I'll give you a Head Gasket, Mr. Mechanic - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 12-02-2009, 10:11 PM Thread Starter
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I'll give you a Head Gasket, Mr. Mechanic

So... I just bought a new to me 2000 Subaru Outback Wagon on black Friday. We have a Forester already and I love it. Best car ever... especially for Colorado weather and forest roads. But my wife gets to drive. We finally decided it was my turn.

Found a relatively good deal, nothing too great, but car seemed to be well maintained by a wealthy family.

For my own peace of mind, I got the oil changed right away so I know when it was done, at the dealership here and they only came back with telling me I have a broken CV boot. No big deal.

Well, then I started smelling fresh oil in the car. Took it back today. And NOW, he announced... (drum roll please)... that, "your head gasket is starting to leak." Said he saw oil leaking from the gasket. Amazingly, the dealership only wants $1400 for the repair.

First, I know I am over the warranty on this sucker (135,000 miles). But I read here that some folks have had some luck getting Subaru of America to cover some of this even still. Anyone willing to tell me how they went about this?

Also, any other thing you can think of for why I would be smelling fresh oil? I assumed they just over spilled it or something.

I am going to try and contact the original owner and see if they might give me a little rebate on the selling price, seeing that its not even been a week. Fat chance... but there are still kind people in the world, I believe.

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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 12-02-2009, 10:34 PM
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Take a deep breath.

You need to determine if you're going to fix the leaking gasket. Assuming it is really the head gasket and not the valve cover gasket which would be far simpler and cheaper to replace.

To be honest, there are far worse things than a stinky Outback. Believe me, I drove a stinky Outback for about 5 years before I fixed the leaks. Why wait? Because tearing your engine apart shouldn't be done casually. My car's oil leak was so slow that it barely registered as oil loss between 5k mile oil changes. It doesn't take much oil to make a stink. I never overheated, never! This is the big risk because overheating destroys engine components fast! I added Subaru's coolant conditioner when the warranty extension was announced and I've added it with each coolant change.

Lastly, before you tear into your Outback to replace head gaskets determine if you might want to build in some additional durability. I'm talking about replacing hoses, gaskets, seals, belts, O- rings, water pump, pulleys, etc. that will be exposed when you tear everything apart. As you've bought a used car it might be difficult to know if the timing belt has been replaced and if any of the related wear parts were replaced at the same time. The big fix on your car timing belt/head gasket repair is a major job. What's included in the $1,400 head gasket repair? The low price suggests that it doesn't include much more than head gaskets. So you replace those and in 15k miles the O-Rings on the water pipe fail, wouldn't it make more sense to replace those while you've got the engine torn apart?

Take it slow and savor the car you've got. Try to determine what's been done to your car and then consider what needs to be done. I wouldn't rush to do a head gasket repair on a Phase II 2.5L because of a oil stink. But if it had overheated even once, I'd rush to do the job.

Buckle up.


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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 12-03-2009, 08:20 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks. I think I freaked out a bit. I'm realizing that I could still get a ton of miles out of these gaskets.

I'm going to get the coolant flushed and do the additive (already picked it up from the dealer). Thanks for that advice. I'm going to have them test the old coolant for the presence of oil. I also realized that the grease from the CV boot spraying on the engine might very well be the oil smell. So I'll get that replaced as well.

I needed to be talked off the ledge a bit. No overheating problems. No coolant in the oil. I may be good for a long time here. I freaked out because the mechanic sort of pressured me, even though he said "the oil is just starting to leak out the gasket." Should have stopped him right there. And took a deep breath.
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