Last post on Jul 20, 2010 at 8:20 AM
You are in the Subaru Legacy & Outback
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Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, Subaru, Auto Repair, Wagon
#1 of 37 Review of Subaru Head Gasket Problems
Feb 10, 2010 (6:30 am)
I have a 2003 Outback, 2.5L with 53,000 miles. Dealer just confirmed external coolant leak from both heads. I changed the anti-feeze and used Subaru's special conditioner at 25,000 and 50,000 miles. All maintenance exceeded Subaru specifications. Subaru corporate offered to pay for half of the repair. I was told by the dealer when I purchased my Outback that Subaru "fixed" the head gasket problem with the 2003 model year. Researching the issue on the net indicates that problems extends to the 2005 model year and possibly beyond. Where does it end? Similar to Toyota's recent recall for its accelerator and brakes, Subaru should take full responsibility for the failure of their head gaskets.
#2 of 37 Re: Review of Subaru Head Gasket Problems [srobin]
Feb 10, 2010 (1:24 pm)
I understand your disappointment. You did what the mfg demanded for trouble free gasket life, but it didn't work. What is the mfgrs responsibility beyond the term of the warranty (5 yrs / 60k miles)?
The VIN of my '02 was outside of the covered range, and I too was told that there was no warranty extension. But mine first failed at 15k, and then again at 62k last year, so I had both a history of failure, and of regular preventive service. I had a Gold plan also, but was outside of the time by 4 months when they went again. In the end, they treated me very well, and I was quite happy. But, it did take some discussion to get there.
Technically, they owe you (or me) nothing. It isn't a safety issue, and you are a year or more beyond the time limit. On the other hand, they know it is a weakness, and their chances of getting a repeat buyer is very much dependent on what they do now!
The repair will run something around $1800, and they have offered half. When Toyota pulled something like this on me, they offered $0, which is why I don't drive a Toyota today! $900 isn't bad when you consider the alternative.... You could go back to SOA and ask for more - NICELY - given the extenuating circumstances. Remind them that this is a known issue, and that you are likely to be trading this car in on another Subi in the near future. I assume that you have otherwise liked it enough that this is in your long term plan? Even if they won't give more, it is still a decent offer. Unlikely you'd get any other car company today to meet you half way.
While you are in there, offer to pay for a new timing belt, external drive belts, maybe a water pump, and have them check the oil pump seals. It is a great opportunity to take care of a bunch of stuff coming due on a 7 year old auto.
#3 of 37 Re: Review of Subaru Head Gasket Problems [fibber2]
Feb 10, 2010 (9:27 pm)
To what model year does this head gasket problem extend? Is it still a potential problem even in the 2009/2010 models?
#4 of 37 Re: Review of Subaru Head Gasket Problems [ths258]
Feb 11, 2010 (5:53 am)
Look at Consumer Reports.
Some Subarus show dramatic improvements for 2003, others for 2004/5. By '05 all are rated highly.
Our family has been lucky, I guess. Dad has an '01 Outback, sis has an '03 Forester, bro has an '04 Legacy. Cousin had a 99 Outback for a while. We had a 98 Forester for 9 years, and an 02 Legacy for 7 years, plus our new 09 Forester.
None of us have had any gasket issues at all.
#5 of 37 head gasket problem
Feb 11, 2010 (7:59 pm)
My 2005 Subaru outback sedan 3.0R H6 is in the shop right now for this exact reason. I had a leak, so i took it to several places before i ever thought of taking it to the dealership. i took it to the dealership, they did not charge me to look at it. They told me i had a head gasket leak. I was told the dealership would pay for it, all but $200 of it. Which i was fine with, but now i am being told that my CV boot is bad, my serpentine belt is bad and my radiator cap is bad. Does anyone know if these are a problem as well on these cars? I only have 60k miles, Not sure i believe that. I feel like they are trying to rip me off.
#6 of 37 Re: Review of Subaru Head Gasket Problems [fibber2]
Feb 11, 2010 (8:15 pm)
Thank you for your insightful and sympathetic response. I did call corporate back and nicely asked for more consideration. However, they would not budge. They said my Outback was manufactured in March 2003 and it falls outside the extended warranty period for this problem. No further explanation. Some 2003 Outbacks are apparently covered.
I love the car, but I feel mislead. I don't think I would buy another.
I plan on following your advise for replacing the timing belts, water pump and oil seals. A friend of mine recommended the same to me.
#7 of 37 Re: Review of Subaru Head Gasket Problems [srobin]
Feb 12, 2010 (8:31 am)
I appreciate your comments, and wish that you didn't have to face this dilemma. The only thing I can add is that I have yet to hear of a car line that didn't have some form of achilles heal. Given these rough economic times, any corporation that is willing to meet you half way on a 7 year old car that suffers a non-safety related failure is a standout. Not perfect, but well better than average.
#8 of 37 Re: head gasket problem [tdeno]
Feb 12, 2010 (8:41 am)
You have to remove the accessory belts to do the HG repair, so putting on a new one just makes sense. It's cheap insurance. I believe that the H6 uses a timing chain rather than a belt, so at least you won't have to replace that as well.
Radiator caps today are pretty bulletproof, but seals can get damaged. Again, maybe $15-20?
A boot can get torn. Just drive over any loose debris on the road and it can happen. You'll likely see some ejected grease around it. Ask them to walk you into the shop for a look.
#9 of 37 Re: Review of Subaru Head Gasket Problems [fibber2]
Feb 12, 2010 (11:14 am)
Subaru has been better than most manufacturers with a warranty extension for some model years and partial reimbursement of the cost of HG repair for others. BUT, they don't appear to have yet found a fix for the problem.
Since HG failure is not safety-related, they know they aren't going to have NHTSA on their backs. And since they are selling almost all the cars they can produce, they have less incentive to explicitly acknowledge a design/manufacturing defect and extend the warranty to all years.
We've hedged our exposure by purchasing 7/100 extended warranties on our two newest Subarus. And I hope Subaru isn't taking the position that it is less expensive for them to pay for some HG repairs than to fix the problem.
This is the first H-6 I've heard of with HG failure. I had thought they were exempt from the problem.
#10 of 37 Re: Review of Subaru Head Gasket Problems [snowbelter]
Feb 12, 2010 (11:16 am)
I agree, H6 gasket problems are very rare, that stinks.