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2003 XS Premium 4EAT
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
How much will the Coolant Conditioner do? [update with HG repair]

I updated an old thread I started ('Sweet 'candy' smell...') to reflect the latest, which is that my '03 XS has a HG leak, at 67K miles. But I have a new question.

Dealer quotes $2370 [oops--$2270] for HG repair if no resurfacing of the heads is needed, but that apparently does include other work customarily done: timing belt, water pump, etc.

I am in talks with SoA though car is out of warranty and I have no proof car was serviced properly at 30K and 60K intervals by previous owner. Dealer who sold me car said it was, but talk is cheap. SoA rep is being very nice, but not making promises. I am very polite on the phone. :icon_wink:

The leak is seepage, on both sides, more on driver's. Very little coolant has been lost, drops rather than ounces. No sign that I have seen of oil in coolant, or vice versa. No overheating, at all. From reading here I gather that this indicates an external rather than internal HG issue.

As such, would a simple refill with Subaru coolant + conditioner perhaps deal with it? That seems to be what Subaru indicates in the TSB:

>>Subaru has determined that certain 1999 through 2002 model year 2.5L equipped Subaru vehicles may experience an external coolant leak from the cylinder head gaskets. This is the result of normal relative thermal expansion and contraction variations of engine parts. As a precautionary measure, SOA is recommending that a special conditioner be added to the engine cooling system to prevent leaks from occurring or to correct existing leaks.<<

So should I at least try just using the conditioner to 'correct' the existing leaks? $2370 [edit--actually $2270], less whatever Subaru offers, is a lot of money. And the repair is only guaranteed for a year--which is not very comforting considering this problem seems to recur on some cars.

FWIW I only drive 7-8K a year, though mostly city miles.

Any thoughts welcome...thanks!
 

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2019 Crosstrek 2018 XT
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We have heard on here that it has been known to work. Give it a shot..what's to lose?
 

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2010 Forester 2.5X
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I'd put that stuff in there.. will probably work.
$2370 sounds like a lot of money, just for HG repair.. especially when mechanic says "if no head resurfacing done" ??? If you are going to take the heads off.. might as well be a valve job.. and every valve job I did...(took heads off, took in for work) always had some machining done on the heads.... you just do it.
 

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2011 Forester X AT
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Per the SOA rep, the conditioner will stop seepage, but not leakage. The definition of seepage vs leakage is questionable.

If SOA agrees to pay for any of the repair, I would just get it fixed now because the conditioner will only work for so long. Mine had the same issue. Was seeping a lot, while under warranty, and they put the conditioner in and problem solved. 30,000 miles later, out of warranty, it suddenly started leaking. I feel like I fell for their "delay the problem till you're out of warranty" trick.


$2300 for HG replacement w/o head machining is highway robbery. I just got mine done in December 2009, both sides, at the dealer with head machining for about $1800 including timing belt stuff.

To add, I would not get HG's replaced unless they machine the surfaces. The recurring problem seems to stem from poor surface prep.
 

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03X MT
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if your cooling system did not have the conditioner in there to begin with then it can help.

My 03X which I thought was past the years of the HG issue did not have the CC added when I did a flush/fill in 06.

In 07 I developed overheating where coolant was being blown out of he expansion bottle etc. I tried replacing the rad cap, t-stat, lower hose. Still overheated.

I finally did a fill with a bottle of CC. No overheating issues in 2 1/2 years. I'm sold.
 

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2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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That price from the dealer is stiff, around the MPLS/St Paul area we typically see that total with the heads being resurfaced(dealer price).

I see no reason not to try the conditioner, after hearing what SOA may contribute. If they offer any thing I would get it done right. I would also bargain with SOA if they offer any thing, to cover the cost of checking the heads/block for flatness and if they are warped they split a equivalent portion of that with you also. Checking the heads/block is part of the repair, to do it right.
 

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Purchased a 2001 with 100k on it. drove it 1200 miles started to smell coolant when i would stop. Looked on the back of the engine, there was a little coolant seepage. Drove to the local subaru dealer, purchased a bottle of conditioner added it according to the directions. It stopped the leak. For how long? We will see. But it will give you some time to prepare for the repair. I am an ASE certified master Diesel Mechanic and do not believe it this kind of stuff but so far so good. I think the cost for the conditioner was under 2 dollars.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks guys, esp those of you who've actually done it, which was what I was looking for.

I wasn't going to get into details but: SoA so far has offered to reimburse $500 of the repair. There's one more stage, one more person who might be able to do something more, and the rep will supposedly talk to him tomorrow. Rep really has been helpful, though SoA was very busy last week and things went so slowly I still have no car.

I gather that SoA has been paying half the repair on cars where the proper servicing has been done. Obviously they don't owe me that. On the other hand I'm being quoted a really high rate.

$2270 - 500 = $1770, assuming no resurfacing. That's still pretty high. Dealer told me they check the head surface with a straight edge, for whatever that's worth.

If I just take the car, I'll pay the dealer a $120 'diagnostic fee' and will have my independent shop put in the Subaru Official Coolant and the conditioner. This is the shop that saw the problem, told me to take it to Subaru as it was a regular problem with them, and refused payment for their time. For that matter, I am getting an estimate from them on doing the job. I bet it's less than $1770.
 

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$2270 - 500 = $1770, assuming no resurfacing. That's still pretty high. Dealer told me they check the head surface with a straight edge, for whatever that's worth.
Maybe its just me but it sounds shady they're offering you "a deal" to bring the price down where it should be.

I was one of those people who had the job covered 1/2 by a warranty extension since I passed the 8yr mark by a few months.
 

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Dealer told me they check the head surface with a straight edge, for whatever that's worth.
If a dealer told me they check the head for flatness with a straight edge, I'd take my work elsewhere. Every machinist I've watched do this uses a micrometer with head mounted on mill table or known flat surface.

Your independent sounds like a better place.
 

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If SOA offered you $500 your lucky. My wifes '03 Outback started leaking at 80K miles and SOA wouldn't do JACK !!

They did offer me a coupon for money off the purchase of a new Subaru, I asked the guy why I would ever purchase another one after this problem. Turns out 6 years later I bought a Forester :) :)

My wife still has the Outback, which started leaking again after 1 year. The dealer did the job over at no cost and it's been trouble free ever since.

:mob: to SOA

:Banane35: to my dealer
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yikes, Steve. You are a forgiving sort, and I assume you are very happy with the Subaru experience other than the HG. I wish I was.

No further word from SoA yet today, but I am leaning strongly toward picking the car up from the dealer, buying blue coolant and conditioner from their parts dept, driving directly to the independent shop and having them drain n fill, then seeing how the car does for the next few days.

I really appreciate the replies, it's all good and useful information, even if not good news!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Okay, heard again from the Subaru rep. He has been a very nice guy during all this and I do appreciate the corporate effort. I'm sure this kind of thing is a process of negotiation as Subaru can't exactly tell a dealer what to do. Here's what they worked out:

Repair priced down to 'warranty rate'
50% of that

so for the HG: now $650-700

However, I must have dealer do the 60K service that (apparently) was not done, at regular rate: $495.

So we're at $1195. Much better.

However this does not include the water pump or timing belt/tensioner. So that may kick it up, if they need to be done, but still under $1500.

And the jury is still out on the condition of the heads. I will have to take their word on that. I am optimistic as the car never overheated.

Gave the OK on doing this work, reluctantly. The conditioner might have worked by itself but I don't like the idea of a problem that could blow up later, catastrophically. So I figured I should take advantage of this deal, which assuredly won't be available again.

I'll follow up as things develop. And if anyone thinks this is a terrible plan--and you see this tonight--let me know your reasoning as the work won't start till tomorrow.

Thanks for the help everybody.
 

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Sounds about right to me. That's kind of crappy though that you had to pull teeth to get them to offer what is essentially normal cost
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Pretty good news from dealer's service dept today. HG repair done, no further damage to engine, timing belt and tensioner done, (didn't hear about water pump), all the 60K service also done...total bill about $1450.

Maybe this is all it should have cost in the first place but it's come out a lot better than it started. I will never know if the car could have run for another 5 years with just the conditioner added :icon_eek: but that's an uncertainty I can live without.

Thanks for the help.
 

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I think you did great on this one!
I had a 95 T-Bird V8 bought brand new.. Automatic.... serviced trans at 30K and 60K.. tranny took a dump at 66k.. 6k past warranty. $2500.
And then the headgasket on this T-bird V8...steam coming out the exhaust after fully warmed up. Bars leak fixed it. When I flushed system a year later... leak came back.

And this has gotten me to thinking... if Subie drivers have this 'conditioner'
in their radiator.. and take car to quick lube and have those guys say.."yes sir, look at this, you need your radiator flushed!" ... and unsuspecting owners do this.. they are then unprotected. MY2010 coolant good for 11 years before first change... but how many people really understand this?


So, if they replaced Timing belt too.. you made out.
 
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