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2002 Forester
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 2002 Forester is nearing 200k miles and I took it in for a regular oil change. When the guy went into the pit and looked, he came back up and told me I would need to replace my oil pan gasket, told me it should be fairly easy, and even took me down into the pit to show me the work I would need to do.

However, I'm not entirely convinced it is the oil pan gasket, and I figured I would check with some experts to see what else it might be (or in addition to the oil pan gasket). There is a lot of oil all over the bottom of my engine, and the reason the oil change guy was so concerned is there's a decent amount accumulating on my exhaust. The oil is in places I wouldn't expect it to get, if it is only the oil pan gasket, which makes me wonder if it's somewhere further from the ground, on/in the engine.

It does not appear to be a head gasket issue, as I have had none of the problems associated with head gasket leakage, even though this is one of 'those' models.

The oil could be all over because this has been an ongoing leak for years (*hangs head in shame*), but noone had ever proposed something as 'easy' as this to fix it, or even mentioned it would be fixable, when having it looked at. To be fair, I always assumed it was a head gasket, and I was driving by sheer luck, and didn't want to tempt fate or a $2000 repair bill.

I can get under and take some pictures to show where the oil is, if that will help with the diagnosis, but it's pretty much everywhere, and cleaning it all up (suggestions?) and then driving a little might pinpoint where it is coming from, if needed.

Like I said, she's 12 years old, nearing 200k and has been totaled (thanks to a collision with a semi-truck merging into my lane), so suggestions for least effort / cost to keep her going are appreciated. I love my baby, but I have wrung much of her value out over the years, and I'm not ready to scrap her, but I am wary of spending too much money when catastrophic failure might be around the corner.

Also, I have been quoted $170 for the oil pan gasket repair, if that sounds reasonable / a good deal, let me know, otherwise I'll look into finding another shop or getting the parts and doing it on my own.
 

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2012 XT Touring 4EAT
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My 2002 Forester is nearing 200k miles and I took it in for a regular oil change. When the guy went into the pit and looked, he came back up and told me I would need to replace my oil pan gasket, told me it should be fairly easy, and even took me down into the pit to show me the work I would need to do.

However, I'm not entirely convinced it is the oil pan gasket, and I figured I would check with some experts to see what else it might be (or in addition to the oil pan gasket). There is a lot of oil all over the bottom of my engine, and the reason the oil change guy was so concerned is there's a decent amount accumulating on my exhaust. The oil is in places I wouldn't expect it to get, if it is only the oil pan gasket, which makes me wonder if it's somewhere further from the ground, on/in the engine.

It does not appear to be a head gasket issue, as I have had none of the problems associated with head gasket leakage, even though this is one of 'those' models.

The oil could be all over because this has been an ongoing leak for years (*hangs head in shame*), but noone had ever proposed something as 'easy' as this to fix it, or even mentioned it would be fixable, when having it looked at. To be fair, I always assumed it was a head gasket, and I was driving by sheer luck, and didn't want to tempt fate or a $2000 repair bill.

I can get under and take some pictures to show where the oil is, if that will help with the diagnosis, but it's pretty much everywhere, and cleaning it all up (suggestions?) and then driving a little might pinpoint where it is coming from, if needed.

Like I said, she's 12 years old, nearing 200k and has been totaled (thanks to a collision with a semi-truck merging into my lane), so suggestions for least effort / cost to keep her going are appreciated. I love my baby, but I have wrung much of her value out over the years, and I'm not ready to scrap her, but I am wary of spending too much money when catastrophic failure might be around the corner.

Also, I have been quoted $170 for the oil pan gasket repair, if that sounds reasonable / a good deal, let me know, otherwise I'll look into finding another shop or getting the parts and doing it on my own.
At the very least, get a second opinion. There isn't an 'oil pan gasket' on your vehicle. Rather, the pan lip and engine surfaces are cleaned, then a bead of RTV is applied and the whole thing is screwed and glued back together. Be aware that oil in the sump does not come up to the seal area or lip of the pan.

That's not to say your seal is not leaking - maybe, maybe not - but pan seals usually don't give much trouble. I did note that your vehicle was in a wreck. But there should be some visible damage to the pan or evidence that the pan got a severe 'whack' or was otherwise knocked loose.

Removing and replacing the pan is a bit of a hassle. You may need to remove a section of exhaust and will probably need to remove the front motor mount nuts and jack up the engine. It's not impossible or even that difficult, but it is a good afternoon project. After you do all this and remove about 20 bolts, then you give the pan a 'whack' with a rubber mallet or a hammer+2x4 - something to break the old sealant loose from the engine block.

Another thought: there are several seals on the front and rear of the engine which could very well be leaking, particularly after 200k miles. Front and rear engine seals, cam shaft seals (2 for the X; 4 for XT). If oil is coming out of these seals, it can be redistributed to unexpected places. When the timing belt was changed at 105k, the best practice might have been to change these seals. But, budgets being what they are, you may still have the original engine seals.

Final thought: You are approaching the time for another timing belt change - around 210k miles. If you can hold out, that would be a good time to attack the leak monster. All the front seals will be readily accessible. Ditto for the oil pump. This job does not require dropping the pan, but if you really think it's the pan seal it would be a good enough time to tackle that as well.
 

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2002 Forester
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
At the very least, get a second opinion. There isn't an 'oil pan gasket' on your vehicle.
The Chilton guide I have indicates it's a gasket, and they sell a gasket for this model at Autozone. Perhaps the sealant / glue solution is more 'modern' ?

I did note that your vehicle was in a wreck.
I should clarify, the semi hit me in the side, just behind the driver door. It is possible the impact wiggled something loose, however oil leaking was already an issue, at that point.

remove the front motor mount nuts and jack up the engine.
Yeah, this is the part that is giving me pause, also the number of bolts holding the oil pan in place, and amount of energy required to get them all loosened.

From what I've seen, from Chilton's and a guide I watched on youtube, I need to jack up and support my car, undo the engine mount bolts, use my hydro jack and a piece of wood to raise the engine about an inch or two for clearance to the bolts. And that's just to get started. I suspect it would take me 2-3 hours, assuming I had everything on hand.

there are several seals on the front and rear of the engine which could very well be leaking, particularly after 200k miles. Front and rear engine seals, cam shaft seals (2 for the X; 4 for XT).
This may be more of the issue, and I'd rather hand it off to a qualified mechanic at that point. There are too many places for oil to be leaking, and I have been a less-than-great owner to my car.

you may still have the original engine seals.
Assuming they were not replaced by the dealer or previous owner, you would be correct.

Final thought: You are approaching the time for another timing belt change - around 210k miles. If you can hold out, that would be a good time to attack the leak monster. All the front seals will be readily accessible. Ditto for the oil pump. This job does not require dropping the pan, but if you really think it's the pan seal it would be a good enough time to tackle that as well.
Budgets and money being what they are, at 200,000+ miles, are these services cost effective? At most I can afford to spend maybe $1000 on repairs until I get a new job.

As circumstances would have it, I rely more heavily on my car at the moment, than I would like (considering the proper care she needs, and I can't justify), and I would like to do what little I can to ensure she survives to at least 210k.
 

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2000 Forester Manual
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dave5358 is correct you most likely have a front seal leaking and its getting blown back by driving and spreads out

keep an eye on the oil level and wait until you do he timing belt again
 

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2000 2 Outbacks 1Man , 1 Auto
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Apart from what has been mentioned above check to see if there are any rust blisters on the sump pan , which can make it porous and oil seeps out ..
 

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2002 Forester
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the responses. I think I'm going to bring her in to a shop, and have them look at the front seal, valve gaskets, etc to see if they can recommend something. I worry about getting raked over the coals by mechanics, and I realize there are probably lots of things that could be fixed on my car, but I need to try to get the most bang for my buck.

The oil leaking hasn't really troubled me, I do regular oil changes at 3000 miles and sometimes she seems very low on oil, but I have yet to have any diagnostic lights or OBD errors due to oil, temperature, etc. Knock on wood.

I do want to repair or replace anything that would prevent my car from functioning at all, but... I guess I'm in the same pickle many people are, with older cars; trying to determine when to cut losses, and save money for a replacement vehicle. I would love to see her get to 300k miles, but I just don't have the money or a truly trusted mechanic to go to.

Perhaps I'm a little paranoid, but I feel some mechanics try to push nice-to-have but not needed repairs, and I also worry that while they're under the hood they might tweak something to fail. I assume that doesn't really happen (or at least not often), which is why I say paranoid. I try to do more work on her myself, to increase my familiarity, so I know what's going on, but I'm in a time-crunch.

Anyhow, thank you for your suggestions, I'll update when I get some feedback from the mechanics, especially if something they recommend seems out of step.
 

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The Chilton guide I have indicates it's a gasket, and they sell a gasket for this model at Autozone. Perhaps the sealant / glue solution is more 'modern'?
My 06 was sealant - coming off and going back on. I didn't check Chilton, but they may be giving you "stock" answers or methods. Stranger things have been known to occur in Chilton. BTW, the RTV sealing was very simple - sure beat any gasket I've ever seen.

As for removing the pan, it's not all that terrible. Strangely enough, the biggest hassle may be removing the nuts from the front motor mounts. These nuts are rather soft material and easily rounded. Get a 6-point impact socket attached to a long breaker bar. Make sure the socket is all the way on the nut. If you're really paranoid about this, put a jack + block of wood behind the head of the breaker bar so slipping is not a possibility. After you get these nuts off, buy some replacement nuts at Autozone or Advance Auto - they're better material and have a slightly taller shoulder. BTW, these nuts aren't super tight - less than a lug nut.

Taking off the pan bolts is pretty straight forward. There are 2 or 3 bolts in the very back that rise to PITA status. But, you jack up the engine until you can reach them. Use a 1/4" drive socket on a long extension with a u-joint.

The second headache is actually getting the pan out. There are 14 different things that seem to keep it from coming out, turning, etc. Jacking up the engine helps. It is do-able. As you noted - a project of a few hours duration..

As circumstances would have it, I rely more heavily on my car at the moment, than I would like (considering the proper care she needs, and I can't justify), and I would like to do what little I can to ensure she survives to at least 210k.
That's a hard call. If you really like your vehicle, have made some custom mods, etc. then you might want to do the the 210k service. Otherwise, start looking for new wheels. The problem with doing this service is simple: after it's done, you car still has 210k miles and in the eyes of most insurance companies is a total loss even while it is running. It's a cruel world.
 

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i got a new dorman oil pan rdy for install but i also buy a oil pan gasket! : ( and now i see they use liquid sealant!

so i cant use the oil pan gasket?? its a victor reinz, i should have read the forum first!
 
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