Forgive me for my ignorance, I'm just learning about mechanics and engines. Two weeks ago I purchased my Outback from the third owner (I am the fourth owner). I made a quick check under the hood before taking off with the car, but failed to check the anti-freeze level in the over-flow. The seller was very trustworthy, and to the best of his knowledge the fluids were all full; he had just had an oil change and inspection 2 weeks prior. It drove home fine, no temp. light came on, but I detected a slight burning smell after I got home (like oil) coming from under the hood which prompted me to check all fluids.
After the engine cooled I had to put about 1/3 or 1/2 a gallon of coolant/water mix in the radiator, and I filled the overflow tank from below the "add" mark to the "full" mark. After a week, I drove it about 90 miles, the radiator was full, but I had to re-fill the over-flow tank again; same as above. In the first 2 minutes of idling the vehicle upon start, there is that distinct sweet smell coming out of the exhaust, not super strong, but indicating there is a small amount of coolant coming out of the exhaust. The oil looks golden clear, not milky at all.
The man I purchased it from is very trustworthy. He had been driving the vehicle a few days a week up to the day he sold the vehicle, and he was not aware of any coolant leak. He purchased the vehicle at 105,000 miles, and although he knows the work history of the vehicle while in his care, he doesn't know the work history of the prior two owners. He had the timing belt and water pump replaced a little over a year ago (about 120,000 miles), along with some other routine service (brake pads, tune, etc.), He sold it to me with about 140,000 miles, and now I've put approximately 190 miles on it. To his knowledge neither the head gasket nor the valve cover gaskets were replaced when the timing belt was replaced.
My questions are as follows:
Since (I was under the impression) you have to get down to the head to change the timing belt after high mileage, usually doesn't the mechanic advise the customer that the head gasket should be changed with the block removed? (I understand you have to remove the engine to change the gasket).
Also, is it even possible for an Outback to get to over 140,000 miles without the head gasket seal deteriorating? I'm wondering if the head gasket was never changed on this vehicle.
IF I do leak checks and find it is the head gasket, will it be ok for me to use some kind of head leak sealer, like Bar's or Steel Seal, to hold the seal about 4 months until the weather warms up, and I either have the ability to attempt to replace the the head gasket myself (I only have an outdoor shed/shop to work in), and/or I have the money to pay a mechanic to replace the head gasket (I don't trust most of the mechanics in the small town I live in).
Thanks for your response. I will pay money for the above questions to be addressed. I have paypal.