As much as I enjoy working on cars, sometimes it's still a royal pain in the ASS! Since my last installment, my 3rd car, SUEBEDO, sprung a serious oil leak. Sitting overnight, it would leave a nice dinner plate size puddle of oil. Of course, looking under the car nothing was obvious, except oil all over the undercarriage. I paid my fellow shade tree mechanic a visit, where we cleaned the underside and then pulled it on his lift. Oil was dripping gleefully from the passenger side valve cover. To those uninformed about the mechanics of a Subaru, they have a flat four or pancake engine.
It has a pair of valve covers and when the engine comes to a rest, the oil pools inside them. I tried to tighten the bolts, but this did little to stem the flow. I ordered a set of valve cover gaskets from Rockauto (here's some more of my money.....). Once they arrived, I arranged to go back to the garage so that I could replace the valve cover on the passenger side. Having a lift to do this job is a definite plus and was well worth the 6 pack of select brews brought along to pay for the lift rental. Two hours later passenger side valve cover was done. I'm not going to go into the gory details about the effort to replace one valve cover, but needless to say this was the easy side (more about this later). I drove home and parked the car for the evening. When I came out in the morning, the flow of oil had stopped on that side, but there was still oil pooling under the car, although in a slightly different position. I resigned myself to the fact that the driver side was going to have to be replaced also. This past Sunday, I opted for doing it in my driveway. I pulled the car onto my ramps, as I knew I would have to get to the bottom bolts to get this side loose. In practice this sounds easy, but in reality NOT! Subaru in their infinite wisdom has the lower bolt at the firewall end lined up with the strut tower. This allows for about 2" of working room. To those initiated in working on cars, this sucks! Thankfully, thanks to my days working in the Car Repair field years ago, I had the right tools to do the job. I warn you, if you only have the basic tools to work on cars, you would likely not been prepared to get this last bolt out. It took as long as the other five even with the right tool. Another two hours later, and this valve cover gasket was done. As much as I would have loved to provide photos with this tale, it didn't happen as I wasn't even thinking about make a blog post about this. Today is day 5 after I finished this work. Woohoo! No fresh oil is under the car. It would seem that this repair has eliminated the leaks. What did I learn? 1) Valve cover gaskets are a pain in the ASS on Subarus, 2) Valve cover gaskets take at least 4 times longer than a conventional 4 cylinder like in my Honda Civic SI (this one is next), 3) I did save myself a small chuck of change doing it myself, as labor on this job would have likely cost an arm and a leg if I had to pay someone.