20th Jul 2008, 23:35

98 Forester. 103,000 miles, driving across country, broke down in Kansas where they don't know Subarus. They diagnosed a new water pump/radiator needed. 3 days and $400 later I'm off. Within a few hundred miles the temp gauge is shooting up. there is oil in the anti freeze reservoir and I am stuck for a week during thanksgiving waiting for a $1500 head gasket repair. The trip cost over $3000 with towing and hotel expenses. I should have sold it in NY like I wanted to.

6th Aug 2008, 23:21

2000 Forester with 67K miles. No issues for 8.5 years. Until now. Oil leaking from head gasket. $2000.00 + 400.00 for additional parts. SOA will pay 50% for head gasket replacement (~$1000.00) with 1 year warranty.

10th Aug 2008, 22:15

Another 96 Subaru Outback Wagon 2.5 - 148k miles overheated, radiator fluids coming and going, thermostat riding up and down, baffled multiple mechanics with the cold /hot radiator issue.

Gases seem to be in cooling system. Nothing out the exhaust or in the oil. Car runs perfect otherwise.

They wanted to replace radiator, water pump. I said to wait after I look it up on the internet. Found this site.

Is there a short fix to seal the seals?

I'd like to drive it 100 miles to Subaru mechanic.

22nd Aug 2008, 08:34

August 22nd 2008. My outback from 1997 at 187 k miles is at the workshop for you know what. It all started with the needle unexpected in, and out, the red and loosing coolant.

Did anybody had the exhaust checked for back pressure?

Choked up cat's and dampers are known for causing overheating.

24th Aug 2008, 23:40

2001 Forester S - We just had both head gaskets replaced under warranty by the dealer at 79k miles and 8+ years (purchased in May, 2000). The dealer also did the timing belt (due at 8+ years) and the clutch (because we had the engine out not because it was shot) for the cost of parts only, at my request.

All in all not the worst experience we've ever had, given that the dealer honored the extended warranty on the car with no questions asked, and was extremely responsive. I was given a brand new car to drive for the couple of days that they had it at no charge.

Subaru has an extended "campaign" on this issue for EJ251 (phase II) engines (not the older EJ25D phase I engine to my knowledge), which is well documented elsewhere, but curiously not so much on this site. If you have a car in this program, Subaru will pay for the repair.

All in all, we've been treated about as well as you could hope. While I'm not happy about the experience, it certainly could have been much worse. Our total out of pocket was a few hundred dollars, because we had credit through the Subaru Master Card program. Pricing for parts at the dealer was competitive, and they resurfaced the heads while they had them out.

For what it's worth, the new head gaskets are said to completely fix this issue in the EJ251. I can't speak to the older phase I engine.

Good luck to those who have been struggling with this issue. Needless to say, we'll be watching our coolant levels very closely going forward.

17th Sep 2008, 21:18

I have 98 Outback with 233k miles on it. It overheated and the mechanic diagnosed blown head gasket, but I wasn't convinced, since it didn't show the usual signs of a bad head gasket- no coolant in the exhaust or in the oil, although it did overheat in a few minutes and the radiator boiled over.

I tested for exhaust gases in the radiator and sure enough, they were present, tell take sign of a blown head gasket.

I bought this head gasket repair stuff called Thermagasket on the Web, which promised a 92 percent success rate. I poured it in the radiator, but the car boiled over. I called Thermagasket, and it turns out I didn't follow the directions to the letter, so they promised to send me a free batch of the stuff. To make a long story short, they said that Subies have problems with after market thermostats and that air can get trapped in the cooling system and lead to overheating or even head gasket failure. They told me to hollow out the thermostat, reinstall it and give it a go.

That was almost 1000 miles ago, and no problem. So I suggest that before you shell out $1500 to replace the head gaskets, you try Thermagasket. It's $100 and guaranteed. Install a new Subaru thermostat, or at least gut the one you have and have a mechanic who knows Subies drain the air out of the cooling system. My car runs great so far, and total cost was about $200. It's a great car and runs exceedingly well for such high mileage. Knock on wood.

19th Nov 2008, 10:54

I have a 2003 Subaru with 78000 miles. Now the dealer detected the head gasket failure and need to spend $1700-2000.

Why there is no recall with this problem like some car companies do?. From this web site I understand that gasket failure is a common problem in Subaru.

29th Nov 2008, 21:04

This 2001 Subaru Outback with the 2.5 engine was purchased used with 24,000 miles. The car was functioning great for several years, until about 6 months ago when it had racked up about 90,000 miles.

Temp. gauge started to fluctuate going up to about 3/4, then down to the usual mid-gauge position. Installed a new thermostat which seemed to help for several days. Fearing a head gasket problem, tried an expensive sealer which did no good. In fact, the sealer seemed to make the problem worse. The temp. gauge would now go nearly all the way to the upper end and quickly.

Called Subaru America and was told this Subaru was one of the VIN group with known head gasket problems. Trailered the Outback to the nearest Subaru dealer who disputed what Subaru America had said about this Outback being in the problem VIN group. The dealer checked the car and said the radiator was bad and that the radiator would have to be replaced before more tests could be done. I did not like the answer or the $600-$700 for a Subaru radiator, so trailered the car home (140 miles round trip) after paying for the service inspection.

The plugged radiator was confirmed with a simple flow test. I then bought a new radiator through an on-line radiator store that guaranteed the radiator to be the same as the factory radiator for well under $200. With the radiator out, it seemed wise to install a new timing belt, new idlers, and new water pump. Also, installed another new thermostat along with Subaru brand antifreeze and conditioner. The car performed fine for several months.

However, the radiator cooling fans run more than they formerly did, though the temperature gauge has not climbed beyond the normal center of the gauge. In a recent long trip, antifreeze could be smelled after driving when stopping for gas with a warm the engine. The smell seems to be from the left side of the engine. It appears that the left side head gasket is probably leaking to the outside, though not badly enough to drip on the ground. The engine coolant temperature gauge does not show overheating.

Add to these symptoms, the check engine light is now almost always on, though will go off from time to time.

After all that I have read on this site, this is my third Subaru but will be my last 2.5 engine. My 1995 Legacy with the 2.2 engine has racked up 163,000 miles with only an alternator replacement. The cars are great in mud, snow, and ice, which is why my wife and I drive them. Subaru needs to remedy the head gasket problems, otherwise I will be an ex-Subaru owner!