Head Gasket issues in newer Subarus - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-20-2012, 07:27 PM Thread Starter
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Question Head Gasket issues in newer Subarus

I still own my 2001 Outback LTD and have loved it although it has had too many (4) brake jobs, 2 timing belts, complete exhaust system at 70K including Y pipe and catalytic converters and recently had the head gasket replaced after 114K miles and religious oil changes.
We are due for a new car and I still lean toward the Outback but my husband is turned off by the costly repairs we've had over 10 years and is prefers looking elsewhere, Toyota and Nissan specifically.
I am hooked on the solid driving performance and the symmetrical all wheel drive and the car itself. I do a little off roading in the beach area where I live and love the car in snow and ice.
Can anyone share experiences about the evolution of the Outback over the past ten years?
I expected to get 150K no problem with this car. I will probably sell it outright because it has no trade value. Expect to drive it another year.
Thanks
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-21-2012, 10:25 AM
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Well, this has been my personal experience, and what I've seen reported through members. The 2003+ models are going continue to have head gasket issues up through 2009, and likely on through 2012. These are typically going to be oil leaking externally, and occasionally coolant. People always want to believe that Subaru changed head gaskets, and that somehow fixed the problem, but as we see the newer models get up into the age/mileage range where these problems occur, we're seeing the trend in failure to continue.

The only hope I have is that the newly redesigned motor in the 2013 model will address the head gasket issue. They have addressed one of the more expensive maintenance items, the timing belt, by going to a timing chain, so the hope is the block and gaskets have been redesigned to resolve the HG failure. But only time will tell.

I'm not retarded, I just don't proofread my posts
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-21-2012, 11:16 AM
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A second timing belt and replacing the y-pipe was a completely unnecessary repair unless they were damaged in a collision. Also, four brake jobs with over 114k+ is not out of the question, but that is up to driving habits. I'm afraid you'll have these same issues with a new car if mechanics see you with "sucker" written on your forehead.
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-21-2012, 01:05 PM
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word on the street - AWD Auto has verified it by tearing down a block - Subaru has started installing the better headgasket MLS design during a certain year...i forget when, like 2010 or 2012....i'd get one that has that new headgasket design.

with timing belt and headgasket done that car is good for another 100,000 miles, why not run it? how much do you want for the car?

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Originally Posted by msw615 View Post
I still own my 2001 Outback LTD and have loved it although it has had too many (4) brake jobs, 2 timing belts, complete exhaust system at 70K including Y pipe and catalytic converters and recently had the head gasket replaced after 114K miles and religious oil changes.
We are due for a new car and I still lean toward the Outback but my husband is turned off by the costly repairs
from this little bit of information the problem is most definitely not the vehicle. it's improperly maintained (not by you - don't take offense). the mechanics are likely not very good, not trustworthy, or simply too busy to give subaru or vehicle specific repair advice or cost effective quality advice. something inefficient is happening.

"Subaru's" do not need 4 brake jobs....well unless you're driving hard or tons of city driving, towing, mountains or something. Basic facts are that Subaru braking systems are actually quite robust and will not cost any more to maintain than anything else. You are completely at the whims of:

A. your own knowledge
B. your mechanic/dealer - they often aren't a good source of low cost maintenance

if you get a nissan, subaru, or chevy - you'll always have terrible repair costs if you are totally reliant on a mechanic...unless they are exceptionally good at quality and being cost effective (extremely rare) and know that particular manufacturer very well.

my best advice - is to use a forum like this to help you with maintenance costs if you want high mileage out of your Subaru. we can help you with proper, inexpensive, and the best course of action for brake maintenance. forums like this (USMB is also a really good one for highly technical Subaru related information) have more combined experience than any dealer/shop in the country - use it. we know the best way to approach every maintenance/repair from a quality, reliability, and cost perspective. mechanics usually can't specialize like forums can.

a Subaru catalytic converter of your age should have never had the catalytic converter replaced - they are robust, expensive, and last the life of the vehicle. in the event that you, like me, live in rust prone areas saw a broken rusted flange - it simply needs welded back in place - they tend to break in one spot. replacement is ridiculous when welding takes 20 minutes and 50 cents of welding materials.

everything you listed sounds questionable - like i would have been able to approach all of that with less expensive and better options that would have resulted in fewer total brake jobs. you weren't getting the best possible maintenance service.

your year Outback (2000 - 2002) was eligible for a 100,000 mile extended headgasket warranty campaign by Subaru - so if it would have happened a few thousand and years earlier it would have been nice. sometimes a call from subaru gets you reimbursement or aid in some sort even after the fact - might be worth a call, particualrly if you're int he market for another Subaru.

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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-28-2012, 09:46 PM
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Timing belts have their advantages. Chains will stretch over time and one day skip a tooth. Interference based designs will have a piston smacking a valve. Certainly chains don't need replacement at low numbers of miles, but they do need replacement (or the slack adjusters need replacement or ...)
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-30-2012, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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Grossgary's reply leads me to the next question and that is about regular maintenance.
You are entirely correct in your assertion that this car has not been consistently maintained because it also had sunroof/drainage tube issues (brand new) and after a trip or two to my local Subaru dealership without successful results, I felt fleeced and would never bring the car there again. Each time the bill for the routine checkup and leak inspection was about $1,000 because of labor fees etc.
I've developed a distrust of dealerships and this, of course means that my car doesn't go into the shop until it has a problem, leaving me at the mercy (or not) of random mechanics. So what's a girl to do?
I've always done regular oil, filters and fluid maintenance. The body and interior of this car is beautiful. Black with Titanium trim and wheels. I looked it up on KBB and it looks to be worth between $5-6 K.
Not selling of course 'cause I'm driving it.
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-30-2012, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msw615 View Post
I still own my 2001 Outback LTD and have loved it although it has had too many (4) brake jobs, 2 timing belts, complete exhaust system at 70K including Y pipe and catalytic converters and recently had the head gasket replaced after 114K miles and religious oil changes.
We are due for a new car and I still lean toward the Outback but my husband is turned off by the costly repairs we've had over 10 years and is prefers looking elsewhere, Toyota and Nissan specifically.
I am hooked on the solid driving performance and the symmetrical all wheel drive and the car itself. I do a little off roading in the beach area where I live and love the car in snow and ice.
Can anyone share experiences about the evolution of the Outback over the past ten years?
I expected to get 150K no problem with this car. I will probably sell it outright because it has no trade value. Expect to drive it another year.
Thanks
Who is doing your brake jobs? my 2001 was great I live in San Francisco - drove a wicked terrible commute for years and towed boats and my brake pads ran 65,000 miles and the first time the rotors came off the car was at 140K the shop that turned them only found a very very slight build up on them. I would highly suggest you go some place else for your brake jobs!

The exhaust system first off the $190 O2 sensor the front one is known for failing or having issues dealers seem to sell this as a complete exhaust job which is north of $1000. At 150K my front catalytic converter did fail but due to road debri damage a local ma and pa shop replaced it during lunch for $150 the car was fine at 180K when I sold it no leaks - 100% working.

So first step would be start taking your car someplace else for service and start asking questions when your told it needs something!
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-30-2012, 01:51 PM
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As for cars?
First off if you like the handling of your 2001 then you should only be looking at the Legacy or the new Impreza. The Outback handling has gone farther and farther to the SUV side of the handling department. I currently own a 2010 legacy and a 2010 outback. I absolutely hate how the outback drives and handles it is a complete and utter pig. The Legacy on the other hand is exactly the same interior space and floor space in the trunk as the outback except it has slightly better trunk space vs the space under the privacy cover in the outback. The legacy drives awesome! Very fun car to drive. It also appears to be far far less abusive to tires our legacy tires at 30K look good and are fine for another winter. Our outback tires at 30K are nearly bald and will get replaced before this winter.

No dog to haul get a Legacy and you will be very happy! You need to haul large items occasionally? Or bikes etc? Get a hitch put a bike rack on the back - or rent a little Uhaul trailer once a year for $20 for the day to move yard crap around or that antique dresser you found at a garage sale.

The new Impreza 2012 has an interior nearly identical in size to the 2001 you have now - but the impreza exterior is smaller and your trunk space is less. So if trunk space is not a big issue but you want great driving/handling and the same type of seating space you have in the 2001 the new impreza should be at the top of your list. Great little car! Fun to drive!
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-14-2012, 03:24 PM Thread Starter
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good info all and I thank you. HG replacement is working out well and things look good for some more time with this car.
SubieSailor, thanks for the comparison on the new OB although I'm disappointed to hear it.
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-14-2012, 06:35 PM
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msw615

In direct answer to your question, subaru changed the HG on the 2.5 engine three times from 00 to 09. The first was 11044aa521, then 632, and finally 633. The posters on this and other forums, who have seen all the HG's, can't tell us what the difference between them is. They all seem to be failing, although the data is difficult to come by.

In summary, shame on subaru for letting this problem fester for 9 years. Finally for the 2010 model run, they installed a multi-steel HG which is similar to the HG that subaru has long installed on the turbo models. No one seems to know what HG they have installed on the new engine [2012] and the exact type probably isn't important. What is important is that no one, now, can now trust the subaru engineers.

If I were to buy another USED subaru, I would probably buy the 2010 or 11.
For my son, who is driving a 97 with the 2.2 engine, I told him to start investigating used Honda and Toyota cars. If you want to buy a used car, you have to haunt the car forums like this one to find out what is really a good used car buy.
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