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Re: Please help the new guys out


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#1 broke subaru

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 02:37 PM

To anyone who can help me out. Sorry about the wordiness.

STORY: Our 2001 Outback (140K miles) started with a check engine light and then intermittent overheating. A local mechanic replaced the radiator, water pump, belt tensioner (4 of them since they have a defect problem with them) ect. ect. but $1500 and 4 miles later, same thing. Towed it to the Dealer where we bought it, and they replaced the coil and #3 plug to stop the check engine and a noticable missfire but it did not overheat for them. My wife drove it home (80 miles) and it was almost redline when she arrived. I looked under the hood and the intact ductwork was missing up the the air filter box. The apologetic dealer came and got it and now says $2400 for head gasket replacement.

QUESTIONS: Is there a website, aftermarket company, or anywhere I can find good clear and thorough information and instruction on doing this myself. I have lost faith in our dealer, Subaru, and most mechanics. If Subaru had a problem with their design or gaskets how long would a replacement gasket last? I have read many post here with the same problem but have not found where to get the best parts, books ect. Any help or direction on the site is appreciated.

#2 Legacy777

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 01:08 PM

I'd recommend searching on here for head gasket issues, you will find numerous threads with similar issues. That may help you in deciding what you want to do.

#3 Gnuman

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 01:45 PM

To answer your question regarding replacements: the headgasket that was the most problematic was the DOHC version, and Subaru redesigned it to make it longer lasting. On those early 2.5s, this corrects the HG issue. On later models, I understand that the issue is not headgaskets, but I'm not sure what it is.

#4 northguy

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 02:49 PM

Not that I recommend it, but Subaru's answer to the faulty headgasket is a bottle of stopleak you add to your coolant. You might give it a try before you get in over your head with a h/g replacement - not doubting your wrenching skills; it can be pretty messy, though.

#5 grossgary

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 03:08 PM

the later models like you have typically get the stop leak treament from subaru.

dealer says $2,400 - that's is BS. standard prices on this board are $1,200. they're trying to rip you off.

the original mechanic is not to fault really...he's probably not familiar with the quirky head gaskets of the 2.5. on any other car just about i'd assume water pump, timing belt replacement as well just like he did. new tensioners...he treated you right. might want to let him know about the nasty 2.5 headgasket issues, maybe he'll offer you a deal since he missed it the first time? at least mention it to him, he'll know for the next 2.5 he sees and you'll save someone else from having the same thing happen.

#6 broke subaru

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 07:09 PM

Thanks for the response guys, I really appreciate it. I have been searching this site further and see I am not alone in this problem. I guess in any event I have a pretty big decision to make. Just for more information, my first mechanic said he smelled stop leak on the thermostat when he removed it, and Subaru had, in fact, used the stuff during a recall service a year after we bought the car. He was not sure if that clogged our radiator but I suspect it was the reason. A five year old car MIGHT need a new thermostat but a radiator? I bought Japanese to avoid all this but I guess they're taking lessons from Detroit.

#7 a97obw

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 08:28 PM

I bought Japanese to avoid all this but I guess they're taking lessons from Detroit.

And the choir exclaimed "AMEN"!!

Why oh why did I give my nephew my pristine 92 AWD automatic legacy wagon and keep the 97 legacy outback. I just dunno.:banghead:

#8 nipper

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 12:11 AM

i disagree with the mechanic that worked on the car. It sounds like (no matter how well intentioned) that he was throwing parts at the car. If you have an eroded waterpump it would run hot/over heat all the time.
When the car overheats, do you have any heat?
Check to make sure the radiator is full. Make sure the cooling system is bled of all air. Those are two of the minor causes. The HG on that car usually has an external leak not an internal one (but does happen). With the radiator cap off look for bubbles while the car is running. If no bubbles have the radiator checked for exhaust gasses.

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#9 friendly_jacek

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 11:18 AM

It would be interesting to know the chain of events: whether the stop leak plugged up the radiator first, the engine overheated, heads warped and tore the HG
OR
the HG blew in the first place and the car overheated.

#10 broke subaru

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 07:44 PM

Well I found a mechanic who will do the job for $300 labor. He is an auto and aircraft mech and is familiar with Suabru and this issue. I was convinced he was the man when he said he would refuse the job unless I agreed to have the heads checked by a machine shop and he use OEM or better parts. I'll let you know what he finds out when he opens it up. It's such a shame (sham) that we all have to guess and stumble around out here about whats up with this car when Subaru could just come out and tell us. That honesty would be a nice attempt to keep customers.

PS. I am not really a computer savvy person and was wondering if I am on the right section of this site. (is that called a thread ?) Also how do you guys find my posts? I can hardly find my own posts because there are so many sections of this site.

#11 Legacy777

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 12:31 PM

Yup, you're in the right section.

The board has several different forums, each forum has threads, and threads have posts replied to them.

As for keeping tabs on your post, there's two main ways. When you submit a thread, there's an option below that says "Thread Subscription" You can set this up to email you whenever someone replies.

The other way is use the search engine and simply type in your username, and find all any posts by you.

Hope that helps.

#12 broke subaru

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Posted 31 March 2006 - 10:13 PM

Thanks. I said I would keep everyone updated so here it is. I went to see my mechanic today, he had the left head off and it did have a blown gasket. He said when he took the timing belt off it was loose and he could spin the water pump by hand. He thinks the belt tensioner was not keeping the belt tight enough and the water pump was not being turned. This caused overheating and the gasket failed. He did not think the gasket was inherently bad. On a good note, he showed me the cylinders and they still had crosshatch hone marks. At 140,000 miles thats pretty impressive.

I am starting to believe that, in my case, the problem was not the gasket but the engine cooling system. The original belt tensioner probably wore to point that the belt was not tight enough to consistenly turn the water pump. My first mechanic replaced the tensioner 4 times because each one he was sent did not have adequate tension. I am trying to locate an aftermaket/ high performance tensioner to prevent another overheating problem.

#13 friendly_jacek

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 03:55 PM

Thanks. I said I would keep everyone updated so here it is. I went to see my mechanic today, he had the left head off and it did have a blown gasket. He said when he took the timing belt off it was loose and he could spin the water pump by hand. He thinks the belt tensioner was not keeping the belt tight enough and the water pump was not being turned. This caused overheating and the gasket failed. He did not think the gasket was inherently bad. On a good note, he showed me the cylinders and they still had crosshatch hone marks. At 140,000 miles thats pretty impressive.

I am starting to believe that, in my case, the problem was not the gasket but the engine cooling system. The original belt tensioner probably wore to point that the belt was not tight enough to consistenly turn the water pump. My first mechanic replaced the tensioner 4 times because each one he was sent did not have adequate tension. I am trying to locate an aftermaket/ high performance tensioner to prevent another overheating problem.


I think you hit the nail here. We blame the HG problems on weak gaskets and open deck engine design, but the problem may also be the consequence of overheating not cought in time by the driver. It has been shown by the airplane engine experiments that that improper coolant change with air bubbles in the cooling system can overheat the engine and blow the gasket.
Now, we have another scenario with bad belt tensioner. I can atest that the subaru tensioners are POS as I replaced one twice under warranty in 60000 miles!
One interesting thing is that the bad tensioner sounds like engine knock or piston slap but with one salient difference, it comes from belt cover area.
I would urge anyone with "piston slap" to invest in stethoscope.




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