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1998 forester s
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4 Posts
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I bought my first Subaru this weekend. It's a 98 Forester with 152k. I thought I got a really good deal on the car but instead I got screwed. I have faith that everyone here can give me great advise. I test drove the car for about 30min and had no problems. I checked for normal signs of head gasket problems such as coolant in the oil, oil in the coolant, and the nice fragrant sweet smell from the exhaust. I thought I was good to go. Then 2 days later after I registered the car I went and picked it up. Everything was great till about 40min into my ride home. The temp gauge started to rise real quick and then it started smoking from under the hood. I got the car home cause I was only a mile away and tried to call the sob back that sold it to me. Long story short he disappeared and I have an overheating Forester. I replaced both radiador hoses since they sucked together when the car over heated. Also replaced thermostat. No luck the car still overheats. At this point I am pretty sure I have to do head gaskets. I figured I might as well replace the timing belt, tensioner, and water pump while I am in there. Is there anything else I should check before doing head gaskets. Or is there any other parts I should replace while I am doing all this already. Also wondering if anyone has tried porting and polishing the heads. I was also wondering about milling the heads to up the compression. I plan on adding a cold air intake and exhaust. I was also wondering about how involved it would be to ditch the whole head gasket replacement and drop in a turbo motor. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

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04 Forester X, MT
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1,039 Posts
before getting into the headgasket job, which is likely needed, be sure all coolant hoses are in good shape and tightened properly and coolant level is good.
there are 2 small coolant hoses on each side of throttle body that look more like fuel hoses so don't miss those.
air can be trapped in the system, so be sure the front is raised when you top off the radiator.
you already replaced the thermostat but would be good to replace the rad cap too.
try and identify what is actually leaking and where it is coming from. if the motor is too dirty or greasy carefully clean it first. grease from CV boots can get on exhaust, as can oil from a leaky valve cover gasket. lots of things can make smoke.


if the headgaskets are required:

consider a compression test to be sure engine is in good shape.

be sure the headgasket is newer Multi-Layer Shim design. my '04s getting these this week. the part is a Subaru part that came in the gasket set.

at 152k if you like and want to keep the car you really need to do everything, basically a complete engine reseal and timing job:
oil seals: camshafts, crank, rear main (the motor should really be pulled to do a proper headgasket job)
have the heads serviced by a machine shop; they should get new valve stem seals and be "resurfaced" to ensure flatness
timing components: in addition to belt replace all idler pulleys and tensioner
the aforementioned water pump
reseal the oil pump with new o-ring and gray RTV. be sure rotor screws behind are tightened properly.
clutch kit if a 5spd
replace the "oil separator plate" on rear of motor with newer metal one. the plastic one is bad to crack and leak oil.

be aware other expensive problems that could arise are wheel bearings or catalytic converter. it might need struts too at that mileage. consider everything and be sure you want to invest the $ in the car. even if you put $ into it it should still be cheaper than car payment over 2-3 years of ownership.
 

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1999 Forester L
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...consider a compression test to be sure engine is in good shape...

Welcome to the forum. I am new here too, and new to Subaru as well, so I don't want to be stepping on any toes. I would suggest that in addition to the compression test, that you do a cylinder leakdown test. It can help you pinpoint the source of your leak. Google "cylinder leakdown test", and you'll find all the info you need, including how to assemble your own leakdown tester.

Good luck!
 
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