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In order to install the block heater, they drop the front exhaust manifold and its a good practice to replace the gasket. I am curious about what Otto's charged for the block heater and the install. Last I checked at the Outaouais dealer, it was going to be a roughly $400 job. In speaking to Takaki motors in Ottawa they suggested that a battery warmer would be a better bet to ensure cold morning ( below-20 C) starts. He said that the thin synthetic oil still flows at cold temps, and the only advantage to the block heater is that it will allow the car to reach operating temp faster for quicker cabin heat. Still, the best way to get to operating temp is to drive, and without a block heater, it will take a couple of minutes longer.
I forgot to mention: for the block heater installation I was quoted $180 by one service adviser and $450 by another in the same dealership on the same day! I signed up with the lady who quoted my $180; when I came to pick up my Forester I was told they didn't install the heater because it costs more for the Turbo engine, namely $250. I agreed with this price and, during the next appointment, they have installed it for $250; the part was my own, I bought it on eBay for $130 new.
 

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For anyone with an older Subaru this problem is often the fuel lines under the intake manifold. Replace the hoses and put better clamps on. As for the non EJ engines that's something else entirely.
 

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2004 Subaru Forester XT 5 speed manual
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I double defury on the issue for EJs, as I have replaced the hoses and clamps myself. I did not have this issue all these years until about a year back. Those living in the Midwest can relate for sure. The gas smell was only faint for me. I inspected the hoses on the fuel lines around the intake manifold and found one weeping bugger. The leak was really apparent near the clamp. Given how easy it is to check for a leak I recommend doing so to either confirm or rule out this as a cause of the smell.
 
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