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Old 02-27-2008, 03:51 AM   #1
winston856
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Default Smoke from Engine Bay after going up a hill (load on motor)

Alright guys, see if you can help me solve this one.

After I put a load on the engine like coming up the hill to my house, I'll pull in and park and after about 15 seconds the engine will start smoking from the rear of the engine bay towards the firewall. It smells like engine oil or some form of lubricant, NOT any coolant at all, my temps are perfect

Anywho, this burning/smoking will continue for about a minute or so then subside. If I just drive the car normally with minimal load such as town or highway driving I never see smell anything.

It's almost like the extra load up the hill is forcing oil out somewhere or making something hot enough to burn for a bit then stop.

Now this is in my 1996 Legacy 2.5GT with the phase I DOHC EJ25. It's had the oil pump re-sealed and a new rear main seal installed.

I did some searching and somebody was saying something about the PCV valve not functioning properly, does that sound plausible?

One thing to note is I'm not blowing any smoke out the tailpipe to my knowledge and I'm not experiencing any oil consumption, I've been watching it and the level hasn't really moved much at all.

Now I also thought that there was a mess when the dealer re-sealed the oil pump and installed a new rear main seal and there is some stuff on the Y pipe kinda thing right after the manifolds that I tried to clean off with some degreaser. I thought it was just spilt oil and that it would burn off but it's been burning like this very specifically so I don't think it's just leftover oil.

What could this be?
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Old 02-27-2008, 07:37 AM   #2
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I am not really sure if this would happen when only driving up a hill but my cars oil pan gasket leaked and when driven hard the oil would get blown onto the exhaust and smoke like non other. This was only noticeable when stopped for about ten seconds. I think it was the oil pan but I had a bunch of gaskets and seals replaced so it might have been a different one actually causing the problem. What if you go drive hard or up a hill and then get out and see if you can see where it is coming from? (source of smoke).
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Old 02-27-2008, 12:30 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by gtbensley View Post
I am not really sure if this would happen when only driving up a hill but my cars oil pan gasket leaked and when driven hard the oil would get blown onto the exhaust and smoke like non other. This was only noticeable when stopped for about ten seconds. I think it was the oil pan but I had a bunch of gaskets and seals replaced so it might have been a different one actually causing the problem. What if you go drive hard or up a hill and then get out and see if you can see where it is coming from? (source of smoke).
That really does sound like a possibility since it has to hit the exhaust to burn. I have the car up on the rack at the exhaust shop now so I could check for that. It makes a lot of sense.
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Old 02-27-2008, 12:54 PM   #4
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This might be leaking, i think the older ones were plastic.
http://home.comcast.net/~skipnospam/..._separator.jpg
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Old 02-27-2008, 03:14 PM   #5
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think it might be your clutch?
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Old 02-28-2008, 02:34 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by toneloc12345 View Post
think it might be your clutch?
Well it's a 4EAT so I don't think that applies.

I'm actally thinking after looking at it on the rack tonight that it is my oil pan gasket.

Although it hasn't done it at all today and I did a lot of hard driving testing the new exhaust system out. My theory is that the header is different and not in the exact location the stock manifolds were so perhaps the oil is not hitting it. It is definitely wet down there though. I have some pics I'll post in a minute.
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Old 02-28-2008, 02:42 AM   #7
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Taken with my phone so they are not the best quality. I just took pictures of where it was wet, but I took a flashlight and looked around the seal and it looked like some was coming out there as well. The pan is wet sort of like it's running down it.

The upper end of the motor is dry for the most part so I don't think it's anything do to with cam seals or anything like that. I however am not positive on any of this however, just trying to figure out what I'm in for.

EDIT----- I learned it could also be the Separator Plate being warped and therefore leaking, which I hope it isn't because that gets pretty involved to fix :/
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Old 02-28-2008, 02:47 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cueball89 View Post
This might be leaking, i think the older ones were plastic.
http://home.comcast.net/~skipnospam/..._separator.jpg
I would bet that's the problem, too. I think that oil separator plate leaking is a much more common occurence than the rear main seal going bad.

Pat Olsen
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:34 AM   #9
Tim Sanderson
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I agree that it's probably the separator plate. Did you check to see what color that fluid is?
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:11 AM   #10
bobko
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Quote:
Originally Posted by winston856 View Post

Taken with my phone so they are not the best quality. I just took pictures of where it was wet, but I took a flashlight and looked around the seal and it looked like some was coming out there as well. The pan is wet sort of like it's running down it.

The upper end of the motor is dry for the most part so I don't think it's anything do to with cam seals or anything like that. I however am not positive on any of this however, just trying to figure out what I'm in for.

EDIT----- I learned it could also be the Separator Plate being warped and therefore leaking, which I hope it isn't because that gets pretty involved to fix :/
My 1995 Legacy has the same problem with the same fluid in the same place. I replaced the PCV valve, valve cover gaskets and probably some other things. Somehow, oil is dripping onto the the hot exhaust pipes behind the engine and making the smell/smoke. I thought that it might be power steering fluid, since it is all oily/wet on the bottom of the chassis under the engine and power steering components. Just can't say for sure.

However, what I have sounds/looks exactly like what you have.

--Bob

Last edited by bobko; 02-28-2008 at 03:41 PM.
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:17 AM   #11
gtbensley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by winston856 View Post
Well it's a 4EAT so I don't think that applies.

I'm actally thinking after looking at it on the rack tonight that it is my oil pan gasket.

Although it hasn't done it at all today and I did a lot of hard driving testing the new exhaust system out. My theory is that the header is different and not in the exact location the stock manifolds were so perhaps the oil is not hitting it. It is definitely wet down there though. I have some pics I'll post in a minute.
When mine was leaking somtimes it would do it all the time and then sometimes there would be no problem with it for two weeks strait. Clean up the oil that is there, go for a drive and then look to see if you can see some fresh oil leaks?
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Old 02-28-2008, 04:28 PM   #12
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alright so what's the best way to change the separator plate?
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:15 PM   #13
Tim Sanderson
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Pull the motor is my vote. Definately.
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:01 PM   #14
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id clean up ypr engine in the area of suspect leaking and then run it and see if you can watch it as it happens or soon after. you will be morea ccurate and might save you time and $ in the case that you dont fix the right thing on the first guess. Engine degreaser is cheap and easy to get @ auto parts store. "SK Gunk" is my fav, but requires dilution in mineral spirits and can make a mess. good luck.
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Old 02-29-2008, 12:10 AM   #15
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I think I have the twin car to yours because mine smokes/burns oil when climbing hill also. I havent begun to diagnosis it yet but will subscibe to this thread.
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Old 02-29-2008, 12:10 AM   #16
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Allwell double posted so might as well write something else. KWIJIBO
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Old 02-29-2008, 12:05 PM   #17
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For a degreaser, I use Simple Green concentrate - much better for the environment.

I have had my 4EAT spit fluid out on to the exhaust before, even when the car was new, the dealer never found any issues (multiple trips), but my underside was never wet like that until my valve covers started leaking. The 4EAT issue was ONLY when climbing hills. I have read other posts here about that.

If the dealer replaced the rear main seal, they did not even ask about the separator plate while they were in there? Or am I thinking of something else?
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Old 02-29-2008, 06:39 PM   #18
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Well the previous owner had all the work done so I don't know how she and the dealer communicated.

I've just searched around and it seems the separator plate leaking is a very common issue with subaru's and it's scarily similar if not exactly what I'm experiencing. Mine just hasn't gotten that bad yet.

Subaru used to make aluminum separator plates but with my year, 1996, on the Phase I EJ25's they changed to plastic for whatever reason. Hot oil is tough on plastic so the plates did not last. The following years they switched back to the aluminum plate and now days are using a stamped steel plate.

The best method seems to be to disconnect the transmission, pull it back then pull out the axles and whatnot and pull the motor. Definitely not a "simple" job but one requiring some time and tools.

So I'm going to look around for some subaru shops and whatnot and get some quotes on pricing. I'm not in a huge hurry because my issue is not that bad and now that I have the Borla replica header on there the oil misses it completely so there's no more burning smell.
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Old 02-29-2008, 11:26 PM   #19
Tim Sanderson
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If you have an engine hoist then dropping the trans is definately not the easier method.
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Old 03-03-2008, 05:00 AM   #20
winston856
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Sanderson View Post
If you have an engine hoist then dropping the trans is definately not the easier method.
Yes I do happen to have an engine hoist, so I guess I'll just leave the trans in place and pull the motor.

I'm 99% sure this is my problem, if it is I'm going to put it off until summer time where I can be guaranteed some solid sunshine for a few days. The leak is not at all bad at the moment so I'm going to milk it for a while.
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Old 03-04-2008, 01:24 PM   #21
bobko
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Quote:
Originally Posted by winston856 View Post
Yes I do happen to have an engine hoist, so I guess I'll just leave the trans in place and pull the motor.

I'm 99% sure this is my problem, if it is I'm going to put it off until summer time where I can be guaranteed some solid sunshine for a few days. The leak is not at all bad at the moment so I'm going to milk it for a while.
I'm really interested to learn if this actually is the problem with your car, since my 1995 seems to have the same issue. Please update this thread (or e-mail me) when you know more. Thanks!

--Bob
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Old 03-04-2008, 05:59 PM   #22
winston856
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobko View Post
I'm really interested to learn if this actually is the problem with your car, since my 1995 seems to have the same issue. Please update this thread (or e-mail me) when you know more. Thanks!

--Bob
No problem Bob, I plan on updating this thread with all the info when I accomplish this procedure.
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Old 07-12-2008, 02:12 PM   #23
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Well here's the update, I've had this done for about a month but I ended up having the separator plate replaced along with the rear main seal and another gasket that's also on the rear of the motor (name's slipping my mind).

That solved my problem, no more oil smell or smoke. THe lady I bought it from had papers showing that the rear main seal was done, my mechanic who's done hundreds of them said in his opinion it didn't look like it was touched. So perhaps she got ripped off. :/

Anywho, if you're experiencing the problems I described in this thread, take a look at your separator plate, especially if you're in the year range of the plastic or aluminum type. I now have the stamped steel plate back there

All the rear seals + plate changed plus other little things on the motor cost me a grand total of $540 from my local private mechanic.
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