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1999 Forester L
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159 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I have a 99 with 96k and recently the oil light has been turning on during sudden stops and acceleration but turning off immediately.
I checked the oil and it was obviously low. I didn't recall any dark smoke that would indicate oil being burned.
I opened the coolant reservoir and there was brown gunk all over the walls of the container. I opened the radiator cap and there was fragments of brown gunk on it.
Is this a sign of head gasket failure?
 

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5 Posts
sounds like head gasket trouble to me.
How about the oil? is it milky looking?
I wouldn't drive it til it's fixed.
 

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1999 Forester L
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159 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
too late, i drove it for more then a week not knowing. The oil is fine, and the car runs fine.
 

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NA No more! :(
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8,529 Posts
first try small things. pcv valve. cheap item, easy to change. if it's clogged (along with its hoses), you can burn oil really quick. check under the car from visual leaks. if you see external gasket leaks, then we'll go from there. also, a UOA might be good at this point. try blackstone labs. (i stole your line adc!!)
 

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1999 Forester L
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159 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
took car to local mechanic, said oil is really low, put in 2 qts, said its not a blown head gasket and the gunk is from stop leak put in previously(subaru recall)
He said the low oil is because of its viscosity(5w-30)
I never smelled burning oil and I have never seen dark smoke coming out of the tailpipe. Could the car be burning oil at such a slow rate(3qts, 5k miles) that I would not notice anything?
 

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Super Moderator
2018 2.5i Premium CVT
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17,901 Posts
Your mechanic's observation sounds strange, as 5W30 is the recommended oil.

Check to see if the gasket on the oil filler cap might have disappeared. Happened to me on both cars. Oil consumption improved significantly when I replaced them.
 

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2008 LL Bean (4EAT)
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4,909 Posts
... local mechanic, said... its not a blown head gasket and the gunk is from stop leak put in previously(subaru recall)
He said the low oil is because of its viscosity(5w-30)...
Is this mechanic familiar with Foresters? He may not recognize the slow effects of a head gasket leak, it is doubtful that Subaru's Coolant Conditioner would cause gunk in the coolant, and he does not know the proper oil viscosity. It seems very likely that you do have a head gasket leak -- take it to a dealer.
 

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NA No more! :(
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oh haha wait i just noticed the brown gunk portion. i've had brown gunk since 40k ish. i wonder if my HGs have been dying since then. 66k now, replacing HGs.
 

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1999 Forester L
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159 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Its weird because I took my car into the dealer like 8 months ago to get the 2 recalls on the car taken care of. That is when the stop leak was put in because of the recall.
I checked the coolant about one month ago and it was crystal clean, a perfect green color with not a spec of anything in it. If the mechanic is correct then its weird that I only see the result of the stop leak now, 8 months later.
I think the mechanic is right though because if there was 3 qts of oil in the coolant it would be alot browner and dirtier then it is now(its still green but has gunk buildup in the reservoir and the rad cap).
This car has never lost any oil at all, every time I changed the oil the old oil level was exactly the same as it was when it was new.
Its doubt the car is just getting older and is starting to burn oil at the rings, I think something else is causing it.
Im going to check that oil filler gasket and the pcv valve tomorrow.
 

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1999 Forester L
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159 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
also he turned on the engine when the radiator cap was open and there where no bubbles or anything. If a small amount of oil was leaking into the coolant and the rest into the combustion chamber wouldn't there be bubbles coming out?

He also unscrewed the oil filler cap while the car was on, when I did this on other cars it would cause a massive vacuum leak and the car would shut off but the forester stays on, why?
 

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2008 LL Bean (4EAT)
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4,909 Posts
... He also unscrewed the oil filler cap while the car was on, when I did this on other cars it would cause a massive vacuum leak and the car would shut off but the forester stays on, why?
On all engines, the crankcase is pressurized by the descending pistons. Removing the filler cap with the engine running allows a place for this pressure to escape freely. The engine's running is not affected, but it blows oil mist out the open filler tube.

EDIT: Well, that is true on my old motorcycles, but the filler tube on the Forester must be too long. I removed the filler cap to take some photos of the hose tray at the bottom of the radiator, and forgot to replace it. Drove for 15 miles noticing a smell when stopped that I blamed on the cars in front of me. Got home, raised the hood to see if there was any smell, and saw the filler cap laying on top of the engine. The engine had run fine, slight smell of crankcase fumes, but nothing had come out of the filler tube. No oil, no mist.
 

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1999 Forester L
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159 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
There was some liquid under the car, it seemed to be mostly coolant, and my coolant level decreased a little. Here are some pics:

Passenger side rear:


Driver side rear:


Driver side middle:




Driver side front:



I dont know where this oil is comming from, possibly oil pump seal?



Scuff thingy:


Reservoir:




Radiator cap:




Tell me what you guys think it is
 

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Premium Member
2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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8,073 Posts
The brown crap I would write off as the results of the coolant conditioner.

I would say it is time to do:
- HG (looks like a external oil leak at the heads and block. External coolant leak)
- water pump and gskt (you are there, could be a source of the coolant leak)
- reseal the oil pump, retorque/loc-tite the rotor cap screws. (you are there, could be the source of some of the oil)
- cam seals (you are there, could be the source of some of the oil)
- crank seal (you are there, could be the source of some of the oil)
- t-belt (you are there + it is almost due. 105K)
- idlers (you are there)
- tensioner (you are there)
 

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1999 Forester L
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159 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
The brown crap I would write off as the results of the coolant conditioner.

I would say it is time to do:
- HG (looks like a external oil leak at the heads and block. External coolant leak)
- water pump and gskt (you are there, could be a source of the coolant leak)
- reseal the oil pump, retorque/loc-tite the rotor cap screws. (you are there, could be the source of some of the oil)
- cam seals (you are there, could be the source of some of the oil)
- crank seal (you are there, could be the source of some of the oil)
- t-belt (you are there + it is almost due. 105K)
- idlers (you are there)
- tensioner (you are there)
I was planning on doing exactly that. I was about to order the timing belt stuff(everything on the list except HG) but then this problem came up. Im holding off on ordering the stuff because if the HG is blown I want to order everything at once.
It looks like oil is leaking from the passenger side and coolant from the driver.
So is this a confirmed HG leak?
 

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1999 Forester L
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159 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Definitely a blown HG, now i see a droplet of coolant coming from one of the gaskets.
There is a big leak somewhere in the back that i cant see.
Its not the back of the HG, its not the trans fluid because thats blue and i checked the level and its full.
Its a weird leak because there is liquid on the ground and oil on the front crossmember jackpoint plate.
Tomorrow im going to get the car on ramps and take a closer look.

Where could it be leaking from?
 

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05 FXT 5MT
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255 Posts
Yup headgaskets for sure.

The other oil leaks are most likely the front/rear main seals and probably the separator plate too.

You'll know for sure when you pull the motor and take the flywheel (or flexplate) off.
 

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1999 Forester L
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159 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
car up on ramps, still cant see exactly where the leak is coming from because the crossmember is directly under it. Seems to be rear main seal.

What are the lifting points for pulling the engine? I know one is next to the AC compressor.
 

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1999 Forester L
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159 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
while i have the heads off is it worth it to replace the valve stem seals or is it too early?
 

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1999 Forester L
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159 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
ok well I ordered almost everything:
head gaskets
valve stem seals
intake manifold gasket
exhaust manifold gasket
timing belt
water pump
front crank seal
rear main seal
cam seals
fuel filter(never replaced, not sure when it was supposed to be)
pcv valve

everything genuine OEM

I decided to not get the auto tensioner and idlers because they where very expensive. Are they really that necessary? I searched around and couldn't find a timing belt that slipped off because of worn idlers.
 
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