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2001 Forester
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Discussion Starter #1
Car: Forester 2001 L, auto.

Bought new in Oregon, 2001. Shortly afterwards I got the letter from Subaru indicating the head gasket issues, and took it in for their miracle treatment. For the next few years the car always had a tendency to run warm on hills, etc, and I suspected their treatment had clogged part of the rad. Replaced the rad in 2006 and it's been running fine since then. It has about 160K on it now. I don't do my own auto work any more.

Just this past week it ran hot suddenly and I found that I was low on coolant. I hadn't been checking inside the rad because the overflow reservoir showed normal levels. My bad I guess. When I topped it with water (no coolant available), it is running fine and no apparent loss of fluid level in ~120 miles.

My local mechanic is convinced that based on the model year and age, the coolant loss is due to a head gasket leak. I should mention that about 4 months ago I replaced the Cat on it, as I got frequent CE 420 codes. So I guess a coolant leak could have fried the Cat, although I wasn't aware of a leak until just now. He is more eager to tackle a HG issue than I am.

So, my Q's.

What kind of test(s) should I insist on before believing I have a HG issue? Is the Bloc-test product (blue fluid turns yellow) dependable and easy enough for a fairly savvy consumer? This is something I may wish to do myself, as a "second opinion".

Is the world of coolant additives still the land of snake-oil and crap that it was many years ago? I see some new products out there that each claim to be the only one that really works to seal coolant leaks. Like Steel Seal - at least it claims to have no precipitates. Any firsthand experiences? Are any of them worth trying unless you have an obvious head crack and billowing white smoke?

In the case that I do need a HG and decide to get it done (50/50 if it comes to that), what is a reasonable price and product to get for a HG kit? I know it varies widely based on how many gaskets are required - does a normal replacement job do them all?

Same question as above, but for time/labor. I think my mechanic is a swell guy, but he also knows I haven't been shopping around, so I want to ensure his rates are still competitive.

Thanks for any help
 

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Registered
2001 Forester S 4EAT
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14 Posts
Would definitly like to know the answers to these questions since my HG may be on the way out.

Have been quoted by a suby specialist that the HG job would cost anywhere from 1800-2500 depending on how bad it is.

Hope this helps.

Have you found anything out regarding your questions??
 

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2001 SOLD!
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1,413 Posts
Keep on driving it and check your coolant level in your rad often. You might be burning it slightly when the engine is cold. Aluminum block, steel head bolts. This is where the thermal expansion between the 2 come into play.

I am sure there are some Subaru forums in your local area. Search to see if there is someone willing to change your head gaskets. Either a member or a local shop. These engines are really easy to work on. Like changing a spark plug on a lawn mower.
 

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Premium Member
2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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8,071 Posts
This forum is filled with threads that have information about HG and answers to your questions.
Subaru Forester Owners Forum - Search Results

Sings of HG failure:
- overheating
- oil in coolant
- coolant in oil
- bubbles in coolant
- coolant smells like exhaust
- excessive coolant use

I would say if any one wants to confirm a bad HG the quickest way is to do a leak down test with the engine cold then hot, both with the radiator cap off. If you get a stream of bubble coming up in the radiator during the test of a cylinder you just found the cylinder with the HG failure. Old school method that I would say works for finding 99% of HG failures.
 
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