98 outback legacy wagon leaking oil around timing belt (camshaft & crankshaft seals?)

Discussion in 'Subaru Legacy' started by McKizzle, Jun 9, 2006.

  1. McKizzle

    McKizzle Guest

    I have a 98 outback wagon that is leaking oil pretty badly. I had some
    advice saying it was probably coming from the camshaft and crankshaft
    seals. How difficult is it to change these seals (what does this job
    entail)? how long would it take and how much would it cost to do it my
    self? how much would it cost to get it done professionally? thanx
    McKizzle, Jun 9, 2006
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  2. McKizzle

    Jim Stewart Guest

    First of all, be sure to google alt.autos.subaru
    regarding getting the air out of the cooling
    system. If you don't do it, the pain can be

    Here's a repost of my timing belt experience:


    I have a '99 Legacy Outback with a 2.5l DOHC
    engine and 85k miles. The front crankcase oil
    seal had started leaking about a month ago,
    pushing up the 100k timing belt change inter-
    val to now.

    Being a lazy person at heart, I decided that I
    would change everything that might be a problem
    as long as I had it apart. The shopping list
    included plugs, fan belts, timing belt, crank
    and cam oil seals, water pump, thermostat,
    gaskets, timing belt tensioner, top timing
    belt cover gasket, oil pump o-ring, Subaru
    gasket sealer, fresh antifreeze and spark
    plug anti-seize compound.

    All Subaru parts were purchased from Jason at
    Auburn Subaru. The parts came 2 days after I
    ordered them, with a 25% discount, no sales
    tax and very reasonable shipping.

    I started on the project Friday a week ago. The
    first issue was finding a loud squeak in the
    fan belt area that had been driving my wife nuts.
    Taking off the belts one at a time showed that
    it was the aircon belt idler pulley. I took
    it out, popped off the shields, cleaned out the
    hardened grease and replaced it with fresh grease.
    The squeak went away.

    After the belts and fan were removed, the next
    issue was the crank pulley. After trying a
    bunch of different things, I fabricated a tool
    to hold the pulley similar to the Subaru tool.
    It's a plate with 4 pins that engage the 4 holes
    in the pulley. The edge of the plate rests on
    a vertical 4x4 that sits on the ground. The
    crank nut came off with probably 200 ftlbs of
    torque. I used my lathe and mill to make the
    tool. Your mileage may vary. I plan the keep
    the car for at least another 6 years so I felt
    that making the tool was a reasonable investment.

    After I got the pulley and belt covers off, it
    became clear that I'd need more working room so
    I started pulling off parts. I removed the
    radiator, air filter box, battery, windshield
    washer box, and the 2 little covers under the
    car next to the fenders.

    Next I removed the timing belt tensioner, oil
    pump, timing belt idler pulleys (3) and water pump.
    I checked the oil pump back plate and sure enough,
    2 of the 5 screws were loose. I removed all of
    them, cleaned them and their holes, applied Lock-
    tite and reinstalled them. While I had the plate
    out, I popped out the old seal and pressed in the
    new one. I cleaned the RTV sealer from the mating
    surfaces on the engine and the oil pump, applied
    new sealer, put on the new o-ring holding it in
    place with some grease and re-installed the oil
    pump making sure to reconnect the crank position

    The water pump was trivial to replace, and
    probably did not need replacing as the old
    pump and thermostat looked like new.

    Next, I removed the timing belt tensioner and
    unpacked the new part. It was clear that the
    tensioner that I received was for some other
    Subaru, not the one I had, effectively ending
    the job until I could get the right one.

    A call to Jason on Monday got me the right
    part on Tuesday and a UPS pickup slip to
    return the wrong part.

    The new tensioner installed with no problems,
    just one bolt.

    The next job was the camshaft seals, all 4
    of them. The Subaru manual calls out a
    special tool to keep the sprockets from
    rotating while they are being removed. I
    should have broken the bolts loose before
    I removed the timing belt. In any case, the
    sprockets on the driver's side did move
    causing me much concern about damaging a
    valve. When the mark on the crank sprocket
    is aligned at 12 o'clock, the drivers side
    camshafts are sitting with 4 of the valves
    depressed, giving a hair-trigger nature to
    the sprocket. The passenger side valves
    are all closed and are not a concern as they
    have no tendency to rotate.

    I pried out the old seals and tapped the
    new ones in with a tool that I made from
    some thick-wall aluminium tubing.

    Next, I replaced the sprockets and back
    covers. I then installed the timing belt.
    I decided to turn the engine over with a
    breaker bar the make sure that everything
    was free. There was a lot of resistance
    when the crank sprocket mark was at 3
    o'clock. This caused me a huge amount
    of concern that I might have bent a valve
    and that it was sticking up.

    I stared at the engine for a long time,
    pondering whether or not to pull the
    driver's side head to look for damage.
    I decided to pull the valve cover and
    see if I could tell anything. I took
    the cover off and felt the cups under
    the cams as I turned the crank to 3
    O'clock. I couldn't feel anything. Next
    I removed the camshafts and cups, and
    with my fingers lightly on the valve
    stem ends, I turned the engine over.
    I still couldn't feel anything. Com-
    pression seemed to be fine as well. I
    decided to put everything back together
    and see if it would run. I noticed that
    when I turned the engine over with an
    ordinary 1/2" drive socket wrench, in-
    stead of a breaker bar, the resistance
    seemed to be reduced and the same for
    3 o'clock and 9 o'clock, the 2 TDC

    Anyway, after about 3 hours, I had the
    new plugs installed, the timing belt
    buttoned up, the fan belts on, the radiator
    and fans back in, the air filter box
    and battery installed.

    I decided to refill the cooling system
    with water until I knew whether or not
    I'd be tearing it down again.

    I was almost physically sick with worry as
    I first jogged the engine with the ignition
    switch. It turned over fine. I cranked it
    and it caught right away. There was some
    tapping as the oil started to flow, but it
    disappeared quickly.

    I drained the water and put in 50/50 anti-
    freeze. I had changed the coolant before and
    I anticipated the hassle of getting the air
    out of the system. After about 30 minutes
    of fiddling, the car was driveable.

    I put about 150 miles on it today. No oil
    leaks. The only issue is a squeek when the
    aircon compressor comes on at high RPM. I'll
    give it a few days to sort itself out before
    I'll much with it.

    So, would I recommend a non-mechanic change
    their own timing belt? Probably not. I may
    have saved myself $300-$400 in labor, but I
    ate up 2 weekends. I also have a spare car
    I can drive.
    Jim Stewart, Jun 9, 2006
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  3. McKizzle

    McKizzle Guest

    Jim, that was amazing. thanks so much for your help with this!
    McKizzle, Jun 10, 2006
  4. McKizzle

    Tcassette Guest

    Based on my experience at a Subaru dealer, a "professional" job would be
    $600-700, including the timing belt.
    Tcassette, Jun 10, 2006
  5. McKizzle

    Glenn Guest

    I have a 98 outback too, with the DOHC interference engine. I had read
    on this NG before that leaks at the front of the engine are typically a
    result of dodgy oil pump seals - apparently a known issue with these

    Mine went a few years back and had them done but it only cost me a
    couple of hundred over here in Oz. No problems after that. It was just
    before I took the car on a 20,000 km trip so wanted to make sure there
    were no problems.

    Glenn, Jun 11, 2006
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