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Q: I want to buy a 1997 Subaru Outback Wagon that appears to have oil/fluid leaks.

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Upon inspection of the vehicle, there is caked-up oil on the sides and bottom of the oil pan. It was moist to the touch but not wet. Also, there is caked-up fluid on the back end of the rear differential. The engine is clean otherwise and sounds good. I have read about the head gasket problems with these models, and want to avoid buying a car that will shortly breakdown. The car is selling for $500. Is it necessary to repair the rear differential gasket or could I possible just keep checking the fluid level? Is the caked up oil on the pan a sign of imminent head gasket failure.

My car has 274000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Hi there. There are three categories for leaks, that I use. Seepage (by all factory standards considered normal) collects dirt, signs of a leak (wetter than seepage) may or may not see it on the ground (monitor level), and a leak (seeing it on the ground) time for repair. The price for the vehicle, may make it hard to pass up. Too put your mind at ease, before the purchase, I recommend having the vehicle, be inspected by a certified technician, such as one from YourMechanic.

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