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2011 Forester Auto - non-turbo
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Aloha! And apologies if I am asking in the wrong forum, I hope this is the right place and the right kind of questions.

I have a 2011 non-turbo Forester, automatic. Been a great vehicle, but recently on a really hot day white smoke started coming from the engine and the check engine light came on and the engine temp spiked. Stopped immediately and found that the radiator hose had split and there was coolant all over the engine. After opening the radiator saw brown sludge on the underside of the cap. Had it towed to the local Subaru dealer who, after taking the engine apart, diagnosed a bad head gasket. The estimate to repair it is $5800. They say that I need to replace the radiator and all the hoses, and have the heads machined. So $1850 in parts and $3700 in labor, plus tax and some other things. I have a few questions:

1. Is this a reasonable estimate? I know I am paying more for a lot of reasons here in Hawaii, but this was double what I expected.
2. Does it make sense that I need to replace the entire cooling system as well as the head gasket?
3. Is it worth the premium to have this work done at the dealer, or should I try to save money by going somewhere else?
4. After the repair should we expect more problems? We have taken care of the vehicle and were hoping to drive for many more years.

Thanks in advance for any advice and suggestions!
 

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Super Moderator
2001 Forester S, 4EAT
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2,909 Posts
@hawaii_time Radiator and hoses plus labour should be around $400-500 or less. I just head head gasket job done, timing belt, water pump, machine and repair the heads for around $2800. So I think they are gouging at $5800. The other problem I have with getting this done at the dealer is they will not be using what the community considers a reliable head gasket. So in about 100,000 miles you'll be looking at another head gasket job, and probably another over heat situation as well.

Does it make sense to replace the entire cooling system? Depends on the mileage. But the bulk of the parts costs on the cooling system is the radiator. The hoses, thermostat etc.. are small. Since they have the engine out and apart, any good mechanic should also replace the timing belt and the water pump as well. It make sense they want to replace the entire cooling system, because over heating is what caused the head gaskets to let go in the first place. So what caused the over heating in the first place? broken water pump? clogged radiator? clogged thermostat?

If it was me, I would have it towed to a non-dealer mechanic for a 2nd opinion and price.

I originally had the dealer replace the head gasket on my 2001 model. Well as everyone will tell you, they will not do a very good job, I just had it done again for the 2nd time using a non-dealer mechanic. I wish at the time I had known about the head gasket issue and that the dealer was going to do such a poor job, I would have taken it to a non-dealer for the work.

Good luck.
 

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2011 Forester Auto - non-turbo
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This is really helpful, thank you. I got some similar advice from a mechanic here. Problem is they are already going to charge me for doing the diagnostic, like $1300 (which is part of the $5800) so kind of have me in a bind.
 

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2001 Forester S, 4EAT
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This is really helpful, thank you. I got some similar advice from a mechanic here. Problem is they are already going to charge me for doing the diagnostic, like $1300 (which is part of the $5800) so kind of have me in a bind.
Ouch? What $1300 for diagnose? What they need to diagnose? Man they are really soaking you here, I would call Subaru US on this to see if they can help and present to them what your 2nd opinion is providing, granted it's a non-dealer mechanic. But this is highway robbery. I would tell Subaru US that you feel this dealer is robbing you with unreasonable charges and estimates.....This borders on you needing to take them to small claims court as they technically can hold your car if you try to have to towed to the other mechanic without paying the $1300. I'd get a lawyer involved as well. I guess what I am trying to say here, "There is nothing to diagnose" , hence why the $1300 charge? What did you the dealer do to justify/earn the $1300.
 
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