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Headgasket - leaking oil - How would I know if I need to replace or tighten?

(2000 Subaru Legacy)
in Bellingham, WA on November 28, 2010
My vehicle is a Legacy Outback. Some times I smell a burning smell. Some times it smells like oil and other times like hot water. The dealer showed me that I have oil leaking from Head gasket. There is oil accumulated on parts under the car, but I have never seen any oil on the ground where I park. The dealer said I need to replace the Head gasket for $1,500. I have the following two questions, please:
1) A friend was told she had to replace her Head gasket and then a second mechanic said it just needed to be tightened. How do I know if it needs to be replaced or tightened?
2) If I replace the Head gasket, is there any chance, there would be a recurring problem with this car?
Displaying 2 answers & 2 comments
Popular Answer
on November 30, 2010
I have never heard of "just tightening" head bolts. The leaking head gaskets will need to be replaced to fix the leak. Head gasket issues are not uncommon for Subaru engines. Will it happen again, maybe...
on November 30, 2010
Thank you. I appreciate your honest answer. I heard this from someone else today too...that Subaru vehicles have aluminum parts to the Head gasket and over time the aluminum doesn't stand up to heat and pressure, which begs the question,if they know this to be true, why doesn't Subaru use a stronger material? I hate to say it, but it seems to me that everything is built in a way to separate you from your money anymore.
This is my second Subaru and both have required me to replace the Head gasket. I have always said "once a Subaru owner, always a Subaru owner," but perhaps I need to rethink that. Thank you for listening.
on January 19, 2011
may be,because there are more element involve in a motor,such as PCV valve,crank seal,cam seal etc
on January 27, 2011
I own a 2000 Subaru Outback with 135000 miles and experienced the same smell. My Subaru dealer told me I needed to replace the head gasket. I took it to another mechanic that I trust and he told me there was a small leak from the head gasket but most oil was coming from a faulty oil pump. I had him replace the pump and ended up saving $1500. The smell hasn't returned so I'm hopeful the problem has been fixed for a bit. My mechanic said that the head gasket leak will continue to get worse over time but at this point I just needed to keep an eye on it. Note that there is another post regarding oil pump leaks...
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