Subaru
Forester
88

Cooling System Problems Cause Head Gasket Failure on Subaru Forester

Problem Description and Possible Solution

The head gasket has a high failure rate due to cooling system problems. Subaru is aware of the problem and has extended the warranty to 8 years/100k miles on many vehicles.

Problem Data
RepairPal Verified
Average mileage: 106,970 (35,000–249,000)
Engines affected: 2.5L 4 Cylinder, 2.5L 4 Cylinder Turbo
12 model years affected: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, more2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
88 people reported this problem
Comments
Viewing 1 - 20 of 71 comments
Last summer my car began overheating. I took it to my local mechanic who replaced the radiator as he apparently found a leak. That did not solve the problem so I took it back to the mechanic who stated that these engines have frequent problems with the head gasket. So, he took the engine apart and put in a new head gasket. He reported that he did not find evidence of a leak in the head gasket. That failed to fix the problem so last September I took it to the nearest subaru dealer where they again removed the head and replaced the head gasket. He too reported that he found no evidence of a leak in the head gasket. Now, several months later after noticing heating problems, when I had the car in for a recall I asked if they could check coolant level. They did that and ran a pressure test finding a leak in the radiator that was replaced last summer. So, today the car is in getting the radiator replaced.

Question: Is it possible that the car could run, particularly in cold weather, with very little coolant in the system and yet give no indication of overheating? That seems to be the problem I've had since the radiator was replaced last summer. I don't believe the idiot light has come on since that time despite three occasions on which the coolant was found to be very low and "sludgy."

I just talked to the guy at the dealership who assures me that there is no leak with the new radiator and that they should be finished shortly.

So far this thing has cost me over
Went to dealership for regular oil change, they noticed oil in the coolant, diagnosed head gasket problem. Estimated repair cost to replace gasket only is $1,800.00. Just found out today- not fixed yet. Wondering how long can I drive it (need to save unfortunately I don't have $1,800.00 spare dollars!) before it's a bigger or un-repairable problem.
Driving 30 miles from home, sweet smell in the car and no heat, temp gauge in the red. Subaru dealership diagnosed that the radiator was cracked and charged me $90 for that tidbit. I had it towed to my mechanic who replaced the radiator and thermostat at half of the cost that the dealership quoted. He determined it was the head gasket and quoted me $3,000. He isn't charging for any labor from putting in the radiator and thermostat because he is just a fantastic mechanic. I see quotes for 600-$1,000 for this issue but understand there are a lot of other costs associated with this repair that are not included in these estimates. My mechanic suggested not fixing it because of the high milage. Someone commented that their subaru died four months after they had the head gasket replaced, and I am thinking if it happened to him, it will probably happen to me. I am selling it for what I can get for it.
White smoke blowing out of muffler. Almost steady coolant leak, overheating.
blown Forester head gasket at 75k miles - quoted repair for $2,100. Here goes my love for Subaru!

The story: sudden oil leak dripping from under the oil filter, low on coolant -> dealship diagnosed as "oil filter leak". Two weeks later oil continues to leak - dealership admits it's the head gasket now, an issue making Subaru to keep their head in sand! They seem to be ignoring the issue, making only minor design tweaks after their 2003 models HG issues that makes the car last just past their warranty, but not much longer!
head gasket leaking coolant from both sides, used the 'Subaru additive' at all coolant changes, they want to charge me $2,600 to 'fix' their crappy part.

I'm probably going to sell it instead.

It wasn't right to begin with. Subaru thieves, instead of selling that crappy $1.50 additive that extended the life of a sub-standard seal that extends the life of it 'juuuust' beyond the warranty, they SHOULD have fixed the problem with a proper seal instead
Took my Subaru into the dealer for 75,000 mile check-up. Was told my head gasket was leaking.
Head Gasket leak in the car with only 50,000 miles. I bought it in Oct 2007 with brand new. I really hate Subaru!
Head gasket fail.
Blown head gasket, quoted $1800 plus $130 for timing belt at Webster Grove Subaru. I have not fixed yet but plan to post with the results.
Head gaskets leaking, possible rear main as well. Tech noted alternator belt beginning to crack, p/s marker on and off, transverse link bushings beginning to wear. Quoted $2,800 for head gasket repair only - no estimate provided for other suggested repairs. Told "engine operating as designed" - can you say "Denial!"??? Apparently, Subaru prides itself on ripping people off! Dumped this piece of junk - going car shopping for anything other than a Subaru!
Overheating after 40 mins o driving in 80+ weather, will cool down if cabin heat blasting. pressure and leaks checked in cooling system and condenser checked, so its not that.
I was driving home from a trip when my car overheated started smoking. My engine stalled out and wouldn't turn on. I got the radiator replaced, and the next day drove it to work and 20-30 minutes into driving it overheated again. I got it towed back to the shop and they said upon inspection they said the head gasket cylinder(s) needed to be replaced ($1800-1900) and I also would need the timing belt replaced ($400). They said that since it was driven while overheated the engine seams may have been warped. I'm going to have to sell it and find a new car.
no overheat issues. over time my forester is low on engine oil and coolant. every oil change i see my left head gasket has oil n coolant mix like grayish grease paste. as an auto mechanic, this is truly dissapointed. i love this forester. this is my first subaru. i dont know if its worth fixing. this forester still have intermittent no start and bearing noise from the transfercase during frigid temperature.
Head gaskets shot.
At dealer for recalls and inspection. Told mechanic found combination of oil and coolant at gasket edges, no steady leak. At 75,000 miles and still owing a lot on the loan, decided to repair. Not happy, but will have new water pump, plugs, coolant replacement. Also new cat conv under different recall. About $2700 for "engine revealing".
Haven't fixed yet, loss of coolant when highway travel.
I have had two radiator failures, with two Foresters. This last Friday the radiator began spraying coolant, and the temp rose while I was 50 miles from home. It bought it as a low mileage (30,000 miles) 2008 model, in May 2013, from a dealer.The car was thoroughly gone over. A mechanic where I pulled over diagnosed a crack in the top plastic where it drops down. I was towed back to my home town auto shop where it will be looked at tomorrow, Monday. I have no doubt the radiator will be replaced. The first radiator failure was with my 2005 at somewhere around 90,000 miles. The radiator cracked at the top, while I was about 25 miles from home, began spraying coolant, etc. and had to be replaced. That vehicle now has 186,000 miles on it. Several people have said Subarus are know to have radiator problems. Nuts!
Blew a head gasket driving down the interstate and within minutes the engine seized and shut down. Had to replace the entire engine for around $4800.
One of the head gaskets in my '08 forester has failed and I am faced with the decision of whether to repair it or just get a new vehicle. I just saw the information regarding extension of the warranty on my model year, but I fear it's too late at 145,000 miles.

I've been quoted $2,100.00 to fix the one gasket. Should I fix it or just buy another vehicle. If I chose to fix it, should I replace the other gasket at the same time?

Thoughts?