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Discussion Starter #1
As our time to decide between Subaru and other eligible cars for our next ride approaches, I'm going to throw out the subject of a negative experience I had with my own Subaru ownership, a number of years ago. To wit: head gaskets.

First person anecdotes are welcome. The subject of Subarus and head gasket problems comes up from time to time, but I'd prefer if it was something that happened to your car.
 

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I simply cannot abide useless people.
2006 2.5i and 2002 3.0 wagons.
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2005 2.5i
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Here's how I look at it: with a Subaru, you know what potential problems and required services you are buying (Headgaskets and timing belt). With other vehicles you don't necessarily know what potential problems you are going to have: some may not have too many major problems but have lots of small ones that will nickel and dime you to death (IE 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee). As long as you do the timing belt at the proper intervals you won't have a problem there. If your headgasket does go, $1500 buys you the peace of mind that you have another 100,000 trouble free miles on the engine :29:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Here's how I look at it: with a Subaru, you know what potential problems and required services you are buying (Headgaskets and timing belt). With other vehicles you don't necessarily know what potential problems you are going to have: some may not have too many major problems but have lots of small ones that will nickel and dime you to death (IE 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee). As long as you do the timing belt at the proper intervals you won't have a problem there. If your headgasket does go, $1500 buys you the peace of mind that you have another 100,000 trouble free miles on the engine :29:
Yes- this is more or less the impression I got from reading the linked thread: that 100K might be a good average number of miles to figure on a head gasket replacement, and perhaps planing the head(s).

While what you say is true about other brands, not always. Our car (SAAB) is notorious for unpredictably failing in some component of the serpentine belt and its associated pulleys, sheaves, and mountings. Also, in certain years the engine is known as a "sludge monster" unless the correct oil is used, and change intervals strictly adhered to. OTOH, we've been driving SAABs for 40 years. They are now defunct, which is why we're looking at the Outback.

All brands have their quirks, and it's good to know them going in. The VW we're looking at (a diesel) requires a timing belt change at 130K. With belt (and water pump, which also should be changes as a prophylactic measure), that service ain't cheap. There's also VWs "manual/auto" DSG transmission, which requires a service every 40K, and that's at least $400 that most dealers will hit you up.

Let's face it, cars are a money pit, but can be less so with some foreknowledge.
 

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2003 Outback, 5 MT, 134K, HG changed.
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As AWDFTW pointed out, we have an entire sub forum for headgasket issues, so that probably says something about the [older models] Subaru ownership experience. Whenever friends think about buying a used Subaru when they ride in mine, I always preface how great they are with the possibility of HG issues.

If you want personal anecdotes, I bought mine with the mental preparation that the HG will go at some point, so I was extra vigilant in watching for the signs. And they did go out. Since replacement, the car has been great. Most Subarus will not ever have a HG issue, but there seems to be enough that do to warrant starting a piggy bank fund to fix it when it does.
 

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2006 Outback 2.5i Limited 5MT, 1984 Porsche 944
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You mentioned the cost of the timing belt change for the VW. Just so you know, all 4cyl Subarus require the timing belt to be changed at 105k miles.
 

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clarification...

Not trying to be a pain, but in case someone is shopping and the "all 4 cylinder" comment makes them nervous or conflicts with other posts here...


The newer FB-25 engine's in Forester 2011 onward and OB 2013 onward (which I will pick up this week) are actually chain driven (not belt driven) and do not require replacement... The dealers and car reviews crow about this as a reason to buy the newer models, though I don't have my manual yet to absolutely verify there is zero chance of chain replacement someday. Hope this helps.
 

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"Subaru's" don't have headgasket issues. "EJ25 engines" have headgasket issues. The best reliability, cost, ease of maintenance will come from choosing a motor wisely, not a brand. Avoid the EJ25 and you're golden.

I have had tons of EJ25's and helped friends/family (doing one right now) with headgasket issues - how long do you want me to type? LOL

Get the H6 engine - no headgasket issues...or really any issues to speak of at all. One of Subaru's best motors and it's in two of my main daily drivers for that reason. One is at 199,000 miles and the other at 160,000 miles - I'm figuring on 300,000.

Or get the EJ25 Turbo engine - and run full on synthetic oil at all times, no matter what. The EJ25 Turbo engines do not have headgasket issues.

The FB looks to be a stand up engine but being so young the long term jury is still out on those.
 

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Life is full of chances and risk. I owned a Toyota that had head gasket problems in same range of model years but no problems, not all my EJ25 owning friends have had problems.

My historical ammo for problems is get all service during warranty period done by authorized dealer and document it. With that, I've had out of warranty repairs done with some vehicles I've owned.

Thoughts of reliability sure crossed my mind before buying but in our case the 2013 Outback stood out for a number of reasons so we bought it.
 

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Life is full of chances and risk. I owned a Toyota that had head gasket problems in same range of model years but no problems, not all my EJ25 owning friends have had problems.

My historical ammo for problems is get all service during warranty period done by authorized dealer and document it. With that, I've had out of warranty repairs done with some vehicles I've owned.

Thoughts of reliability sure crossed my mind before buying but in our case the 2013 Outback stood out for a number of reasons so we bought it.
Same here Had Toyota drop $16,000 into a 4runner with 100,000 miles on it. Flawed head or block not sure which major engine ie HG failure Toyota tore down the block sent it out for machining and put two new heads on it $8000 three weeks in the shop. A year later same failure - again $8000 and this time they did it in two weeks. I drove it another 3000 miles and traded it for my first Subaru brand new 2001 Legacy GT limited 2.5 MT. I wasn't going to get caught with a $8000 head Gasket job on the toyota again.

The subaru at 65,000 miles developed a very very minor HG coolant weeping driver side which was the classic HG leak. No warranty dealer called subaru - subaru called me 10 minutes after I had dropped it off and commented that it seemed to have a coolant leak.

Subaru HQ says no worries we are replacing the HG no cost to you the car will be ready tomorrow evening. They called back 7pm that next night and asked if everything seemed OK. Then about a year later they called me again and asked if the car was OK. NEVER had another issue with it sold it at 180,000 miles zero leaks however the valve covers were just starting to show early signs of leaking oil.

Major reason I bought another Subaru - I know from first hand experience that if something goes oddly wrong with your Subaru and you have taken proper care of it Subaru will get involved and either fix it or cover a portion of the cost. Something I have NEVER EVER seen with Domestic Brands and Very Rarely have seen Toyota do without a knock down drag out fight. Honda I have a couple of family members who nearly went to court over clearly flawed parts and failures before Honda would even contact them about sorting out a fix.
 

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My first exposure to leaking head gaskets on an Outback occurred last week. I was following an Outback on I80 eastbound, climbing towards the Donner Summit east of Sacramento. The older OB (possibly 1999-2001) was smoking from beneath the vehicle. No smoke was coming from the exhaust. As I passed the OB, I could see oily residue on the rear bumper and tailgate. Older driver and occupants seemed oblivious to the problem.
 

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My first exposure to leaking head gaskets on an Outback occurred last week. I was following an Outback on I80 eastbound, climbing towards the Donner Summit east of Sacramento. The older OB (possibly 1999-2001) was smoking from beneath the vehicle. No smoke was coming from the exhaust. As I passed the OB, I could see oily residue on the rear bumper and tailgate. Older driver and occupants seemed oblivious to the problem.
Valve covers guessing they were original and yes the car would smoke and probably have some good oil crud going at this point. Heck every old car I've owned needed a valve cover gasket job at that point in age.
 
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