I'm looking to buy a 2007 Subaru Outback (automatic).

For some reason they all seem to have an oily splatter as shown in image. This car is extra oily in this spot (but it has many miles). Anyone know what causes this and what seal is behind this?

The first two images are from one subaru outback, the third is from another of same year. Both are over 150,000 miles. Up is up in the photos and the view is from the firewall looking towards the front of the car from above the axle.

Bonus question: when turning at slow speeds ( near idle) the car shudders like it's a manual car about to stall. It idles fine before turning. Could this be transmission, differential or something else?enter image description hereenter image description hereenter image description here

2 Answers 2


The oil seen is from the block to cylinder head gasket seam. This is a nearly universal problem on Subaru 4 cylinder engines from the late 1990s well into the 2000's. The average mileage that this is noticed is just under 100k miles. Oil seeps out at first and then the leak slowly worsens. It rarely, but can, develop in to a large leak requiring immediate repair. Repair requires engine removal and then cylinder head removal. Numerous attempts to affect a longer lasting seal for the joint have been only marginally successful. Both the OEM and aftermarket make "improved" gaskets. Our experience suggests these are only marginally better than the original.

The shudder on turns is most likely the transfer clutch. Located in the back of the transmission. When is fails it tends toward binding.


If this is above the CV boot on the axle it could be grease being thrown out of a bad boot.i have seen this more than once on the 2005 thru 2009 Subarus.

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