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2006 Forester Automatic
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·

I'm new to these boards, and I don't work much on my cars anymore, so please be kind. ;)

My 2006 Forester has had all of the head gasket and valve problems that seem to be specific to the 2006 model--I spent a small fortune having all of this "fixed" in late 2017 (the car always started with a big puff of blue smoke every day after these "repairs.")

Two days ago, I could see a light "mist" of smoke coming from the passenger side of the engine and could smell oil in the passenger compartment. Yesterday, the Check Engine/Flashing "Cruise" light combo came on. AutoZone read the code--the car was low on oil, they said.

The car has been eating oil for years, even after the head gaskets were machined (twice!) and other repairs made. But now, the car was losing oil as fast as I could put it in. Quite a puddle in the driveway.

I took the car to my repair shop. The oil leak was due to a hole in a hose--quick, simple fix. Once that was done, the mechanic found that the back pressure on the passenger side was too high, which likely caused the hole in the hose and is now making the car unsafe to drive (they said.)

2 options offered: Replace entire engine ($7,800). Get a new car.

Is this really a no-fix situation? Can anyone advise me about how to seek out second opinions?

I don't know how to move forward because this is the first time I've ever heard of this problem. And, of course, mechanics see a woman and assume she knows nothing about cars. I hope I've been told the truth, but who knows? They wanted me to have the car *towed* home because they said it's a ticking time bomb, ready to break down at any minute. I drove it home (<10 miles) without incident.

Advice is welcome.


2007 2.5XT Limited 4EAT
349 Posts
I do not have an exact answer for you but I can offer some advice and insight. First I would seek out a new mechanic. The term back pressure relates to the exhaust system, at least in every instance I have ever heard the term used. A mechanic using the wrong terminology to explain away a problem is very suspicious to me. True that if you have too much back pressure in the exhaust system that it can lead to excessive pressure in the crankcase and elsewhere in the oil system. Which can in turn lead to oil consumption and leaks. But this would most likely be due to a clogged catalytic converter if the issue is indeed back pressure related. This is a possibility given the age of the vehicle. However, if you have replaced the catalytic converter this is probably not the case. Also you would likely have a whole host of drivability issues if the cat was clogged. Poor MPG, poor performance, and several codes to go along with it.

It's also curious to me why a shop would claim to have fixed the leak yet want you to have the vehicle towed. If they could solve the problem why wouldn't they say so and keep your vehicle to work on it? This is not confidence inspiring by any means.

Probably should have lead with this... Is you vehicle an X or an XT? How many miles does the car have on it? Did Autozone tell you what the code number was when they read it or did they just say it was due to low oil? If you know what the actual code was that will go a long way in helping to diagnose the problem. There are some pretty savvy folks around here.

This is only a guess, but there are a pair of sensors/solenoids that are prone to leaking on these engines (non turbo), I believe they are called AVLS (active valve lift system) and these seem to cause some of the symptoms you are having. But from what I understand they are relatively inexpensive and can be replaced without too much fuss. There is also a possibility of the PCV system being clogged which could also lead to higher than normal oil pressure. But this is another relatively easy and inexpensive fix.

As far as replacing the entire engine or scrapping the car? I highly doubt that this is necessary. Guaranteed this problem can be properly diagnosed, and solved by a competent mechanic who knows their way around a Subaru. Or maybe you get lucky and someone else chimes in and has solution. Don't give up on your Forester just yet!
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