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Old 11-03-2017, 12:07 PM   #1
exE36M3
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Head Gasket Oil Leak - this is what one might look like

(UPDATED 11/22)

So if you are new to this thread. Look at these photos first (link).
These photos show a leak occurring on/near the seam of the head gasket on the passenger side, top of the motor.
A paper towel confirms fresh oil leaking out after only 2.5 miles of driving!

Photos on Google Photos here...
https://photos.app.goo.gl/KVVRlENs8wQ26a2r2

Summary - I've got all the oil leaks, that are common on our FA20 cars, repaired by the dealer. They did that job fine. But, there's another one, right under the intake runners that is pooling oil. The photos show oily grime and even dye color residue.

The dealer refuses to acknowledge the leak after multiple visits citing "we can't find it".
The car is under the Subaru GOLD extended-warranty.

In sheer frustration, I took the car to an independent Subaru shop in NorCal. I paid for 1 hour of diagnostic work. The result?

Oil may be coming from:
1. head gasket seam
2. injector

The oil is leaking as a spray under pressure - as it's coating the electricals too.
The PCV is not the culprit.

I asked the shop owner if he thinks Subaru would repair it. His take is that the dealer won't fix anything unless the car is seriously losing A LOT of oil AND is easy to spot/diagnose.

As much as this drives my OCD nuts... The bright side is that the car runs fine and just needs a quart about every few weeks or after a long-road trip. I've got another 3 years on the extended warranty so if it does blow-up, I've got a paper trail of dealer visits.



-----

Hey guys, I'm starting a new thread on this so Google search picks this up.
I've been hunting down oil leaks on my 2013 Subaru BRZ with 29k miles. The car is NOT raced. And the engine is bone stock. I also consider myself a decent mechanic - think engine swaps, turbo and supercharger installs, 5 foot high craftsman tool chest.

What's been fixed:
1. Cam cover seals
2. Valve cover seals
3. Cam plate

Symptoms - even with these fixes, I've been getting a bad oil smell... even under normal, easy driving to work. It's to the point where I can't even drive with the heater on because it pulls in outside air and the oil makes my eye watery.

So after a looking under the hood several nights this week with a flash light and dentist mirror... I found signs of oil under the intake plenum/runners. It looks like it's been pooling there for a while and the tint to yellow shows the oil dye the dealer put into the oil from last Feb 2017.

The leak looked to be coming from the head gasket - where the heads meet the cylinder block (and you can see the metal gasket too). The oil is pooling and spraying coating the wiring around it and attracting dirt and grime.

To test this theory, I put a paper towel in the area before my drive into work.
When I arrived, the towel shows fresh oil. The kicker... my drive is only 2.5 miles.

Here's a Google photos link to give an idea of where. You REALLY have to get on top of the motor to see it. Passenger side, under the intake bridge/plenum/runner.

If you guys have similar issues or experiences. Would love to know about them in this post. Heck, if your car has the same oil burning smell, take a look and see if you got a similar issue in the same spot.

Thanks!


Photos on Google Photos here...
https://photos.app.goo.gl/KVVRlENs8wQ26a2r2

I couldn't find an FRS/BRZ with a similar leak, but the spot is pretty much the same as the outback image below.
My leak runs the same line as the head gasket in this photo.


Last edited by exE36M3; 11-22-2017 at 07:18 PM.
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Old 11-03-2017, 12:19 PM   #2
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I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that your headgasket is blown just yet. If your headgasket was blown, you would have loss of compression, your engine would run very poorly, you would lose coolant, your engine would overheat, and oil and coolant would mix etc.
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Old 11-03-2017, 01:29 PM   #3
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Could well be a head gasket leak/heavy seepage. I'd take it back to the dealer that did the previous plumbing work on it and put it to them. If you asked them to fix the oil leak earlier, it appears they didn't finish the job.
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Old 11-03-2017, 02:34 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Si_Chris View Post
I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that your headgasket is blown just yet. If your headgasket was blown, you would have loss of compression, your engine would run very poorly, you would lose coolant, your engine would overheat, and oil and coolant would mix etc.
Um... I didn't say "blown"

And actually not all true. Head gasket failures can involve a number of things and the car can still be running.

For example, my E36 M3... the head gasket toward the back of the motor went and let out coolant. Car ran fine, never over heated. No oil lost or mixed. But obviously the coolant level went down.

Where this one is on the BRZ, looks like an oil passage one.

When you think of typical head gasket failures - it's the catastrophic cylinder ones - where oil or coolant or both end up in the combustion chamber.

Did you see the photos? The paper towel oil marks line right up with the head gasket on top of the heads. This leads to me to believe that under pressure, oil is escaping from the top.
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Old 11-03-2017, 03:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by exE36M3 View Post
Um... I didn't say "blown"

And actually not all true. Head gasket failures can involve a number of things and the car can still be running.

For example, my E36 M3... the head gasket toward the back of the motor went and let out coolant. Car ran fine, never over heated. No oil lost or mixed. But obviously the coolant level went down.

Where this one is on the BRZ, looks like an oil passage one.

When you think of typical head gasket failures - it's the catastrophic cylinder ones - where oil or coolant or both end up in the combustion chamber.

Did you see the photos? The paper towel oil marks line right up with the head gasket on top of the heads. This leads to me to believe that under pressure, oil is escaping from the top.
I can confirm you can have a blown HG and still have the motor operate fine. Had a similar situation on my 2001 RS. The drivers side head had an external HG leak. Basically it had oil seeping from one of the block to head galleries. It was an extremely slow leak, and I never fixed it before I sold it. I did run it for close to 3 years that way though and all I needed to do was top the oil off every now and then. Compression test, while not stellar, did not show the typical close to zero compression of a blown HG in the cylinder itself (internal HG leak) and the car drove fine.
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Old 11-03-2017, 04:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by exE36M3 View Post
Um... I didn't say "blown"

And actually not all true. Head gasket failures can involve a number of things and the car can still be running.

For example, my E36 M3... the head gasket toward the back of the motor went and let out coolant. Car ran fine, never over heated. No oil lost or mixed. But obviously the coolant level went down.

Where this one is on the BRZ, looks like an oil passage one.

When you think of typical head gasket failures - it's the catastrophic cylinder ones - where oil or coolant or both end up in the combustion chamber.

Did you see the photos? The paper towel oil marks line right up with the head gasket on top of the heads. This leads to me to believe that under pressure, oil is escaping from the top.
Well, I guess I interpret a head gasket leak to be similar to a blown head gasket.

The FA20's PCV valve coming out of the block is right near the location of your oil seepage. Perhaps this is causing this issue? Your PCV hose doesn't look to be fully seated.
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Old 11-03-2017, 04:31 PM   #7
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Thanks Chris - I hope I didn't come across as adversarial. Sometimes it's hard to disagree or offer opinions in a forum (via text) without coming across as a know-it all jerk.

But that PCV valve - I'll give that a look! I want to get all the bases covered before I show up to the dealer complaining about an oil leak.
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Old 11-03-2017, 05:12 PM   #8
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Don't assume it's the head gasket, because the head gasket is not under the intake plenum. If anything, head gasket leaks should be closer to the intake runners or cylinder heads.

http://www.ft86club.com/forums/showp...2&postcount=47
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Old 11-03-2017, 06:27 PM   #9
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The PCV explanation might be a winner.
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Old 11-04-2017, 02:56 PM   #10
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Yeah, not the PCV valve. No oil trace along the edges, not even damp, and the fitting is screwed in there pretty good.

Assuming you guys saw the photos - the oil trace still follows the line of the head gasket.
If it was the PCV valve, it would have soaked the paper towel differently.
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Old 11-04-2017, 02:58 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mav1178 View Post
Don't assume it's the head gasket, because the head gasket is not under the intake plenum. If anything, head gasket leaks should be closer to the intake runners or cylinder heads.

http://www.ft86club.com/forums/showp...2&postcount=47
Sorry, my terminology could be more specific, in this case one can also say, intake runners.
The oil leak runs along the seam between the block and cylinder heads. I can see the edges of the metal head gasket.

Here's a photo from a legacy boxer motor. My leak runs the seam of the head gasket.



Thanks for the thread link too. His issue sound VERY similar, but from the front side of the motor.

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Old 11-04-2017, 03:23 PM   #12
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hmmmm.........I'm wondering if you sprayed some soapy water in the suspect area and fired up the engine, if bubbles would appear .......


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Old 11-04-2017, 03:58 PM   #13
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Pressure wash/steam clean the top of your engine, get it all shiny clean. Put some dye in your oil. Fire it up and stare at it with a good flashlight for however long it takes for oil to appear. Tada, you now know the source of your leak.
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Old 11-06-2017, 12:54 PM   #14
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Thanks guys for the ideas. I'm making an appointment with the master/lead tech this week. I put another paper towel on top of the head gasket seam. I'm going to drive with it this week so when I pull up, the lead tech can see the oil. As far as confirmation, Subaru already put a UV dye in it. That yellow-ish tint is the dye. I am sure between the oil soaked paper towel and dye, they should have enough to go on.

I hope anyway. I'll post again how this goes.
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