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2008 Outback LL Bean
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey guys- First time poster here, so thanks and pardon any newb-ness.

Here's the situation: I have a 2008 Outback LL Bean, 89k miles, that I bought from a Toyota dealer last September at 85k miles (it was a trade-in). I thought I hit the jackpot- the car had been garaged and lightly driven, and I specifically asked the dealer's mechanic to check the headgasket, and he said it was fine.

I took it for the 90k tune-up last week, and lo and behold, the headgasket is dripping oil. I took it to an independent shop that does a lot of Subaru work for a second opinion and they confirmed, and showed me multiple oil wet spots when it was up on the jack. This mechanic also said it's an "external" (oil) and not "internal"(coolant) leak, FWIW.

The estimate from the independent shop (Nielsen Skyline Automotive in Falls Church, VA) is $3000-3500 depending on whether it's SOHC or DOHC. They said it would make sense to do timing belt and waterpump as well at that mileage, so that was included in the estimate. Quote from one local Subaru dealer (Sheehy) was $3900, which is not great. It's beyond the seller's warranty and they won't give me a sympathy discount, so no luck there.

Here's the curveball: I am moving to the SF Bay area at the end of the month and was supposed to drive this across the country (hence the early tuneup). I am assuming the repairs will cost more out there and don't want to embark on the long drive with this issue outstanding, so it seems to make more sense to do here.

So my questions are:
-Is $3-3.5k a decent estimate for those repairs at this juncture?
-Any good subaru specialists in the DC/Virginia/Maryland who I should also consult for an estimate?
-Are my assumptions wrong, or is there anything else I should be thinking of here?

Thanks for reading, I would love to get your perspective.
 

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I simply cannot abide useless people.
2006 2.5i and 2002 3.0 wagons.
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If they don't know what type of engine you have I wouldn't let them touch it, but that's just me.

Speaking of what engine, do you have the 4 or 6 cylinder? Both came on L.L.Bean trim in 2008.

$3000 is high for a HG & TB job job IMO, but that may be normal for the DC metro area.
 
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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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Post pictures underneath of the oil spots and we can help confirm.

OEM gaskets leaking externally like this on H6's do not catastrophically fail ever. you can quite literally drive it for years like this.

take note how much oil you're loosing between oil changes or per 1,000 miles. if it's a typical initial leak it'll just wet the surface and only very slowly even drip and amount to no appreciable loss at all in 1,000 miles. zero concern, repair it at your convenience over the next 5 years. keep an eye on oil level and add if needed.

call some west coast places and get a quote.

If you're still gangbuster to repair it now:

LLBean in 2008 comes up as an H6 engine. which doesn't have a timing belt and is significantly more labor to repair than an H4. so your estimates aren't even proper estimates. but a headgasket job on that is around $3,000 or $3,500 with the Falls Church premium.

you want heads resurfaced (only, no valve job), OEM headgaskets, thermostat, and water pump. the water pumps almost never fail on those and typically last the life of the vehicle but they're only $100 and have to be removed anyway so why not.

JDM engine for $2,000 is another option which might be worth it.
 

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I got quoted about $3400 for a 4cyl job, too, so it doesn't seem too unusual.
 

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2008 Outback LL Bean
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Discussion Starter #5
Hey all-- thanks for your input so far!

I just talked to the tech who looked at it in Falls Church and he confirmed that it's 4cyl, SOHC, which may change the calculus a bit. This means it will be about $3000 as opposed to $3500.

idosubaru- I unfortunately didn't snap any pics when he had it up on the jack (hey, it was 7:15 am and I'm not a morning person). When we were under the car, he did point out two distinct wet spots towards the front of the engine bay and one towards the rear. He also mentioned that some oil was getting onto the rack and pinion, but not onto the suspension. (I take it oil getting onto the suspension would make it a lot more urgent.) I will look into a couple of Bay Area places for due diligence. Will also see if I can get it up on a jack at home in the next day or two.

AWDFTW- to be fair to the tech, they gave me that SOHC/DOHC estimate on the phone the day before, so they hadn't seen the car yet. I didn't know that at the time either.
 

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shop around for other subaru experts,...or people that like subarus. typical subaru stuff there, nothing special.

soup to nuts on a oil leaking EJ253 like that: $2500 all the 2000-2009 sohc will leak oil sometime. the job should include new "multilayer steel head gaskets", and the heads machined.

if you don't got time / funds now for a head gasket job, put it off.

_____

things to work on at present:

get the timing belt kit changed though, and any oil seal related to it changed now.
(best aftermarket kit is: Aisin as its japanese made, and not chinese junk like all the aftermarkets.) subaru says 105,000 miles or 105 months so you are past that in months if it has not been done before.

that and changing all the fluids, adding a new OEM rad cap, OEM thermostat, and OEM PCV.
 

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man... at these prices, i'm contemplating a turbo swap...
at those prices you should move up there, get a one car garage tent and start a EJ251/EJ252/EJ253 head gasket business.
 

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at those prices you should move up there, get a one car garage tent and start a EJ251/EJ252/EJ253 head gasket business.
except it would really have to be a headgasket/timing belt business... and I have no machining skills/equipment to do the head...
 

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2019 Subaru Forester Premium, Crystal Black Silica, Pkg 15
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If they had to get in there for a gasket job anyway, I think it would make sense to do a TB/Pump job too. Figure that you'd be good for another 105k with that timing belt on there - again, assuming you have the 4 cylinder. Or just add oil as necessary.

One might also consider calling Subaru directly (not your dealership) and explain your excitement about buying your first (?) Subaru, and having all these problems develop less than a year after you own it - and Subaru definitely takes pride in a high number of vehicles on the road after 10 years. Perhaps you can appeal to them for a "Good Will" discount on the service.

Good luck.
 

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2008 Outback LL Bean
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Discussion Starter #12
One might also consider calling Subaru directly (not your dealership) and explain your excitement about buying your first (?) Subaru, and having all these problems develop less than a year after you own it - and Subaru definitely takes pride in a high number of vehicles on the road after 10 years. Perhaps you can appeal to them for a "Good Will" discount on the service.
Interesting idea, I have time to try it. Any idea what might be the best number to contact them? Like, is there a customer care line?
 

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Suggest you check the Subaru website under Contact.
 

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I'd start by adding a bottle of Holt (Subaru Coolant Conditioner). Seriously, that stuff can do wonders. And if it doesn't solve the problem, it won't do any harm.
 
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Discussion Starter #15
Update: I called Subaru, spoke to one of their customer care reps and they offered me $500 assistance towards getting the job done at a dealer. After shopping around for quotes, this means I can probably get the HG + TB job done for around $2600, which is a big improvement. This makes me more likely to just get it done so I can drive cross country without worrying about it.

Thanks for the idea, Pilot 1226!
 

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Update: I called Subaru, spoke to one of their customer care reps and they offered me $500 assistance towards getting the job done at a dealer. After shopping around for quotes, this means I can probably get the HG + TB job done for around $2600, which is a big improvement. This makes me more likely to just get it done so I can drive cross country without worrying about it.

Thanks for the idea, Pilot 1226!
ask multiple dealers what they intend to do.

some will quickly slap on new original head gaskets, and not machine the heads.
= these are lazy, and the jobs can boomerang,...(like can start a worse head gasket problem then you had before).

but what you want is one that will say yes we will have the heads machined, and we will put turbo head-gaskets on,
(designed for the EJ255 turbo).

original ones were "single layer steel," turbo ones are "multilayer steel" and the correct turbo head gasket stock # ends in 642.
 

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replace the 3 timing belt pulleys while it's apart, those are just, if not more, prone to failure as the belt. these are 100x more concerning than your headgasket. don't ignore known failure points while replacing something won't fail, that makes no sense. those three pulleys are less than $30 each so you're only talking $100 and they literally take seconds to replace.

worst case scenario absolutely replace the $30 tooted lower idler. a mechanic (the service advisor may be clueless) will know exactly what it is because he's seen them fail and take out engines before just like me. bent valves and way higher costs to repair than what you're looking at now.

I'd start by adding a bottle of Holt (Subaru Coolant Conditioner). Seriously, that stuff can do wonders. And if it doesn't solve the problem, it won't do any harm.
it can't mitigate oil loss, it's physically impossible.
 

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I read the OP's post quickly and missed that this was an oil leak and not coolant.

My '02 (on it's second set of HG) was leaking oil from the back of the drivers side. Enough to thoroughly bathe the steering box and drip on the floor. I was using M1 5-30w at the time. My local Subi guy (formerly a district level tech guy for SOA) strongly recommended that I go to Walmart's High Mileage 10-30W. He said between the seal swelling agents and whatever else was in there that he'd seen good improvement. Sure enough, the leakage decreased substantially at that spot, and several other minor valve cover sites. Not a miracle cure, but it erased in my mind any good reason to get the HG's done again.
 

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Not true -
I never said explicitly that a 2008 LL Bean is an H6 but rather that it does sometimes "come up" as an H6 depending where/who you look/hear from. which it does - even a quick google search "suggests" it. the main point was the original ambiguity needed sorted, he wasn't going to make any decisions on that comment, but rather he would eventually clarify the data.
 

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$2500 Pulling the engine, replacing both head gaskets front and rear seals, cams seals, timing belt kit, (idlers, water pump) heads milled, will vary slightly if it has a clutch and needs one. All OEM parts. I've done at least 50 of them and started working on Subaru's when they first came into this country. Since that time in the late 70's I opened a transmission shop and continued to do the engines, manual, automatic and repairs on CVT transmissions. I am now retired and loving it.
 
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