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2006 forester ll bean
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59 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just found out a few hours ago that the burning smell from my 06 Forester LL Bean is a leaking head gasket. My mechanic says $1600-1800 to repair, including having the heads taken to a machine shop (not sure what that means). I'm not trying to start anything on this forum but I really don't understand what you guys see in this vehicle. I have only owned this vehicle for 3 years and have had to do the following outside of routine maintenance:

P0420 - New Catalytic converter
New door handles on rear door
Failed Coil Pack
Failed Radio Head Unit
Cover gasket leak
Repair of various rattles
Headlights fogged
Turn signal on mirror

I'm also having the P0420 code again 3 years after the cat replacement and the $5 fix. I'm debating cutting my losses with this vehicle and going back to Honda. Is anyone else having similar issues and does anyone think this is acceptable for a vehicle with 120k miles? 1600 to 1800 is alot of money.
 

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2019 Crosstrek 2018 XT
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14,717 Posts
Honestly you have owned the vehicle only 3 of its 8 years. It makes a difference. The Cat should have been covered? How many miles. As far as HG's yea..they are more prone to that. But using the subaru coolant and conditioner likely makes a difference..just saying.

Subaru's are certainly not trouble free..I have had to replace valve cover gaskets, alternator, front strut, rear wheel bearing, and the complete timing belt job for 1500. Subaru is a complicated vehicle but does things most other vehicles can't do and their safety ratings are in a class by them selves. Take the bad with the good.
 

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2004 Forester XT 4EAT
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1,322 Posts
HI Ed,
I'll offer some sympathy as my opinion of 100K+ mile Subarus isn't as high as it used to be.

And as 'adc' stated, Subies have some advantages...not everyone agrees to the cost/benefit ratio, though.

The car isn't new, so repairs should be expected. Headgaskets are Subaru's Achilles heel. Since I don't frequent Honda forums, I don't know what issues befall their models. But if you like the Forester overall, fix it.

The heads must be machined flat as they can warp if the car has been overheated. If yours are just leaking, they may be fine, but not worth taking that risk. Have the job done right. Make sure the valves are adjusted too.

Is your mechanic a Subie expert? I prefer to have these major repairs done by someone w/experience on the EJ-series engines. And make sure they use either a Subaru OEM head gasket or one of the few aftermarket ones that are recommended - I think 'Six Star' is on that short list.

GL,
TD
 

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Just a member
03 XS AUTO
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847 Posts
I really don't understand what you guys see in this vehicle. I have only owned this vehicle for 3 years and have had to do the following outside of routine maintenance:

P0420 - New Catalytic converter can happen to any vehicle
New door handles on rear doorcan happen to any vehicle
Failed Coil Packnotorious on fords and some Hondas
Failed Radio Head Unitaftermarket sounds better anyway
Cover gasket leakall vehicles
Repair of various rattlesanything with 100K on it will have lots of rattles
Headlights foggedall vehicles
Turn signal on mirror bulbs burn out
Is anyone else having similar issues and does anyone think this is acceptable for a vehicle with 120k miles? 1600 to 1800 is alot of money.
In what reference is $1700 a lot of money? Is it in reference to a new car down payment, or the price of a reliable used car? Not so much. The same year model Honda accord would have needed a transmission by now and that would run about $4k by itself. Look at it this way, If you spend $1700 on the repair now, and go ahead and do the timing belt BTW, you will have an engine that will go another 100k miles. All older cars have issues, all high mileage cars have issues. It is up to you if you want to change vehicles. What was it that made you buy the Suby in the first place? Are those needs still the same? If they are, then you already have the car you want and the repair would be less than the down payment on a new vehicle and less than the amount to by a different used vehicle. That other used vehicle may have more unknown problems than the one you have. Car needs evolve and the personal preference of the driver evolves. If this car no longer meets your needs, then it is time to move on to another. Just keep in mind that 12 months from now you may look back and really wish that you had just fixed the Suby.
 

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2006 Forester XT Limited 5MT
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256 Posts
The heads will be sent to a machine shop to make sure the deck is flat and the head gasket has a nice flat surface to seal up, often when a car overheats the head warps enough to cause a leak in the head gasket.

Honestly I've heard worse for Subaru head gaskets but it is still a lot of money.
 

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2007 Forester SportsXT AT
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1,613 Posts
I'd be hard pressed to buy an n/a foz with all thier head gasket issues. My xt just keeps on truckin'.
 

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1999 L 4AT
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1,216 Posts
I just found out a few hours ago that the burning smell from my 06 Forester LL Bean is a leaking head gasket.
How bad is the leak? Are you losing a lot of antifreeze?

Is the burning smell similar to burnt coffee? If it is and if you are not losing a lot of antifreeze, dose the radiator with a bottle or two of the Subaru Conditioner. Worked for my small leak.

Hope it works for you. If it does, then dump the vehicle. The new CR-Vs are nice.
 

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2003 Forester XS A/T
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17 Posts
In what reference is $1700 a lot of money? Is it in reference to a new car down payment, or the price of a reliable used car? Not so much. The same year model Honda accord would have needed a transmission by now and that would run about $4k by itself. Look at it this way, If you spend $1700 on the repair now, and go ahead and do the timing belt BTW, you will have an engine that will go another 100k miles. All older cars have issues, all high mileage cars have issues. It is up to you if you want to change vehicles. What was it that made you buy the Suby in the first place? Are those needs still the same? If they are, then you already have the car you want and the repair would be less than the down payment on a new vehicle and less than the amount to by a different used vehicle. That other used vehicle may have more unknown problems than the one you have. Car needs evolve and the personal preference of the driver evolves. If this car no longer meets your needs, then it is time to move on to another. Just keep in mind that 12 months from now you may look back and really wish that you had just fixed the Suby.
I'd also add- sales tax on another vehicle & personal property tax if you have to pay it.

One would be hard pressed to find another vehicle with AWD and the safety record in the same class for 1,700$.

just sayin
 

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2006 forester ll bean
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59 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have decided to have the car repaired. There is an overwhelming smell of burning oil when the car is not moving. The mechanic put it up on the hoist and confirmed it to be a leaking head gasket. I have plenty of oil and coolant (that has the conditioner in it) but because my wife uses it a fair bit I can't have this repair delayed and have the car become disabled while she is driving it. Because I recently purchased a new honda odyssey for my wife, I simply don't have the money to buy another car at this time and I cannot sell this vehicle in good conscience to another person knowing it needs this repair. There goes my income tax refund and the nokian tires I was about to buy for the forester. For better of worse, I am stuck with this car. Especially if I move to Vermont. Forester goes to the shop Thursday afternoon.
 

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2017 2.5 Premium CVT
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39 Posts
Same problem with my 2006. I started getting the smell of oil burning. Dropped the lower cover and found the right side head gasket leaking. This all started about 100,000 miles. I did all the services in hopes that I would avoid the head gasket problems for a few thousand miles more , no such luck. The oil leak just kept getting worse.
I also had the issue with the headlights fogging up on the inside of the lens which required them to be replaced to pass state inspection.(What's up with that) And the timing belt replacement is coming due.
What a great car. Never any problems till now. :icon_sad:
 

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2006 forester ll bean
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59 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The worst part was that I had the timing belt service done 20k miles ago. If I would have known this was coming, I would have just done it all at once. I'm always on top of the maintenance of all of my vehicles. The oil smell is getting worse and there's some smoke coming from the hood area now. I just have no luck with used cars. Going forward, I'll be leasing.
 

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2011 Forester AT
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42 Posts
I understand the frustration, but leasing is one of the worst financial decisions you can make in almost every case... #NumbersDontLie
 

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2010 Forester Premium X AT
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1,000 Posts
Yes, hondas last longer with fewer problems. Anyone who has done minimal searching knows that N/A foresters have had headgasket issues since 1998. OP, did you not know this when you purchased the subaru? There are reasons to buy the subaru over honda, but if low maintenance cost was you ultimate goal, then I would have stuck with a 2wd CRV and lived with the terrible feel of that car.

And yea, if you're chapped about a HG replacement cost, I dont see how leasing will fare well.....
 

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03 XS AUTO
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847 Posts
I understand the frustration, but leasing is one of the worst financial decisions you can make in almost every case... #NumbersDontLie
I bought my forester because I am so over miles on my lease. It was cheaper than paying the money I am upside down. The Forester will be my DD. I went into a lease of a cheap car because I needed out of my last car in a hurry. Was costing too much money in upkeep.
 

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2007 Forester SportsXT AT
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I understand the frustration, but leasing is one of the worst financial decisions you can make in almost every case... #NumbersDontLie
Idk, I heard leasing can be a good idea if you're self-employed, then you can write off the payment every month.
 

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2011 Forester AT
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Idk, I heard leasing can be a good idea if you're self-employed, then you can write off the payment every month.


As I understand it the only way you can write off your lease payments is if the vehicle is being used as a business vehicle, in which case you would be writing off your purchased vehicle as well, so that aspect would be a wash. As I see it, a lease is a good idea only if you're someone who knows for certain you're going to upgrade to a new vehicle every 2-3 years and don't want to bother with the hassle of trading in our selling the old one outright. So you're basically paying for convenience and paying quite a bit more for it in most cases.
 

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1999 Forester Automatic
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Without doubt you should get rid of it. I'm going thru this now. While Honda , Toyota ford, and GM cars easily sail past 300,000 miles nowadays, Subarus don't.

Subarus are unprecedented for premature failures of stuff that simply shouldn't happen to modern cars. There are way more expensive problems coming including wheel bearings, transmission issues which can't be fixed and rust thru due to cheap components and lacking corrosion protection.

Subaru corporate WAS NOT HAPPY with websites that brag how their cars last 200, 300,or even 500 thousand miles. It's bad for business and they made sure to end it by employing aggressive obsolescence engineering principles.

The days of Subarus lasting forever are over.

I've been looking and have seen only one EJ25 powered Subaru that lasted passed 200,000 miles. Tens of thousands of them went to the junkyard shortly after 130,000 miles. It's an ugly truth. I'll never own a Subaru again


Bob
 

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1999 Forester Automatic
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Honestly you have owned the vehicle only 3 of its 8 years. It makes a difference. The Cat should have been covered? How many miles. As far as HG's yea..they are more prone to that. But using the subaru coolant and conditioner likely makes a difference..just saying.

Subaru's are certainly not trouble free..I have had to replace valve cover gaskets, alternator, front strut, rear wheel bearing, and the complete timing belt job for 1500. Subaru is a complicated vehicle but does things most other vehicles can't do and their safety ratings are in a class by them selves. Take the bad with the good.
Uh....no. The Subaru coolant conditioner is a copper based stop leak product. It's job is to minimize the public relations disaster they created when they designed the EJ25 engine head gasket to fail thus sending the cars to the junkyard. Problem is they screwed it up and the gaskets fail way too prematurely causing them holy grief.

The stop leak function only stops coolant from leaking into the oil which destroys the crankshaft bearings. THAT cost them a pile of dough replacing engines. THAT is why the little blue bottle only costs $3.


Most EJ25 head gasket leaks begin as oil leaks where oil drips onto the exhaust manifold making stinky oil odors and smoke. The coolant additive makes no difference here.

Just a bandaid for a REALLY crappy design. Unprecedented bad actually.

Bob
 

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2019 Crosstrek 2018 XT
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14,717 Posts
Uh....no. The Subaru coolant conditioner is a copper based stop leak product. It's job is to minimize the public relations disaster they created when they designed the EJ25 engine head gasket to fail thus sending the cars to the junkyard. Problem is they screwed it up and the gaskets fail way too prematurely causing them holy grief.
I realize it is a stop leak product. And I never said that the HG issue wasn't a bad design. But most cases of HG replacement are mandated by a breach of the colant/oil gasket interface. The stop leak can certainly delay that or even negate it totally. You have no idea if the conditioner was added. That is my main point.

The stop leak function only stops coolant from leaking into the oil which destroys the crankshaft bearings. THAT cost them a pile of dough replacing engines. THAT is why the little blue bottle only costs $3.
The little blue bottle is actually expensive compared to other stop leak products...do expect 4.4 oz to cost much more? I think not.

Most EJ25 head gasket leaks begin as oil leaks where oil drips onto the exhaust manifold making stinky oil odors and smoke. The coolant additive makes no difference here.
Subaru gaskets routinely seep oil but models of your case can do that for years and years. It is only when the boundary between the coolant and oil is breached that the HG require replacement.. How bad are yours seeping? Do you have an antifreeze to oil leak...you haven said.

Just a bandaid for a REALLY crappy design. Unprecedented bad actually.

Bob
Again no one said it was not a bad design. My 08 is seeping oil and I may need to do the HG's at some point. I have 120K miles on the vehicle. At this point I don't have a coolant to oil gasket leak (Could it be bc I have used the Subaru coolant and conditioner? While your vehicle has not had it?) Also did you change the coolant immediately when you got the vehicle and add the Conditioner? I seriously doubt it.
 
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