Last post on Nov 14, 2009 at 10:33 PM
You are in the Subaru Forester Maintenance & Repair
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Subaru Forester, SUV
#13 of 32 2003 subaru forester - engine blown
Aug 26, 2009 (8:21 am)
My 2003 Forester (bought new) has 55,000 miles on it. It has had some unusual problems but nothing I couldn't live with. Last week, however, I had a huge problem. I was on the turnpike in cruise control mode. All of a sudden, the RPM needle started swinging wildly and I was losing power. I took it out of cruise and still couldn't get power. I got to the shoulder and shut down. Smoke was pouring out from the engine. Mechanic said that the engine was leaking coolant - something it seems I would have noticed. He said no - it was leaking into the engine. When I had my car serviced 3 months ago, the coolant was fine (per visual inspection). I have located a PDF document that states - per Subaru - that certain 1999-2002 models may develop coolant leaks at the head gaskets. I am certain that this is what happened to mine. I now need a new engine at the cost of some several thousand dollars. I wondered if anyone else has had this happen to them.
#14 of 32 Re: 2003 subaru forester - engine blown [lornabee]
Aug 26, 2009 (12:20 pm)
What surprises me is your model year is 2003 and we haven't seen many post 02 models with that problem.
Call 800-SUBARU3, tell them what happened.
For 99-02 owners they had a campaign where they would add some stop leak and if you let them they extended the warranty to 7/100.
You didn't do that but you were never offered the choice, plus you're only at 55k.
Yours may be under the 5/60k powertrain warranty either way, but go ahead and call and open up a case with them.
#15 of 32 Re: 2003 subaru forester - engine blown [ateixeira]
Aug 26, 2009 (12:51 pm)
Thanks for input. I am in contact with Subaru. Also, after some lengthy research, I am finding reports from other 2003 owners of exactly the same thing happening to them. In at least one other case, the owner was not advised by the dealer about the stop leak either. Another said the stop leak postponed the problem only long enough for the warranty to expire. I will update here when all is said and done. Thanks again.
#16 of 32 a complication
Aug 27, 2009 (2:59 pm)
My mechanic has (re)determined that the cause of engine failure was due to a hole in the radiator. However, some of my questions remain the same. First of all, if there was a significant "hole" in the radiator, wouldn't I have seen/noticed coolant leaking? 3 months ago, I had general maintenance done, including coolant exchange. I have never seen coolant leaking from my vehicle. That is something that would be hard to miss - and I have a dog who could die if she decided to go at it - something I know dogs are attracted to. Also, is it possible that if the head gaskets blew, the sheer pressure could have blown a hole in the radiator?
#17 of 32 Re: a complication [lornabee]
Aug 27, 2009 (4:10 pm)
Hmm.... not likely, as the radiator cap is set to keep the pressure in the system at 15 psi max, and the radiator or heater hoses would likely have split before a "hole" was blown in the radiator. Where is this alleged hole? It is possible, however unlikely, that debris contacted the radiator and created the hole while you were driving (thus setting off a chain reaction of events).
It seems unlikely that is the case, however, since the radiator for the A/C system is in front of the engine radiator and thereby protects it from frontal impacts.
#18 of 32 Re: a complication [xwesx]
Aug 27, 2009 (5:18 pm)
Thank you xwesx. I also posed the "debris" theory to myself and a couple of friends. But then the question arises: what would I have had to hit to puncture such a severe hole in the radiator? And, the fact is - I didn't hit/run over anything. I have to say - the Ohio turnpike is a well maintained highway. I did go through some construction zones. Could a wayward piece of metal have flown up and punctured it? That seems way out in left field for me.
A couple of possibilties: (?) - An inferior grade of coolant has been used. Or, the mechanics where I have my vehicle being serviced punctured the radiator when they removed it? I really don't want to believe either of those things.
I don't know where the "hole" is. But, I will ask them to hold on to all of the parts.
#19 of 32 Re: a complication [lornabee]
Aug 28, 2009 (8:55 am)
Just brainstorming here, but where is the hole?
If it's at the top of the radiator, you wouldn't see liquid leaking, but rather vapor from the coolant, which would boil if it's not sealed.
You probably would have noticed the steam, unless it leaked out slow and steady.
#20 of 32 Re: a complication [ateixeira]
Aug 29, 2009 (12:56 am)
The hole turned out to be at the very top of the raidator where you add the coolant. I asked again if that would have been detected last spring when I had the coolant exchange done. Mechanic said it would have been hard to miss. My guess is that the hole developed after the fact. I don't do a lot of long distance driving but I had taken several trips which would have been at least 4 hours round trip by freeway. I was also glad that he said the coolant that remained/dripped out was the coolant recommended by Subaru.
#21 of 32 Re: a complication [lornabee]
Aug 31, 2009 (12:54 pm)
Then my theory is actually plausible.
Keep in mind that until the coolant gets hot enough, the leak may not be noticed. Until the T-stat opens the radiator isn't really doing anything anyway.
#22 of 32 Re: a plausible theory [ateixeira]
Sep 01, 2009 (3:15 pm)
I can buy that theory.
Even with that - when/how does one know that something this catastrophic is so out of whack? If I'm doing maintenance when it's recommended - how else would I know?