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2003 Forester
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59 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
My '03 has started dripping in the driveway. It makes really pretty designs--green circle in the middle, brown around the edges--usually two or three of them right behind the front bumper. The coolant doesn't smell like hydrocarbons and there's no bubbling when the car runs so it does appear to be an external leak. I had already bought the materials for a timing belt swap, but now I'm wondering if that's even worthwhile considering that if I do need a head gasket set, all my work will be for nothing.

I plan to put in new coolant and conditioner to see if that helps to stop the drip, but I'm wondering how much can be expected from the conditioner. I'm also toying with the idea of doing the head gaskets myself. I have a hoist and I've pulled engines before, but I'm not sure how much of a time commitment a HG swap would be, and I don't know if I need any special tools. Anyhow, to sum it up:

1) How much can I expect from the conditioner?
2) How much time does it take the average home mechanic to do a HG swap?

Thanks
 

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2001 Forester Automatic
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151 Posts
People have posted that the conditioner solved their external, and even internal head gasket issues, so I would try that first before you start to plan on actually replacing the gaskets. In my case it took about 3 weekends to replace the head gaskets, mostly due to not having the whole weekends time to spend or needing a particular tool I had to go borrow. Granted none of the tools were super special, just ones I didnt have in my fairly sparse tool inventory. If the leak is external only and the only problem is dealing with a small green drip you can probably schedule it for a convenient time. In my case it was internal and the car couldn't really be used without addressing it as it was causing cooling issues not to mention mpg/performance issues.

Do it yourself if you have done HGs before, I tried it and it was actually fun, but be aware of the funky head bolt tightening sequence, it is a bit different than most engines. You can even leave the engine in the car if you raise it a few inches in most cases. There are plenty of threads here on the subject for you to review before you make the call, use the search function and check em out . :icon_wink:
 

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Premium Member
2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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8,070 Posts
....
1) How much can I expect from the conditioner?
2) How much time does it take the average home mechanic to do a HG swap?

Thanks
1. Results very.

2. I say plan for 3 days. The heads/block need to be checked for flatness and milled if needed, so have a shop lined up before hand. I say 3 days but if you have it all set up prior with an early morning start it can be done in a day if the machine shop can do the heads/block right away, it may be faster just to have the shop skip checking them and go right to milling them.
 

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2019 Crosstrek 2018 XT
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14,405 Posts
Probably too late for the conditioner. the conditioner will work best as a preventative.l But as mentioned..results vary.
 

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2014 Impreza Ltd CVT
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3,319 Posts
I would use the conditioner. A Legacy and Outback I service both had external coolant leaks. The 01 Legacy was pretty bad. I offered the owner to use the conditioner, or to do the headgaskets. For under $5 which do you think each chose?

I still service that Legacy, the Outback was since in an accident and replaced with a Highlander. But the Legacy shows no further leaks. That was over 2 years ago.

My experience and frugality says try it. I would do a full coolant replacement with Subaru Coolant ( NO FLUSH, I have seen flushing agents cause more trouble than they help ) and the conditioner. Both together from Subaru should be about $20.
 

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2003 Forester
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59 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
I'll give it a shot.

I'm 100 miles from the nearest dealer, but I ski in a city that has a dealership. I called them to have some coolant set aside for me and was told that they're out of the conditioner. Tried to sell me on the blue coolant which is more than twice as expensive (considering that it's pre-mix) and which supposedly has the conditioner already added. Is there an advantage to using the blue coolant in a car that originally had the green? Does it really have the conditioner in it, or am I getting yanked around?
 

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2014 Impreza Ltd CVT
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3,319 Posts
I would not replace it with another type. I have heard war stories of leaks after changing to the Blue/Pink or Red coolants.

But it's up to you.
 

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2006 Forester LL Bean Auto
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205 Posts
My last leak turned out to be just the lower hose. Gave it a little snug and the coolant went away. :woohoo:
Total luck. HG's were already done on my car and I always use the Subaru green coolant and conditioner with every exchange. Money well spent IMO.
 

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Administrator
2018 2.5i Premium CVT
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18,977 Posts
The normal ethylene glycol coolant is fatal to animals, and they're attracted to it because it's sweet. Please keep it cleaned up, or park in your garage if you have one.
 

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2005 forester xt
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243 Posts
conditioner is a band-aid.
use the new up dated gaskets and solve the issue.
do you really want to have this leak in ur mind all the time.
 

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1999 FORESTER L
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117 Posts

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2014 328i xDrive Wagon 8 spd Auto
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1,975 Posts
Watched a couple of the videos they had....interesting he (Justin) makes a comment in one of their videos that he believes Subaru changed the engine block for the 2010 Outbacks to a semi-closed deck design. Maybe they're finally acknowledging the limitations of the open deck design?
 

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2008 XS 4EAT
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9,827 Posts
The normal ethylene glycol coolant is fatal to animals, and they're attracted to it because it's sweet. Please keep it cleaned up, or park in your garage if you have one.
Even small amounts of windshield washer fluid can kill a small child or animal. Kids think it's juice, and as little as a couple of teaspoon's of the fluid can either poison or kill. So keep that away from children and wipe up any spills for the animals sake too.
 
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