1998 Subaru Outback from North America - Comments

1st Jan 2007, 16:04

We smelled an unusual smell on our 2003 Legacy and immediately brought it to our usual mechanic this Friday. He diagnosed leaky head gaskets and suggested we bring it to a dealer since the job was so extensive. We brought it in Saturday (December 30) and they confirmed that the head gaskets are leaking and put in the special sealer, but they want #2600. to fix the car. Since it was a holiday weekend we took the car home, but we would appreciate any advice on dealing with Subaru since obviously others have had this difficulty.

I was amazed that there are entire web sites devoted to leaky head gaskets on Subarus, and we purchased this car new because of the excellent reputation. We have also had to had the seals on the moon roof fixed for leaking, and the air conditioner also needs to be repaired for a leaking part.

Has anyone experienced positive results from the sealer that the dealer is putting in? I would hate to have to buy a new car, and this one has only 83,000 miles on it.

Please email me at Rhonda21043@yahoo.com if you can provide any advice. Thank you.

3rd Jan 2007, 15:16

Somewhat comforting that we're all in this mess together, but mostly just irritating that a car with such a good spoken reputation has such a widespread problem. My story is '98 Outback with 146,000 - I've put about 120,000 of those miles on without anything other than scheduled maintenance and brakes. Driving from PA to MI with my family, car starts overheating, but levels out when I'm on the highway so I finish the trip. Mechanic in MI only charges me $45 to tell me I've got big troubles... put 'er on a U-Haul trailer home to my mechanic who says "head gasket" about 15 seconds into my description. Now I'm waiting to see what his estimate is and, after reading this, to talk to my wife about another brand. Anyone know if '05 or '06 Subies are running better? I love the functionality of the car, but can't stomach unreliability. drop me a line if you have any insight - crazyhorse_47@yahoo.com.

3rd Jan 2007, 16:04

Çouldn,t help, but add my thoughts to this overwhelming information. Just bought my first 98 forester with the 2.5. 2 miles off the lot the check engine light was on. Bad sign. Dealer gave routine excuses, but I bought as is. I took it in to Subaru and had them to some preventative maintenance as well as the timing belt, and cam seals. 660 dollars later I embark on a Christmas trip to the mountains, only to end of stranded on the side of the road with steam billowing out the hood. Filled the radiator, let the engine cool, start over. Next pass, same thing. After the pass the car drove fine. No signs of heat. Took the car in to the shop to find oil in the coolant. 1400 dollars more and the car is in the shop for a head gasket replacement. I have had this car for less than a week! I bought it for reliability. But in one week I had to dish out the 4k for the car and 2200 in repairs. How long will it last? After reading all the posts I think if its running good I will just sell it and buy a Toyota. That's my 2200 dollar lesson on why not to buy a Subaru and never to buy with out a warranty.

Any info on suits thomklus@yahoo.com.

4th Jan 2007, 08:29

For those with 1999-2002 2.5L engines, check the dealers. There is a recall on the heads for those years.

Unfortunately, I've got a 1997 that is having the same 'mysterious' overheating problems many have mentioned before. It's already cost me a new radiator, cap, hoses, and thermostat.

In a nutshell, the car start up & runs fine for the first few minutes. Once it gets to 'normal' engine temperature, the engine overheats when driving. It's been in the shop 3 times for the above repairs. The last time it idled for almost an hour with no problems, only to spit out coolant when they tried to back it out of the bay. Apparently the engine design has disguised the problem, just as it has for many of the previous posters.

I purchased this car for my wife to give her a reliable vehicle. This is anything, but.

Another question - have any of you tried one of the head gasket fixers that are out there? Specifically, I'm looking at Thermagasket and Thermalweld. They seem to at least be worth a shot, considering it's only a couple hundred dollars of refundable money if it fails. I don't have any personal experience or references on either of these products, but maybe some of you do?

5th Jan 2007, 17:56

I have a 1996 Subaru Legacy Outback Wagon that recently blew a head gasket. It has your typical symptoms mentioned in previous strings. I bought the vehicle with 90k miles and it now has 168k miles.

It's my understanding that the head gasket problem primarily exist with the 2.5L engine. Something to think about is that a blown head gasket can lead too many other problems, including warped heads. Rather then replacing the gasket on a 2.5L engine (my local sub guy quoted me $2,600), I've decided to replace the engine with a rebuilt 2.2L engine ($2,500). The 2.2L engine is supposed to be more reliable and doesn't have the head gasket issues of a 2.5L. Also, if a timing belt breaks on a 2.5L, the engine is trash. This isn’t the case with a 2.2L.

Nonetheless, switching to a rebuilt 2.2L engine is a possible solution that some should think about.

Greg

Fort Collins, CO.

6th Jan 2007, 14:30

Reading these posts have comforted me, but pissed me off at the same time.

I bought a 1999 Subaru Legacy early last spring. It wasn't from a dealer, but I had it checked out by two different mechanics and she had papers documenting having gotten it serviced regularly.

I had the car for less than a week when it started having problems shifting (car is automatic). Subaru had this great idea it was the engine harness??!! Obviously that didn't work. They decided it must need a new transmission altogether and quoted me about 3000 to do it. I decided to get a second opinion, and ended up taking it to transmission specialist who told me it wasn't the transmission, but the cars computer that had failed.

Fast forward to this past thanksgiving, my car out of nowhere overheated. My father found no coolant in it and refilled it. Two weeks later car overheats again. Barely any oil in the car. I put oil in it and make sure to keep both oil and coolant with me always. A few days later while driving it started to overheat, the car had both coolant and oil. Now I wasn't sure what to do, talked to mechanic and he guessed head gasket. Which is fabulous because from everything I hear its not cheap and I had already dropped 2000 when I first got it on a new computer for it.

I've read in a lot of places that Subaru extends warranties and stuff. I can't find a lot of information on it.

Also I've read about a class action suit being done about it, but can't find anything on line.

I've held off replacing the head gasket after reading about others experiences, I'm planning on calling them at least and seeing what they offer to do.

If you've got any info and you can share, please do and e-mail me at isabella1598@gmail.com.