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Guest Message by DevFuse

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2003 forester mystery

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4 replies to this topic

#1 limbo


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Posted 02 May 2010 - 12:11 PM

Hi, I have an ongoing problem with a 2003 forester that used to run perfectly.

at 47000 miles (OCT. 2009) the car started to run horribly, the valve guides were discoverd to be to small and were loose in the heads. So,, the heads were replaced with used heads, the headgasket, water pump, timing belt, idler all replaced with new parts by the garage.

About 2 months (DEC. 2009) later the heater would not get warm, took it back to the same garage and they flushed the heater core,, heat was perfect.

In Feb. 2010 the heater would not put out warm air all of the time, only intermittently. Did not take it back since the winter was almost over i deceided to not spend the money and have the heater core flushed again.

Now at 51000 miles (MAY 2010) after a 250 mile trip the car is overheating according to the temp gauge. There is no boil over or steam or leaks at all. A different garage (i had to stop about 200 miles from home at) replaced the thermostat and then test drove it and guess what - it did not fix the overheating problem.. The guy at this garage told me i probably had a cracked head or a bad head gasket.

He put an IR temp reader on the radiator hoses and the top one was 155 degrees and the bottom one was reading lower ( i don't remember the exact temp)

I will take the car back to the garage that did the head work, etc...

My questions are - anything else that could be causing this prob?
is there something i should know to ask the garage that did the original work before taking it back ? information is king like they say!

Thank you for any help someone may shed on this


#2 idosubaru


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Posted 02 May 2010 - 12:39 PM

Sounds like typical headgasket issues. Might I take a guess that the shop didn't use Subaru headgaskets? Aftermarket head gaskets in these engines are likely to fail. Best bet is a Subaru gasket for this engine.

As a side note - Subaru offered an extended 100,000 mile head gasket warranty on 2000-2002 vehicles and some folks in 2003 get lucky. But sounds like you're way past that now as they won't honor it now that it's been worked on.

It might be helpful to get more details from the beginning. Exactly what problems were you having back when the "valve guides were loose"? Valve guides being loose in a Subaru is really, really odd. It's even odd on 300,000 mile Subaru's from the 80's. I might be wrong but I'm fairly sure those of us with extensive Subaru engine experience are probably thinking that was not a proper diagnosis. I've gone through many dozens of Subaru's with millions of total miles and never seen it, but I'm sure it's possible.

Was it a Subaru dealer (my guess is no)?

It might be that you need more Subaru specific information. That can either come from us which you forward to your shop if you trust them. Or it can mean go to another shop.

#3 limbo


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Posted 02 May 2010 - 03:24 PM

Initially (at 47000 miles) the car would not run more than a few minutes and then die. I would restart and it would run for a short while again....

I have the original heads as they took the valves from them to use in the used pair of heads that were installed. Could I take the original heads somewhere to find out if the valve guides are truely loose ?

Thanks again!

#4 idosubaru


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Posted 02 May 2010 - 07:56 PM

Having not done it or seen the heads I'm not sure. They could take a cursory glance but I'm not sure what they'll be able to tell. Probably depends mostly on the shop. Machine shop time isn't cheap, if you pay them or know them well I'm sure they'll check.

You didn't mention - did they use a Subaru headgasket or not?

The used heads should have been machined and tested by a machine shop, was that done? In general replacing heads with unknown used heads is not a good bargain for you. Unknown history, maintenance, and mileage.

Having never seen the valve guides being loose I'm not sure, but I would bet that's even repairable. Machine shops are insanely skilled at what they do and there's usually all sorts of supplies for repairing stuff like that, inserts, techniques, tools, etc. It is odd to find Subaru heads that can't be reused (well except turbo heads, but that's another story). :lol:

Good luck tracking it down and figuring out what to do. Someone else with lots of engine experience will likely chime in too, hold tight for them.

#5 frag


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Posted 03 May 2010 - 11:27 AM

I had a burnt valve in cyl no 2 a couple of years ago. The guide had moved and was preventing the valve to close completely. The machine shop replaced the guide with a bronze one.

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