valve?? The car runs smooth, no hard starting, it does smell of rich gas upon fireup but it is the middle of winter… It never did any of this before the head gasket last Feb… HELP! I don’t want to throw more money into something that I shouldnt!
Sorry, it has about 85k mi on the engine and we are now about 5k mi since last oil change… in case you needed to know…
I’d bet on leaking injectors.
You better get that oil changed, like, yesterday. Gasoline is not a very good bearing lubricant.
The piston rings are not normally replaced during a head gasket job. The rings don’t usually get replaced unless you’re doing an engine rebuild.
In fact, worn rings would pretty much necessitate an engine rebuild.
Pray it’s the injectors.
The first thing to check is the fuel pressure regulator. Remove the vacuum line that is attached to the regulator and see if if there is any raw fuel in it. There should be none.
A vacuum can also be applied to the regulator and it should hold vacuum without leaking off.
If the regulator is good then there’s always the possibility that poor engine performance could contribute to something like this and replacing head gaskets only after an overheating episode can sometimes be problematic.
Replacing rings is not that simple on a Subaru. This would mean an entire engine diassembly and complete engine overhaul as the engines are a Boxer design.
Check the fuel pressure regulator as a first step as odds are that is the problem.
My mechanic told me not to change the oil so that he see it for himself… I dont think he believes me that there is gas in there… I can drive another car till next week so thats not an issue. His ship is about 8 mi from here… been driving it for weeks, cant imagine 8 more mi will blow it up… knock on wood.
I will do this tomorrow morning. Will post results after inspection… fingers crossed.
“shop”, not “ship”, although he can be a pirate sometimes…
The injector has to be letting gas get into the oil somehow. Very good suggestion by OK4450 to check the fuel pressure regulator. If that is ok then there must be an injector letting fuel leak by while the engine is off. To see if there is some ring damage you could have the compression checked.
Eight miles is an eternity with heavily diluted engine oil though. Diluted oil (either gasoline or coolant) can wash out crankshaft bearings, chew up cam lobes, wash out piston rings, etc.
Any place within a few blocks, mile, etc. where you could have a quick oil change performed?
Forget the “Rings” is the reason gasoline is getting into your crankcase. That’s not it. In a normally running engine, there is never any liquid gasoline to blow by the rings…
Leaking injectors, on a hot start, usually produce the symptoms of a flooded engine. It’s either that or the fuel pressure regulator…
While I don’t think rings are behind this particular problem it is possible to have gasoline diluted engine oil due to weak combustion.
Some of the old VWs were more prone to this than others. We’ve had them in the shop with overfilled oil that smelled like pure gasoline and it was due to a faulty plug wire or resistor.
But not the rings…Here in Denver, back in the carbureted days, when it got down below zero and many cars would not start, in attempting to start them, the owners would sometimes fill the crankcase with gasoline during repeated, failed, starting attempts…But it was not the rings fault…The “pump it until it starts method” had serious drawbacks…
I suppose you could do the same thing with a fuel injected car but you would really have to work at it…
If the dipstick smells of gasoline I would recommend that the engine not be started until the oil is drained and refilled. If a mechanic wants to see for himself you can carry the drained oil for him to inspect.
If I do find gas in the line, that means that the FPR has failed and I just need to replace that, correct? And obviously an oil/filter change! did some research on the FPR and seems a lot of ppl solve this problem with this fix. I have a Honda Odyssey, 95, that may have the same issue but on the low pressure side… had a drop in MPG after moving from the Denver area to Spokane, WA almost overnight of about 8-10mpg. Have changed and cleaned everything that you’d do in a normal tuneup and nothing but little gains… It sputters a bit and has harder starts… something to consider at least!
I can get the supplies and do it myself if its a big deal. That way I wont drive it at all anymore… If the FPR is bad and there is gas in the line, and I change that out, do a full oil/filter change, are there going to be any symptoms of possible further damage as you just described? Id like to avoid my mechanic if at all possible… Should I do another oil/filter change after a few thousand miles to “rinse” out the gas residue completely?
How long are you letting the car idle when its cold before you start driving it?
I take my son to daycare M-F which is about 1.5 mi away and usually start it about 5 minutes before we leave as it has been about 15-30 degrees in the morning. I then drive again with no warm up about 30-45 mins later, to work, at least 10mi, start it again about 2 hrs later and drive another 5mi, then again in 2 hours, 5 more miles… I work at roughly 3 locations a day. After the initial warm up in the morning, I just start it and drive from each location without any warm up.
I will save some oil for the mechanic and go to Napa to get a filter/oil and do that today.
“at about 4k miles since the last oil change … I decided to check the oil”
The OP went 4000 miles without checking the oil level. Nobody caught that?
Have at it, boys!
Was the oil level re-checked an hour to a day after it was re-filled?
If you can avoid the long periods of idling, that will probably be the cure to the issue.
Engines run really rich when they are started when its cold outside, and they warm up much quicker when you actually drive the car.
Sitting there just idling allows the gas to contaminate the engine oil rather quickly.