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2003 X - A/T
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105 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I just bought this 03 X on Friday. 67k miles, supa clean and pretty, got it from a dealer. I mananged to talk them down to a seemingly reasonable price of $9,990 (they were asking $11,600 originally). I'd been looking for one in that price/milage range, and this one seemed great.

I'm so busy these days that I didn't exercise my usual diligence in taking the thing to a mechanic to get a full exam before signing the papers. Famous last words...:shake:

Anyway poking around the engine this morning I saw something that gave me a bit of that old sinking feeling. It looks a bit like a leaky head gasket. noooooo! :icon_sad:

Opinions based on the photos below are greatly appreciated. It was tough to get my big camera in there, but I think you can see what I'm talking about. This is the driver's side. The passenger side HG area is totally clean (no pics of that).





Whatever that is, it doesn't look like a lot, and it looks rather old. But there's no denying that something leaked down there at some point...ugh.
 

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aka DMax in Alaska
'06 Mini Cooper S JCW 6MT
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786 Posts
Maybe but it looks insignificant.

Watch for coolant in your oil (brown milky) and a loss of coolant to seemingly nowhere. A leaking HG will make a mess of the oil and/or the engine bay. Clean the engine bay good and check for leaks weekly also checking your coolant level and your oil.
 

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2009 Forester X Premium
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3,091 Posts
From the photos it doesn't look like it.
 

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2003 X - A/T
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Discussion Starter #5
Well it certainly doesn't look or behave like a blown HG, but wonder if it could be the first signs of a leak. I realize it could also be some other fluid (oil, etc) that was spilled and ran down there at some point. It does look pretty old and dried, but not very oily.

I'll keep an eye on it. But I feel compelled to take it to a mechanic for an educated opinion. Whether I'm stuck with it or not, I gotta know the deal.

As for warranty, I considered one when negotiating the deal for this very reason, but decided to save $1000 financed dollars and take my chances. I'm reading up on AZ Lemon laws right now...
 

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03X MT
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846 Posts
did the dealer have a maintenance log? if the car has used the recommended "coolant conditioner" during the 67k then most likely ok. If not get a flush and put the CC in.

Watch for over heating etc.

my 03X with 55k started over heating at 35k and I started using the CC. No over heating since then.
 

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Administrator
2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
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40,087 Posts
^^ I agree!

Change your coolant, doesn't have to be the Subaru brand, but should meet the Subaru coolant requirements. My Subaru dealership uses SHELLZONE & the Subaru conditioner. :wink:

Bobby...

['07 FSXT MODding Journal] ['03 X MODding Journal]
 

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2003 X - A/T
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105 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
did the dealer have a maintenance log? if the car has used the recommended "coolant conditioner" during the 67k then most likely ok. If not get a flush and put the CC in.

Watch for over heating etc.

my 03X with 55k started over heating at 35k and I started using the CC. No over heating since then.
I was able to pull up Carfax on the dealer listing before I bought it, and that just showed regular maintenance (oil, tires, etc). Now Carfax wants my money to look again...

But it's odd that on a car that appears to be this well-maintained I could not find any maintenance papers/reciepts. There is the manual and a bunch of other paperwork showing the PO's extended warranty that went from 03-08, tire warranties, etc. But no actual maintenance receipts. Another thing to ask about...

I was planning on asking the dealer for a list of all the things they did to the vehicle for my own records, but of course I should have asked that before the fact. It's tough to remember everything sometimes. Lesson learned: slooow it down.



^^ I agree!

Change your coolant, doesn't have to be the Subaru brand, but should meet the Subaru coolant requirements. My Subaru dealership uses SHELLZONE & the Subaru conditioner. :wink:

Bobby...
It is a Nissan dealership that took the car as a trade in, so I'd be very doubtful that they did or know anything about the Subaru Coolant Conditioner.
 

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Administrator
2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
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IMO, a CarFax really isn't worth much. :frown:

I bought my '07 FSXT last year (Jun/09) from a Chevrolet/KIA dealership. It had no service records & until I went to register the title, I didn't know it was a leased vehicle that was repossessed! :icon_eek:

I assumed nothing & had my trusted Subaru dealership change/service the coolant, ATF, plus the front & rear differential. I figure better to know what services have been done. :wink:

Bobby...

['07 FSXT MODding Journal] ['03 X MODding Journal]
 

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with what i see from your pics the gasket may have been sweating a bit. i would pick up a can of brake and parts cleaner and clean it off. then keep an eye on it for a bit to see how critical the leak is
 

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Discussion Starter #11
with what i see from your pics the gasket may have been sweating a bit. i would pick up a can of brake and parts cleaner and clean it off. then keep an eye on it for a bit to see how critical the leak is
There's definitely something there. The question is what...it does look old, and after driving around town a bunch today I didn't see anything new there

Cleaning it and keeping an eye for anything new is a good plan. Could brake cleaner do any damage to the HG from the outside, or anything else in that area?
 

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There's definitely something there. The question is what...it does look old, and after driving around town a bunch today I didn't see anything new there

Cleaning it and keeping an eye for anything new is a good plan. Could brake cleaner do any damage to the HG from the outside, or anything else in that area?
+1 clean with brake cleaner and keep an eye on it. brake cleaner should do no harm. just don't use a whole can or something and be sure you do it outside so it can evaporate.
 

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Ah crap.. I'm back with my 05 XS
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if it's black/gray, it's the gasket's material that sits atop the metal. it's being corroded and the material is oozing out. there is a chance that you will eventually get a full HG leak eventually. and there's also the chance that you will be able to run it for a long time before it springs a full on leak. i'm at that stage now. my tech said he had this on his RS and it sprang a full on leak in 3k miles. i'm letting the crusted on stuff stay there for now... kind of like a clot.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
if it's black/gray, it's the gasket's material that sits atop the metal. it's being corroded and the material is oozing out. there is a chance that you will eventually get a full HG leak eventually. and there's also the chance that you will be able to run it for a long time before it springs a full on leak. i'm at that stage now. my tech said he had this on his RS and it sprang a full on leak in 3k miles. i'm letting the crusted on stuff stay there for now... kind of like a clot.
Interesting..the stuff I see on mine is more brownish and very thin and dried out. Could just be some water that got in & mixed with dust & ran down over that area, who knows...But given the well-known HG problems and the fact that they seem to happen on that side more often, it is a concern...
 

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2011 Forester X AT
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Looks like it was weeping at some point and then they may have put in another dose of stop leak. This is what mine did. Eventually the stop leak dissolves and it starts weeping again.
 

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2004 Subaru Forester XT 5 speed manual.
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I was able to pull up Carfax on the dealer listing before I bought it, and that just showed regular maintenance (oil, tires, etc). Now Carfax wants my money to look again...

But it's odd that on a car that appears to be this well-maintained I could not find any maintenance papers/reciepts. There is the manual and a bunch of other paperwork showing the PO's extended warranty that went from 03-08, tire warranties, etc. But no actual maintenance receipts. Another thing to ask about...

I was planning on asking the dealer for a list of all the things they did to the vehicle for my own records, but of course I should have asked that before the fact. It's tough to remember everything sometimes. Lesson learned: slooow it down.





It is a Nissan dealership that took the car as a trade in, so I'd be very doubtful that they did or know anything about the Subaru Coolant Conditioner.

Seriously, they could have had the oil changed regularly at some flast lube type of place. Some places just aren't careful and could have spilled onto the engine. It's an odd area to reach into, so they probably just neglected to clean it off. Like someone else posted, clean it off, check your fluids and check a week later. :)
 
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