Last post on Feb 08, 2012 at 11:19 AM
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Subaru Forester, Subaru
#145 of 150 2003 Forester head gasket patch, successful!
Jan 11, 2012 (11:11 am)
My 2003 Forester XS has been a great car, 148k so far. About 2 years ago (~ 40k ago) it started dripping oil from somewhere, not enough to make it to the ground, but enough to give an obnoxious burning oil smell from dripping on the exhaust.
I finally dropped the belly pan and cleaned everything up...started it up and checked it 30 mins later...and saw that there was a very slow leak coming from the back lower portion of the head gasket, driver's side. Figuring it was a gravity feed return hole from the head back to the oil pan, and not wanting to spend a bunch to pull a great running engine apart, I thought I'd try a patch.
There was no good access to the spot, the only possibility was between the motor mount and exhaust. I thought I'd try the RTV copper gasket maker to seal it. I found a small wooden handle brush in the shop, handle was about 1/2" wide, and used that as a dauber and applicator to put on a 1/4" bead about 3" long. Then I took a piece of aluminum tape, cut out about a 1 1/2" x 4" long piece, ran another 1/4" bead in the center, and used the same wooden handle to press it onto the area and smooth it out, making a tight seal.
I didn't really expect this to work, but it's been clean now for several days and several hundred miles. "Good to go" the next 150k? Dunno, but not wrinkling my nose anymore at intersections.
#146 of 150 Re: 2003 Forester head gasket patch, successful! [once_for_all]
Feb 04, 2012 (11:42 am)
My 2003 Forester had the head gaskets replaced about 1 1/2 years ago at 85,000 miles. Subaru had even offered to pay part of the repair cost. So at that time I had the timing belt and water pump replaced as well. I just brought the car in to a different dealer for the recent lower control arm recall and was told that oil was leaking from the head gaskets again and it would cost $2300 to repair. I have put on about 16,000 miles since the first repair. I thought that this repair would last me at least three years minimum. Is the RTV fix you tried still holding? I would seriously consider this as an alternative fix if it is still holding.
#147 of 150 Another 2003 Forester w Head Gasket Problem
Feb 06, 2012 (12:23 pm)
I brought our Forester in for an oil change last week at the dealer and was told that the head gasket was leaking. We don't use the Subaru that much; it only has 54,000 miles on it!
So it had taken us about 1.5 years to put the 5,000 miles on which made it time to bring it in again. Last time: everything fine
This time they recommended:
head gasket leaking $3200 repair
throttle body service
brake and power steering flush
1 side valve cover gasket
front and rear differential fluids
all together $5000!
Given that the car only has 54,000 miles on it, i'm pretty darned surprised that it needs this much work. I talked to an independent (ie, not at the dealer) mechanic. He said it is well known that the head gasket problems continued after 2002 but that Subaru refused to stand behind later model years and cover the work. And that it is common that Subaru dealers service departments would use stop leak fluid to deal with the problem until the car was out of warranty, at which time they would tell you that it needs to be replaced at your own cost.
Given that i purchased the car 9.5 years ago, I really doubt that Subaru would give me any significant help to fix this.
I'm thinking of trading in the car (for a new Rav4) rather than have all this work done to it. I probably can't, in good conscience, sell the car to an individual for very much since i would disclose this issue. I'm not sure that if i went to trade in at a dealer that the problem would be identified. Your thoughts? How long can one keep using the stop leak fluids rather than getting the thing repaired?
#148 of 150 Re: Another 2003 Forester w Head Gasket Problem [harvitt]
Feb 06, 2012 (12:43 pm)
If you only put 5k miles in 18 months, it could go for years before the problem got any worse. I'd try some stop-leak and just check the oil level at every fuel fill-up, which we should all do routinely anyway.
#149 of 150 Re: Another 2003 Forester w Head Gasket Problem [ateixeira]
Feb 06, 2012 (12:50 pm)
In addition to that, everything else mentioned on that list is just normal maintenance. Periodic flushing/changing of fluids is important.
$3,200 for the gaskets?! You should find a mechanic that doesn't smoke so much crack. Swap those first two numbers, and you'll be getting closer to an appropriate price for both gaskets, which would also include timing belt, water pump, and the valve cover gasket mentioned in your list.
If you have all that work done and pay over half the quoted amount, the mechanic took you to the cleaners.
#150 of 150 Re: 2003 Forester head gasket patch, successful! [jbur1]
Feb 08, 2012 (11:19 am)
It is still holding. Since there is no pressure on the oil, it doesn't take much to stop it. The keys however, are to clearly identify where the leak is coming from, get a good solid contact, and a large patch area. Depending on the leak area, this may not always be possible. I thought it might work, as the RTV compound is not easy to remove once applied (from experience with scraping old gaskets).
The idea is not much different than putting a patch on a bicycle inner tube.