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1999 Forester
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11 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I put my 1999 Forester into the shop to have the clutch fixed. It was the original clutch so I figured having it fail at 149k miles isn't bad.

But while it was in the shop, the service manager convinced me replace the oil pan which was very rusty.

When they dropped the oil pan, they found that there was coolant mixed in with the oil. This, I gather, means there is an internal head gasket leak.

Does that make sense, and is this a common problem with the 99 Forester? The engine seemed to be running fine (except for the clutch slipping) up to the moment I put the car into the shop for the clutch job.

I have seen other threads discussing head gasket leaks but they seemed to indicate that the leak was external (i.e. out of the engine). In my case, it seemed to have been internal between the coolant and the oil. Nothing seemed to be getting into the cylinders (i.e. no white smoke in the exhaust).

My mechanic is estimating it will take about $1,800 to replace the head gaskets.

Does that seem reasonable?

Is it worth doing for a Forester with 149k miles on it?

Up until today, I thought the beast was doing pretty well but I suddenly have a $1,200 clutch job on top of an $1,800 head gasket job.

And I recently had to replace the alternator and the starter motor for a few hundred dollars each.

Is it time to put a bullet between the headlamps and shop for some new wheels? :icon_confused:

--Doug
 

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2011 Forester X AT
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4,235 Posts
There are entire websites dedicated to the headgasket failures of the 2.5l engine. It is a common problem. There are two phases of 2.5l engines. Typically phase I leaks internally, phase II typically leaks externally.

I think the shop is taking you for a ride though because if they do a headgasket job for $1800 then they should be removing the engine and machining the heads. The cost of a clutch at that point should be a lot less since everything is apart.

Generally, once the headgasket has been replaced with an updated gasket, and surfaces properly prepped properly it should not fail again. If they do a sloppy job (dont remove the engine, clean mating surfaces, mill heads) then you can expect to have another failure.
 

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02 Forester L (sold) Manual
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1,220 Posts
I agree, there is work duplication here. The engine is *usually* pulled to do the HG's so there is virtually no additional labor to do the clutch when the engine is already out, only the cost of the parts. You may just be misunderstanding the various quotes he is giving you. I had the HG's and seals done as well as the clutch on ours and the bill was only around 2 grand. An unwelcome bill, of course, but still cheaper than a new car. If you like the Foz and intended to keep it for at least 2 more years then it is worth doing. Keep the receipts as these will add some value to the car when you do eventually sell it as the smart buyers will want to know when the HG's were last replaced. If you were thinking of replacing it soon anyway then yes, now is the time to bail as $2000 spent now in the short term will not net you $2000 worth of added value to the car as a trade or sold privately. You can certainly get to 200,000 on a Subaru (I've done it) but after 150k or so you will start to wear out some things as you are discovering. Being in MA, if your Foz has any rust issues I'd say now is the time to consider replacement, as rust never sleeps and it will get worse. If it's solid...then repairing may be a better option. This is sort of a decision only you can make based on your finances and willingness to go into debt for a newer car.
 
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