Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Indiana USA
Car Year: 2001
Car Model: Forester
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
How do I Inspect Head Gaskets for Leaks?
I found what looked like a drop of oil under my wife's car the other day.
I recently replaced the spark plug gaskets and valve cover gaskets so I believe they are in good shape.
I looked around with a flash light but couldn't really see any other signs of a leak.
However, the coolant in the bottom half of over flow does have a slightly brownish tint, while the coolant in the radiator looks brand new.
I suspected it could be oil has gotten mixed into the coolant.
Had concerns about coolant getting into the oil, and fortunately the oil on the dip stick shows full and still looking quite clear and new. Absolutely no sign of bubbling or moisture content.
We're about a 2000 miles shy of the next routine oil change, so not wanting to get too greasy just yet if not necessary.
My neighbor is a retired mechanic and has done a lot of work on subies, so I caught him as he was strolling and asked him what he thought about it. (wife was gone with car, so we couldn't pop the hood to look at it)
He said it could be leaking head gaskets and that 2001's are notorious leakers after 100-150k.
He didn't seem interested in the work, so I won't bother knocking on his door to ask anymore questions.
After just a few google attempts it became apparent that he was correct about the notoriousness of this head gasket problem.
I read about a head gasket conditioner/sealant that Subaru provides, as an attempt to fix the problem and extend the warranty of their vehicles.
I called the local subaru and asked their mechanic about it.
He said they kept it stocked for about 3.50/bottle and explained that they developed it as a remedy for their head gasket issues, particularly for the 99-02's.
He said that they frequently add it to their newer cars as a preventative measure.
I told him I was suspect of using such sealants all over the board because they can generally cause further problems down the road, i.e. clogging, slowing down of system, etc.
He assured me there were none of these issues involved with their conditioner and that it could just be added to the existing coolant, without the need for dumping and flushing.
Any thoughts or tips?
Particularly What's the best course of examining the head gaskets for leaks?
Secondly, any experience or suggestions with the Subaru sealant?
PS: We are the second owner and the car has never over-heated to our knowledge.
Last edited by Hoof Hearted; 08-18-2014 at 11:29 AM.