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Impressed with the Outback..but need some help

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Just a few weeks ago purchased a 2001 Outback AWP one-owner 2.5 auto 135K through a dealer. Apparently it grew up in the Mpls St Paul area, and has documented maintenance through 60K. You can also tell it had pretty good care the rest of the time. And I have taken more than a few cars, mostly SAABs but a few VWs, from low 100Ks into high 100Ks or mid 200Ks.

This one is solid, had gas smell that I fixed with help from this board.

But I violated one of my rules for buying a hi-mileage used car. Don't buy it if you smell anti-freeze. I have since verified it has a slight coolant leak, almost certainly only external, on the #3 and #1 side...obviously from the HG. Coolant smell when warmed up, undetectable loss via overfill bottle, one drop[ of coolant on floor per day.

Everything else is just great.

I'm right-side up, moneywise, on the car, so don't mind spending some dollars to get it right, but want to know a few things:

Do any hi-mileage Subaru owners in the Rochester MN area know a really good dependable Subaru mechanic that they can recommend?

Since there is absolutely no sign of any leakage on the #2/#4 (drivers) side, and doesn't seem to be any internal leakage (yet) on the passenger side, does it make sense to have just the HG done on the one side? Or should I just monitor the situation, get used to smelling coolant, and wait until it will really be worth it to get the whole job (including timing belt, water pump etc) done?

Thanks in advance.
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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
12,391 Posts
1. Add Subaru's Coolant Conditioner - it's $2.47 at the dealer and *required*. On an existing leak I'd add two bottles, that will actually clear most of them up.

*It would be best to change the coolant first, but I can understand not wanting to do that if you're going to drain it again for a headgasket job (though In my experience the headgasket job is highly unlikely if you follow step #1 above).

2. It needs a timing belt if it hasn't been done yet. Best to get a timing kit with new tensioner and pulleys (or at least tensioner). With that done these motors are good, low maintenance, 250,000 mile candidates.

3. Well...normally it's best to do both gaskets, though in reality this is a rare situation where it would probably work to do just one....because of #1 mentioned above. If you do one headgasket and add new coolant and the conditioner as required - it's highly unlikely to leak. So I actually never recommend one headgasket and have hesitation to type what I do now...but statistics suggest it would work in this case.

4. If you get them replaced - use the EJ25 TURBO headgaskets, not the headgaskets Subaru will sell you for that car. The turbo version are far more robust and those dont' ahve headgasket issues.

5. Be sure to resurface the heads. They're never "warped" as in bad or out of tolerance and it won't need measured or pressure checked - so don't waste your money on those - but definitely resurface it as they always have high spots in the same way.

Don't sweat the mileage - listen to folks well versed in Subarus and you've got a likely shot at 250,000 reliable and inexpensive miles.

Numchux (i think that's how his username is spelled) on USMB is in MN and would likely know a good place to take it.

03 Outback H6 base
252 Posts
~~~~Numchux (i think that's how his username is spelled) on USMB is in MN and would likely know a good place to take it.
I'm lousy at abbreviations so I had to google USMB to find out what it meant. thanks! I can always use more reference's to explore.

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