1st Apr 2008, 16:18

2003 Blown Gaskets at 69k - I have a 2003 Subaru Outback Legacy Wagon. We've been very happy with it, having almost 0 problems - very reliable, comfortable, great handling, hauler, good on gas, etc. I've been meticulous with maintenance and monitoring engine fluids, sounds, you name it. I bought an extended warranty (up to 80,000) when I purchased the car, which was a very wise decision. Last week I brought in the car with 69,000 miles and the dealer said that both head gaskets were leaking coolant. The $1700 job was picked up by the extended warranty, so I've very fortunate not to be in the same boat as many others. What should I do now? I guess I should be able to go another 50k-100k? Reading all these entries really makes me lose faith in Subaru. It reminds me of the Ford Taurus transmission (produced the same way for years) which all mechanics say is luck to last over 100k. My Taurus tranny went at 101k.

8th Apr 2008, 13:03

Just purchased a 1998 Legacy Outback - Wish I knew about this page before I purchased, as I would have not purchased it.

I have 104,000 miles and after driving for about 3 days, the smell of oil was permeating through. The head gaskets are leaking onto the manifold. This is a problem Subaru has decided to accept rather than deal with. It amazes me that these GM guys read this blog and act with indifference. Typical. And it is the reason we have lost our lead to Japan and Germany, as they have contempt for their consumer. Well, I have contempt for them and we ought to have a class action law suit on this and other GM pieces of garbage on our streets.

I will never buy another GM, Saab, Saturn, or Subaru again. In typical American fashion, they ignore and fight the problem until there is a class action suit, and then they spend billions in defending themselves while the managers get bonuses for avoiding getting it resolved. My next car will be a Toyota, who believe in having a customer treated fairly.

9th Apr 2008, 14:08

Purchased used 2002 Outback for my son who was going off to college in Nashville. The car had 48,665 miles on it when purchased. At 54,601 miles, my son called to tell me that he noticed a "burning smell" when he turned off the engine after a long drive, and that the coolant level was low. I had him take it to the local Subaru dealer, and you guessed it: Blown head gasket! I have just written a nasty gram to Subaru, but am not holding my breath waiting for them to reimburse me the $1931 it cost to fix.

17th Apr 2008, 13:40

Add another one blown head gasket to the list. 98 Outback with 160,000 on it. Last summer it started over heating, so we changed the thermostat and everything was good until a month ago. Check engine light came on for speedometer sensor, so I had them investigate why it was using so much oil and coolant. Told me it was the water pump. Put $700 into water pump and a couple seals. Two weeks later overheated and not driveable. What kind of value can you get out of these cars with blown head gaskets? Went ahead and bought a new 2008, so far so good!

8th May 2008, 15:56

Add me to the list. A 1997 Outback with almost 124,000 miles and the temp needle suddenly just went through the roof. Same old story... Head gasket. I did love the car, but this kind of thing isn't supposed to be a built-in problem for 7 years of production!!! Should be the exception, not the rule.

Subaru should step up and do something. They are squandering their fine reputation. It's obvious that the pride Subaru owners had in their vehicles is giving way to contempt for the corporate machine...

11th May 2008, 03:33

98 Outback Legacy with 155k miles and it appears the head gasket is broke while driving to the Subaru dealer to look at 2008 models. I don't think I am going to get a Subaru this time sadly after reading all the comments.

11th May 2008, 21:06

Well. I have a 1997 Subaru Outback. 2 months ago it randomly overheated and I replaced the radiator. 1 month ago it randomly overheated and I replaced the thermostat. This Saturday it randomly overheated and the engine died. Towed it to a shop to hear about a bad head gasket. Checked this site and felt my wallet hurt.

Why doesn't Subaru at least warm you?

16th May 2008, 11:14

I own a 1998 Subaru Outback, and it is without a doubt the worst vehicle I've ever purchased. I still remember the salesman saying "these cars go 300,000 miles." I bought mine new, and it immediately had a burning smell when sitting after driving. Turns out it was one of a small number that got recalled due to the wrong grease being used somewhere. Next was the alternator recall, then the radio failed. Next it developed an oil leak. Then the transmission (or differential?) clutches started binding (car would jerk-jerk-jerk when turned sharply and driven slowly. The engine sounded like it had valve noise or knocking almost from the time it was new. They always claimed that was "normal for the boxer engine" (never did anything about that complaint). Repairs to that point were covered under warranty, but of course I knew I had a lemon.

The oil leak returned just after the car was out of warranty. Because they had to go into the engine anyway, I went ahead and had the timing belt replaced. Those cost about $1200. Brakes had also been a problem. It seemed to go through brake pads about every 20,000 miles. The car was seven years old, but only had a little over 50,000 miles on it.

Last year, on a short trip, it suddenly dumped its coolant and overheated. Ends up it was the head gasket, and the engine was shot as a result. The car had 74,000 miles. I've had it serviced religiously at the dealer from whom I bought it, and used synthetic oil for all oil changes after the first couple.

$5400 later the car had a re-manufactured Subaru engine with a three-year warranty. The dealership offered no help, even though I bought it from them and have had all work done there. They said there's a special additive for the coolant that keeps the head gasket in shape, and I should have been using that. I pointed out that they were the ones who had always replaced the coolant. Didn't matter. I really debated the value of doing this, but the body of the car was still very sound, and it is very good in the snow when I go skiing. The car has been fine since. The new engine is quieter than the old but doesn't do any better on gas (about 16 around town, as much as 25 for all highway). I just hope it holds up better than the first.

Like many others on this board, I will never buy another Subaru. I own a 2000 Honda Odyssey that has had no major problems until the transmission just went at 86,000 miles. This is a well-known flaw, and even though it was out of warranty, the dealership, without my prodding, got Honda to cover it in full. It saved me $3000, and I didn't even get the car at that dealership.

I have a 2002 Toyota Avalon with 53,000 miles. It has needed nothing other than very minor routine maintenance.