Skip's Head Gasket Failure Guestbook

Entries 101-200

Jack Cibor Baltimore, MD '98 Outback 2.5 120000  
Kevin Altree Boise, Idaho 1997 Outback Wagon 2.5L 126,000 Symptoms started around 116,000 miles.
Clint Dadswell Burlington, Ontario, Canada 1999 Outback, Manual Trans. 2.5L 118,000Km Just had head gaskets replaced (basically engine rebuild) last week. Cost $1,900 CDN Currently pursuing with Subaru Canada as work was not covered under warranty. (just over 100,000Km) Would be interested in other Canadians who are pursuing with Subuaru Canada. Should be covered under Servie Program from U.S.
Rod Cahill Santa Cruz, CA 1997 Legacy Outback 2.5 140000 Blown Head Gasket Im getting a Toyota
Michael Bruno San Jose, CA 97 Outback 2.5 90000 Blow head gasket at around 90K. Same symptoms as most: Sudden spike in temperature. Water in the exhaust. Around $2000 for repair. ir. Decidedly mixed experiences with the two dealers in the area.
B. Rivers Des Moines Iowa 1998 Forrester 2.5 75,000 A few months after the car had been serviced by suburu (as it always had been), the car rapidly overheated for no apparent reason. (No air on etc). Result was wrecked head gaskets and warped heads. Repairs cost $2200 and the car still overheats. The initial cause has not been determined, and only a new radiator, heater core, water pump and thermostat will solve the problem, the dealer says. this will cast another $2000 or so.
Kim Olin Oakland, CA 98 Legacy Outback 2.5L 72,000 After 1/2 hour of freeway driving my car suddenly stopped running and wouldn't start. I noticed the battery and "check engine" light were on, and the temperature gauge was @ high. Tow truck driver suggested giving it a lot of gas and it started, but copious steam came out the back and it didn't run smooth. He checked under the hood and coolant was all over and puddling under the car. The auto repair shop said it was BHG, but also may need to replace engine, as they heard some knocks. The only "warning sign" I had in retrospect was that we needed to replace the coolant in the air conditioner a month ago, as it wasn't as cold as it used to be. I don't use the air conditioner much, and wasn't using it at the time the HGs blew. This is a dangerous problem - I had to pull over in a No Parking zone as this occurred on a freeway exit. I'm up for a class action suit.
Michael R Kirschner Wildwood New Jersey MY02 outback wagon 2.5L 38k miles Had external leak and was going to have the head gasket replaced but SOA had dealer add sealer instead. (1-12-04) I have had piston slap issues with car since new .At 39K miles SOA replaced #2,#4 pistons with updated pistons . Also had new updated head gaskets on both heads since engine was out of car .
Mike Monahan Morgantown, WV 99 Outback Phase I 2.5L 95,000 Having owned seven Subarus I can fix just about any problem with them. The blown head gasket I have is the second worst problem to rebuilding the manual transmission! Sad to say this will be my last Subaru. Besides, my wife just bought a brand new Toyota 4 runner for only a couple grand more ($3K) than what she would have bought a new Subaru for. UPDATE: I performed all of the head gasket replacement work myself. Not a big deal with the engine left in the car. The gasket leak was enough to allow coolant to leak into the oil. One repair led to another that led to another. In other words I would find another problem everytime I had the engine rebuilt...all associated with the gasket leak. After $750 I still had an internal bearing squeal in the engine block. Realizing that the coolant in the oil was probably the cause and I was screwed I went ahead and crossed my fingers and drove the car 10 miles. The bearing failed in service! I am going to buy a rebuilt engine from CCR, swallow my pride, and drop another $2900. No more subarus for me!
eff Peyton Scappoose, OR 2000 Legacy L Wagon 2.5L 96,000 Last Feb I discovered coolant leak on driver side. Dealer replace head gasket N/C. They also found the head "out of spec" and replace it N/C.
Geoff Klise ABQ, NM prior Seattle, WA 98 Outback 2.5L 99K Well, after looking at all the other comments, I can see my problems are most likely head gasket related. No VOCs in the radiator yet, but I did have a few overheating incidents where fluid almost came out of the expansion tank, very frothy. I want to get rid of this car ASAP!! I want an 05 but am scared of what might happen down the road. I don't feel alone anymore :)
Maureen Bunger Carrboro, NC 99 Outback wagon 2.5L 85000 Just got word, as I suspected based on the symptoms, that the head gasket needs to be replaced at a cost of 2-3K. Just bought the car used a year ago. Anyone making progress on a legal front? Would love to hear about it.
Graham Australia 1998 liberty 2.3lt 189000 blown head gasket i guess was hoping otherwise
Bob Graham Deep River ON 1997 Legacy 2.5L 170000 Fine when it idles, when under driving load it blows coolant out the overflow. Then overheats.
Daniel Berg Broken Arrow, Oklahoma 97 Legacy Outback Limited 2.5L 130,000 I hope I can fix this one myself.
David Roberts Vancouver, BC 98 Legacy Outback 2.5L 160,000 km (100,000 mi) Overheating engine. Cylinder head gasket failed. Local dealer replaced for C$1,200. On road test drive developed major vibration from engine -- piston rod bearing failed. Needs a new short block for another C$4,000. May be the last Subara I own!
Mike C. Ottawa, Canada 1998 Forrester, 2.5 130K Well maintained engine and running fine but hot one day. sludge in the radiator resevoir. Probably just the temperature gauge, so down to the dealership. Nothing wrong with the temperature gauge but your head gasket is leaking. The repair estimate: $ 2 to 3 thousand. Definitely my last subaru.
tom engel albany new york 97 outback limited 2.5 133000 who knows a good subaru mechanic that can fix my HEADGASKET!!!!!!!!
Derek Sigurdson Santa Cruz, CA 1999 Legacy Outback Ltd 2.5L 130,000 Just found out that I've got a blown head gasket. Before this problem I was thinking about buying a new Subaru, but am now thinking otherwise. Also, at about 60,000 miles I started having transmission problems where it wouldn't engage into drive unless I rev'd up my engine. The dealership didn't know what the problem was so I've been driving it like that ever since.
joe velasquez Garland, Tx 2000 Legacy GT LTD 2.5l 64300 Same problem here, overheating, loss of coolant and bubbles in the overflow tank. no coolant in the oil. topped off the radiator and no overheating yet. Had no idea about a recall. What excactly is the dealer doing? I'm I still covered under the warranty?
Les Owen Brooklyn, NY 1997 Subaru Legacy GT Wagon 2.5L 146,000 Haven't confirmed yet, but have been having intermittent overheating problems for the last month and a half or so, and having researched many of the sites you list, I am nearly 100% convinced that my problem is blown head gaskets. SOB!
Edward C Mahopac,N.Y 1998 outback 2.5 107000 Blown head gasket . Subaru tells me its normal wear and tear, I say its a defect in gasket material or design flaw.How can anyone look to own a Subaru when the thought of a blown head gasket is looming around the corner. Next time I'll buy a Honda.
Larry Katonah,NY 2003 Outback 2.5 24,000 Will this car last?
Sridhar Kolinjavadi Parlin NJ 1997 outback 2.5 70000 Head gasket failed about a year ago, I have not used the car much since then. This is something Subaru must absolutely recall.
jeff illgner grass valley, cal 1997 legacy outback 2.5L 160k I have loved this car and swore by Subaru's. Now that I am faced with a $2000+ repair, I am rethinking my stance. I think a class lawsuit is a good idea.
Michael O'Connell Worcester MA 1999 Outback Wagon 2.5 98000 should be recalled
John Huskins Broken Arrow, OK 1998 Forester 2.5 DOHC 143000 Just had my head gasket blow. Have gutted the thermostat to keep it cool a little while longer till I can pull the engine and fix it.
Rob Lebovic Brooklin, Ontario 1998 Legacy Outback 2.5L 156000 KM This one better last over 100k
Wayne Boncyk Fontana, CA 1996 Outback 2.5L 168000 Failure occurred about 2 yrs ago, while I was still living in Colorado. Subaru dealer wanted $2200 to fix; I went to an independent shop. Total cost to replace both sides: $1400. Wish SofA would admit to their poor design so I could recover some of this cost!!
T. Hoffman & D. Via Harrisburg, Pa 1999 GT 2.5 138,000 One more blown head gasket to add to list with a $2000 plus repair cost. Subaru should repair for free to save their reputation but untill then we will suggest people not purchase any Subaru product We are not litigious but in this case Yes there does need to be a lawsuit, where do we sign up. Well off to buy a Honda
Mike Dewees Big Sky, Montana 2000 Legacy 2.5 88,887  
John Murray El Dorado Hills 1998 Legacy Outback 2.5L 94,500 Loosing coolant; engine overheats on longer trips
Carrie Portland, OR 1998 Outback 2.5L 67,200 Poor car suddenly overheated. Not a surprise as not a drop of antifreeze was left. Internal leak. Head gaskets were replaced, as were the thermostat and baffle plate. Extremely expensive fix, thankfully covered by added security warranty. Unfortunately this is not the first problem the car has had despite performing all scheduled maintenance and regular oil changes. Pretty low miles for an almost 7 year-old Subie and way too many headaches. Last Subaru I will ever own.
Bob Fletcher Hudsonville, MI 98 Outback 2.5L 123,453 The headgasket failed and Subaru said it wasn't a design or production issue. I don't agree.
Susan McLaughlin Huntington, PA 99 Outback 2.5L 100,000 I got rid of my 1999 Subaru Outback Wagon (2.5L) in March 2003 due to a blown head gasket. The first time it happened was in January 2003. After just telling friends how much I loved my car -- not one problem in 4 years and almost 100,000 miles I was on the road for work when the car lost its heat and the temp gauge maxed out. One week after having it fixed, on my 30-mile commute to work, the same thing happened. I lost my heat and the head gasket fried again. Subaru blamed it on a faulty replacement gasket. I took it to a local mechanic rather than a dealer to save some bucks. He told me that mine was the 9th Subaru he had worked on with the same problem. I traded the Outback for a 2003 VW.
Mark Czekaj Doylestown, PA 98 Forester 2.5L DOHC 100,000 Noticed the antifreeze level in the overflow tank dropping and periodic fluctuations in temperature. Took it to the dealer and surprise another head gasket problem. He did say it was not that bad but I should start saving the $1800 to fix it. Short term fix was a $20 bottle of Subaru coolant conditioner. Addd this $1800 to the $500 bucks to fix an engine leek a year ago and this car is costing me way more than I anticipated. So much for Subaru's good reliability reputation.
Scott Tucker Port Angeles, WA 97 outback wagon 2.5 117,000 Same as everyone else. I'm trying small claims court to recover repair costs. I've put over $500 into it at Subaru dealerships and they didn't know what was wrong. I showed this site to my regular mechanic and it's a no brainer. Bad Subaru!! I called the national service line and they played stupid
Marc Huntington, NY 1998 Outback Ltd 2.5L 69,000 This is appaling to see how many other Loyal Subaru owners have experienced the same troubles. I am sad to see some have blown there engines. I was lucky enough to catch the problem early, but, after looking at all these problems I see I am not out of the woods yet. I bought my first Subaru off of my dad and drove that car (1990 Legacy) until it had 220k miles on it and I sold it and I hear it is stilll on the Subura why can't you build a car like that again. I then bought my 1998 Outback LTD. 5 years later and 67k miles ...well if you are reading this you know the story. 2 weeks later and $2,200. I had my car back. I have since put 10k miles on the car and no problems with the HG, but I am thinking of getting rid of the car now while i still can. It is amazing that Subaru of America still denies that there is a problem and boy are they pissing alot of loyal customers off. Thanks
charles gamble birmingham al 1997 outback ltd 2.5L 99100 i am second owner and had this car for a year and 3 mo. i just had the head gaskets replaced. i hate this problem took place does the 6cyl. encine have this any similar problems.
Chris Schmid NE Ohio 1997 Outback Limited 2.5L 120000 Had thermostat replaced a few months ago after overheating. A couple of months later we had the coolant flushed, pissed that the guy who fixed the thermostat obviously didn't do it (now it looks like he did!) This weekend when 100 miles from home on a Sunday afternoon, it overheats again. Towed back home for $200. Looked online and found the problem existed. I am now only fixing the HG that blew and trading the car in ASAP! I may buy a Subaru again but not with this engine.
Mark C Doylestown, PA 98 Forester 2.5L 100,350 I had the intermitant overheating problem that the dealer said was due to a leaking head gasket. He said to try the Subaru coolant conditioner first. Well it only went 200 miles before it overheated and boiled over. So much for the cheap solution. Had it towed to the dealer and will be getting a bill for $1800 in a few days. I highly recomend AAA if you drive one of these vehicles I spent $300 in towing this year. This car has been the most expensive to maintain that I have ever owned. Not saying much for Subaru reliability.
Chad Walker Welch, MN 99 Outback 2.2 L 190,000 Just off the phone with Subaru. They deny any issues with their headgaskets on this model. Blown gasket caused damage to pistons/bearings. Need new short block. $4,500.00
Richard Magnusson Saltspring Island, B.C. 98 Legacy GT Wagon 2.5L 110,000 K's $2,000.00 to replace blown hg's never again new Subarus as much as I have enjoyed driving them for the past 20 years - went out and bought an '86 Brat - old technology is best!
Carol McMinnville, OR 1996 Legacy Outback 2.5L 175000 Looking at this page, I guess I can't complain much, it did go to about 168000 before it started with to overheating problems. Same thing as the others. Tried everything replaced everything, except the HC. Now I know huh? I love the car, it's a good ride, took it every place I wanted. So sad it has to be like this.
Barry Wagner Arlington, VA 99 Outback 2.5L 84,000 Thanks, this is a ridiculous problem. My daughter had the car in CO, head gaskets blew in mountainous area, car overheated badly, needs engine replaced.
Robert Bowman Montreal, Canada 97GT Auto 2.5L 142000km I have owned 3 Subarus and always loved them. Just bought a 97GT didn't even get home from the dealer when it overheated and started leaking. Let it cool and limped home. Next day I filled up the radiator and tried it again. Ran well for a while but then suddenly overheated again with coolant pouring out of the resevoir. I thought rad, cap, thermostat? Then I checked out this site. Going back to the dealer. Thankfully I still own my dependable 93 Impreza.
Rory Stafford Toronto, Ontario, CA 97 Legacy GT 2.5L 101601 Daily driver to and from work never "beat up" or driven hard. Bought used in 99 with 45,000km's on it, 60,000km's blown head gasket. Thank's Subaru.
Daniel Dykeman Westfield, VT 97 Legacy 2.5L 140k This is fantastic...bought the car used about a month ago, now its showing all the symptoms listed here. Verdict? Ill find out in the morning....anyone want to take bets that its the head gaskets?
Chris Boesche Enumclaw, Washington 98 forester 2.5L 111,000 I purchased this from Puyallup Subaru with the check engine light on. The deal was they fix this before I buy. They came back and told me that it was cracked radiator.....right. My mechanic has come back and said that it has a blown head gasket UGH! I have only owned it for 50 days and 4,000 miles. Had I known this I would have never touched a Subaru.
Sean Bellingham, Wa 97 Outback limited 2.5 125,000 Sludge in overflow, suspect internal HG failure. what an expensive mess.
Brian Carter Bellevue WA 98 Outback LTD 2.5 198,000  
Meme English Greenfield, MA 1998 Outback 2.5 L 144,000 Just received news that my head gaskets neeed to be replaced. my son was car shopping and a Honda dealer told him when he related my gruesome story that there has been a recall...I guess he was wrong.My repair will also include two valve replacements!! $2,000. +. I would be interested in joining in class action. No more Subarus for me!
Earl Gardner Thousand Oaks, CA 1997 Legacy GT 2.5 80000 Bought cheap used 1997 legacy at 80K miles needing repair, service, and TLC. After repairs and service, strange overheating symptoms began. Temp gauge shot up while idling or parking, even though ran fine on freeway for 45 minutes. Coolant blew out of reservoir, but engine not really hot - no hissing, steam, etc. If stopped before loss of coolant then some bubbles rising in reservoir. Took to shop numerous times for overheating and mechanic did the usual - t-stat, burb coolant system, etc. Co-worker found Skip's Head Gasket Failure web site for me and I took a printout of it to mechanic. He did compression test, cylinder leak test, and hydrocarbon test and ruled out the head gaskets. Two weeks later he gave up trying to find the cause of overheating and called his expert service. They told him it was the head gaskets. After replacement and machining of 1 head ($1350) car seems to be running fine. I love the car, but I will always keep one eye on the temp gauge. Thanks for your site, Skip.
S Burgess Martinsburg, WV 1998 Legacy Limited 2.5 128,000 I just bought car from a used car lot. It is in great condition the only problem, overheating. I took it back the replaced the thermostat. Today it overheated again. I see from looking at this website that there are similar problems. I plan to take this car back and get another car. They place is suppose to know the Suburu. I know that I won't but another one of these.
Tonya Lackey Keene, NY 2001 Outback Wagon 2.5L 120,000 I first started recognizing overheating issues at 100,000 when Subaru nicely offered their recent "campaign" to add an additive to the coolant system. The additive gunked up the radiator, which I then had to repair. I continued to add coolant to a leaking system, trying to understand why it was overheating. As Subaru refused to work with me. Just today, they said I am lucky they offered the campaign. My head gasket has probably blown, hopefully not yet. However, I have coolant being sucked through the engine and right out the exhaust. Now I have to find someone to repair the car for a reasonable price. This car is my livelyhood, I drive more than 80 miles a day, racking up close to 30,000 miles a year. The more you dirve a car, the better it is supposed to operate - That's not the case with this Subaru. Subaru of America has done nothing. Each day I find yet another person who has experienced the same failures with their Subaru and yet Subaru of America does nothing. What's it goign to take - a death? This is the last Subaru I will ever buy. I too has a Honda Accord prior to this car - it lasted 205,000 miles before it decided to have a problem, which I did not want to spend money trouble shooting. I'm going back to Honda.
Steve Wilmington, DE 1997 Legacy 2.5GT 2.5L 63,000 Recently, my '97 Legacy 2.5GT overheated after a long trip (first time it has ever overheated). I topped up with new 50/50 coolant and the temp gauge hasn't spiked since, but I sense all is not right. [It's also had a slow oil leak near the baffle plate for some time] Took it to dealer after my trip, and they basically said I need a new engine ($4500!!??) - no mention whatsoever of a potential head gasket problem. Noticed the overflow jug bubbling today after a brief highway trip, but the temp gauge never spiked. Feel like I'm driving a time bomb and suppose I better get it checked out soon (NOT at Subaru). I assumed a Subaru (this is my first) would go 150k no problem, and here I am at 63k with what looks like a major (and potentially recurring?) problem. Not pleased; this definitely tarnishes Subaru's reputation in my mind. Love the AWD, but no way should this car be dying on me at 63k.
J Eno Boston, MA 1998 Outback 2.5L 98000 First noticed overheating after highway driving for about an hour. Pulled over and found oil and black gunk in the coolant and boiling over out of the reserve tank. Made it back home after driving slowly and stopping frequently to cool engine down. Midas did compression check and found nothing. Dealer said it was a gasket. Replaced both gaskets, water pump, thermostat. Stopped overheating.
HL Columbia, Md 1998 Legacy Outback Wagon   104,500 No prior issues with the Outback overheating. Car quickly overheated recently. Gauge went to 'Hot'. Coolant was basically drained out and lost. Dealer has informed me it's the head gasket. Maybe it's time to cut my losses. Have only had Toyotas over past 15-20 years, except for this one '98 Outback Wagon. All the Toyotas have made it to the 150K+ range before selling them and never had an engine problem. Still driving my '93 Camry with 154K+ miles as well. This'll probably be my last Subaru.
Sean Lucas northvill, mi 1998 forester S 2.5L 105,000 Just had the gasket blow... after having the cam seals replaced, water pump replaced, and timing belt as well... nothing like spending >2k on repairs all at once!!!
Victor C. Yonkers, NY 98 Forester 2.2 78000 Wow! I've been pulling the hair out my head trying to figure out my over heating problems and then stumbled across your website. Unbelieveable, my problem described over and over by so many different people. After a quick stop at my dealer they say it will cost $3,200. to repair! Warranty expired by 16,000 miles! I cant understand why these problems are not more publicized, what a scam all this Subaru hype! My fathers 1965 Chevy was still going strong after 13 years before he decided to buy another Chevy. No more Subarus for me or anyone I know!
Brett Marshall Victoria, Australia 98 Liberty Ltd Edition 2.5L DOHC 48,000 Just blew the head gasket on Cyl No 3. I am Pissed, Supposed subaru reliability. Not worth shit. In Aus we get 3 year warranty. the fact that it has only done 76,000Km is besides the point to Subaru. I have 2 Subaru's $100,000 Aus worth and till now i would of bought another Subary without question. Now i will shop around for the next car. Maybe an Honda Accord!
Jason Voll Glassboro, NJ 2001 2.5RS coupe 2.5L 101,500 I smelled the burning oil, looked at my odometer, and cursed the gods. Even though Subaru had been nice enough to address the problem via cans of Subaru-brand stop-leak and by extending the warranty on head gaskets to 100,000 miles, mine started leaking 1,500 miles too late. I had to have my head gasket replaced at 101,500 miles. It's a real issue to me now, and Subaru's policy on it has convinced me to never own another one of their cars ever again. If they wait YEARS to inform their customers of critical design mistakes (mistakes THEY made), I don't want any part of any new car they could offer me.
Dan Perreault Concord, NH 1998 Forrester 2.5 116,000 Both HGs blew. $1,400 later(dealer would have charged me almost double)and I'm back on the road. Thanks for your site. I wish I'd seen it before I bought the car!
M. Benoit Baltimore, MD 98 Legacy OB Lim. 2.5L 100,243 No warning signs + regualar maintenance + 100K = blown HG(if you're lucky). Put a new motor in before I caught this website; now i've got another ticking timebomb coming, THANKS SOA.
J & M Lyons Portland, ME 98 Legacy GT 2.5 82,000 Head gaskets blew at 82,000 - Subaru CS said they were sorry but offered no financial assistance ($1200 included replacing damaged timing belt). It took a lot of $ to get to the final diagnosis. Subaru did offer a $1000.00 discount off a new Subaru. Now, at 95,000 one of the pistons is mis-firing - another $450.00. We bought this car to last - it ain't lasting. THIS WILL BE THE LAST SUBARU WE EVER OWN...
B. Sharma Santa Clara, CA 98 Outback 2.5 86,000 Overheated going over grapevine on way to So. Cal. Replaced thermostar/radiator etc. Seems like head gasket problem with bubbles in overflow reservior - quoted over 3000 by dealer - 2000 for head gasket, remaining for doing timing belt/waterpump and clutch.
Jeff Wozniak Conyngham, PA 1996 Outback Wagon 2.5L 99,890 Usual story... Driving the car and coolant started bubbling out of the overflow. The overflow bottle was full of black oily gue. I pulled the engine myself and found the #1 cylinder head gasket was leaking. I'm waiting for the heads to get machined now before I put it all together. I'm skipped the purchase of the Overhaul Kit and just got the seals that I needed for the heads. I'm also replacing the water pump and thermostat. Total = $320 plus machine shop cost and radiator flush cost. I love my Subaru but I'm going to have a hard time purchasing a 2.5L engine ever again. My 1990 Legacy with the 2.2 engine is still chugging at 168,000 miles. Never replaced anything!
Jeremy B Coopersville, MI 97 Legacy GT 2.5 ~140K Last Friday, out of the Blue, my wife pulls in an exclaims "There's something wrong with my car it's smoking and it smells funny." I bought this car in SE PA before moving back to Michigan and have had numerous small with oil leaks, etc. I'm starting to suspect that this is the second gasket this car has blown. We'll find out sometime next week when I get the engine out. My failure had the added bonus of oil mixed into the coolant in the relief tank. I'm hoping it is not more than the head gasket, but I'm planning on replacing just about everything. Skip, thanks for the excellent site. To everyone else, my condolences. I've always been impressed by the Subarus focus on engineering excellence..guess they missed something. I'd like to see some sort of campaign to win back Subaru owners who've had this problem.
Larry Pomona, NY 1999 SUS 2.5 80,000 Had all service performed by Subaru dealer, including 60K. At 67K BHG, after misdiagnosed twice by dealer. Now at 80,000 a bearing failed and the engine needs to be replaced. We change the oil ever 3K miles but they want the receipts for the oil I bought to prove it. Suspect antifreeze mixed with oil and caused bearing to fail prematurely. I own two other Subaru's, and now worry about them as well.
Lynnette Shanahan Savage, MN 1997 Outback Ltd. 2.2 80,000 Just blew the head gasket. This car is driven lightly and very well maintained. The dealer says it happens very rarely in Subarus and they have no idea why it happened. I thought I'd do a little research on the internet and came up with this site. Very interesting. We're going to be asking the dealer about this again.
Jim Coffelt Lakewood, CO 1998 Forester 2.5 105000 Car overheats, low oil level, oil in the coolant overflow. Took it in for a test and the result came back as "blown head gasket". The service station told me that they have been seeing lots of Subarus with blown head gaskets. Called Subaru and talked to a customer service rep. No surprise in his voice. Sounded like he'd heard this a thousand times before. Told me to take to to a Subaru dealer. They gave me a price break on the parts. The total bill was less than two other estimates I got. They gave me a free rental car for a few days.
Karen Kesseru Santa Rosa, CA '98 Legacy Outback 2.5L currently 130,000 Spring of 1998,bought car. Began smelling burning oil at 3,790 miles. Took car into dealer 5 times until they finally traced problem to rear main seal - now at 11,476 miles. They finally got the parts in and replaced my rear main seal, cover seals, crankshaft seals at 12,280 miles. when I expressed my concern over such problem in brand new car they scoffed and said this was not unusual. This is now October of 1998. I pushed the home office and they offered me an extended warrenty to 80,000 miles. August 2001 - altenator replaced due to recall,67,203 miles. November, 2002 - 90,000 miles, all extended warranty expired. Replaced front crankseal and timing belt. Again, told that this was just this model's weakspot and this was altogether normal. January 2003 - 92,000 miles - alternator starts fire under hood - connector posts were stripped so the connector wires could not be tightened down, causing sparking then fire. By now I am getting good at fighting with the dealer service manager and he re-imburses me for the resulting repairs, but imbeds this with how he is doing me a favor because they are not really at fault. August 2004 - 127,922 miles. Took car in for major service schedule, drive car 2 blocks out from dealer, check engine light comes on. Dealer takes 2 more days to figure out I have an exhaust leak. I get the exhaust leak fixed, dealer resets computer, 2 blocks away the check enging light comes on again. Now dealer says O-2 sensors are bad. In my argument I tell the manager that other mechanics have assured me that he is full of bs - he gets angry and yells at me that he is honest - he grabs a file out of his cabinet and waves it under my nose and tells me that Subaru of America had issued a memo to service managers advising them that they did have a head gasket problem and that models from 1999 and up were being repaired free. So, there is something out there. Too bad my car is a '98 and has already blown two. Oh, the O-2 sensor...they will replace them for cost of parts and I can wait without causing my car problems until I have the money. November 2004 - 131,496 miles. Car sputters and stops on highway late at night. Wait in dark alone for 2 hours for tow truck to dealership. Pay taxi $35 to get home from dealer at 2AM. They replace the O-2 sensor, reset computer, I drive 2 blocks from dealer, check engine light comes on again. Outcome yet to be determined, am resolved to carry Subaru complaint as far as possible. I will research what is involved in creating a class action suit but I suspect we will need more people involved.
Michael Peters Pittsburgh, PA 1997 Legacy GT 2.5 125,000 I checked over the car before leaving for a 4 hour trip to go to my wedding. Everything was in very good shape. About 3 hours into the drive I was in a large construction zone with only one lane open. Out of nowhere a large paper bag emerged from beneath the truck ahead of me. I tried to stradle it, but I didn't see it come out behind me. Shortly thereafter the temp needle began to slowly rise I battled it back by turning the heat on full blast while I despreratly began looking for a place to get off the road. The heater worked and I dove off onto the next exit ramp. I stopped before I got to the toll booth and checked the nose. Sure enough, a Black Beauty cold patch bag was partially covering the opening below the bumper. I proceeded to the toll both. But the needle was still riding pretty high although needle never got the whole way up and there wasn't a real loss of coolent. I stopped and got it cooled down keeping the engine running. The radiator was full and so was the overflow can. I talked to a mechanic and he thought it was a bit strange that a car would overheat like that with just a partial blockage. As I finished my drive the car began to run warmer than usual again. I attributed this to an air pocket that might have developed. I had many things on my mind and my car was the least of them. The next morning my father, cousin and I went out and checked the car. The overflow was now empty and there was some space in the radiator. We put in some coolent and purged the system. We went for a drive around Buffalo and everything seemed fine. The wedding was great and so was the honey moon. The car made it back to Pittsburgh with no incidents, but we had only driven a couple of hours at any one time. I drove the car for another month around Pittsburh and kept an eye on the water level. I had the oil tested and there was no coolent in it, and no thermal damage. All seemed fine until I went for a long drive about 2 hours into the drive we encountered a large steep hill. The poor little Subaru would only pull it at 30 mph. I kept watching the guages and I was happy to see that everything was normal. We crossed the top of the hill and saw that we missed our turn off. We turned around and were headed back when I saw the needle go right to hot and the car stopped. This time there was a black layer of soot coating the inside of the overflow tank. I called AAA and had it towed home. I started doing my research and found this site describing just what happened to me. I filled it back up and drove it around town. Everything worked fine. I had the oil tested again. I took the car to a mechanic to replace the head gasket. He said that there didn't seem to be anything wrong with it except maybe for a minor leak. I tried using the K&W block seal, following the directions thoroughly. It said flush the motor with a degreasing/Flushing product. That product seemed to flush out what was left of the head gasket, becuase I had major problems keeping the car from overheating. I used the block sealing product. The block seal wasn't able to fully overcome the forces of the exhaust gas and I could see large rises and falls in the overflow tank. I took it to my Dealership. They tested it and said that I definitly have an internal leak. So it is either the head gasket or the block. And with my milage I should just get a new engine since I probably damaged more than just the head gasket. The mechanic said that they have had alot of trouble with the older 2.5 short blocks cracking if they have been overheated. I am not sure how much I believe his reasoning but changing the whole engine has been recomened to me by more than one person / website. My phone calls to engine "recyclers" has made me realize that the 2.5 is in high demand, and that 125,000 is considered "good service" for a 2.5. But I had 133,000 on a Ford Bronco 2.9l V6 (not considered a great engine) when I sold it and I figured that a Subaru should run for at least 200K if not 300K. The fact that the 2.5 is in short supply tells me that there is a bigger problem at hand. I realize that Subaru can't replace everybody's engine for free (like Henry Ford did), but at the very least they should give a discount on the 2.5 parts and publish the "how to rebuild a 2.5" instructions on the internet. There lack of support both physically and, more disturbingly, informationally concerning this engine.
Smiljan Pula,Croatia 1998,legacy EJ25 75000 headgasket failures.Dificle too find parts,but finished good
Leslie E Stein Albany, NY 1997 Legacy Outback Wagon 2.5L 102700 Internal leak forceing coolent into overflow. Mechanic found exhaust gases in cooling system after testing. Diagnosed head gasket failure.
Colleen Saggese San Rafael Ca 1998 forester 2.5L 116,000 Overheated first on a crooscountry trip. Radiator was found to be clogged and replaced. Went 750 miles the next 2 day, I saw the temp gauge start climbing and shut it down. the overflow reservoir filled up with an oil/antifreeze mixture
Ralph Landover, MD 1996/outback 2.5 78,569 blown head gasket, no sign of over heating, all of a sudden blowing back thru the radiator
Mike Farrell Burnsville, Minnesota 1999 Legacy 2.5 98,xxx Same exact problem. car runs good, over heats and blows coolant into expansion tank. I'm unemployed and will do the job myself with a friend.
Mike Brockman Waterbury, Ct. 1998 Outback 2.5 89,000 It looks like my first post is going to be about the infamous head gasket issue. Less than a week ago, I bought a one owner '98 Outback with 88k miles. It runs beautifully, apart from the coolant puke- overheat- bubbling overflow stuff that's typical of an engine with a blown head gasket. As I write this, I'm waiting on a call from the local Subaru repair shop, who is firming things up with my after market service contract people. I don't always purchase these kinds of warranties, but after having seen this head gasket problem show up on this and other message boards, I needed some peace of mind. Thank Buddha for message boards! This online dialogue is such a great tool. I'm guessing that head gaskets can just leak at first, then steadily worsen, or suddenly fail catastrophically, and that there are symptoms that can appear alone or in combination with others. I suppose it depends on where the breech is and how long it's been problematic. I seem to have oil in the coolant, a black gooey residue the texture of peanut butter collecting on the inside surface of my overflow tank, and the overheating episodes with the bubbling . The oil looks fine, however, and I'm not blowing steam out of the exhaust. The head service guy told me he had to repair his '99 Outback, too. This is not coincidental, too many post's with more than one incident are being reported ( "my father and my uncle", "blew gasket, installed rebuilt, blew again" etc.) Perhaps the likelyhood of a second failure was greater before the introduction of the 4 layer gasket, I don't know. I feel so bad for the people who have lost out, I'm gonna sign the "head gasket guest book", hopefully something good may come of this.
Tracy Milford CT 97 outback limited 2.5 L 75000 Fixed at dealer who claimed this was a rare problem. Apparently, it is not so rare. Now at 87000 miles it runs very well. Too bad this doesn't happen under warrantee...I bet there would be a recall then.
Jeremy Smith Northfield, MN 96 Outback Wagon 2.5 125000 Sister in laws car, randomly overheated twice in two years. Took to dealer. Find a cracked cylinder wall. Head gasket out caused the Problem. Dealer pulled the motor out and apart. Now wants $800 Just to take the car out of there. They ran no preliminary tests to see what was going on. The went in blind. I would strongly suggest no one ever buys a subaru again. Nor give bussiness to Bloomington Subaru/Acura in Bloomington Minnesota. They are theives!!!! To bad though, The car is in like new condition and I don't know what to do with it. If anyone can tell me how to configure a 2.2 in it please email me at Thanks
mark digiacomo carmel,ny 1998 subaru forrester 2.5L 11900 My car just started overheating, took it to replace thermostat, no leaks. Pressure test done no loss of compression, I took it to work again the next day and it was overheating. so took it to a different place and checked the combustion in the reservoir and the test came out neg. for head gaskets. I was relieved. Called back later and another test showed the head gasket was blown. How is that? Now the cost of this job is over 2000.00 dollars. I loved my car, now I am so mad at Subaru! If I only knew about this site a while ago I never would of bought a Subaru. I think some kind of action should be taken! This really sucks.
Brian Duffy Methuen, MA '96 Impreza L 2.2 132000 Just bought the car from a dealer with a 30 day warrenty. The car overheated and I took it in. Had a new radiator installed under warrenty. Car ran well for a month and then began overheating again. Found your website and new I was in trouble. Dealer is offering to auction off the car at a $1000 loss to me. I wouold like to get it fixed, but I don't know if I will loose more that way.
Erin Woodward Lebanon, Ohio 2001 Legacy wagon 2.5L 80,000 Back in July, my engine suddenly overheated on the highway. Had it towed to Goodyear, who does my usual repairs. The next day, they told me I had a blown head gasket. I totally freaked out, had it towed to Subaru. They said, didn't you get the recall letter? I said no, I hadn't. They said we'll put this sealant stuff in and that will hopefully fix it. All it will cost you is $13 for the sealant. I was thrilled because I knew the alternative would have been $1,500 repair. Now it's Nov and I have a coolant leak. Thinking it is something minor (LOL) I take it to Goodyear. He calls me later and says you have a leaking head gasket. He pulled all the recall paperwork and said to not let them put the sealant in again, that they need to replace the head gasket. He said theoretically they should have to pay for it, but he didn't know if they would. By this time, I'm thinking about how I'm going to have to get an attorney involved, etc. I called Subaru, they checked my computer record from July and said yes, we will replace the head gasket at our cost. Needless to say, it was a pleasant surprise : )
D. Claassen Manhattan, KS 97 Outback 2.5L 110,000 Should have paid attention to oily gunk in the coolant. Should have paid more attention to short-term temp spikes. By the time the gasket totally blew, the engine bearings were shot do to coolant in the oil. Have to put in a different used engine (installed: $3500). Hope Subaru's redesigned 4-layered head gasket is an improvement. Wish I had seen this site earlier. I would not have waited!
Pat Beall Joppa, Maryland 2001 Legacy Wagon 2.5L 41,000 I too received and went in for the recall of adding the coolant solution. During the summer I started smelling anti-freeze but never found any, only minimum replacement to radiator. Last week I took car in to have brakes checked and asked to check for the anti-freeze leak. Dealer forgot to check on the problem. This past week I took the car to another repair place. They did a pressure test on the cooling system and found the top seam of the radiator was seeping when cold. They recommended replacement of the radiator at a price of $500. Said gunk was all in the anti-freeze. Have you seen any problem with the radiators in addition to the head-gasket? Do you think the head-gasket is also what is causing the gunk in the system now? Car is starting to run a bit rough. I have always had Chevy's, this is my first foreign car. I like the handling and car, but not when I have to pay this kind of money so soon.
Richard Tokarczyk Halifax, Nova Scotia 2000 Legacy Outback 2.5 145,000 km Internal coolant leak into #3 cylinder. I bought the car used with ca 140,000 km on it. I drove it for about 5,000 km before gasket gave up. I drive gently, usually between 2,000-3,500 rpm, never rev it above 5,000. Before I had 1990 Legacy for 5 years, I bought it when it had 250,000 km, sold it after 380,000 km. I never had any problems with the old one. The 2000 Outback is the last Subaru I own. Richard
Barb Harrison Athens,Oh 97 Legacy Outback LTD 2.5 131730 I am sorry to report that I just traded in my beloved '97 Legacy Outback ltd, black with leather seats just to name one of my favorite characteristics of the car. What a nightmare the last few months have been. I bought my car just 3 years ago after I had totaled my BMW station wagon. In any case, since June of this year '04, my car has been showing symptons of what eventually was diagnosed as an blown head gasket or crack short block. Like many others, I experienced the symptoms of it shooting the temp. guage up over "H" and staying there and no heater fan or other attempts to cool it would work. Thermostat was replaced about 4 times in the past 6 months, radiator flushed twice, water pump replaced twice....I ended up spending about 2K trying to figure out what the problem was, including going to a nearby Subaru dealer where they replaced 1 burnt valve - local mechanic said they should have replaced all valves at that time. No mechanic could diagnose or would truthfully tell me what the problem was. This was a great car and I'm so ticked off that I had to trade it in in a semi-crisis mode this past week. Subaru's are great cars and I did trade it for a 2005 Forester which I intend to have for a very long time.
Cheryl Kozemchak Denver, CO 98 Outback Wgn 2.5 92,000 The dealer, during one of their "free" oil changes at 75,000 miles, told me I had the first signs of blown head gasket, and I should keep an eye on the temperature gauge. So I spent the next 15,000 miles watching, flushed the coolant so that I could check for any signs of oil ingress, and waited. Finally, I had an overheat, at 92,000 miles. After replacing the thermostat and refilling, and ruling out all other possibilities, the coolant bottle still overflows, and it does indeed smell like exhaust gas excaping into the coolant through a cracked head gasket. It will now go to the dealer for a $1200-1600 head gasket replacement. It is very reassuring (not!) to know that Subaru has recognized this problem with the phase II engines(1999 and later), providing "coolant goo" and an extended gasket warranty, but will expect me to cough up the repair cost for this 1998 failure. This is my second short-lived Subaru, and, barring a very kind financial gesture by SOA, my next car will most surely be either a Honda, Toyota or Nissan product - a car from a manufacturer who thinks that a car should last 100k miles without a major engine expenses!!!
Dan Bedinger Vacaville, CA 2001 2.5 RS Impreza 2.5L 82,500 Looks like both gaskets are leaking. Getting bubbles in the coolant reservoir and some external leakage. Bummer deal. I own two 2.5L Subaru's and have convinced no less than three friends and family to also purchase 2.5L Subaru's. I am a little concerned about that.
Pete Morse Hartford Maine 2002 Legacy Outback 2.5L 74000 Miles Bought this car in september and after one month on the road noticed the head gasket was leaking. After contacting a Subaru dealership and arguing with S.O.A. on the phone, I ended up getting the job mostly paid for by Subaru and most of the rest paid for by the used car dealer that sold it ot me. t ended up costing me $150. out of pocket. I feel lucky, but I did put alot of time in to get them to go good for it. Any questions:
Kaibab Sauvage Palisade, CO 1997, Legacy 2.5 L 130,000 I am just another blown head gasket, warped block statistic. Had to have the engine replaced. Lots of $. Same sad story of a very very reliable 86 subaru, and now very disapointed in my 97 outback. Lets all hope for a recall and keep on fighting for it.
Dyce Hans Lynn, MA 97 Legacy GT 2.5L 109700 I still don't want to believe it, but my 97 Subaru Legacy GT has blown a Head gasket. My former mechanic was baffled and after three trips to the shop and about $600 for Water pump and Timing belt, he concluded that it was the HG, which would cost an additional $1300. Well the car is now being used locally only, until I figure out what I'm gonna do. I used to say that my next car would definately be another Subaru Legacy GT... Thanks but NO Thanks! Dyce
Todd Schulman Islandia, NY 1998 Forester L 2.5L 102,000 Water pump leaked, engine overheated (a simple idiot light would have prevented this, is it on the new Foresters), head gaskets blown. $1800 towards a down payment on a new Forester XT gone. The new Mercury Marauder looks interesting (no I'll never buy a Ford). Highlander? Audi A3? BMW X3? Subaru, lets hear from you. November 2004
Matthew McNutt Portland, Oregon 1998 2.5L 92000 My subaru outback blew a headgasket at 84,000 miles. I bought the car from the dealership and soon after the headgaskets went out. Had to replace the engine with an EJ20 engine from the Japanese Legacys. Lost a great amount of power from 2.5 liter to a 2.0. Don't trust replacing gaskets on the 2.5.
Carol Hornburg Bremerton, WA 2003 Baja 2.5L 25,550 This past week I smelled antifreeze & took it into my local Subaru dealership. Had 2 leaks in the head gasket!!! "Conditioner" was added and they will "monitor" my situation! Spoke with a Mr. Noble of SOA who closed my case because the appropriate action was taken by Subaru. No offer of the extended warranty, 8yrs/100,000mi. because it's a different engine. Unable to find out if other Bajas are having the same problem...he either didn't know or wouldn't say. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg in a LONG manufacturing problem for Subaru. This will be my last closed!
Mary Bilodeau Methuen MA 97 outback 2.5 90000 car suddenly started overheating a new radiatior and a thermostat at the 1st garage and it still overheated. Another garge changed the thermostat again and a water pump and timing belt. it still overheated the garage then told me that the engine has a crack in it. $1000 later and car is still junk.
jerry markey maple grove minnesota 98 forester 2.5 118000 I have one with the blown gasket. Do you know any mechanics in the Mpls area who can repair at a good price?
Bill8 Minneapolis MN 1997 Outback 2.5L 152,000 Same problem, tried a new thermostat, still overheated so I had it hauled to my dealer. Head gasket(s). Had repaired, also replaced water pump and timing belt while they had the engine out as preventive maintainance. $2250. Picked up the car, drove it 30 of the 40 miles home. It turned a rod bearing, lunching the engine. Hauled back to dealer, said they could see no relationship to their repairs, but would see what they could do for me. New shortblock. My dealer was very, very, very, very, very, very good to me, better than I possibly could have expected for an engine with 152,000 miles on it. Got it back, runs like always, we'll see how it goes. Other than an alternator and several expensive brake jobs (new rotors each time), I haven't spent a nickel on the car. Never did replace those burned out heater light bulbs that cost $150 to change. The car already owes me nothing, but if I get another 50,000 miles out of it that will be a bonus. I will definately buy another Outback, hope they have the problem fixed. And you can guess what dealer I will buy it from, although there are quite a few I my area! Thanks for putting this site together.
Rachel Decker Traverse City, MI 2000 Outback wagon 2.2 ~ 80,000  


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