EE20 diesel - Engine ticking and smoke coming from oil fill cap

Apr 14, 2024
Reaction score
Hi everyone,

I recently bought a Subaru Outback from 2012 with a diesel (ee20) engine, knowing it could have an issue, as it was advertised with unknown engine problem.
The seller originally thought it could be a cracked cylinder head and later said it might even be the crankshaft (as these engines have a tendency to have issues with these).
When checking out the car, there was no knocking sound (revving or during driving), so it definitely was not the issue and no other disturbing sounds at first.

However, I did not check the oil cap before, while the engine was running when buying the car (I checked it while the engine was off) and when checking it today (after replacing the engine oil) I heard this rather disturbing sound coming from inside the engine, through the oil fill hole...:

The sound almost sound like a lifter tick. As I believe to have seen that this engine has manual adjustable valve adjustment screws.

Secondly, a bit of smoke and blow by seems to be coming from the oil fill hole as well (not really visible in the video, but definitely there).
When standing/kneeling next to the car, I can clearly smell diesel exhaust (unfiltered, like a tractor or old truck)

Also, maybe unrelated, but the car seems to lack power the first 2 seconds when pressing the accelerator pedal.
I did check the turbo hose between the intercooler and throttle body, but no cracks in this hose.

The car does not throw any error codes.

Yesterday I took off the intake and thoroughly clean it from all the soot/oil buildup, besides the expected amount, I noticed in the rear right cylinder intake, that it was much cleaner than the others. (see attachments "cylinder soot (normal) and (problem)")

I'm not afraid to do engine work, I would just like to know if someone can identify the most probable cause/issue.

Many thanks


  • cylinder soot (normal).jpg
    cylinder soot (normal).jpg
    454.5 KB · Views: 2
  • cylinder soot (problem).jpg
    cylinder soot (problem).jpg
    415.1 KB · Views: 2

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Members online

No members online now.

Forum statistics

Latest member

Latest Threads