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2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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Great explanation of the various type of cylinder casting methods.....naturally, Subarus would be the weakest........
It is not just Subaru using open/semi-closed deck design engines, almost all manufactures now have at least one engine that is of open/semi-closed deck design. All of the engines in the pic I posted for showing the open/closed/semi-closed deck are ALL SUBARU engines.

Opinion and experience below:

I have done MORE Mopars, especially the 4 cylinders than anything else. Ford V6's come next.

Google 'headgasket bad ' and you will see Fords and Hondas on the top of the search......
Agreed, I haven't done many Fords(one Escort) but I have done a couple of Hondas, Toyotas, a bunch of Chryslers from K cars on, and many GM 4cyl and 6cyl and of coarse a few Subarus.

Wouldn't you have a higher repair cost with a Subie HG, however, since there're 2 heads to do?
Higher repair cost, not necessarily. In my experience the repair quotes I hear from most every one(for various manufactures) seems to range around $1000-1800 for inline 4cyl engines and $1500-2200 for some V6 engines. The general quote for a Subaru around my area is in that $1200-1500 range. So some what on the high side for a 4cyl, but it has 2 heads like a V6 so shouldn't you compare the cost to a V6 repair bill?....Which would then be on the low side. It is a catch 22 type of situation, it all depends on how you look at it.

I'd also be more forgiving if the HGs tended to go longer before needing the repair...........once you cross 120K miles or so, it's far more acceptable than on cars much newer...............owners of 2006 and up cars just shouldn't be having to face the failures yet..........IMHO, of course......

Steve
I can honestly say I have not seen(in person) a leaky Subaru HG under 95,000 miles. All of the ones I have done have had more then 125k and several of those have gone another 150k more with the updated HG with out issues with out the use of the coolant conditioner. We did my buddies '98 Outback at ~150k a few years back, it now has almost 290K on those redone HG.

Every manufacture has some premature failures on their record, that is what the warranty is for. As I said to "erikwi" go to the dealer and make it known it could be an issue with a small run of parts since the build dates of his two 2006 Foresters are so close, again it is what the warranty is for. Get it fixed and don't let it scare you.
 

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2014 328i xDrive Wagon 8 spd Auto
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When I spoke to SOA when I had the coolant changed at 30k in my wife's 08 OB, they told me the conditioner was still required to keep the warranty in force, even though the dealer contradicted needing it on the 08's.

In any event he finally added the stuff, primarily, I suppose, to shut me up.

So far, for out and out relaibilty my 04 FXT was the most reliable car I've ever owned. Not the best in terms of ride, noises, "things that go bump in the night" type problems, but it drove like a banshee and never let me down. I was happy to live with the rest of its flaws as characteristics of the beast.

My wife's 03 OBW was the least reliable car I've ever seen, not in terms of getting stranded on the roadside, although it did that once as well, but everything from transmission, to getting piston's replaced for excessive slap to getting a head replaced for swallowing a valve guide.

Now that we have a pair of 08 OB's I'm sure neither of us will keep them up to the point of needing a timing belt done at 105k. Its not in my nature to keep a car longer than five years, and at some point monthly maintenance can start to equal a new car payment, especially when you live in an area of the country where rust is a big issue.

But thruthfully, for a well maintained car (and ours are maintained by an OCD person, me) there's no excuse for a HG going less than 100k, IMHO.

The statistic that no one can get their hands on, at least outside of SOA, is how many HG's actually fail within the warranty period and how many fail before 100k.

Once you have a number, you can end the speculation and people can clearly judge for themselves.

But then, what's an acceptable percentage? One percent? Of a million cars on the road that would be 10000 HG's failing. Of course its also 990,000 that didn't. I have the nagging feeling the number's higher than one percent.

Jack Welch, when he was trying to improve GE's reputation for making crappy appliances, once said it doesn't matter to the person with a bad appliance that you only have a 1% failure rate if they're in the 1%.

I guess for those of us that either need or want, or just plain like a Subaru, we'll live with it.
 

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2006 Forester X Premium
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Discussion Starter #43
When I spoke to SOA when I had the coolant changed at 30k in my wife's 08 OB, they told me the conditioner was still required to keep the warranty in force, even though the dealer contradicted needing it on the 08's.

In any event he finally added the stuff, primarily, I suppose, to shut me up.

So far, for out and out relaibilty my 04 FXT was the most reliable car I've ever owned. Not the best in terms of ride, noises, "things that go bump in the night" type problems, but it drove like a banshee and never let me down. I was happy to live with the rest of its flaws as characteristics of the beast.

My wife's 03 OBW was the least reliable car I've ever seen, not in terms of getting stranded on the roadside, although it did that once as well, but everything from transmission, to getting piston's replaced for excessive slap to getting a head replaced for swallowing a valve guide.

Now that we have a pair of 08 OB's I'm sure neither of us will keep them up to the point of needing a timing belt done at 105k. Its not in my nature to keep a car longer than five years, and at some point monthly maintenance can start to equal a new car payment, especially when you live in an area of the country where rust is a big issue.

But thruthfully, for a well maintained car (and ours are maintained by an OCD person, me) there's no excuse for a HG going less than 100k, IMHO.

The statistic that no one can get their hands on, at least outside of SOA, is how many HG's actually fail within the warranty period and how many fail before 100k.

Once you have a number, you can end the speculation and people can clearly judge for themselves.

But then, what's an acceptable percentage? One percent? Of a million cars on the road that would be 10000 HG's failing. Of course its also 990,000 that didn't. I have the nagging feeling the number's higher than one percent.

Jack Welch, when he was trying to improve GE's reputation for making crappy appliances, once said it doesn't matter to the person with a bad appliance that you only have a 1% failure rate if they're in the 1%.

I guess for those of us that either need or want, or just plain like a Subaru, we'll live with it.
Mine had the SOA additive added at the 30k service and it still leaked, mainly oil and some coolant. It's like putting a band-aid on a broken arm. Oil leaking from the bottom of the head onto the exhaust manifold could pose a fire hazard, although remotely. It's time SOA owned up to whatever flaw there is and fix it once and for all. I have a letter going out tomorrow to the CEO detailing the problems we're having. I don't really expect a response other than a standard form letter but if I get a surprise, I'll let you folks now. My mom is already looking at cars to see what she likes. Partly because what's happening with her car and the crappy service she's getting at the dealer. Here's a summary of what they did or more correctly, didn't do:
Dealer isn't putting enough oil in the car during the oil change, leaving it 1/2-3/4 quart low,
Dealer didn't replace the spark plugs at the 30k,
Dealer didn't replace the air filter at the 30k,
Dealer used a flushing machine on the tranny and used Valvoline Maxlife ATF as replacement fluid instead of the Subaru ATF-HP as called for in the owners' manual.
 

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2019 Forester Touring
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Groan:

That's my point, all of the other info (useful and very interesting) aside.

My 03 is my first Subie after years of Hondas. I bought the car mainly because it was the first smaller AWD that I could fit my 6'5" frame into comfortably and it served me so well during the 120K miles of a hellish commute in NJ on Rt 78........thru all sorts of miserable weather and past so many crappy drivers who tried to knock me off the road (on purpose or so it seemed), the Forester just was and still is one of the safest cars I've ever had the pleasure to own.

Let me interject that my wife's 1998 CRV w/ 147K miles, as good as Hondas are (especially the engines), let us down hugely by either cracking a ring or burning a valve last summer........admittedly, 147K miles is nothing to complain about BUT when a car is maintained well, the disappointment of having to replace it under duress (as opposed to wanting to get a newer car) is bitter.

My wife always loved the 2nd gen CRVs (the 2002-2006 cars) so we replaced her old one with a used but well maintained off-lease CRV and she loves it so she was hardly bitter about her CRV experience......her old CRV needed too much work to make the valve/ring thing repair practical........

If my Forrie needed HGs, I'd have to give it lots of thought.........so I just hope that it keeps running. I'd hate to have to make the choice....better to think good thoughts and keep it running.....

Steve
 

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2006 Forester X Premium
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Discussion Starter #45
Groan:

That's my point, all of the other info (useful and very interesting) aside.

My 03 is my first Subie after years of Hondas. I bought the car mainly because it was the first smaller AWD that I could fit my 6'5" frame into comfortably and it served me so well during the 120K miles of a hellish commute in NJ on Rt 78........thru all sorts of miserable weather and past so many crappy drivers who tried to knock me off the road (on purpose or so it seemed), the Forester just was and still is one of the safest cars I've ever had the pleasure to own.

Let me interject that my wife's 1998 CRV w/ 147K miles, as good as Hondas are (especially the engines), let us down hugely by either cracking a ring or burning a valve last summer........admittedly, 147K miles is nothing to complain about BUT when a car is maintained well, the disappointment of having to replace it under duress (as opposed to wanting to get a newer car) is bitter.

My wife always loved the 2nd gen CRVs (the 2002-2006 cars) so we replaced her old one with a used but well maintained off-lease CRV and she loves it so she was hardly bitter about her CRV experience......her old CRV needed too much work to make the valve/ring thing repair practical........

If my Forrie needed HGs, I'd have to give it lots of thought.........so I just hope that it keeps running. I'd hate to have to make the choice....better to think good thoughts and keep it running.....

Steve
I love my Foz because it is absolutely stunning in the snow and ice, better than my Ford Ranger 4x4 and more predictable. I once spun my truck out on the highway with it in 4wd mode in 2 inches of snow going 15mph! With the Subie, I actually have to try to get it to spin the tires.

By the way folks, I've got the date of manufacture for my mom's car now. Mine is 12/05 and hers is 01/06. See a connection here?
 

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I love my Foz because it is absolutely stunning in the snow and ice, better than my Ford Ranger 4x4 and more predictable. I once spun my truck out on the highway with it in 4wd mode in 2 inches of snow going 15mph! With the Subie, I actually have to try to get it to spin the tires.

By the way folks, I've got the date of manufacture for my mom's car now. Mine is 12/05 and hers is 01/06. See a connection here?
Probably the same lot, at a certain point maybe different lots are getting different gaskets?
 

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... With the open deck you loose all of the stabilizing support for the cylinder on top of having the smaller sealing surface of the semi-closed deck... a situation that is extremely tough on HG which makes them more prone to failures in these engines... the Subaru Coolant Conditioner (Holtz radweld/stop leak) can only do so much. It is not a design flaw, just a limitation in design....
What a great explanation and illustration. I feel doomed. Would it help prevent HG leaks if I dumped the conditioner in now at 18,000 miles?
 

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It is not a design flaw, just a limitation in design.
In the engineering world we call this lawyer talk. haha

Maybe if I design something and it fails, I'll try that line.


By the way folks, I've got the date of manufacture for my mom's car now. Mine is 12/05 and hers is 01/06. See a connection here?
Could be a connection, but they sure would have churned out quite a few vehicles in that months time. I've been in several auto assembly plants, domestic and import and I'm not sure if those manufacturer dates really tell the whole story. I mean it depends on how their assembly process is set up. Manufacture dates are based on when they're churned out of the assembly plant. A lot of the more complex components such as the transmission and engine are assembled elsewhere. They're then shipped to the assembly plant to be dropped in. Therefore your engine assembly may or may not be tied to the manufacture date.

Not saying this is what Subaru does, but just a thought.
 

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... All I can say is owners should be keeping an eye on the underside of the heads for the early signs of leaking and try to catch it before the warranty is up...
Can you see both undersides from the oil-changing hole in the undertray, or must the whole undertray be removed to see?
 

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2006 Forester X Premium
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Discussion Starter #50
Can you see both undersides from the oil-changing hole in the undertray, or must the whole undertray be removed to see?
No the whole tray has to be dropped to see the underside of the heads. 4 12mm bolts and 4 push clips and down it comes. I didn't used to drop the shield to change the oil until the dealer found my leak during the 30k. Now I do it every 4k miles at the oil and filter change just to look at the HGs. It appears the driver's side has started to seep again so I've thoroughly cleaned it and will re-check in 10k miles and see what's there.
 

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Discussion Starter #51
In the engineering world we call this lawyer talk. haha

Maybe if I design something and it fails, I'll try that line.




Could be a connection, but they sure would have churned out quite a few vehicles in that months time. I've been in several auto assembly plants, domestic and import and I'm not sure if those manufacturer dates really tell the whole story. I mean it depends on how their assembly process is set up. Manufacture dates are based on when they're churned out of the assembly plant. A lot of the more complex components such as the transmission and engine are assembled elsewhere. They're then shipped to the assembly plant to be dropped in. Therefore your engine assembly may or may not be tied to the manufacture date.

Not saying this is what Subaru does, but just a thought.
Yeah no doubt. What about the possibility of a mis-calibrated torquing tool or machine? Are the engines assembled by hand or is it robotically done?
 

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I've never witnessed engines being assembled. Only installed in bodies on the line, but I will say that tools they were using seemed pretty automatic, and I'd doubt mistorquing could be an issue.

It is a sight to see if you ever get the chance.


Did a little researching and saw that the SIA plant produced a peak 216,000 units in 1998, so that goes to show how many of these things they can spit out in a months time.

Also saw that SIA will be producing toyotas alongside Subaru. who knew!
 

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I've never witnessed engines being assembled. Only installed in bodies on the line, but I will say that tools they were using seemed pretty automatic, and I'd doubt mistorquing could be an issue.
Did a little researching and saw that the SIA plant produced a peak 216,000 units in 1998... Also saw that SIA will be producing toyotas alongside Subaru. who knew!
I toured the SIA plant in LaFayette IN in mid-2008. It makes Legacy, Outback and Tribecca, installing engines and transmissions that were shipped from Japan. And I saw Camry assembly lines.

That peak production at SIA occurred over ten years ago when it was making Isuzus which is another auto division of FHI. Isuzus didn't sell well and FHI ended their US production. The name of the plant was changed from Subaru Isuzu America (SIA) to Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA).

That left the SIA plant with excess capacity. Toyota took advantage of this a few years ago when they contracted SIA to build Camrys rather then expand the Georgetown KY Camry plant. The recession proved that was a good plan.
 

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Boxer engines allow their head gaskets to sit in the oil. This contributes to their early demise.
There is no oil to sit in. A head gasket is in the dry combustion chamber above the rings. Head gaskets "sitting in oil", like cylinders wearing oval, does not happen with boxers.
 

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Discussion Starter #56
There is no oil to sit in. A head gasket is in the dry combustion chamber above the rings. Head gaskets "sitting in oil", like cylinders wearing oval, does not happen with boxers.
What about some oil staying in the oil return passages below the cylinders?
 

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What about some oil staying in the oil return passages below the cylinders?
Where would that be in these photos of coolant passages surrounding the cylinders? And can head gaskets be harmed by the very things they are compounded to seal, like oil and coolant? Or are head gaskets instead affected by the mechanical stresses of combustion gasses and deck movement?
 

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Discussion Starter #58
Where would that be in these photos of coolant passages surrounding the cylinders? And can head gaskets be harmed by the very things they are compounded to seal, like oil and coolant? Or are head gaskets instead affected by the mechanical stresses of combustion gasses and deck movement?
If memory serves me correctly, I think another person said it is the rectangular openings just below the cylinders. If you look at the open deck design, you'll see it is a wet sleeve type since the water jacket is open all the way around the cylinder bore. Just below it are the oil return passages. If the cutouts in the gaskets aren't matched to the cutouts in the block and head, then oil can sit there. For example, if the gasket cutout is too big, it would leave a tiny groove or space between the head and deck, collecting a tiny amount of oil. If the cutout is too small, then the gasket would form a lip between the head and block, essentially forming a tiny dam and keep all the oil from draining back. Help me out folks if I'm wrong because I haven't held one of these gaskets up to see exactly how it fits. As far as being damaged by engine fluids, I don't think they would be since the HG has to withstand the intense heat and pressure of combustion.

Thinking back to my classes, I think the greatest stress on a HG comes from an iron block/aluminum head configuration as the 2 metals expand at vastly different rates, thus creating friction between the mating surfaces and abrading the head gasket. It's been a long time since I got my degree so I'm a little rusty on thermodynamics.
 

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haha, it hasn't been that long for me....

Strain = (COTE) X (Temp Change)

COTE = Coefficient of Thermal Expansion

COTE of Iron is 11.1 microstrain/C
COTE of Aluminum is 23 microstrain/C

So, say you run your car on a winter day and the block goes from 0 C to 190 C.

That's a differential thermal strain of 0.00226 in/in length. So the worst sweeping strains occur at the short edges of the block/head, and probably about 0 at the center of the block/head.

Say the block is 12" long? Then the worst case differential thermal deflection is 6" x 0.00226 = 0.0135"

BUT in actuality, this differential movement is a little less because the materials are restraining one another through friction. If there wasn't any differential movement allowed, it would build up a ballpark 10,000 lb/sqin in both the head and block....this is why they try to coat the gaskets out of stuff that will allow slipping, like graphite....otherwise I bet the fatigue cycles would cause cracks in either the head or block.
 

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Ok so new to Foresters and looking to buy a good used one, what years held up the best?

I have founds few nice 1998 and 99 models real cheap and a few 2000-2002 models that I might can swing the price on if i can get my harley sold.

right now I am driving a 90 legacy wagon with 290,000 miles on it, but guess what? this week it blew the head gasket. :(
it also needs a new transmission as 4th gear is gone and it is also jumping out of 5th.

so any help on what to look for in a used Fozzie would be great. thanks in advance.
 
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