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Old 12-17-2009, 08:00 AM   #1
pjm
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Head Gasket Leaking


I have a 2001 Subaru Leagacy Sedan with 133,000 miles on it. I was just told from the Subaru dealer yesterday that the head gasket is leaking and needs to be replaced. He quoted me $2000.00 to replace it. I can't see spending that much on a car with that amount of miles on it, as well I can't afford that right now as money is tight. I was hoping to try one of the fix kits I found while searching on Google such as Thermagasket, or Steel Seal. My question is has anyone ever used these products or know anyone who has? I'd like to find out if it's going to do more bad than good to give one of these a try. The Steel Seal is really the one I'm looking at trying, but I don't want to make the problem worse. The car seems to be running fine right now I don't get high temps when driving, I don't see any smoke from the exhaust pipe, but it was diagnosed with a "significant leak". Any help would be great I'm handy around the house, but when it comes to cars I don't know a whole lot. My brother told me when it comes to head problems get ready to buy a new car as it will die soon. Thanks in advance for any ideas.
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Old 12-17-2009, 08:50 AM   #2
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Head Gasket Leaking


Head gaskets can leak externally (as it appears from your description) or internally, burn the coolant or cross contaminate another fluid. I do not like the use of stop leak additives as they seem to do more harm than good.

Take your car to an ASE certified tech and get a second opinion. You may be able nurse your car along as is and just keep checking the fluid.
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Old 12-17-2009, 10:34 AM   #3
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Head Gasket Leaking


Thats what I'm hoping to. I'll get a second opinion and not use the additive it sounds a little fishy to me. Thanks for the quick reply.
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Old 12-17-2009, 12:25 PM   #4
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Head Gasket Leaking


Ayuh,... I just went through this with a friend,...
The headgasket leaks compression into the cooling system forcing fluid out the over-flow...
It seems to be a common thing on these motors,...
Subaru dealers around here wanted about the same money to fix it,...
We found a private Shop that did the job for Under $500...

The Symptons were, it would run just fine at hiway speeds, til you got to a tollbooth, or stoplight, then the gauge would start climbing...
Also, the cabin heater looses it's flow,+ you'll be Cold...

Btw,... None of the cooling system sealers will fix this issue,... The cylinder compression is Way to high,+ block sealers only work if the coolant is leaking to the Outsideof the system...
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:06 PM   #5
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Head Gasket Leaking


"Bondo"s key words here: "We found a private Shop that did the job for Under $500..." A private shop does not mean you will receive any less quality of service/repair than a dealer would give. Don't ask me my opinion of dealer's shops, just ask me about their mechanics. I work part-time at an auto supply store for a friend of mine and I see them all: the dealer shops, the independent shops, and the hole-in-the-wall shops. Ask around for a recommendation of a local, independent shop with ASE certified mechanics. Hint: even ask a shop owner if he has non-ASE certified mechanics who could do the "dirty work" on this repair, then have an ASE mechanic check it out. I've seen this save big bucks. Good Luck, David
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:15 PM   #6
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Head Gasket Leaking


I actually took a chance and emailed Subaru and explained the situation and they replied that there indeed was an extended warranty on this problem, but mine was expired. As a one time deal they will give me $500 towards the repair at Subaru or $1000 if I purchased a new Subaru. I don't think I can swing either so I'm looking used. I asked if I got a used Subaru from a dealer if they would give me anything and am awaiting there reply. Thanks for all the help I'll let you know how it turns out.
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Old 12-23-2009, 03:38 PM   #7
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Head Gasket Leaking


Just thought i'd update you on my situation. After deciding that we can't afford another car payment on a monthly basis I took the car to my local mechanic who did a brake job on my Dodge van and saved me about $300 off what the dealer quoted me. I told him what Subaru had told me that I had a "Significant oil leak" and needed the head gasket replaced. I also told him that I wasn't having any of the problems like the coolant level dropping or excessive smoke from the exhaust etc. He called me back to tell me he couldn't find an oil leak anywhere! Took it for a test drive had no problems with it. He found one as he put it tiny, tiny oil leak that he isn't concerned with as he said any car with 133,000 miles on it is going to have a tiny oil leak. He couldn't understand why they said my head gasket needed to be replaced. All in all he saved me $2000.00 He put a mark on my coolant resivior and told me if it drops more than a 1/2 inch in the next week or two then something could be leaking. Needless to say I won't be going back to that Subaru dealership again. thanks to all who recomended a second opinion it saved me plenty of cash.
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Old 01-07-2010, 02:27 PM   #8
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Head Gasket Leaking


A head gasket isn't hard to replace. It's just a little bit labor-intensive.

1. Remove parts down to the head and label each one as well as the bolts and where they go.

2. Remove head and label each bolt and where each goes, or buy new bolts if there is paint on them - this would indicate that this has been done before and the bolts need to be replaced.

3. Scrape old gasket and clean everything up. If you feel the head has been damaged or warped due to overheating, take it to a machine shop.

4. Seat new gasket. If it requires adhesive allow it to cure for the recommended time.

5. Replace head, making sure to follow torque pattern and tighten to specified torque.

6. Replace all expendible parts while you have everything apart.

7. Reassemble and pat yourself on the back for saving a ton of money.
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Old 01-07-2010, 04:59 PM   #9
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Head Gasket Leaking


Thanks for the step by step, but hopefully I won't need to use it. I think I remember reading somewhere that on Subaru's you have to remove the engine to get to the head gaskets. That would make it nearly impossible to do myself.

Thanks anyway.
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:38 PM   #10
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Head Gasket Leaking


Pj,
I think you are correct. My son is a mechanic and works on all brands. I remember him doing a valve adjustment on my buddy's subaru about the same vintage as yours. He was able to get the valve covers off, but just barely. The valve covers sit almost right up against the frame rails. Pretty snug.
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Originally Posted by pjm View Post
Thanks for the step by step, but hopefully I won't need to use it. I think I remember reading somewhere that on Subaru's you have to remove the engine to get to the head gaskets. That would make it nearly impossible to do myself.

Thanks anyway.
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Old 01-14-2010, 12:32 PM   #11
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Head Gasket Leaking


I would think that if you can pull the valve cover off, then you should be able to remove the head. Might mean removing the camshaft though. You should be able to buy a repair manual and find out the removal procedure.
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Old 01-25-2010, 07:10 AM   #12
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Head Gasket Leaking


I have to agree whole heartedly with Thurmans comment.....I have worked in shops for 12 years, and I am a state and ASE double master certified mechanic (Automotive and Truck) Ask around and find a reputable private repair facility, just because a shop is small doesnt mean low quality.... I have actually found it to be the opposite, most independent guys KNOW.... it is THEIR name and reputation riding on the repair....obviously this probably isnt true in every case. I even know a few shops that would repair it for the cost of parts and work with you on payment arrangements for the labor. As for tackling it yourself, thats a great idea ... just be sure to get a good repair manual with torque specs and procedures ... there is certain sequences for tightening head bolts, intake bolts, etc.
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