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#6947 of 19336 Forester Head Gasket?
Aug 25, 2006 (10:01 am)
My daughter graduated from college just over a year ago and used all her graduation money to buy a 1999 Subaru Forester with 100,000 miles on it. She is working at a non-profit in a tiny town, and is being paid almost nothing. Not long after she bought the car it started running rough. After paying one mechanic to do work that didn't solve the problem she found a person with Subaru experience. He replaced her transmission (automatic) with a rebuilt early this summer. This wiped out everything she had earned, and then some.
Then the car started running hot. She never let it get out of the red, but it did get into the red a couple of times. The mechanic flushed the radiator and said he had to do it 3 times before a big clog broke loose and a bunch of junk came out. Also said the coil pack was bad, so he replaced that, the plugs, and the wires. He said the head gasket tested good. Another $900. This was a week ago.
Today she got about an hour into a 5 hour trip and the engine went into the red again. She had been on the interstate and it happened when she slowed for construction. The mechanic at the side of the road said it is probably the head gasket, and he won't touch it.
Two questions: is this the likely diagnosis? If so, does the engine have to come out to replace the head gasket? I am several hours away but am going up there next weekend and could do the work myself.
Any advice/insight is appreciated.
#6948 of 19336 Re: Forester Head Gasket? [chakra]
Aug 25, 2006 (10:10 am)
It's very, very likely that it's the head gasket. I'm surprised the mechanic said "the head gasket tested good", I guess he did a pressure test at that time. I bet that was the problem all along.
Coil pack only costs $80, but that's already done. Wires, the coil pack, and spark plugs were overdue if they had not been done already. My Miata needs new wires every 30k miles!
Call 800-SUBARU3 to see if her car falls within the VINs that are covered under the 8/100 gasket warranty, the catch is the previous owner had to have a coolant conditioner added. That plus if you flushed the radiator that would have removed the additive, and may be why the gasket failed now.
Still doesn't hurt to call them and ask if they can help in some way.
#6949 of 19336 Re: Forester Head Gasket? [chakra]
Aug 25, 2006 (10:17 am)
Sounds likely to be the head gasket. No, the engine does not HAVE to come out, but there is a lot more knuckle room if it does. There are a few more tests that can be done to be sure, but if you are willing and able to do the work, then just replace all the related odds and ends while you are at it and call it good. A few things that would be candidates for replacement: thermostat, water pump, timing belt, radiator hoses. You will also need cam seals. And you might need intake manifold gaskets and head cover gaskets. But, due to some sort of part# incompetency, I was unable to secure either of these last time and just reused the old ones (after a thorough cleaning) in conjunction with NAPA gasket maker (dark blue silicon I fondly call "gasket goop") Amazingly, I am at 20K miles now since my head gasket replacement and still not a drop of oil lost to the external.
Sorry to hear about her ongoing problems. Sounds like she was the victim of an unscrupulous seller.
#6950 of 19336 Re: Forester Head Gasket? [xwesx]
Aug 25, 2006 (10:43 am)
Yep, the original owner didn't take the best care of it.
There should have been a sticker on the radiator about the coolant additive.
#6951 of 19336 Re: Forester Head Gasket? [xwesx]
Aug 25, 2006 (11:17 am)
I've done headgaskets twice on a Subaru with the engine between the fenders and once with the engine pulled.
NEVER AGAIN will I do it between the fenders. It makes the job much more difficult. It's totally worth the time it takes to unbolt the transmission and disconnect the harness.
You do want new intake manifold gaskets but the valve cover gaskets should be just fine, they have minimal torque and it's a little reusable rubber seal.
Aug 25, 2006 (11:42 am)
Thanks for all the advice. The reason I asked about pulling the engine is that I will not have access to a garage. This will truly be a driveway repair, if I have to do it. Don't even know where I could rent an engine hoist in the little town where she is, though it might be worth trying to track one down.
#6953 of 19336 Re: Forester Head Gasket? [locke2c]
Aug 25, 2006 (11:58 am)
Oops..... right. Did not mean intake manifold. Definitely get new gaskets for that. I meant the coolant manifold gaskets (just little rubber rings). The coolant manifold runs underneath the intake manifold and has two outlet ports that connect up to the upper radiator hose.
Thanks for setting me straight, Colin!
#6954 of 19336 Re: Forester Head Gasket? [locke2c]
Aug 26, 2006 (6:02 am)
Just to add my 2 cents: if and when you get new valve cover gaskets, also get the rubber seals that go around the spark plug openings (inside the valve cover) as well as the rubber seals that go under the valve cover hold down bolts and washers. I have found these to last less than 60K miles (every other spark plug change). Just another fun Subaru quirk!
#6955 of 19336 Re: strange noise on my F-XT [subearu]
Aug 26, 2006 (7:54 am)
The dealership called this week doing their own little survey for how things went with my service experience. I mentioned I wasn't happy with the outcome, especially since something was identified as the cause (even though it may be operating normally). So, the service manager of the dealership actually came to my house today, lives just a couple of blocks away and listened to the noise.
He's going to check if there are any bulletins out there on it, but he figures they'll just replace the power steering pump sometime next week. I doubt it's an in stock item.
#6956 of 19336 Rear differential rebuild
Aug 29, 2006 (4:43 am)
I'm kinda new here and not very car savvy. I have a 1997 Sube Impreza Outback [sport] wagon. When I turn at slow speeds, my wheels slip and I get a loud chugging noise. I've been told I need to have my rear differential re-built. How much will this set me back? Should I go to a dealer for it?
Also when I accelerate, it sounds like Chewbaca is under my hood. It's especailly loud in cold weather. And I have a knocking noise somewhere in the front of the car - can't tell where it's coming from.
I assume these are 3 pretty expensive problems. I just got married and bought a house over the last few months so I'd rather not take on a car payment at this time. And scraping together change for all these fixes is going to be painful.
In advance, thanks!