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Hey all, I'm new to the forums, but I have been lurking and searching trying to figure out some things about my 2007 Forester X. First the Subaru was bought new, has about 94000 mi. on it, it has had oil changes every 3000 mi. it has performed very well, and been very reliable, but the official scheduled maintenance that Subaru suggests has not been followed. The other day early evening, after not being run all day, i took my G F to the ER (kidney stones) about a mile perhaps a little more from the hospital my car seemed like it was hit by a water balloon filled w/ steam on the passenger side, it happened as I was passing a slower vehicle (passing gear) Stunned, I looked at my temp gauge and it was just about in the red, raining and almost to the hospital I drove the last mile, and took care of my girl. When I left after 8 hrs and arranging a ride, I popped my hood and noticed the rad. just below the filler neck had burst. Next morning I got a flatbed tow to my house, and bought a new rad and 13 psi cap. after installing new rad and burping the coolant best I could I ran it for about 20 min. at idle, temp gauge stayed low for about 15 min. and blew cold air then gauge at half it blew warm, but not like usual. fans came on, but needle did not go beyond 1/2. I'm not sure if thermostat opened. shut it down after 20 min. next day opened cap and added more coolant and burped it, some bubbles burst emitting either smoke or steam I could not determine, ran it for 40 min temp gauge did same thing, today I filled rad and ran it for 50 min and it behaved the same. I'm a little reluctant to try it on the road short or longer distance, don't like paying tow charge, and don't like idea of doing further damage. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Tenneesseejed1
 

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2019 Crosstrek 2018 XT
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How much water do you add each time. Was there any white smoke? Could be the TStat.

Whe way to fill the system is to disconnect the upper hose at the radiator neck. Fill the engine through the top hose. Reconnect the hose and fill the radiator at the cap.

You might have blown a head gasket....hopefully not.
 

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2010 Forester 2.5 XPremium 4EAT
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I wouldn't often recommend this, but seeing that you have bubbles / possible smoke, etc, it might pay you to get a radiator block test to check for exhaust gasses in your coolant - symptomatic of a head gasket problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you both, for your responses. I added less than a quart of coolant both times. I am now aware of the HG weakness that this model is known for. It did produce white smoke from the exhaust when ran. In it's whole history this car never overheated, or even approached the gauge red zone. I was hoping it was either the thermostat or maybe even the WP. Being a SB Chevy man in my mid to late 50's these symptoms are a bit baffling, and a lot of the videos and various forum entries I've looked at on line are contradictory. The only entry I saw that mentioned rad rupture, the owner chalked it up to age and plastic fatigue (brittle) w/ no follow up if that was the only failure. I will probably try the block test today, having never done this, is it a test you can perform in your driveway, or would you guys advise a professional, block tester is available at local AZ. I'm trying to eliminate all the smaller (less expensive )possibilities, before I submit to HG replacement $$$$. Thanks again Tenneesseejed1
 

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White smoke from exhaust is solid evidence of coolant being burned in the engine - obviously not good, and on these engines highly indicative of head gasket failure.

You can do the block test yourself.

 

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Thanks for the vid ForesterCub, I feel a bit more confidant now It is a DIY. I got the kit, and the fluid. I'll do the test tomorrow weather permitted., and report results. Thanks to all. TJ1
 

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The most important thing to do with that test kit is to make sure the coolant level in the rad is dropped enough so that when the kit is installed and you press the rubber suction that you're sucking up vapour / gas from the rad and not coolant. Easy mistake to make. Good luck.
 

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1st attempt, sucked coolant up into tube, green coolant, turned blue liquid blueish green . false positive. 2nd attempt after rinsing out tube gave an ambiguous greenish tint. not sure what to think. Got a Mon. AM appointment at a garage for diagnosis. Told them everything I've stated here, guy says Subaru radiators are notorious for rupture w/ no cause. We will see. He also told me worse case, full head gaskets w/ machine work timing belt and pulleys water pump, and thermostat would run approx $1500. Sounds reasonable. Any advice or suggestions gratefully accepted. Thanks all TJ
 

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My radiator burst on top at around 95k. I replaced with one i ordered from amazon, another plastic top. The only time I had the car overheat after 20 min or so was when the cap wasn't on right after installing the new radiator. Could be worth checking if you got a bad cap (i used my old one and it was fine). If you're going to get the Timing belt done, contact Subaru Parts Girl on this forum. She works out of a dealership on the east coast. She got me about 700 dollars worth of oem parts for a full timing belt job. the total for the parts locally was over 1k. I also got my stuff with 3-4 days of calling her.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Tried to start it this morning to drop it off at mechanic, key would not turn, steering wheel locked. Tried jiggling, wiggling, all day, nothing worked. I've had the column lock before, 6-8 times but always freed up momentarily, any suggestions.
 

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What is your coolant overflow tank telling you? When you replaced the rad, did you fill the overflow....and did the system eventually suck it all out of the overflow?

I've found that burping the forester after a rad change can take forever, 20 minutes may not have been enough. It took about a week of adding to the overflow for my coolant level to finally stabilize after my rad change.

I think long-term monitoring will tell you more than a mechanic who might risk misdiagnosing this as a HG leak.....at which point you might as well get rid of it unless you're ready to throw some money at this 11 yr old car.
 

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Thanks for the reply inspector. The car is at the shop right now, Got a call last nite they say HG is blown, they want to discuss replacement motor, either used, or reman. Don't know what to do now. At this point, do I replace an original motor w/ 94000 miles, w/ a motor that has unknown mileage. Thanks TJ1
 

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Why are they talking about a new motor?
What happened to replacing the HG + timing belt and accessories?
Is your current motor damaged some how?

The worst HG cases might have a warped block - but extremely unsual that the motor is taost. I would proceed with extereme caution herre.

I would want to be 100% convinced that a new motor is needed. Are these guys Subaru specialists?

Consider a second opinion.
 

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I finally get it, my mechanic is a genius, he hints at an engine job that is gonna run between $3500, to $6500, so when he quotes me $1500 for head gaskets plus $350 for timing belts pulleys, thermostat, and water pump, I feel good about the whole thing. Brilliant. Actually he seemed pretty confidant that it was head gasket failure, and suggested I do the peripherals while it is disassembled. He can't tear it down till next week Tue. or Wed. once torn down we will discuss what it needs. I'll update then. Thank you all very much. TJ1
 

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My mechanic told me today both head gaskets had failed. The machine shop he sent them to said minor cracking in a non critical location, and that he'd seen that before, it was a common failure point, and never had a problem w/ reusing the cracked heads. I gave him the green light, and will find out timeline in next few days. Please respond if you have any experience w/ such situation. TJ1
 

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Got the car back yesterday, $2,700 later. Mechanic said extra cost was for spark plugs, s p wires, new head bolts, gaskets, water pump, thermostat, timing belt, pulleys, idlers, new drive belts, oil change, filter, coolant, and labor. Drove it home, drove it a little today 30 mi. total temp gauge stayed mid point no overheating. Still question price tag, and reliability, any comments, or suggestions.? Now I believe I have an 8 thousand dollar car that'
s worth about 5 thousand. thanks for all advice, and input. fingers crossed, wish me luck. TJ1
 

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Two things. Make sure you get the tensioner also. I would use hew headbolts for the HG. Not required and my Subaru Mechanic said not necessary. I went with new anyway. 70K miles later HG is dry as a bone.
 

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Got the car back yesterday, $2,700 later. Mechanic said extra cost was for spark plugs, s p wires, new head bolts, gaskets, water pump, thermostat, timing belt, pulleys, idlers, new drive belts, oil change, filter, coolant, and labor. Drove it home, drove it a little today 30 mi. total temp gauge stayed mid point no overheating. Still question price tag, and reliability, any comments, or suggestions.? Now I believe I have an 8 thousand dollar car that'
s worth about 5 thousand. thanks for all advice, and input. fingers crossed, wish me luck. TJ1
I'm betting that the parts alone were near $1000 + or -

Say the parts were $1,000, that leaves $1700 labour, which at a typical rate of $125 an hour comes out at about 13 hours, which is within (my) expected parameters for the work you had done. Some mechanics will do it quicker, some slower.

I would be looking for a proper, written, itemised receipt and something in writing about what his or her warranty policy is.

As long as the heads were made true and within tolerance (there should be a bill for that) and an MLS gasket was used then you should be fine for a long time.

Word of warning for anyone reading this down the line - if you use an independent Subaru specialist to get major work done, like I did, get them to tell what they charge for OEM parts before going ahead with the work. I like to think of myself as someone who doesn't get ripped off easily but I got stung badly by this. The mark up on the OEM parts they charged me was in the vicinity of 75%. So if I were to do this again (I had head gasket, timing belt done), I would source my own parts and give to them to the mechanics. Or much more likely do it myself.
 
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