Car Problem Reports

Subaru Forester Cooling System Problems Cause Head Gasket Failure

Subaru Forester Problem
43 Reports
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Model Years Affected: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010

Engines Affected: 2.5L 4 Cylinder, 2.5L 4 Cylinder Turbo

Average Mileage: 102,334 mi (52,525 mi - 189,000 mi)


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.

  • Visitor, , 2.5L 4 Cylinder, 103,400 mi

    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.

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  • Visitor, , 2.5L 4 Cylinder, 70,000 mi

    Head gasket fail.

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  • Visitor, , 2.5L 4 Cylinder, 189,000 mi

    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.

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  • Visitor, , 2.5L 4 Cylinder, 110,000 mi

    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

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  • Visitor, , 2.5L 4 Cylinder, 126,000 mi

    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.

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  • tomwalkerfc, , 2.5L 4 Cylinder, 140,000 mi

    I have a 2003 Forester that began chewing through oil last year at an epic rate. Two months ago, the temperature gage spiked but then suddenly dropped. In the past few weeks, it has been overheating and pumping coolant into the engine like crazy. No milky oil or other telltale signs of a blown gasket. Had the thermostat replaced and coolant flushed, but the guy who did it was not my normal mechanic. He used a cheap aftermarket thermostat, and it made it worse. My mechanic replaced it with a Subaru part and redid flush. Worked like a charm for 5 days and bombed again. He exchanged the thermostat at Subaru and did that job again, but has yet to road test it. The problem is that these symotoms were intermittent and idiosyncratic of a gasket problem. Not obvious. Two dealers said they thought it was the gasket site unseen. From what I'm reading here, I'm screwed,

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  • Visitor, , 2.5L 4 Cylinder, 75,000 mi

    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!

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  • Visitor, , 2.5L 4 Cylinder, 84,000 mi

    Head gasket failure. Repair in process at dealer, going on 7 days.

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  • Visitor, , 2.5L 4 Cylinder, 104,000 mi

    Had to have head gasket replaced. Very expensive

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  • Visitor, , 2.5L 4 Cylinder Turbo, 90,000 mi

    this car was burning coolant during last 4 years. Dealer fixed tubing once. But it was leaking again and in recent 2 years the engine oil became leaking too.

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