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Guest Message by DevFuse

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My new Forester, a gasket failure, and a thank you!

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8 replies to this topic

#1 wahoo


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Posted 07 December 2003 - 01:24 AM

Hi everyone,

I'm pretty new to the board, as I just purchased my 1998 Forester a few weeks ago. I wanted to say a quick hello, tell my funny (now that it's over) Forester story, and give a great big thanks to everyone that contributes to this board.

Before coming across this board, about a month back, I purchased a 98 Forester on eBay. I'd never purchased such a high $ item on eBay before, but the seller was a dealer with high feedback so I figured I'd take the risk. I live in the San Francisco area, and the dealer was in LA, so I scheduled a one-way flight about a week later to pick up the vehicle.

In the interim, I found this discussion board, and read all the nightmarish tales about the 98 2.5L DOHC engines and their head gaskets. :eek: Needless to say, this made me slightly worried, but I felt that even if I had to overhaul the engine on my new Forester I would have gotten a decent deal.

A week later, I'm picked up at the airport by the dealer and we go back to the dealership. I check out the car, everything looks great, so I take the keys and begin the 7 hour drive back home. I've already paid (right after the auction) anyway, so I figure unless something is totally amiss about the car I'm stuck with it.

Everything is going wonderfully, until about 20 miles into my trip. The temperature guage quickly rises into the red, and then pegs all the way off the scale. I'm in the middle of the highway in LA traffic, so I figure I'll wait for the next exit and investigate things then. Before the next exit comes, a huge "bang" rattles the car, and smoke starts bellowing from the hood. I quickly pull over, and find coolant fluid sprayed all over the engine. :banghead:

There is some 'gunk' in the coolant reservoir, and all the symptoms sound exactly like what I've heard you all describe as head gasket failure on this board. What probably happened, in my uneducated non-mechanic opinon, was an exhaust bubble clogged in the coolant system, and when the pressure finally built up enough it caused a spray of coolant across the engine compartment. The bang was probably the bubble bursting out of the radiator/hose, and the smoke was the hot coolant evaporating off the engine.

I call the dealer, he picks me up (takes him almost 2 hours to get to me in LA rush hour traffic), provides me a loaner car, and promises to get the Forester towed in the morning.

The next day I call the dealer and tell him my suspiscion of head gasket failure, with lots of facts to back me up thanks to this board. He has already replaced the radiator and thermostat, but agrees to look into head gasket failure. To make a long story not quite so long (it's already pretty darn long, sorry!), the dealer's mechanic discovers exhaust gas traces in the coolant, agrees there's a head gasket failure, and replaces them. He also replaces the water pump, and sends the engine off to a machine shop to get the gasket edges resurfaced (or whatever it is the machine shop does when you're replacing head gaskets).

Tonight (about 3 weeks after the "incident") the car was delivered to me, and the loaner car was taken back. The Forester runs superbly now. I am totally grateful to you all on this board--if not for you, I would never have known about the head gasket problems and would not have told the dealer to check into it!

I am really lucky to have found this board, and a dealer with such a high sense of integrity--he had no legal responsibility to pay for any of this work, but he did, and he delivered the car to me, 7 hours away, for free.

Thank you all! :headbang::drunk:

#2 DerFahrer


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Posted 07 December 2003 - 01:42 AM

Cool! That is a rare situation that because of a "pending" sale, you got the work done on the house! You should feel very lucky right now :brow:

#3 alias20035


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Posted 07 December 2003 - 03:57 AM

As far as I know all commercial automotive dealers must warranty the vehicle for 30 days or 3,000 km (thats the law in Canada). Not sure about the US, but in general the US does have better consumer protection.

Good of them to take care of you without a hassle though. Be sure to make note of this in your Ebay feedback.

#4 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 07 December 2003 - 10:28 AM

I don't think it would be inappropriate to let us know who this dealer was or, in your feedback (which I know has limited space) to just put a link to this thread! Great for the dealer and for the usmb!

Anyway, it is good to see that you're happy with your experience, I would've been living on antacids! And I agree the folks on this board are very helpful and supportive. I've learned a lot.

#5 nipper


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Posted 16 July 2005 - 05:41 PM

Post that dealers URL!
He deserves a huge pat on the back.


#6 sir robin

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Posted 17 July 2005 - 07:45 AM

That's the one thing about professional ebay sellers - they are so aware that their sellers feedback rating could make or break their business. They don't want any unhappy customers, so they bend over backwards (sometimes taking a loss on the sale) so that nobody gives them negative feedback. And thats a good thing. He should be commended.

#7 The Dude

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Posted 17 July 2005 - 08:03 AM

I'm not commenting on this dealer specifically. I've been reading this message board since I bought my Forester on 01/99. I wish I had a nickel for everytime some poster has written about buying a used Phase I Subaru off a dealer's lot and having the head gaskets mysteriously blow out on the drive home. On several occasions the poor slobs have had their stranded Subarus towed improperly and ended up with trashed transmissions as well. Talk about a perfect day.

And don't pop the cork on that champagne so quickly. You're still not not home free and clear. How many times has that engine been severely overheated by the previous owner? I'm willing to bet a few times, at least. Do a search and you'll see where a few Phase I Subaru owners say that their head gaskets have been relaced four times. The head and block may have been severely heat stressed. Corrosive anti-freeze could have gotten at the con rod bearings. While the immediate problem of the head gaskets has been repaired, you may very well have an engine with a drastically shortened life. At best, you have a engine in an unknown condition. Was the engine repaired, or just patched? The next 50-60 thousand miles will tell the story. Don't get me wrong, I hope that the engine is permanently fixed, and that you both live happily ever after.

#8 zooma37


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Posted 17 July 2005 - 12:37 PM

Yes, I'd like to know the dealer's name, too.

#9 nipper


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Posted 17 July 2005 - 05:34 PM

OK mental note, if/when i get the next used sooby, if a warrenty is available for purchase to buy it.


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