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2001 Forester S
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Discussion Starter #1
The last couple months my '01 S Forester was running a little hot and I had to put some extra coolant in the overflow tank to top it up.

It's got 132,000 miles on it and Timing Belt and water pump was replaced about a year ago.

I took it to my favorite mechanic today because it needs plugs. I asked them to look for head gasket leaks because after reading this forum, I suspected the loss of coolant fluid might indicate bad head gasket(s).

They confirmed it is losing coolant, they said they added about a gallon. They did a pressure test on the cooling system and found that it was definitely losing pressure somewhere. They don't do head gasket work so they didn't install plugs because it would be a wast of time and money - which I agreed.

I called another shop that has done head gasket replacements and they have experience with Subarus in general. He advised that I may want to consider a remanufactured engine altogether - he said that he won't know till he looks at it, but once they get it apart, the heads may be cracked. So just replacing head gaskets now turns into also replacing heads and oh, by the way you may as well look at any valves that need replacing.

Then he goes on to say if you just fix what you got, what about the rest of the engine, like the lower part which would be pistons, beariings etc. His point is that in the long run, it might be better to get a completely new rebuilt engine which turns the clock back on the entire engine to zero mileage. Rebuilt engine cost is approx. $5,000 (includes labor)

I see his point actually, because I was planning on driving this Forester for at least another 4 or 5 years. But on the other hand, Subaru engines are generally well built and I feel that if I just fix the head gasket problem at a cost of $2,000 to 2,500, I'll get another 100k miles out of this car.

Remember, at this point I don't know for sure if the heads are cracked ... just trying to decide on a game plan before I take it to a mechanic. Also, this car has mainly been driven everyday in my 45 mile roundtrip-all-highway miles commute. I wouldn't say that this car has been driven very hard.

The rest of the car is in pretty darn good shape, as I routinely get maintenance things taken care of in advance.

What would you do? I just had a new alternator put on a couple months ago, ...etc. I have a lot invested in this thing already and hate to get rid of it now...I still like it :shake:

Thanks! This is a great forum and site!
 

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I just replaced my head gaskets and had my heads rebuilt at an auto machine shop. Cost was $250 to install valve stem seals, reseat and adjust valves, check head for cracks, and shave head to insure perfectly flat sealing surface.

If engine is running good, you should be able to repair and get 4-5 yrs depending on driving habits. Mine is at 215K miles and runs fine.

good luck
 

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Shop sounds expensive. Heads usually won't crack, if its overheated they may have warped. But any good shop should check that and shave/mill the heads flat whenever doing a headgasket job. Usually the car will last at least another 100,000+ miles after the headgasket change. A low mile used engine would probably be far far less than 5,000 and headgaskets shouldn't cost that much to do, especially since you have the SOHC (quite a bit easier to work on than the big DOHC heads).
 

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2001 Forester S
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Discussion Starter #4
update

Talked to the Byers Subaru dealership by phone. They qouted ballpark $1,900 to replace both side head gaskets. They said the heads usually don't require machining and that they are probably not cracked - it didn't violently overheat - just ran hot enough that temp needle got a little higher than normal.

I still don't know if I'm going to fix it....
 

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02 Forester L (sold) Manual
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This:
I see his point actually, because I was planning on driving this Forester for at least another 4 or 5 years. But on the other hand, Subaru engines are generally well built and I feel that if I just fix the head gasket problem at a cost of $2,000 to 2,500, I'll get another 100k miles out of this car.
The $1900 you were quoted is right on. I wouldn't do more than this. Divide this cost up monthly over the next anticipated few years of ownership vs getting something else and you'll see it's a pretty reasonable deal. Plus, after that time you can still sell your Foz for good money (at least what this job will cost, I'd bet).
 

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2001 Forester S
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Discussion Starter #6
Update on '01 Forester

Dealer fixed headgasket as promised at approx. $1,900. They also found yet another freakin' wheel bearing gone bad. This would be the third one in about 3 years. I'm not fixing it for now. I'll live with the noise for another month.

About a month ago I had a terrible screeching bearing sound which my regular mechanic said was a bad A/C compressor. To save money, I just told them to give me a new belt but disconnect the old one and I'll get a new compressor in the spring before the hot weather starts.

I told the dealer all this - once they had the engine all apart they properly diagnosed that the A/C compressor was Ok - it was just the pulley that was bad. As you may know , that's great news because a bad pulley is at least $500 less expensive than a new A/C Compressor!:woohoo:

They also replaced a torn CV boot and drained and filled both differentials. After adding this work and tax, total cost was $2,496. Is it worth it for a car this old and with 132,000 miles? I'm betting that it is, it'll take me over 4 years to reach the 200k mile mark - I'll be ready to part with it by then - emotionally and financially.

By the way, I had never changed the oil in the differentials until now. I bought it used at 46,000 miles. So in about 90,000 miles of me ignoring the differentials, they didn't give me one hassle. pretty cool. Also, I have never changed or touched the automatic transmission fluid or filter either. I think I'm tempting fate with this one, so I'm gonna get this fluid and filter changed in the next couple of months.

anyway, I thought some other high mileage owners might appreciate this info on maintenance on an older Forester. Its still a great car - love the huge sunroof, red color, black chrome and lots of headroom for a tall person.
 
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