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Old 02-19-2021, 10:57 PM   #1
surowrxa
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Member#: 102895
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Location: Pittsburgh
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'12 Forester
'17 Outback

Default Cam carrier seal failure (affects FB25 2011-2017)

Our 2012 Forester, 83K miles, has early signs/seepage of cam leak on the driver's side.

For such a widespread problem there is very little input on here, hence the thread.

Looking for input from those who got assistance from SOA for this repair, I've seen a few examples on other sites but not much here. There is a TSB.

For those who don't know, the repair is $3K, engine pull.
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Old 02-20-2021, 10:57 AM   #2
Elbert Bass
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The fact that you did not start leaking for 8 years negates the issue covered by the related bulletin(s). The vehicles covered by the bulletin would start leaking within less than 6 months of manufacture due to improper/insufficient Fujibond application to the timing cover and/or cam caps. I was working for Subaru from 2011 to 2019 and must have fixed at least 100 of them from 2012 to 2014.

Initially we were seeing them leak from valve covers/cam caps - primarily bank 1 (right side of engine) But after a couple thousand miles the front engine cover would begin to leak in the areas of left and right rocker cover/cam carrier/head on the bottom. Again this also was more common on right side.

I would say your issue would be normal aging/heat stress. Due to the operating range of that engine there is quite a lot of expansion/contraction. That was one of the reason Subaru used Fujibond instead of gaskets for many mating surfaces - knowing full well eventually that over time those joints would eventually fail due to that small movement. This was actually discussed in Subaru engine training classes following the introduction of FB engines.

You could try to get coverage, but if I recall that bulletin was only a covered repair up to expiration of the 3/36 warranty or factory extended (Gold Plus). I have seen Subaru split cost or cover a repair for a customer that complained enough. There was never a recall for oil leakage - only oil consumption in engines that did not leak oil but burned it.
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Old 02-26-2021, 11:28 PM   #3
surowrxa
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Default

Thanks Elbert. I have seen Subaru split or even give 60-70% costs on repairs on other sites, although nothing like that is recent, to your point of (8 years) timing.

The statement that this leak is "normal" under any standard is garbage. Subaru knows their customers expect to keep their cars for at least 10 years on average. This is not a 3 year lease on a problematic Audi.

Right now this leak has essentially no impact on oil level. This is not in the discussion. The problem is that it will become an issue soon, when it's beyond any help from the manufacturer, even though it is a technical design flaw.

This will be a major factor in deciding our next car, which would have been an ascent. Now I am not so sure.
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Old 02-27-2021, 10:53 AM   #4
CaptainSlowbaru
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Default

For what it's worth, I don't really see FA engines leak oil- it's only the FB engines that seem to leak. The FA20 has been in service since the 2014 XT Forester, and I don't remember seeing any that leaked oil. I've seen FB20's and FB25's leak as late as MY2018. The FA24 (in the Ascent) has been overwhelmingly problem-free for us so far.

To sum up, from my experience, the turbo engines seem far better as far as oil leaks are concerned. Even the turbo EJ has vastly fewer externally leaking head gaskets from what I've seen.
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Old 02-27-2021, 02:10 PM   #5
Elbert Bass
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Quote:
Originally Posted by surowrxa View Post
Thanks Elbert. I have seen Subaru split or even give 60-70% costs on repairs on other sites, although nothing like that is recent, to your point of (8 years) timing.

The statement that this leak is "normal" under any standard is garbage. Subaru knows their customers expect to keep their cars for at least 10 years on average. This is not a 3 year lease on a problematic Audi.

Right now this leak has essentially no impact on oil level. This is not in the discussion. The problem is that it will become an issue soon, when it's beyond any help from the manufacturer, even though it is a technical design flaw.

This will be a major factor in deciding our next car, which would have been an ascent. Now I am not so sure.
I didn't mean normal in the sense of acceptable, just that is a known factor according to Subaru, yet still financially advantageous to the manufacturing process to continue using that technique.
In regards to you consideration of an Ascent - I wouldn't. The above philosophy and poor QC is rampant in that vehicle. Subaru is not the same vehicle it was when I started working on them 10 years ago. Glad I quit in 2019.
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Old 02-27-2021, 02:25 PM   #6
Elbert Bass
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptainSlowbaru View Post
For what it's worth, I don't really see FA engines leak oil- it's only the FB engines that seem to leak. The FA20 has been in service since the 2014 XT Forester, and I don't remember seeing any that leaked oil. I've seen FB20's and FB25's leak as late as MY2018. The FA24 (in the Ascent) has been overwhelmingly problem-free for us so far.

To sum up, from my experience, the turbo engines seem far better as far as oil leaks are concerned. Even the turbo EJ has vastly fewer externally leaking head gaskets from what I've seen.
Yes, I recall only having one BRZ leak, and no FA WRX/Forester. You are correct regarding twin cam EJs. When they lose a head gasket it's is primarily internal.
The only Twin EJ I saw leak external was a 13 WRX. It blew the seal ring in the gasket then burned the center of the gasket. It started blowing out behind the water pump. Combustion gas etched the head and block and the engine would blow water and fire out the gap. Another tech had replaced a short block and left a head bolt loose.


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Old 02-27-2021, 03:35 PM   #7
surowrxa
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptainSlowbaru View Post
For what it's worth, I don't really see FA engines leak oil- it's only the FB engines that seem to leak. The FA20 has been in service since the 2014 XT Forester, and I don't remember seeing any that leaked oil. I've seen FB20's and FB25's leak as late as MY2018. The FA24 (in the Ascent) has been overwhelmingly problem-free for us so far.
So the engine is solid, but what about the rest of the car? Elbert seems to think that QC has slipped.

Our 2017 Outback has the best finish/fit and highest quality interior materials I've ever seen in a Subaru, and I've owned many of them, most purchased new. Besides the paint (which I am used to w/Subaru) I see no detractions of quality points, and we've had no mechanical issues in almost 4 years.
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Old 02-27-2021, 03:43 PM   #8
surowrxa
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'12 Forester
'17 Outback

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elbert Bass View Post
I didn't mean normal in the sense of acceptable, just that is a known factor according to Subaru, yet still financially advantageous to the manufacturing process to continue using that technique.
In regards to you consideration of an Ascent - I wouldn't. The above philosophy and poor QC is rampant in that vehicle. Subaru is not the same vehicle it was when I started working on them 10 years ago. Glad I quit in 2019.
Thanks again. I have looked for known Ascent issues and saw the open tailgate, crappy windshield (which they said about my '17 Outback as well) and more, but these seem to be MY2019 which I was not considering. I am thinking about a 2022, maybe '23 and was hoping these things are worked out.

Especially missing welds on B-pillars...agreed that is bad QC.
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Old 02-27-2021, 10:24 PM   #9
surowrxa
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'12 Forester
'17 Outback

Default

I realize I have hijacked my own thread with questions about the Ascent. After looking into documented cases the numbers are overwhelming for two huge problems and one deal killer. I haven't dove into issues because our purchase is still a ways off, but wow, didn't expect this.

CVT issues are by far the most prevalent, but seem to be improving (although would have to be better by 2022). It's the "rising oil level" problem that is caused by gas in the oil that is more concerning, because it seems to be something that SOA is not sure what to do about. On top of that, it's still happening for MY2021. The guess that it "resolves itself" because the rings finally seat, but what damage is done? No thanks.
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Old 03-03-2021, 05:46 PM   #10
AliBenn
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by surowrxa View Post
Our 2012 Forester, 83K miles, has early signs/seepage of cam leak on the driver's side.

For such a widespread problem there is very little input on here, hence the thread.

Looking for input from those who got assistance from SOA for this repair, I've seen a few examples on other sites but not much here. There is a TSB.

For those who don't know, the repair is $3K, engine pull.
OP
im thinking that you have a Cam Seal leaking
not cam carrier
cam carrier is on side of engine and is sealed with Fugi Bond(expensive RTV gasket)

if indeed, cam seal leaking.....NO WAY MOTOR NEEDS TO COME OUT
its basically a timing belt change with added time to remove all 4 cam sprockets and tap in 4 new seals
in fact, i had both issues after shop installed a new short block in my car
1-leaking cam seals
2-leaking cam carrier
mechanic sealed cam seals with a crap ton of RTV which made seals leak(not what manual says to do)
and forgot to seal the carriers with RTV
on top of that, he scored all my cams trying to install seals a 2nd time
so
i not only did cam seal replacement with motor in car(i dont have a hoist or room in garage)
i installed used cams(and cam carriers) with engine in car

move car to another shop if SOA denies
GL
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Old 03-03-2021, 08:01 PM   #11
CaptainSlowbaru
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Member#: 445600
Join Date: Apr 2016
Chapter/Region: Tri-State
Location: Rafferty Subaru, PA
Vehicle:
2002 Outback Sport
Green

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by AliBenn View Post
OP
im thinking that you have a Cam Seal leaking
not cam carrier
cam carrier is on side of engine and is sealed with Fugi Bond(expensive RTV gasket)

if indeed, cam seal leaking.....NO WAY MOTOR NEEDS TO COME OUT
its basically a timing belt change with added time to remove all 4 cam sprockets and tap in 4 new seals
in fact, i had both issues after shop installed a new short block in my car
1-leaking cam seals
2-leaking cam carrier
mechanic sealed cam seals with a crap ton of RTV which made seals leak(not what manual says to do)
and forgot to seal the carriers with RTV
on top of that, he scored all my cams trying to install seals a 2nd time
so
i not only did cam seal replacement with motor in car(i dont have a hoist or room in garage)
i installed used cams(and cam carriers) with engine in car

move car to another shop if SOA denies
GL
FB engines are chain engines and have no cam seals.
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