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Oil leak

Every year I get a postcard from the Subaru dealer where I bought the car to come in for free hamburgers and a free inspection. I took the car in and I was told that I had an oil leak (I was aware of this, as I would find a drop every now and then on the tray that I keep under the car) that was coming from the head gasket. When I was given this information I said “you mean the valve cover” and I was told again that no, it was from the head gasket and the repair would cost around $1,800.

In my youth I repaired my own cars; a 1960 Bug Eye Sprite, a 1965 Triumph TR-4 with IRS, a 1967 Mustang Fastback, so I knew a bit about motors and repairs. I did blow several head gaskets on both of the English cars, the tell-tale water in the oil, foam in the radiator, etc. The Subaru does not have any of these indicators, and I have never heard of an oil leak coming from a head gasket. I think the dealer was trying to make some serious money off of me. Any feedback?

While rare, external oil and/or coolant head gasket leaks are not unheard of. I can’t even say that it only happens in mixed alloy arrangement in any more frequency than all cast iron. I’ve heard it in Jeep/AMC in line 6’s and a few Asian designs. Get a second opinion.

It’s simple enough to find out one way or the other. Wipe off the oil from wherever it’s leaking, then monitor it and see where the oil is leaking from. If it’s coming from the valve cover you don’t need a head gasket.

That’s how it started with by truck. I was having to add a quart of oil every 500 miles or so, but couldn’t pinpoint the leak. It was leaking tho. After about a year of this, the head gasket blew. I replaced the head gasket, and oil leak disappeared. Sometimes those head gaskets blow like that.

Personally, because it costs so much, I’d wait until the head gasket shows more signs of failure before dealing with it. Unless you need to make any long trips.

Been There, Done That Several Years Ago With A Head Gasket Leaking Oil Externally and although very slighty. I Had The Gasket Replaced Before The Engine Ran Out Of 70,000 Mile Warrany.

The car consumed no coolant and there were no other problems other than weeping a little oil. The problems is that those leaks never get any better over time.

Roberto, how were the burgers ?


How about you just go get a second opinion from a reputable local shop - rather than the dealer?

Burgers were dandy!