30th Jan 2009, 15:10

I've got a 2004 Outback dripping a little radiator fluid from the head gasket, apparently. It is not overheating. It is 3 months and 10,000 miles past the warranty. The local mechanic suggested calling the dealer, no go, sorry. Head gaskets start at $1,600, when can you come in? I gave Subaru a call and they've given me a reference number and will go into to get it diagnosed. I'll see what happens, I guess. Things much be a lot better in the car market than I thought. If this doesn't work out, I can't imagine using that dealer again.

1st Feb 2009, 15:59

'98 Subaru Outback with 135,000 miles has, since I've owned it (4 years and 106,000mi), needed $8,000+ in repairs including: Head gasket (and I think its blown again 6,000 miles later), clutch, valve seals, rear main seal, heat shield, two water pumps, two timing belts, timing belt bearings, cam seals, and various other seals and sensors. Never again will I purchase a Subaru! I could have purchased a new car for what I have had to put into this thing, and now I have to get it towed to the shop once again! What junk! Although it does drive great in the snow and ice.

8th Feb 2009, 04:49

Own 2 Subarus, a 2001 Outback Wagon with about 60,000 miles and a 2004 Outback Sedan with about 40,000 miles. The head gasket had to be replaced on the 2001 Outback in Feb 2008 and now the head gasket had to be replace in the 2004 Outback in Feb 2009. So, that's 2 Outbacks and a 100% failure rate. This problem must be extremely pervasive and extend well beyond 2002 listed in the Subaru warranty extension. Both cars have always been serviced by the dealer. Subaru did take care of both of these, just hoping that they last.

23rd Mar 2009, 01:10

My 97 Outback blew the head gasket last night 2 miles below Donner Pass. $430 to tow back to Reno, now I'm googling for what to do and realize everyone is in the same boat - suck up the $1500 repair and hope to get some mileage out of an old car (unfortunately I bought it only 1.5 years back! : () or ditch it and move on to something reliable.

Does anyone know how long repaired head gaskets last? Double the mileage I'm at (154k) or is it a problem that develops quickly due to other systems aging?

I've only googled for outback head gasket issues - is there something else major that I should be aware of?

24th Mar 2009, 07:10

I bought a 2000 Subaru Outback after hearing wonderful things about them friends. The car had high mileage 140,000 and I was told it was a baby.

A month after I got it, I noticed radiator fluid leaking, and smelling like exhaust and fluid when under pressure... I asked the mechanic at the dealer who said it was just a hose. At the same time, front end parts seemed to be clunking whenever I went over a bump. I had him replace the front end parts.

Two months later, I went over a small bump and a major piece of the front end completely came off and had to be re-welded.

A month later, the rear axle broke and had to be replaced. At that time the mechanic said he put more stop leak in the radiator to keep the head gasket from completely going.

A week after that the 4-wheel drive component in the transmission broke. Driving home from the shop, I noticed clicking in the front end when I turned either way. Apparently now my C-V joints were blown... I am up to 4500 in repairs... Do I fix the C-V joint or junk the car??? I know the head gasket is a ticking time bomb...

I will never recommend a Subaru to anyone! I am going to get a Toyota next time around!

25th May 2009, 17:10

Hi all! Sorry to hear about the head gasket problems. I just put a deposit down on a 1997 Legacy Outback Limited with 150,000. The total price is $3500.00. I came home and found this site and am now scared to go ahead with the deal. The car is in immaculate physical shape and ran beautifully. Are there any people out there who have NOT had problems with head gasket?

Thanks in advance.


31st May 2009, 22:44

I hate Subaru and would never buy one or recommend to anyone... I have had nothing but trouble with my '99 Outback from gear box, engine knock, wheel bearings and stud axle. And now the thermostat, just too mention a few!! NEVER AGAIN!!

1st Jun 2009, 21:05

I have a 1998 Outback wagon with 153K that just blew a head gasket. Took great care of it. Garage kept, changed the oil religiously every 3K, serviced every 30K. Look where it got me. Quotes to fix run from $1500 to $3000. I think I'll give the thermagasket a try. If that does not work I'm getting a Honda. No more Subarus.

6th Jul 2009, 22:47

Headgasket issues were common for the '96 to '99 Legacy motors, but knock on wood, I've not had any trouble with my 98' Outback Limited 30th Anniversary and it's got 124k on it now. Gonna have the timing belt and water pump replaced as preventative maintenance. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in buying one.

10th Jul 2009, 18:06

My 98 30th anniversary outback with 174K miles just started overheating. I was prepared to do the thermostat and the water pump until I read the stories on this board.I'm not sure what I am going to do. The AWD in the winter is a savior. However, I can't afford a new vehicle and I can't pay 2-3 grand for new head gaskets. More than likely, I will find another used AWD, but not a Subaru. Thanks for all of the comments. They saved me a little cash for the water pump and the thermostat. I jumped from 2007 until 2009 and missed out on if there was any type of organized action taking place. If someone could add a comment surrounding this topic, I would appreciate it.

16th Jul 2009, 21:15

I have a 99 Outback Legacy with 114K that I bought in Dec. 08 at 102K.

My daily commute is at least 30 minutes each way at 60-80 mph, about 2000 miles a month.

I have an overheating problem that has started with 90+F days this summer.

1. New water pump done, as the old one popped its warning weep hole.

2. No change in overheating, but no more leaks except from the overflow overfilling during overheats.

3. New thermostat, no change (tested both thermostats on stove afterwards, both opened fine).

4. Removed thermostat, has been driving normally, without the slightest overheating issues, for a solid week.

I was ready to put my head in a vice, and replace the head gaskets after reading so many blogs on the net...

But I took it to a racing mechanic that I was lucky to know. and had him check it out before all that grief.

Lucky thing too, a bad gasket would mean oil in the coolant, and/or coolant in the oil (little water bubbles on your dipstick).

Before anyone instantly condemns their gaskets, really double check.

Saved me time, money, and pain.

Still don't know my problem, but maybe:

- Better thermostat.

- Checking the return line to the heater core and throttle body (a loop in the coolant system that never reaches the radiator).

- Fixing a low idle speed?

Reference image of coolant system flow: