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2001 Forester
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Discussion Starter #1
I have been told the head gaskets in my 2001 Forester need to be replaced again (compression of a cylinder is below combustion pressure). A generous and new dealership in Florida (now closed) replaced it around 45k in late 2004, just before the official recall for conditioner. They also added the conditioner.

Unfortunately, Subaru never told 3rd Party shops to add conditioner after each coolant flush, or that the engine is extra susceptible to old/poor coolant. Mine is wearing out again and I am not aware of any extended warranty for dealer-installed gaskets. Does such a thing exist?

Back to 3rd party shops. I am frustrated that Subaru dealers keep secrets so owners have to come back for thorough (and pricey) maintenance. Few 3rd party shops have the time to know enough about so many cars.

At least the $1500 repair (10 hours labor, head refinishing, parts) seems to fix the problem for most people. It sucks that the unburnt gas also wore out my catalytic converter. Thanks to the web, I can now give my Forester the TLC it needs. I'd rather not replace it.
 

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2008 LL Bean (4EAT)
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... the head gaskets in my 2001 Forester need to be replaced again... A generous and new dealership... replaced it around 45k in late 2004... Subaru never told 3rd Party shops to add conditioner after each coolant flush, or that the engine is extra susceptible to old/poor coolant.... I am frustrated that Subaru dealers keep secrets so owners have to come back for thorough (and pricey) maintenance. Few 3rd party shops have the time to know enough about so many cars....
I don't understand.
Why wasn't the head gasket at 45k covered by the power train warranty?
Do you expect Subaru to contact and instruct 3rd party shops in maintenance?
Do you think Subaru dealers who don't do the same are keeping secrets?
Are not all engines are susceptible to problems caused by old/poor coolant?
 

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2014 CVT
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826 Posts
the TSB on the coolant conditioner is out and has been they are not just for the dealers, any shop can get them, so saying that a 3rd party shop doesnt have that info is false, that being said it is a well know fact, and any shop that has ever done any work on a subaru should know this
 

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2011 Forester X AT
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4,235 Posts
Headgaskets on Subarus are wear items. It's in the owners manual maintenance schedule right after replacing timing belt tensioners/pulleys.....didn't the dealer tell you that when you bought the car?!
 

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2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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8,073 Posts
I see some miss understandings here and I hope I can add some clarity to them.


I have been told the head gaskets in my 2001 Forester need to be replaced again (compression of a cylinder is below combustion pressure). A generous and new dealership in Florida (now closed) replaced it around 45k in late 2004, just before the official recall for conditioner. They also added the conditioner.
This repair should have been done under the 5 year 60,000 mile powertrain warranty. The dealer was doing their part, not being generous by doing a good faith repair.

Mine is wearing out again and I am not aware of any extended warranty for dealer-installed gaskets. Does such a thing exist?
In this case the warranty would be irrelevant. The WWP-99(TSB) coolant conditioner campaign was for 8 years 100K, you are beyond that. Subaru parts and service warranty is remainder of the factory warranty or 12 months 12,000 miles from the mileage at time of the service which ever is longer, again you are well beyond those criteria.

Back to 3rd party shops. I am frustrated that Subaru dealers keep secrets so owners have to come back for thorough (and pricey) maintenance. Few 3rd party shops have the time to know enough about so many cars.
Federal and State lemon laws, secret warranties laws requires manufactures to make Technical Service Bulletins(TSBs) available to every one, including dealers, independent shops and private parties. TSBs are different from Recalls, Recalls are a problem that has been deemed unsafe or unfit..... TSBs are only a technical bulletin, one that is meant for mechanics to refer to for help on repairs or to give insight on issues. They are not a Recall to fix some thing for free. They can be as simple as if you see____ look at ____.

Manufactures are not responsible for finding the address of every shop or person outside of their dealer network working on their cars and notifying them(imagine the resources involved, your $20K car would cost much more with no gain in quality). They are only required to make them available.

TSB summaries are available via NHTSA's Website at Home | National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA) | U.S. Department of Transportation . This is only a summery not the whole TSB, but it allows one a glimpse of what it is about. Subaru publishes their full TSBs at Subaru Technical Information System - Home . There is nothing requiring this information be provided free of charge, Subaru only charges $34.95 for a 72hr subscription many manufactures charge more and don't make them as publicly available as Subaru does on the web.
 

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1998 Cayenne GTS 6speed
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It sucks that the unburnt gas also wore out my catalytic converter.
That does not sound right. A head gasket failure that would have significant effect on compression would blow all your coolant out in a few seconds. There's something else to it, not just "normal" head gasket failure.
 

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2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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8,073 Posts
That does not sound right. A head gasket failure that would have significant effect on compression would blow all your coolant out in a few seconds. There's something else to it, not just "normal" head gasket failure.
I have seen internal HG leaks where the coolant runs down the combustion chamber and grounds out the spark plug causing a hard miss. If this is the case the engine would have been pumping that unburned fuel/air mix into the exhaust causing the cat to run extremely hot.
 

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2008 XS 4EAT
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9,878 Posts
+1 with what flstffex has said, and if some 3rd party garage has been giving you that information in your post, you're being misinformed. Maybe it's time to look for a Subaru specialist in your area, maybe some members in your region can make a recommendation.

Good luck with your repairs.
 

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2001 Forester
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4 Posts
Bad Headgasket

The day I bought my 2001 Forester, I brought it home and it started overheating. I opened up the hood, looked at the coolant and noticed it was foaming. The water pump was very hot but the radiator was not. I noticed that whoever had the car before had had the conditioner added to it at some point but unfortunately it was no longer under warranty. When I realized that my head gasket was bad (and I had just bought it) I had my fiance call the dealer and tell them what was happening. They agreed to pay half of the repairs and we pay half. This was somewhat generous since the car was used and as is and had 125,000 miles on it. It cost us around $1400, dealership paid half.

Anyway, my fiance decided to write Subaru a letter stating how he was disappointed with their product. He asked why this isn't a recall (besides the conditioner) since so many people have problems with them. Long story short, they told us send them the bill for review to see if there's anything else they could do for us. A couple of weeks later we got a letter back stating that unfortunatly the car was no longer under warrantly but they could send us a check for $500 for our problems. So, basically if all else fails and you have to fix the HG and end up having to pay for it, write Subaru a letter, maybe the same thing will happen for you. Good luck!
 

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2003 XS
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176 Posts
A couple of weeks later we got a letter back stating that unfortunatly the car was no longer under warrantly but they could send us a check for $500 for our problems.
Wouldn't it be cheaper to make a closed deck block that doesn't leak rather then shell out all this money to unhappy customers? Subaru, just a thought, in case you are listening.

Mark
 

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2008 2008 2.5i-2018 XT
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Wouldn't it be cheaper to make a closed deck block that doesn't leak rather then shell out all this money to unhappy customers? Subaru, just a thought, in case you are listening.

Mark
No. That would take a whole new design, testing, new production machines/designs. And in the end there will be problems with new engines = customer problems. The engine is extremely reliable and the HG issue is probably no worse than other engines. Don't screw with a good thing.
 

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2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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Wouldn't it be cheaper to make a closed deck block that doesn't leak rather then shell out all this money to unhappy customers? Subaru, just a thought, in case you are listening.

Mark
Money, cost of production. There is added cost in materials and added cost in tooling in the semi closed deck and a much greater cost in the closed-deck. Subaru promises the car to be free from defects in materials and workman ship for 5 years 60K for the powertrain. The vast majority don't fail until after 100K(out side the 5yr/60K) and the few oddballs that fail within the 5yr 60k(nothing is perfect) SOA stands behind. It is all a numbers game in business, at this point Fuji Heavy Industries has more then likely deemed it more profitable to repair those few oddballs and help out the few that complain theirs shortly after warranty coverage expired.

My own little editorial(take it or leave it):
I think much of society has the idea or opinion that we have progressed to the point in technology that things they buy shouldn't wear out in their life time and they need to last through their life time. To top it off they want every thing as cheap as they can get it. I am sorry but mechanical assemblies wear our, it is the nature of the beast and the longer you want it to last the more expensive the cost of manufacturing, adding to the cost of the end product. Would you pay $30-40k for a base model Impreza or Forester?. Maybe my view point is a little skewed due to turning wrenches for 3/4 my life now fixing stuff, but I expect stuff to wear out.

I guess what I am trying to say is do, I think their is room for improvement in the design? Yes, undeniably. A manufacture guarantees that car for X number of years and X number of miles. Too often I see people complaining that the manufacture needs to stand behind it when a item fails outside of the warranty period, a warranty period they bought into and agreed to.
 

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2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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No. That would take a whole new design, testing, new production machines/designs. And in the end there will be problems with new engines = customer problems. The engine is extremely reliable and the HG issue is probably no worse than other engines. Don't screw with a good thing.
Thank you, some one who understands.
 

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So I am looking REALLY hard at a 2001 Forester S with 74k on the clock... IE possibly purchasing today...

This thread makes me step back and rethink this purchase...

Other than the obvious used car look over is there anything I should look for?
 

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2008 LL Bean (4EAT)
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So I am looking REALLY hard at a 2001 Forester S with 74k on the clock... IE possibly purchasing today... Other than the obvious used car look over is there anything I should look for?
Yes. Look at a CARFAX report, and at the paperwork on its maintenance history which either the owner or the dealer or the independent shop should have. If the car is on a used car lot with no records and no contact with the previous owner, I would keep looking.
I almost bought a used Forester instead of a new one. The selling dealer gave me the contact info for the previous owner. I googled him, looked what he did, at the aerial and street photos of where he lived, and called the servicing dealer who read me all the records. I felt like I knew the car as if I had owned it.
 

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2000 Forester L
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Just joined up here recently after purchasing an '00 FL and am loving the community and all the info.

I'm sure this has been discussed to death but I'd have to agree with the other members who say the head gasket issue is a design flaw. Even at 100k a head gasket failure has occured too early in my opinion. I don't think I've ever replaced a head gasket in ANY car I've ever owned all of which have ended up with over 300k and they certainly haven't suggested that it's 'regular maintenance'. I'm just crossing my fingers it doesn't happen with the new Forester or the girlfriend's Impreza.

It costs money to re-think a design but Subaru has had 10 years now to think about it.
 

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02 Forester L (sold) Manual
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Since it really only happens on the 2.5, it may be because Subaru has pushed the engine size as far as it can go and it's now more stressed. But, it seems mostly based in a poor head gasket design that simply can't maintain a seal. The sealing area is very small where they fail, so a lot is asked of the gasket. My completely anecdotal independent study says that, with replacement of an arguably better quality than original head gasket, the problem pretty much goes away provided the original mating surfaces haven't been warped.
 

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2008 LL Bean (4EAT)
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... I'd have to agree with the other members who say the head gasket issue is a design flaw....
Subaru has incorporated several features in the 2.5 NA engine.
1. Open deck cylinder blocks that stress the head gaskets.
2. Rubber timing belts that can break.
3. Interference valves that ruin the engine when the timing belt breaks.

What is that makes these features a flaw instead of an intentional design decision for economy of manufacturing to meet a price point?

Would you be willing to pay for designs that correct these "flaws"? In the case of the deck design, you can pay for a turbo motor with a semi-closed deck. In the case of the rubber belt, you can pay for the H-6 engine with timing chain that doesn't break.
 
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