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2003 Head Gasket Failure


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20 replies to this topic

#1 adamthegreek

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 02:50 PM

Well this is my first Subaru and it has been a rough road. After 6 months of the dealer replacing differential seals and front axles (under warranty) on my 03 Legacy because they were leaking onto the exhaust I finally received the bad news. The head gasket is indeed leaking. I have read a lot of posts on the issue but it looks like a lot of the problems went away after 02.

Has anyone been able to get Subaru to extend the warranty on the 03 models for the head gasket after a failure?
I opened a ticket with SOA. I would like them to address the piston slap issue when they change the HG. A previous dealer already replaced the timing belt tensioner but that did little to quite the noise. I saw that a few people had luck with this. Any advice?

#2 johnceggleston

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 05:20 PM

Well this is my first Subaru and it has been a rough road. After 6 months of the dealer replacing differential seals and front axles (under warranty) on my 03 Legacy because they were leaking onto the exhaust I finally received the bad news. The head gasket is indeed leaking. I have read a lot of posts on the issue but it looks like a lot of the problems went away after 02.

Has anyone been able to get Subaru to extend the warranty on the 03 models for the head gasket after a failure?
I opened a ticket with SOA. I would like them to address the piston slap issue when they change the HG. A previous dealer already replaced the timing belt tensioner but that did little to quite the noise. I saw that a few people had luck with this. Any advice?


someone posted a what appeared to be an official soa report stating that if the owner / driver complained long enough, they should replace the bad pistons to elimnate piston slap. (they have an improved pistons.) this was probably for an older year, but give it a shot. they have to go into the engine any way, what's a few pistons?

keep on them. new cars should not have piston slap.

good luck.

#3 grossgary

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 06:12 PM

how many miles are on this thing? it's too bad you didn't convince them to address the piston slap earlier, they would have had to install new head gaskets for that job. now you're hosed unless you're ready to put in some time calling and talking to managers....etc.

#4 adamthegreek

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 07:00 PM

how many miles are on this thing? .


It just turned 50k but my wife has had to deal with the smell for about 10k now.

#5 nipper

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 07:13 PM

this is a 3 year 36K warrenty?

You need to get the "antifreeze conditioner" and put it in the coolant (its just stop leak). If this still fails, then there is a 100K warrenty kicking arounf on HG, but you may have to fight for it, but it only works if you put the conditioner in. Now i dont know what happens if the dealer discovers the leak first then adds the conditioner.

nipper

#6 adamthegreek

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 07:19 PM

this is a 3 year 36K warrenty?

You need to get the "antifreeze conditioner" and put it in the coolant (its just stop leak). If this still fails, then there is a 100K warrenty kicking arounf on HG, but you may have to fight for it, but it only works if you put the conditioner in. Now i dont know what happens if the dealer discovers the leak first then adds the conditioner.

nipper


Its the 5yr 60k warranty. I am trying to get them to cover it to 100k but they say that the vin does not qualify. At the very least I want them to cover the other side beyond 60K

#7 Pillowsplat

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 07:30 PM

I have been down this road as well. I currently have 120,000 + miles on my 2003 OBW. At 85,000 I was able to get the SOA to cover the labor and I picked up the Parts. I had documentation back to 30,000 of a coolant smell on the dealer invoices. I considered the deal fair from SOA. Somehow when it was done the tech managed to soak the timing belt with oil so we split on labor and parts on that as well. I think I paid $175.00 on a $1200.00 HG and timing belt job.
Piston slap your on your own. Mine does it when its cold but goes away I choose to ignore it.
Oh yea the stop leak will probably clog your radiator and your gauge will shoot up on the interstate on the hottest day of the year. If your lucky you will have time to turn off the AC roll down the windows and make it home so you can replace the radiator. Its a car they wear out.

#8 nipper

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 07:34 PM

The subaru stop leak for the 100th time does not clog the radiator. Stop leak needs to be exposed to air and pressure differential to work. When its moving around in the fluid it is exposed to heat, but not the pressure differential. Its an old wives tail from old cars that it clogs things up. Now if you use more then one, yes it will. No mfg will tell its customers to use a stopleak that can clog radiators and open themselves up to lawsuits. GM does the same deal in some corvettes and other engines (doesnt work for them either) but it never clogs a well maintained cooling system.

nipper

#9 nipper

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 07:35 PM

Its the 5yr 60k warranty. I am trying to get them to cover it to 100k but they say that the vin does not qualify. At the very least I want them to cover the other side beyond 60K


Stand your ground. If its a good dealership they will work with you.

nipper

#10 Pillowsplat

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 07:40 PM

This is not about VIN numbers. You need to get by the Dealer and to someone who cares at Subaru. You need to sell it to the gatekeeper at Subaru. The money is sitting in some fund ear marked for those who can unlock the doors. I would believe that gatekeeper is judged on how much money they allocate towards good will. Sell, Push, Befriend, Push till someone offers you a deal you can live with and jump on it.

#11 Pillowsplat

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Posted 06 November 2006 - 07:50 PM

I will relent to Nipper as he has been in more Subarus than I. Plus I am pretty sure when I changed the coolant I put in another bottle of stop leak. I'm also sure I just drained it and did not flush it with a garden hose. So that probably contributed to it clogging.

BUT
1. I would also venture to say that you will see a lot of Subis with radiator problems because of this 'quick fix' by Subaru.
2. If there is a leak at HG that would introduce air to the system and with stop leak in the system it could clog the radiator.
John

#12 dxrflyboy

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 07:07 AM

For the record, head gasket leaks are still occurring as late as the 2004 model year. I haven't seen any '05s apart yet (at least not for HG leaks or slap)...

#13 adamthegreek

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 01:39 PM

Update: well I stood my ground and so far it is working. I had the head gasket replaced under warranty. There is still a faint smell but that may be from residue when the work was done. (I hope) I called SOA and they paid half of the work to replace the rear control arms. (This was a separate problem, needed a four wheel alignment but the adjusters were frozen.) They won’t extend the head gasket warranty for the other side even if I put in the conditioner because my vin is not part of the campaign. At least I have everything documented with them should the other side fail.

I brought it back to the dealership so the service manager could listen to it and sure enough the diagnosis is piston slap. It goes in next month to have the pistons replaced. Hopefully this will be the end.

For those that had the pistons replaced any long term implications?

#14 brus brother

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 01:49 PM

So will they now be changing the HGs anyway to replace the pistons?

Update: well I stood my ground and so far it is working. I had the head gasket replaced under warranty. There is still a faint smell but that may be from residue when the work was done. (I hope) I called SOA and they paid half of the work to replace the rear control arms. (This was a separate problem, needed a four wheel alignment but the adjusters were frozen.) They won’t extend the head gasket warranty for the other side even if I put in the conditioner because my vin is not part of the campaign. At least I have everything documented with them should the other side fail.

I brought it back to the dealership so the service manager could listen to it and sure enough the diagnosis is piston slap. It goes in next month to have the pistons replaced. Hopefully this will be the end.

For those that had the pistons replaced any long term implications?



#15 adamthegreek

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 01:54 PM

So will they now be changing the HGs anyway to replace the pistons?


Yup, I tried to push the issue before the HG work but they said it was fine and now they have to go into the engine again. The leaking HG was on the drivers side too. As long as SOA keeps paying the Enterprise rental bill......

#16 keek

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 11:06 AM

Hi-
I'm coming in on this thread a bit late and hope that someone may still be reading and able to offer advice. My 2003 Legacy wagon started smelling sweet this week. It has 88,000 miles on it now and I took it to a local guy rather than the dealer (the dealer drained the differential fluid from my transmission during an oil change at 30,000 miles and had to replace the whole thing under warranty so I don't exactly trust those guys!). Of course, this problem is a head gasket leak. The dealer said it's not under warranty anymore. Should I push this with SOA instead of the dealer? BTW, I've been dealing with the piston slap for most of the time I've owned the car. The dealer kept saying that's just how these cars are - but the noise is documented since ~5,000 miles. Is pursuing this with SOA the best way to go? If I don't have the head gasket replaced today, is it going to cause even more problems?

Thanks!
K

#17 nipper

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 12:22 PM

Hi-
I'm coming in on this thread a bit late and hope that someone may still be reading and able to offer advice. My 2003 Legacy wagon started smelling sweet this week. It has 88,000 miles on it now and I took it to a local guy rather than the dealer (the dealer drained the differential fluid from my transmission during an oil change at 30,000 miles and had to replace the whole thing under warranty so I don't exactly trust those guys!). Of course, this problem is a head gasket leak. The dealer said it's not under warranty anymore. Should I push this with SOA instead of the dealer? BTW, I've been dealing with the piston slap for most of the time I've owned the car. The dealer kept saying that's just how these cars are - but the noise is documented since ~5,000 miles. Is pursuing this with SOA the best way to go? If I don't have the head gasket replaced today, is it going to cause even more problems?



Thanks!
K


I would push this with SOA and the dealer.

This covers up to 2002

http://forums.nasioc...threadid=488157

After 2002 the issue was fixed, so i guess it really depends when in 2003 your car was made. Have you had any cooling system work done recently?

Sometimes HG's do go just because. (just playing devils advocate).

nipper

#18 shortlid

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 10:22 PM

My mother's '03 Subau Legacy GT Sedan had a external HG leak on the drivers side cyl. bank. She had 61k on the car but the stealership did make good and JUST replaced the drivers side gasket.

#19 jon38iowa

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 12:06 AM

The subaru stop leak for the 100th time does not clog the radiator. Stop leak needs to be exposed to air and pressure differential to work. When its moving around in the fluid it is exposed to heat, but not the pressure differential. Its an old wives tail from old cars that it clogs things up. Now if you use more then one, yes it will. No mfg will tell its customers to use a stopleak that can clog radiators and open themselves up to lawsuits. GM does the same deal in some corvettes and other engines (doesnt work for them either) but it never clogs a well maintained cooling system.

nipper

This is exactly right! The stop leak is not "Goopy", and it had no ill effects on my cooling system for the 6 years it was used. The heater, still bakes a person out.

#20 chadwick35/04

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 11:20 AM

Well this is my first Subaru and it has been a rough road. After 6 months of the dealer replacing differential seals and front axles (under warranty) on my 03 Legacy because they were leaking onto the exhaust I finally received the bad news. The head gasket is indeed leaking. I have read a lot of posts on the issue but it looks like a lot of the problems went away after 02.

Has anyone been able to get Subaru to extend the warranty on the 03 models for the head gasket after a failure?
I opened a ticket with SOA. I would like them to address the piston slap issue when they change the HG. A previous dealer already replaced the timing belt tensioner but that did little to quite the noise. I saw that a few people had luck with this. Any advice?



Hey I just wanted to et you know that I have a 2004 subaru legacy 35th anniversary sedan with 36k on it and I have piston slap also, the dealer gives me usual line that it is normal and when it is up to operating temp that the noise goes away, ha. No it does not!I think they are avoiding the issue! They gave me a service bulletin that was dated back in 1997 about it, um no! So I called subaru and they told me to get a second opinion from another dealer, trust me I will, let me know what happens!

#21 nipper

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 11:23 AM

Hey I just wanted to et you know that I have a 2004 subaru legacy 35th anniversary sedan with 36k on it and I have piston slap also, the dealer gives me usual line that it is normal and when it is up to operating temp that the noise goes away, ha. No it does not!I think they are avoiding the issue! They gave me a service bulletin that was dated back in 1997 about it, um no! So I called subaru and they told me to get a second opinion from another dealer, trust me I will, let me know what happens!


Do not leave the car with them. Drag a tech out (not the service writer) and have them listen to the car, and show it to them. Let them hear it.

Service writers mostly don't know anything about cars (I was one, and was shocked that they didnt know a thing).

Bravo for subaru telling you to get a second opinion.

nipper




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