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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all. First time poster, long time reader.

I'm from Canada, southern Saskatchewan (for Americans, this would be similar to Fargo ND). My Outback has 180,000 kms (115,000 miles), mostly highway. It's been *very* well maintained. Service manual has been fully respected and other than basic maintenance, no work has been required.

I recently started to smell burning oil, and shortly after that noticing a couple drops of oil under the vehicle after it's been sitting for a few hours/overnight (note: the "diaper" is long gone, if that matters).

My mechanic is telling me the head gasket has an external leak. I'm not mechanical at all, but I guess this means there's a crack? Regardless, engine has to come out and they're estimating $1,000 of labour, $1,000 parts (which includes remachining of something-or-other).

In addition, the CV boots need work. They had identified this as a problem during my last oil change and advised that it was only worth monitoring for now and replacing once it cracked. So...now it's cracked. They're estimating $800 for this. Based on my very limited knowledge and recent interwebs research, I'm thinking this estimate must imply something to do with the axel...because the CV joints should have been addressed sooner?

They are sending a complete estimate tomorrow, but called to 'spit ball' numbers because they weren't sure I'd want to keep the vehicle (note: this is an independent mechanic, not a dealer)....that struck me as odd. It'd be a no brainer to invest $3,000 in the vehicle, no?

Otherwise, anything here strike you as odd? I've owned some *very* old vehicles in my lifetime...and have been very unkind to many of them. The CV joints is standard...the head gasket seems like an unusual failure for a newer vehicle that has been babied and mostly seen highway.

Summarization:
- Head gasket failure...should I be getting a second opinion? Does this failure seem odd?
- CV joints - did mechanic screw up by not addressing this sooner and just "monitoring" for now? Does price seem right?
- Car is worth the investment...right?
- Should I take such a major repair to the dealer, for any particular reason?

Thank you very much, in advance, if you managed to read all of that. Even greater thanks if you respond :)
 

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Prices quoted seem a bit high for head gasket job and ridiculously high for cv work. I haven't tracked the CAD $ lately, and I don't know your local labor rates. Just shooting from the hip there.

Head gaskets are problematic on that engine. Subaru may help defray the cost- but that is usually only if you have one of their dealers do the work. And I don't know if that applies to Subaru of Canada. I'll let others jump in there.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Labour charges out at $60 to $80 for a lot of independents. Dealers will sometimes charge out at $80 to $100. I think that's very comparable to American rates.

Parts can be considerably more expensive in Canada, with the variance being wildly different depending on whether it's after market, etc.

Appreciate the quick feedback.
 

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In addition, the CV boots need work. They had identified this as a problem during my last oil change and advised that it was only worth monitoring for now and replacing once it cracked. So...now it's cracked. They're estimating $800 for this. Based on my very limited knowledge and recent interwebs research, I'm thinking this estimate must imply something to do with the axel...because the CV joints should have been addressed sooner?
The CV boots are what keep the grease in the CV joints in your axles. Also stops water and gunk from getting in there and prematurely wearing them out.

When a CV boot tears, all the grease comes out. You'll probably notice a blue-green spattering in the wheel wells. If you notice it quickly, you can get the CV boot repaired for cheap. It's just a rubber boot, fill it up with grease, good to go. If you DON'T notice it right away (or don't repair it right away), you're running your CV joint with no grease, and allowing dirt+water in there. It will wear out very quickly, and now you need a new CV joint (On a lot of cars, that's the entire half-axle - I'm not sure if that's true with Subaru or not).

So $800 is not unreasonable, given the cost of parts+labor.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The CV boots are what keep the grease in the CV joints in your axles. Also stops water and gunk from getting in there and prematurely wearing them out.

When a CV boot tears, all the grease comes out. You'll probably notice a blue-green spattering in the wheel wells. If you notice it quickly, you can get the CV boot repaired for cheap. It's just a rubber boot, fill it up with grease, good to go. If you DON'T notice it right away (or don't repair it right away), you're running your CV joint with no grease, and allowing dirt+water in there. It will wear out very quickly, and now you need a new CV joint (On a lot of cars, that's the entire half-axle - I'm not sure if that's true with Subaru or not).

So $800 is not unreasonable, given the cost of parts+labor.
To make sure I'm understanding...it was bad advice from the mechanic to "just monitor", i.e. wait and see, on the worn boot?
 

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To make sure I'm understanding...it was bad advice from the mechanic to "just monitor", i.e. wait and see, on the worn boot?
It sounds like good advice to me. While they do make boot replacement 'kits' that can be installed without removing the axle, most require removing the axle to install, so the labor cost is the same whether you're replacing the axle or not. And at 120k, I assume you're replacing the axle since you have to pay the labor to do the boot anyway? No point in repairing something like that preventatively - may as well get as many miles out of it as you can. Who knows, maybe a larger repair like a head gasket might come along and make you reconsider whether you want to do any repairs :p

The only way I can see it being worth it to repair a boot right away is if you have low mileage on the axles and know that they are in great condition. And even then, you can still 'monitor' and just replace it when it actually tears rather than replacing it before it fails. So long as you're actually monitoring it, of course - if you ignore it, you could miss the tear and end up going a long time with no grease and ruining it.

Summary: At 120k, you were going to want to put in a new axle anyway, so the cost didn't change any by waiting.
 

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Regarding the CVs-

A worn boot is just that- worn. No worries yet. Once it's torn, you'll get accelerated wear from contamination as noted above.

If yours can be rebooted & repacked with grease, that's great. Many can be, even with lots of miles on them. If not, you should insist on Subaru replacements. The aftermarkets nearly always leave you with an odd vibration at idle. They work great, last a long time and are generally cheaper... but they also come with that weird side effect.

Your car has 8 CV joints. It would be unheard of for them to all fail at once- make sure the estimate you are getting is just for what has failed or is about to fail. I treat those parts as "replace as needed" rather than pre-emptively on a schedule. Some go the life of the car without attention.

To answer one of your first questions, yes get a second opinion on the head gasket. It may ultimately be most useful to get that from a dealer, in the event that Subaru of Canada is making the sorts of accommodations that Subaru of America sometimes has done for those with HG trouble.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Great forum, you guys have been a tremendous help. Thank you.

I talked to the dealer, and they said the HG problem was fixed for 2004 and subsequent models. For pre-2004 models Subaru Canada did make accomodations outside of the warranty as there was a known issue. Sound right?

Any anecdotes regarding 'accomodations' Subaru USA has made, and how to access? Bypass the dealer?

This has been, by far, the most enjoyable vehicle I've ever owned, however, this head gasket problem has me reconsidering whether I'd ever buy Subaru again. Seems unacceptable for a 2007 that's been pampered.....though, maybe the known HG problem is a red herring and my case is simply one of bad luck. Or maybe I just hate spending money :p
 

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I talked to the dealer, and they said the HG problem was fixed for 2004 and subsequent models. For pre-2004 models Subaru Canada did make accomodations outside of the warranty as there was a known issue. Sound right?
The jury is out, as far as I can tell. http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/88-head-gasket-issues/18583-hg-failure-log-no-discussion-log-only.html has a good number of reported HG replacements in 2004 and beyond. Just what the numbers mean (in terms of proportion of cars, and compared to other makes) isn't clear.

See also:

http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/88-head-gasket-issues/49824-head-gasket-issue-resolved-newer-models.html#post479411

and

http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/61-general-discussions/49818-i-think-last-question-2013-outback-head-gasket-issues.html

I'm not aware of any "accommodation" made by SCI. I've asked mechanics and sales people at dealerships about this in the past. This doesn't mean it hasn't occurred, as it's possible the deal involves a non-disclosure agreement.

There were earlier engines that developed piston slap, and I was told that SCI helped with that.

As for SOA, there's lots of posts here where U.S. owners have approached the company and been offered some degree of assistance, usually reported to also require the work is done at a Subaru dealer.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Those links and your post raise a question I hadn't really considered...if there is a 2007 HG issue, they'd only start surfacing now. I put a lot of KMS on my car, so I'd be near the front of the pack.
 

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I've seen a trend where local shops non subaru dealer type shops like to take the more expensive subaru Axle out - turn it in for a core value which is generally pretty good on OEM subaru axles - then replace it with a cheap non OEM axle which almost always causes the owner heart burn given they all seem to have various issues rattling - and not being smooth at speed etc etc.

Single best thing is to simply keep your original axle and have it rebooted. A CV joint is tough as **** and as long as its clean simply re booting it is the best way to go to avoid issues with cheap axles and it shouldn't cost you much. Standard dealer cost for rebooting a torn boot is around $300.

The heavy grease in the boots stinks to high heaven it is pretty hard to ignore when a boot starts to fail and leak heavy CV grease all over the bottom of the car.
 

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I also have 2007 Outback 2.5l. Mine has only 33,000 miles on it but the dealer just told me I need the HG replaced at $2,000. He did not offer any help on the cost. Is it "reasonable" that the HG should be replaced this soon? It has been serviced regularly by a dealer.

Thanks
 

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I also have 2007 Outback 2.5l. Mine has only 33,000 miles on it but the dealer just told me I need the HG replaced at $2,000. He did not offer any help on the cost. Is it "reasonable" that the HG should be replaced this soon? It has been serviced regularly by a dealer.

Thanks
That's crazy that a car with so few miles has HG problems already. I have an '05 that just turned over 60k and I thought I was in the clear for a few years on that problem, guess this shows that I'm not.
 

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I also have 2007 Outback 2.5l. Mine has only 33,000 miles on it but the dealer just told me I need the HG replaced at $2,000. He did not offer any help on the cost. Is it "reasonable" that the HG should be replaced this soon? It has been serviced regularly by a dealer. Thanks
There's another HG thread here where the suggestion "show me" came up, and I think that's appropriate here. (Or perhaps put differently, get a second opinion.) It might not be the head gaskets.
 
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