Subaru Forester Engine

My husband and I have a 99 Forester with 181,000 miles. About 9,000 miles ago it started leaking oil. The guy who changes the oil in this car, told us we have a blown engine seal. So, we took it to the dealer for the repair. The dealer told us, the car has a blown head gasket. For our third opinion we took the car to a friend’s trusted mechanic. He told us that we have a blown head gasket and almost every oil seal blown on the engine. He said we need a new engine. We go through about a quart of oil every couple of weeks, ~500 miles. The car has never run hot, there is not coolant in the oil. The car runs very smoothly. It just burns oil. Any ideas?

It’s amazing the number of places from which a Subaru engine can leak oil. At 181K miles I’m not surprised some of the many seals are worn and leaking. I’m not sure I’d call them “blown,” but more like just worn out.

This does not mean you need a new engine.

If you’re using a quart of oil in 500 miles it may mean the piston rings are also worn, and that may be why one of the mechanics suggested a new engine. If the car was leaking a quart of oil every 500 miles there would be a lake of oil where you park it.

What’s the reason for the bad head gasket diagnosis? If there’s no coolant loss or cross contamination, and the engine doesn’t overheat it doesn’t sound like a leaking head gasket. If the piston rings are worn and the compression is low this could be misinterpreted as a bad head gasket.

I paid to have all the leaking seals replaced on my Subaru’s engine, but my car only had about half the mileage yours has. The cost was ~$1,000. I wouldn’t do it on a car with 181K miles. I’d keep adding oil and drive it as long as possible, then trade it for another vehicle.

Or start looking for another vehicle now and trade soon. Either way you should start planning. You’ll probably need another vehicle before too long.

It’s possible that many of the oil leaks could be caused by this.

The main symptom of a clogged PCV can be oil consumption, especially due to multiple leaks.
Remove the PCV and shake it. If rattles like a rock in can then it’s good. If it does not rattle or rattles erratically then replace it. It’s cheap and easy.

The PCV valve is also something that should be serviced on a regular basis and hopefully this is the problem rather than a worn out engine.
All of these shops should have considered the PCV the first suspect in a case like this.

Also check that there is vacuum at the PCV valve when the engine is running. I’ve seen a clogged vacuum port cause havoc.

Thanks so much. I value your opinion. Since my husband and I know very little about this situation, We are in the process of trying to decide what to do with this car. We are tight for money right now, like a lot of people. So we have considered just driving it until it gives out. We just absolutely love this car, and if we can make it go for a few more miles the more money we can save for a another used Subaru. Thanks again!!!

So how much would a PCV valse cost? And will this make the leaks go away. What about the clogged vacuum port? Is that an expensive fix? We absolutely love this car. It’s what he was driving when we met nine years ago, and we would love to keep it as long as possible. I know this car has really high mileage, but I’ve heard of Subarus making to 250K easily. Thanks so much for getying back to me!!!

Thanks for answering my question! You are the second person that has mentioned the PCV valve. I think it’s something worth looking into. You guys rock!!! Thanks again!!!

The PCV valve is a ~$10 part. It’ll take a mechanic 5-10 minutes to check the vacuum port, an hour or less to clear it if it’s clogged.

i recommend degreesing your engine with approved cleaner. wait a few days then have the oil leak checked again. a lot of times it ends up being the timing belt cover. good luck

Anything that leaks out of the timing belt cover has already leaked from somewhere else, such as the camshaft seals, the oil pump seal, or the water pump. The timing belt cover is just a cover. It isn’t designed to seal anything, nor does it leak anything on its own.