('01-'02) How do I Inspect Head Gaskets for Leaks? - Subaru Forester Owners Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-18-2014, 11:20 AM Thread Starter
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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?

Thanks


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.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-18-2014, 12:21 PM
adc
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The problem is if it is losing coolant. Mark the level on the bottle and check it in the mornings for say a week or so.

It would be highly unusual if your HGs were not leaking oil. Even mnost of the newer ones do that. The problem is when the coolant passages leak. One of the symptoms is overheating.

The "Conditioner is not a miracle fix. If they are leaking coolant it likely won't help. But it won't hurt. I use it in my 08 even though my heads have been done.


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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-18-2014, 12:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adc View Post
The problem is if it is losing coolant. Mark the level on the bottle and check it in the mornings for say a week or so.
+1.

Also, look at your radiator hoses and clamps. If 'screw clamps', make sure they are tight. If you mark the hot and cold coolant level on the overflow bottle, make sure the coolant level actually moves between these marks. Failure to do so means you're sucking air somewhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by adc View Post
It would be highly unusual if your HGs were not leaking oil. Even mnost of the newer ones do that. The problem is when the coolant passages leak. One of the symptoms is overheating. The "Conditioner is not a miracle fix. If they are leaking coolant it likely won't help. But it won't hurt. I use it in my 08 even though my heads have been done.
+1 again.

Subarus tend to be leaky. "A drop of oil on the floor"? Only one? Consider yourself blessed. If your HGs are leaking much coolant, look under the car - with a flashlight - at the cylinder head-to-block joint. It may be slightly discolored green - that's coolant seeping out. It's not the end of the world, so don't panic.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-18-2014, 02:34 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies, and good to know it's not panic time.

I just picked up the conditioner from Subaru, but forgot to ask the best method of injecting it into the system.

Wait for it to cool off, I suppose, then just open the radiator cap and dump it in?

Will make the hot and cold marks as suggested and try to post any pertinent updates.

Thanks again
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-18-2014, 03:19 PM
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Remove some coolant from the radiator (siphon, etc) enough for the contents of the bottle. Shake the bottle well

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-18-2014, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
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Remove some coolant from the radiator (siphon, etc) enough for the contents of the bottle. Shake the bottle well
Derp! shoulda read the bottle. lol

But Thank you, you are absolutely correct.
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