27th Jan 2007, 16:03

Bought a 99 Outback 2.5L in Dec 06, it is leaking coolant and makes an interesting smell. It has 100K.

I stumbled accross this site and am absolutely horrified.

Hopefully I can trade before they blow. I was under the impression Subarus were fairly bombproof. Evidently NOT!!

31st Jan 2007, 13:47

My 97 outback wagon is in the shop now, blown head gasket. My ordeal started last week, the usual, over heating. My mechanic said it need a water pump, and while we were at it, change the timing belt. Didn't help, overheated on the way home. Next we changed the radiator, didn't help, now it is the head gasket. I thing it's warped because I drove it for 5 miles over heating. $1600 in plus the head gasket, which the mechanic says is going be be $700, not a happy camper. Going to sell the thing soon. Count me in on the class action. Something needs to be done.

4th Feb 2007, 16:38


Well, hi there everyone, I own a 1997 Subaru legacy outback. From what I hear it is very similar to the 1998. I had the same overheating problem all of you described. Well, here is my story. Bought a used, 130000 mile, 1997 Subaru legacy outback and drove it home. Radiator cap leaked because of a dry rotted seal. Fixed the cap and didn't have any problems for about 2 months. I went into a spell of overheating / loosing half of my coolant. Figured out it wasn't air bubbles, it wasn't the coolant. I then proceeded to take it to a local mechanic (Mr. Chapman) who is a 60 year old mechanic who has seen and can fix about every normal car. He did the standard test drive, seeing it overheat, taking it back to the shop deal. He then proceeded to installing a new thermostat, and flushing the radiator out VERY well several times. He also removed a bunch of leaves stuck between the air conditioned radiator, and the car radiator. It still overheated on long trips, but he noted the work so far slowed the overheating down a little. The next time the needle began to rise; he promptly opened the hood, examined everything, and saw the problem. The hose coming out of the radiator on the left hand side had collapsed and was restricting airflow severely.

~~~The Remedy~~~

Mr. Chapman put a brass spring into the hose, the spring they used to put into ALL cars. Now they simply use a higher pressure rated radiator cap that supposedly fixes that problem.


This has fixed my car thus far (3 months). The needle now stays WAY down, and usually never goes above 20%. This may not be the cure for your Subaru, but the $8 used spring is a whole lot cheaper than 1300 for a new head gasket. A simple way to check for the spring would be to squeeze the large diameter hose coming out of the left hand side of the radiator. If it seems to collapse under moderate pressure then maybe the spring just might be you fix too. Good luck to you all and I hope you end up being happy with your Subaru in the end (like me).

~~~ update as of 2008 ~~~

Well it's December 2007, (I'll count it as 2008) and the car is still beating. After about another 6 months (after the 3 above), the overheating problem slowly came back. The next fix attempted was one of the "Steel Seal" "Liquid Glass" "Water Glass" fixes. It helped for about another 6 months, but has since stopped helping. It now regularly reaches high temperatures, but no engine damage thus far. I have gone over the whole car once more, and done basic preventative maintenance. I cleaned the fuel injectors, replaced air filters (premium), replaced spark plugs (Bosch +4), and also, replaced a dead spark plug wire that was cutting my gas mileage in half (Bosch wires). Now when the oil gets changed, shortly there will be another treatment of the liquid glass. Well, I am beginning to wonder if the engine temperature is even getting that high. With all the computers in cars these days, the thermostat could be going up because of a detected change in pressure in the radiator, not the engine temperature. I wish I had a temperature probe laying around...

The radiator has been emptying into the reservoir allot recently, but after being left to cool, there must be some vacuum pressure sucking it back in. The car needs to be topped off about every 2-3 weeks, but thats not nearly as bad as some of these posts.

Well if the car didn't drive so dang good in adverse weather, and get decent gas mileage, I would hate Subaru's. But this one isnt that bad.

And for $3600 wasn't a bad price for this car.

5th Feb 2007, 15:50

2002 Outback: left side head gasket blew at 36,000 miles. Warranty. Same thing again at 45,000 miles, warranty again. Was told that it would be covered up to 100,000 miles. BOTH gaskets blew at 81,000 miles. Had to argue, but SOA covered the replacement again, however, the repair receipt has "one-time goodwill gesture" written in about 3 places, so I expect I will have to pay for the next one. The shop told me that they planed the heads so they should seal this time. Not sure if I believe them.

2000 Legacy: got the recall notice at 50,000 miles, they put in the "special coolant" (stop-leak essentially). It worked until the car had 80,000 miles, and then they blew. SOA covered replacement under warranty for both sides. Everything has been fine on this car until the week after I get my 2002 fixed for the 3rd time, and my son calls me and says "I smell anti freeze" as he is driving the 2000 Legacy.

From what I see here, I am fortunate that SOA has paid for these repairs. I think you can get them to as well if you take the car to a dealer for the repair, and complain, just be nice about it. I politely asked them a couple of times if they would be satisfied if they owned this car, having to replace the head gaskets so frequently.

Not sure whether to keep either car at this point, but one thing is for sure: even if I have to pay for the next one, $1400 is cheaper than buying a new car. However, when it's time to replace either one, I doubt I will buy another Subaru.

8th Feb 2007, 11:34

I had the exact same problem on my '98 Forester... It was plaguing me after the car was driven for longer periods (like highway). It was in a few times and they had trouble finding the cause - turns out it was an issue with the differential. They rebuilt it and it's been fine since.

14th Feb 2007, 14:21

My 97 Outback had the same "clunking" noise turning at low speed. Turned out to be the transmission control module.

15th Feb 2007, 07:24

Really? One guy's upset that his car with 200,000+ miles has some problems? Please!

16th Feb 2007, 23:11

I too have problems. This is my 4th Subaru.. but the 1st to go over 100,000 mls. Last month I put $1000 into repairs and a new catalytic converter and now another $2400 for a leaking head gasket which entails changing the o-ring and other stuff. I have a 2000 outback SE wagon. Great car, but costing me!!! Soon to be handed over to my 17yr old and probably no more Subaru's for me!!! What's going on with the Subaru reputation??