Subaru Head Gasket, Will Subaru pay for repair?

Failed Subaru Head Gasket

Have you been a victim of this?

Many Subaru owners have been faced with the dreaded head gasket failure on their Subaru. There has been much discussion about what the problem is, why it happened etc. I would like to discuss another subject that doesn’t come up often.

Is there any way Subaru will pay for my head gasket repair and how do I get them to do it?

Let’s start out with a few basics and work from there. When you first purchase your Subaru it comes with a factory backed warranty. A 3 year/36,000 mile bumper to bumper and a 5 year 60,000 mile powertrain warranty is standard. If you have head gasket failure within that time you are one of the lucky ones. Once that warranty expires you’re on your own.

Now I would like to share some of my experiences on how Subaru owners whose warranty expired did their homework and were fortunate enough to have Subaru pay for the repair.

For the most part I’ve  found that dealing with Subaru of America is a pleasant experience. They are very straight forward reasonable people that want you to be happy with their Subaru. Unfortunately they have to draw a line somewhere or Subaru would have limitless requests of persons wanting their Subarus repaired way outside of warranty.

In the old days of the automotive industry, we wouldn’t think twice if a car had a major mechanical failure at 60,000 miles or more. At 100,000 we thought it was a major milestone and were ready to trade it in on the next car before it broke down.

With advancements in engineering and higher quality control, we’re seeing Subarus and many other makes go well over 300,000 without any major failures as long as a person has kept up on their maintenance.

Now that  our expectations have been raised on how long a car should last, we’re thrown a bit of a curve ball when our head gaskets fail before we think they should. Especially if one has been meticulous about their maintenance.

Click here to view our Six-Star Head Gaskets

If you happen to be a victim of failing head gaskets on your Subaru there are some things that some of our customers have shared with us that were helpful in getting Subaru to pay for the repair even though the cars were technically out of the warranty period.

1. Check with the dealer for any outstanding campaigns or recalls.

A simple call to any Subaru service department with your VIN # will reveal if there are any outstanding recalls or campaigns relating to your head gaskets. There was a campaign ( WWP-99 ) in which Subaru added a coolant additive and would then provide a 8 year 100,000 mile warranty for external head gasket coolant leakage.  Most of those cars are now beyond the limits of the campaign but it never hurts to check.

2. Keep your Subaru maintained and save every receipt.

Even under the factory warranty,  Subaru can deny a claim if they believe lack of maintenance contributed to the problem.  It’s within your rights to have your maintenance done anywhere you like so don’t let them use that as a reason, but you must be able to provide them with documentation that you have met their minimum maintenance requirements as defined in the warranty manual that came with your Subaru.

3. Put together a history of all the Subarus that you and your family may have purchased over the years.

This may be very good leverage to show them that you are a very loyal client. It may even help on a local level with a Subaru dealer you’ve purchased your car through.

4. Call 1-800-SUBARU3

This is the customer service hotline to begin your effort to get help from Subaru. Once you’ve done all of the above, call Subaru and explain your situation. They will likely refer you to a local Subaru dealer to confirm the issue before discussing things further. They will also likely be in close contact with that dealer.You may even want to ask for an appointment with the regional Subaru rep. for that dealer. It may make sense for him/her to be present when your car is being looked at.

From there things can go in many different directions. Here’s a few examples I’ve heard of.

A customer schedules their appointment with the dealer. The dealer confirms the issue then relays the info to Subaru. From there a decision is made whether or not Subaru the dealer will participate in the repair.

Whether they offer to help will usually be related to all of the above items I discussed. Once it’s been decided you’ll either be told no, or they will offer to fix the car. The level of participation can vary .  In some cases the whole repair will be covered by Subaru. In other cases Subaru may say no but the dealer decides to use some of their own discretionary good will fund to help you out. Most dealerships have a fund set aside just for this kind of situation. You may be offered some kind of partial help also. An example may be either a discounted price or a split between you and the dealer.

Keep in mind that if they do opt to help, they will only repair the very minimum that is necessary. If only one head gasket is failing they will only repair one. If that is the case you might inquire how much it would be to add in the second head gasket and timing belt since things will be partially apart anyway and the second gasket may fail in the future.

Smart Service will always be there to repair Subaru head gaskets and we even carry a gasket that we believe is Superior to what Subaru has to offer. If that time comes give us a call and we’ll take good care of you but if there’s a chance that you can get it done and paid for by Subaru it’s worth a little effort.

Based on our customer reports, Subaru is choosing to opt out of helping in most cases but I am writing this because there have been a few that actually did get help from Subaru. The information above is what helped them sway Subaru into partcipating.

If you were  successful for you in getting help from Subaru in an out of warranty situation, please share it with us. We’ll pass it on.

Cheers,

Mike Corbin

Mike Corbin

About Mike Corbin

Smart Service is a Subaru service repair and maintenance shop operated independently of Subaru of America or Fuji Heavy Industries. We are a family run business that combine high quality Subaru care, personal friendly atmosphere and a cost savings over the Subaru dealer. We have been supporting the Subaru community since 1999. Follow Mike on Google+.

521 thoughts on “Subaru Head Gasket, Will Subaru pay for repair?

  1. don

    Mike, obviously the saga continues with the subaru gasket defects…2007 legacy..87000 miles..head and valve gaskets leaking…honestly have bought new cars for 50 years..first subaru…never seen a car with more maint probs, not even in the 70’s FixOrRepairDaily days! Dealer says gasket problem normal wear and tear at 87000…what a crock! Ready for 2nd or is it 3rd brake job..car Rarely exceeds 60 mph. Thought ours was one bad apple until hit your site..left aghast..somebody needs to hold subaru accountable…are you old enough to remember the Edsel…and what it did to Ford’s reputation…

  2. Tim

    2007 Legacy Wagon 2.5i “special edition”, 83K miles, headgasket failure. Dealer service schedule has been followed to the letter. Subaru offered $500, which is a little disappointing, but in reading threads like these, it seems the dealer’s cost for the repair + timing belt was about as low as it gets($1900). Working on getting the dealer to at least throw in something, but so far no luck.

    Plan to keep the car for at least another 5 years, but even with Subaru’s good-will, will have to at least take a peek at other makes.

  3. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Don,
    Sorry to hear about the gaskets. Before getting to concerned, get a second opinion. Valve cover gaskets at 87000 miles would not be out of the ordinary but for the head gaskets it would seem a bit early. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are only oozing a bit and the shop wanted to point it our hoping you’d just do it all.

    As far as comparing to earlier cars, the fact that they are getting 170 horsepower out of 151 cubic inches (2.5 liters) is amazing and powering a 3500 lb. car to boot. Back in the 70’s a smog equipped American with a 302 cubic inch engine barely produced that much not to mention how much constant work they needed.

    Like you, I think we should be able to see the head gaskets last much longer than 87000 miles (if they actually are failing already) but overall I think a Subaru is a very good car for what it offers.

    Take care and I hope you get that second opinion.

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service

    Oh and by the way, I think if the Edsels actually looked better, people might have put up with the reliability problems… look at those Italian sports cars! People will put up with anything to drive them!

  4. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Tim,

    I’m glad Subaru is doing something to help with your head gaskets and I wish they could have done more. I can’t blame you for thinking of looking at the competition next time around but I still think that Subaru’s are hard to beat if the AWD is an important feature. I think if you really wanted to get something comparable you’d need to step up to the Audi AWD system.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    SMart Service
    Independent Subaru Repair in Shoreline

  5. Bonnie

    Thank you for the most informative input. I am sorry to say, I am one of the owners of a Subaru Forester (2004) that has also been told I have a leaking head gasket. I have already taken care of timing belt, water pump, etc. back at 103,000 and now at 121,819 miles. I bought this car in 2009, and have faithfully maintained it, as well as the previous owner at the dealership. The cost appears flucuating for various owners for the repair. Mine being in the $1500 range, with an extra $100 for hose replacements. I have owned subaru’s since 1996. I love impreza’s but (had a 93) but purchased a forester for the AWD feature. Do you think Subaru’s with AWD attribute to the ongoing HG problems? Do you think Subaru will help extend any warranties for me?

  6. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Bonnie,

    Sorry to hear of your Forester’s head gasket problem. Before jumping into the repair or replacement of the head gaskets, find out how bad they are leaking and whether they are leaking oil or coolant or both.

    If it is just a small oil leak the head gaskets may have many more miles before their replacement is needed. You can even ask them to raise the car up and show you the problem to be sure you’re not being taken.

    The $1500 price is one of the lower one’s I’ve heard of but different parts of the country have different labor rates. I don’t think the AWD has anything to do with ongoing head gasket problems. I’ve written other posts about what I think may be part of the problem but these are only theories and not scientific facts.

    As far as Subaru helping you, I think you have too high of mileage for them to do anything. It never hurts to ask though. Just call 1-800-SUBARU3 and explain your situation.

    Take care,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Repair
    Shoreline, WA
    http://www.smart-service.com

  7. Bob

    Just took the car in a 5-6 yr old Outback (115k) in for the Catlytic Converter recall and smelled a burning smell (which i called and they said was normal) well it’s a week later and the burning smell is still there..but there’s also a small puddle of oil on the passengers side about where the wheel is (in terms of distance back) so…
    1) could the catalytic converter warranty work be related to this new issue?
    2) how likely is it this is the dreaded HG issue?

    will check the oil level in morning and try to see where coming from…

  8. Bonita

    Hi, I bought a suburb rx impreza 2001 second hand 6 weeks ago. It has done 150,000ks.. I have service history and has always been services through surbaru. (Last service was the day before purchase. Today however i heard a funny noise and looked and it was overheating. I stopped immediately and let it cool down. I put in coolant as it was empty in both reserves and radiator,,, it took a good 2 litres. Upon driving again i could only go 1k before it over heated again. Could you please help me find why this is doing this as there is no leaks and should not happen as ive only driven 2000ks since last service. I am thinking the worst

  9. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Bob,

    I doubt the cat converter is related to the burning smell. I would advise you to have the car put on a lift and look for any area of the engine that could be leaking oil down onto the exhaust system. This is the likely cause. It may or may not have anything to do with the head gaskets. The small puddle may actually be water if it’s by the RF Wheel. There is an AC drain in that area that drains condensation off of the evaporator.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    206-417-0880
    Your Independent Subaru Expert

  10. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    It could be possible that the water pump has frozen up. The water pump is driven by the timing belt and that could explain the noise prior to the overheating. If that is what is happening it won’t be long before it causes the timing belt to break so I would have it professionally inspected as soon as you can.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Repair
    Shoreline, WA
    http://www.smart-service.com

  11. Andy

    Hi Mike, thanks for all your help to Subaru owners.

    I have 2001 Subaru Legacy, L, 132,000 miles. I have always maintained it well win major services at dealerships and everything else at my local mechanic.

    Car was running fine, except since past few weeks CEL came on with oxygen sensor and Cat converter codes. There is some burning smell around car when car is running. 3 major issues have me worried.

    1) this happens only during winter. When I turn the fan heat on, and car is not n motion, there is strong gas smell in the cabin. So I can’t use heat at all in the winter. But this smell persists only when car is stopped. Once the car is moving, cranking up the fan heat to the maximum, will not bring any gas odor in to the cabin.

    2) I check fluid levels regularly. Few weeks ago, I noticed coolant level was below the recommended mark, so I topped it off. I has held it since then.
    Should I be worried about head gasket etc, because I haven’t seen any coolant leak from underneath.

    3) this issue also occurred some 3 weeks ago. I was driving and while shifting from 1 to 2 and 2 to 3, I noticed that there was a loss of power. Car didn’t stall but no matter how much gas I gave, gears didn’t up shift. I would release gas pedal and try and and it would work fine. Also, this happens occasionally and randomly.

    I would appreciate any advice, suggestion. I rather get this addressed than buy new Subaru.

  12. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hello Andy,

    Ok first of all on your 2001 Legacy, I think the fuel smell (only in winter) may be a slight fuel leak from the fuel rail connections on the intake manifold. Subaru had a recall on the WRX for this issue. When it gets cold, the rubber fuel line connecting to the hard line drips a bit of fuel out of the area where it’s clamped. In many cases just tightening the clamp solves it but sometimes the section of hose will need replacing.

    As far as the coolant being added having anything to do with the head gaskets I think you may be ok on this one. If you find that it’s consistently low then you should have it checked further.

    On the last issue I’m going to take a wild guess. If the symptom only occurs during the first 15-20 minutes of driving and then doesn’t happen again the rest of the day it may be valves sticking in the guides. We’ve seen some Subarus that have the same symptom. It seems to be worse if you’re accelerating on to the freeway or going up a long hill. Carbon buildup on the valve guides cause this and it seems more finicky during warmup. If this fits your description then an agressive fuel injection/engine decarbon is in order.

    I hope this answers some if not all of your questions.

    Cheers,

    Mike Corbin
    Independent Subaru Expert in Seattle
    http://www.smart-service.com
    https://www.facebook.com/subie.guys.5

  13. Andy

    Thanks for the advice Mike. I added a bottle of Techrone cleaner to the almost empty fuel tank and then filled up the tank. Also added another engine cleaner to the engine oil as per instruction on the bottle. Yesterday I drove 40 miles (2 trips of 20 miles, fewhours apart), and so far there was no engin hesitation while peeing up. Will continue to monitor it.

  14. Mark W

    Thanks for the forum, Mike. I am the proud owner of a (yellow!) 2003 Subaru Baja. This week it will flip 250,000 miles! I bought it new and I have carefully followed the recommended maintenance schedule; the dealer I often go to for some service says that the car is in excellent condition…. except, sadly the head gasket has just failed and coolant is leaking into the engine. This is not the first… not the second… but the THIRD head gasket failure in this car! The first was in 2007 99.3K miles. It was a $2,000 repair job but fortunately it was fully covered under extended warranty. I was told at the time by the dealer that Subaru had discovered a flaw in the original head gasket design and that the replacement gasket was an improved design. That “improved” design failed in 2009 only 66.7K miles later! I called Subaru and asked them to cover the repair; to their credit they did. Now, just 84K miles later here I am with the replacement-of-the-replacement leaking coolant into the engine. As last time, I have called Subaru and so far they have offered $500 but I have asked them to do more. They are focused on the high mileage of the car, which is ironic Subaru is proud to advertise that 95% of Subarus built in the last 12 years are still on the road. I feel that the mileage of this car is totally irrelevant — the only reason that this car which is just shy of 10 years old won’t make it to 12 years is because of a significant design flaw and I feel Subaru needs to take responsibility for it. I love my Baja and there is no reason other than this issue that the car should not easily surpass 300K miles and beyond. I commute about 100 a day and I also feel that this is a safety issue since the car could drop coolant or overheat in the middle of traffic and cause injury to me or other drivers. I am honestly surprised that there hasn’t been a recall given the extent of the problem. I will report back on the final agreement with Subaru for other readers to see. Thanks again.

  15. Amber M

    Mike,

    I’ve been driving a 1998 Forester since 2008 (75K) and love it. Last August we purchased a 2005 Forester at 114K and it was just diagnosed with the head gasket issue in early July. At purchase I bought the third-party extended warranty offered by the Subaru dealership that covered the vehicle for 24K or 24 months. The vehicle commutes 100-130 miles per day and has meticulous service records at the Subaru dealership. At around 300 miles past the extended warranty mileage expiration, it was diagnosed with the head gasket issue. I called the extended warranty company, as did my Subaru dealership on my behalf to see what could be done to cover the repair, since the service records were excellent, and the vehicle barely busted the mileage expiration and was still well within the time window to be covered. The third party extended warranty company stone-walled and refused to cover any of the cost. I then called Subaru of America to see if they could help, and they worked with the dealership to look at the service records and determine that they could provide a $500 reimbursement to help with the cost. The bill came to $3537, so that $500 covers the tax and a bit more. At roughly 1/7 of the total cost, it’s not much, but considering that the vehicle was out of warranty for both the manufacturer and the extended plan, I appreciate it all the same. I guess the moral of my story is that EVEN IF your vehicle is completely out of warranty, if you call Subaru and demonstrate loyalty and consistent vehicle maintenance, they will try to help you out.

  16. Stephen Allen

    Hi Mike — thank you for this article, a huge help! I just took our family Subaru, a 2001 Outback H6 3.0, to Super Rupair in Boulder. They let us know that the head gasket is blown and that the radiator needs to be replaced. They actually recommended a new used engine rather than doing the labor on the gasket, which would be more expensive (engine + radiator = $3400, gasket + radiator = $4000). The vehicle has about 190K on it right now, and is otherwise in very good shape (regular maintenance, etc.). Do you have any thoughts here, and does this seem like a worthwhile repair for a vehicle with this many miles on it? Thanks again for putting together this article!
    Stephen

  17. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Amber,

    I’m glad to hear they did something to help pay for your Forester head gaskets. Another lesson to be learned is to be aware of the expiration date and mileage of a warranty policy and have your Subaru checked over thoroughly one last time just before it expires.

    Cheers,

    Mike Corbin,
    Smart Service
    Your Independent Subaru Expert
    Seattle, Wa
    http://www.smart-service.com

  18. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Stephen,
    I would normally try to repair the engine that is in the Outback rather than replacing it. If it has been well maintained, isn’t burning any oil and looks good on disassembly I would just reseal it. If it is otherwise then I would replace it. The problem with a used engine is that you don’t know whether it will be better or worse than what you have. Does it still have it’s original head gaskets, was it well maintained also? Also the term “new used engine” is confusing. It’s a used engine. Normally the used engine warranty is much shorter than if you have the actual repair completed. Get all the details about their warranty should the used engine fail and compare it to the warranty on the parts/labor should they repair your current engine. Most places have a 12/12 warranty on their work but used components are an exception. They will usually not warranty any of the labor should the item fail but the engine supplier will usually supply another engine.

    I hope this helps you make a good decision what ever it may be on your Outback H6. They’re one of the nicer cars Subaru ever made and it is worth it to keep it going.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Repair in Seattle
    http://www.smart-service.com

  19. Stephen Allen

    Hi Mike, Thank you for the information — this certainly will help me with the decision. I spoke with another mechanic about the problem (a family friend) and they gave advice very similar to yours: look into warranties after the repair, and be very very cautious about a used engine b/x you do not know its history. They also suggested pricing a remanufactured (vs. used) engine as an alternative to a used engine as a potentially better alternative, because they come with new seals, pistons, etc. But they warned that they usually cost a lot more. Thanks for your help and for pointing out some of these important factors.
    Stephen

  20. Elsa Johnson

    I have a 2005 Subaru Outback Legacy. From the very beginning of purchase, whenever I drove up a hill, I smelled something burning. I had the dealer check it our several times. I’ve taken my car into the dealer for all the scheduled maintenance. At the last maitenence, the dealer told me my car has a leaking head gasket. Could the burning smell which the car has had since I first purchased it have been caused by a leaking head gasket?

  21. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Elsa,
    It certainly could have. What was their diagnosis the first times you brought it in for the smell? If they were leaking they should have mentioned it then. You may want to review your records to see if it’s something they should have addressed under warranty or if they just passed it off as a minor leak.

    Good luck,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert

  22. Mike C

    Hi Mike

    I recently bought a used 2006 Impreza Outback Sport with roughly 84,000 miles on the engine from a private dealership. One of the selling points for me was the car’s impecible service records(since 2006 the car had been into a Subaru dealer 16 times for regular servicing). Needless to say, I was sold after a quick test drive and look over.

    Not two days after buying my car, I heard a strange whining noise coming from the engine and decided to have the local Subaru dealership investigate. To my horror they came back and told me that the whining was minor but my head gaskets were leaking and I was facing a $2000+ bill!

    I received no help from the dealership of purchase, but after a few email exchanges and submission of the Impreza’s service records, Subaru of America offered to pay $700 of the repair costs. The key seemed to be that my car was well taken care of, and assessed repeadedly by certified Subaru technicians. I’m thrilled to have any help in this situation. I’m a supportor of SOA now, but definitley not of the local dealership I bought the car from.

    Without this page, I would have never thought to seek help from Subaru directly. Thanks for the advice!

    Cheers

  23. Eric

    1st time Subaru owner of Certified pre-owned 2007 Outback 2.5i. 5 year warranty expired in March 2013, head gaskets failed August 2013. Dealer asking $2275 for the repairs as well as replacing belts etc. Really puts the Subaru’s as being reliable into perspective. The customer service representative at the dealership didn’t sound surprised when the technician’s diagnosed it as bad head gaskets. Sounded like it was almost common on my car.

    Hard to believe they wouldn’t at least check your head gaskets at some point if it seems like a common issue. I’ve maintained the car well and have been to the dealer 2-3 times over the course of ownership from 2009 for various maintenance.

    Sad Subaru Owner

  24. Ben

    Dear Mike,

    I am faced with a head gasket repair after I took my 2005 forester into the shop for overheating issues. The thermostat was checked as well as the radiator and they were both ruled out. My forester has only 108k on it and I was wondering if this is a common problem? Also I was wondering if you could give me a baseline price on what it might cost to get everything fixed assuming it is the head gasket? And my follow up question is there anything Ican do to help lower the cost of the repair?
    I called suburu but there were no outstanding recalls either.

    Ben

  25. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Ben,
    I’m sorry to hear about your head gasket issue on the Forester.

    In the Seattle area, at a reputable shop I’d expect to pay in the $1700-$1900 range for just the minimum required to do the head gaskets. If it were done for much less I’d wonder what corners that may be getting cut or what the parts quality is.

    If you want to do it right, you’ll probably opt to have all the other related seals and gaskets done as well as the heads machined, timing belt, tensioner, idlers, and water pump replaced which can take the job to the $2800 range. I guess you have to decide how much you like the car and if there are any other issues with it. If it’s a clean car and there aren’t any major issues it can be a very good investment in the long run as opposed to buying a new car.

    One last VERY IMPORTANT thing is to make sure the head gaskets area actually bad. Just because a person said the radiator and thermostat aren’t the problems I’d want conclusive evidence that the head gaskets are causing the overheating.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru in Seattle

  26. Alaa

    Hi Mike,
    I’ve been looking for subaru legacy for a while. I found one that is 2009 subaru legacy special edition with stick shift that has 45000 miles on it, I checked it’s carfax but it doesn’t show a regular maintenance. I’m hesitate to buy it because of the head gasket. Is the head gasket a common problem in 2009, if it is does the car still under subaru warranty. Also, how do I check for the head gasket?
    Best regards,
    Alaa

  27. Jen

    Hi Mike,

    Thank you in advance for your input and guidance. I am in the process of purchasing a pre-owned 2003 Forester with 68K miles from my local Subaru dealership to replace my current high-mileage Outback. The car is in great shape and I’ve taken it to my personal mechanic to check it out and give the thumbs up on purchasing. The dealership did a lot to get the car ready for selling (new brakes, new belts, new tires etc.etc.) so it seems great. Currently, there are no signs of head gasket issues. However, knowing the history of these particular models, I am hoping to get some sort of upfront documentation that Subaru would cover the cost of repair if they were ever to be an issue. My mechanic suggested this as well since he sees a lot of Foresters in there with that same issue. Carfax says this vehicle had 3+ owners and I can’t know how well they maintained it. I have requested some sort of upfront agreement from my local dealership and they declined, but offered me a $2,000 two year bumper-to-bumper warranty. This is not appealing to me since it only lasts two years for such a high price and I’m not concerned about anything but the head gaskets. Any advice on how I might approach SOA to work with me on this?

    Warmly,
    Jen

  28. Ana

    Thank you, Mike. This website has been extremely helpful. We own a 2006 Forester and at only 81,000 miles we currently have problems with the rack n pinion and the driver side head gaskets. The dealer is quoting us $1,100 for a new rack n pinion and $1,800 for both gaskets.

    It is frustrating because we had the same problem with our prior 1998 Forester several years ago. At 51,000 miles (yes 1,000 after the warranty expired) we paid $1,400 for the head gaskets repair. Since we liked Subaru we got later the 2006.

    What are the odds of the same household having the same problem with two different models! Obviously is an on going problem. We called Subaru after reading your posts and we are hoping we get a good response since we can certainly show the maintenance records and our loyalty to Subaru.

    Do you know if this head gasket issue is on-going with the 2013 & 2014 models? Is this an issue more frequently experienced in warm weather like in California? Someone just told us Subaru are cool weather cars and we are wondering if we should continue our loyalty to Subaru while living in So. California.

    Thanks again for all your great feedback through these posts.

    Ana

  29. Karla

    I have a 2006 Subaru Tribeca, it has been an awesome car, but this weekend it started making a crackling noise and then it died on me. I had to have it towed to the nearest mechanic, and it turns out that I need an entire new engine! the car has 86K miles on it and its a 2006!. I have had all its major repairs and maintenance done at the subaru dealership closest to me, not the one I bought it from, so this is a shock! I’m so upset because I dont have $5000 to put towards a car that in my opinion should have no business in having a blown engine!! I live in Colorado so we go up and down passes all the time since we live in the mountains, but that is why I trusted Subaru cars in the first place. My mother and father have subaru’s we have another subaru impreza which is awesome. I just dont know what to do, I really hope that the Subaru customer service can assist me with this issue. Any suggestions? Can this really happen? ugh…so upset

  30. meg

    Hi
    I have 2001 Subaru Legacy with 106,000 miles. Estimate to fix is 1980.00 for head gaskets, timing and drive belts. Subaru said they would pay 750.00 towards it. Do you think it is worth fixing?

    Any advise will help.

    Thanks, Maegann

  31. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Alaa,

    The Subaru warranty will be good for 5 years or 60000 miles on the power train(whichever comes first). They may ask for maintenance records before performing any warranty work so be ware of that.

    As far as head gaskets on a 2009 Subaru, I haven’t seen one yet. I think that may be a good sign because back in 2002 were seeing them come in after a couple of years. If you are concerned about the head gasket I would recommend you have a qualified shop look it over for you. It may save you money in the long run.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Repair in Seattle

  32. Mary Milligan

    Hi Mike,

    This forum is so informative. I purchased a 2006 Impreza with 97,000 miles on it 7 months ago from a suburu dealership. We took it in to get the transmission fluid changed, and we’re informed that the head gasket had an oil leak. The local mechanic quoted the repairs at 1900. Do you think there would be anyway the dealership or suburu would pay for any of repairs? The mechanic recommended getting it done within 3 months. Is that necessary? We love this car but didn’t expect such a costly repair this early. Any advice would be fantastic!

    Thanks!

  33. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Jen,

    I don’t think you’re going to be able to get the dealer or Subaru to offer anyhing unless you pay for the warranty up front. Since the waranty is just a bit less than a head gasket job I think it’s a wash and you may as well keep the money in your pocket until if and when they fail.

    Take care,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Experts in Seattle

  34. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Ana,

    As the head gasket saga on Subaru has continued over the years it seems to be fewer and fewer as the newer models get some mileage on them.
    During the 2000-2004 era they were coming in quite frequently with low mileage on them. As the models have become newer we are still doing head gaskets from time to time but in my opinion it’s less frequently than we used to. As far as the 2013 and 2014 models I can only hope for the best. They don’t have enough milege on them yet to tell how it’s going to go. I’m pretty confident they will be better as Subaru always in improving it’s products but we won’t know for sure till they’ve been around a while.

    Take care,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert in Everett
    206-417-0880
    http://www.smart-service.com

  35. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Karly, Sorry to hear about the Tribeca,

    Well, if it has been well maintained then I think it really is a rare occurence. Without knowing it’s service history, it’s hard to tell if anything relating to lack of maintenance in the past could have shortened it’s life.

    If it was maintained well since day one, then it may be a flaw that was just waiting to happen from the day it was made.

    I hope Subaru will offer you some assistance. It always helps to try.

    Take care,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert
    206-417-0880

  36. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Meg,

    I most definately do think it’s worth it if the rest of the car is in good shape.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert
    Shoreline, Washington
    206-417-0880

  37. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hello Mary,

    If the head gasket’s are just leaking oil on the Impreza than it may not need immediate repair. It really depends how bad it’s leaking oil. If it were leaking coolant than I’d agree to have it done asap. Sometimes with oil leaks, it’s best to have the shop clean off the oil on the engine and stop back in a week to see how much new oil has leaked out. This will help tell you how soon you should do them. Calling Subaru for assistance is always a good idea even if they turn you down. You never know until you ask.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert
    Shoreline, WA

  38. Tim Marcy

    Hi Mike,
    Love the info and comments on this site. First a little background about my Subaru ownership.
    #1 1996 Outback (2.2L). Was mine bought ~2003 w/294k, given to son in 2008 with 370k. No problems.
    #2 2000 Subaru (2.5L. Was wife’s purchased in 2004 with 60k, replaced HG at 105k then gave to son in 2012 with 120k. He’s still driving it.
    #3 1996 Outback (2.2L) with 198k purchased in 2008 (to replace one given to son, and sold in 2012 with 228k. No problems.
    #4 2001 Outback (2.5L) Mine purchased 9/2012 with 205k and very recent HG, WP and TB. Has 219k and no problems.
    #5 2008 Outback (2.5L) Wife’s purchased 9/2012 with 54k. Now has 59k and is loosing antifreeze. All these were purchased from non Subaru dealers. The 2008 is normally only driven short distances. Oil changes at least every 4 months or less even if it only goes 1000 miles. (dealer included lifetime oil changes at 3/3000.) It was the dealer (Chevy) that brought the low antifreeze to my attention and told me “you know what that may mean”. Yes I do. Checked it 3 weeks ago and it was low. Added more AF and check it frequently. Looks a little lower (1/2 cup at cold). I didn’t think I would have HG issues with a 2008. Maybe I should see about the AF treatment. What do you think?

  39. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Tim,

    First I would document how much anti freeze you need to add per month. Check it cold in the morining in the radiator and recovery bottle.

    If you confirm you’re loosing it, get a visual inspection done to see if any coolant is visible coming out of the head gasket area. If you see there is some coolant leak, adding the Subaru coolant conditioner will certainly be a resonable option to see if it helps but more than likely it will take a repair to eventually solve it.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert
    http://www.smart-service.com

  40. Estille Charboneau

    Share the love! The history of our Subaru experience: We bought a new 2009 Subaru Forester Premium X. The first day had a problem with side moulding flapping in the wind, took 5 visits and 28,680 miles for dealership to get corrected. At 29,046 miles it had loud grinding/squealing took to dealership for them to say it was my brakes and me telling them it was the center carrier bearing on the drive shaft. I had to bring back the next day to have service manager agree with my diagnosis, so drive shaft gets replaced. 37,000 miles the paint in the interior starts flaking/chipping. 47,325 miles both head gaskets leak to where it would burn on the exhaust, they get replaced by dealership. At 50,420 miles (still under warranty!) I bring back to dealership because since gasket change it needs 2-3 quarts of oil added every 1,500 miles. I have brought to dealership every 1,0000 miles and it has been 1.25 to 1.5 quarts low every time. Today at 54,450 miles dealership admits problem exist requires engine change. BUT for them to replace it will cost $140 for a compression test and they will cover only 50% of the cost of repair for an issue that existed under warranty. It is funny how in the Subaru warranty it states that ,”Under these warranties, parts that malfunction or fail during the warranty period as a result of a manufacturing defect will be repaired without charge.” I spoke to SOA rep hopefully SOA make this right so I don’t have to fight for what is correct.

  41. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Estille,

    I am surprised that they would charge you for a compression test. I believe the loss of oil alone should be enough to prove that there is an internal engine problem that needs to be corrected whatever the compression.

    Good luck

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert in Everett/Seattle and vicinity

  42. Leanna Grimm

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve been reading all of the replies on this site all morning and they’ve really been giving me a lot of insight. I too have a head gasket leaking in a 2007 subaru impreza 2.5i sedan that I bought from a Subaru dealership in January 2012 with 37,000 and now it only has 63,000 miles on it. The dealership is refusing to provide any kind of help other than a rental car for it and have quoted me $2600 plus tax for that and the water pump, oil gasket, and timing belt since its cheaper to do those at the time of repair. I just wanted to see if this sounded reasonable, looking at some of the other repair cost it looks a little bit on the high side. I have now contacted SOA by email to see what they can do for help if anything. Let me know what you think as well. Ive done all recommended services with the car (whether I chose to do them with a cheaper mechanic or myself since the dealership tends to overcharge).

    Sincerely,
    A concerned Subaru Owner
    Leanna Grimm

  43. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hello Leanna,

    I’m sorry to hear that your Impreza head gaskets have failed so early. I think you did the right thing by calling Subaru customer service. Hopefully they will provide some help in the repair. Also remember that the dealer does have some goodwill money of their own that they can contribute to the repair if they so choose. It’s completely their choice but if you ask to speak with the service manager you may be able to get something in conjunction with anything Subaru chooses to help with. Sometimes if they’ll even just do the repair at an internal rate it can save you money.

    I hope this works out costing you less than $2600 and you get many trouble free miles out of your Subaru once it’s done.

    Take care,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert
    Seattle, Shoreline, Everett and Mukilteo
    http://www.smart-service.com

  44. Suzanne Ashley

    Hi Mike,
    I bought a 2005 Forester XT from a car dealer. They provided a inspection document from an independent garage that showed all things checked out.
    I hadn’t driven the car a month and the turbo blew. I am not a hard driver and the car seemed to lose power several times prior to the failure. I took it to the nearest garage which was a GM dealer. The car was too fat from a large center to get it to a Subaru dealer. The dealer confirmed it was the turbo and installed a new one. I asked them to check the engine for damage and they stated it was fine.
    After picking up the car I drove about 100 km and I heard terrible sounds and the car lost power. I pulled off the highway and had it towed to the Subaru dealer in the nearest city.
    The Subaru dealer first stated that the turbo had been incorrectly installed and it needed a new one. I asked them to check for engine damage and when they took the pan off they said they found filings. The service manager first said I needed a new engine. Upon questioning further he said he would need to put the new turbo in before knowing if the engine would run properly. Now the story changed from the service manager and he claims it was debris from the bearings and that engine had to be damaged prior and that is what was causing the turbo to fail.
    It is important for me to get this sorted out as the GM dealer is responsible for the replacement if the turbo. If the engine was damaged by the turbo blowing after they had installed it incorrectly than they will also be responsible for the replacement of the engine. When I asked the Subaru dealer for a written report they refused to provide it and said I was not entitled to one since the GM dealer was paying for installing a new turbo. I am feeling that I need another opinion and my trust is being challenged by the service manager due to conflicting reports. How can I get the answers I seek?

  45. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Suzanne,

    Well, for the most part, when a turbo blows a procedure must be followed to make sure there isn’t subsequent damage on a Subaru engine. When a turbo fails, it sends metal particles down stream through the rest of the engine. This can shorten the life of the cams, crank and rod bearings.

    Upon a failed turbo, it’s best to remove the turbo, remove all the oil lines related to the turbo and check that they are free and clear of contamination. Removal of the cam bearing caps to see that there is no damage done there and finally removal of the oil pan to inspect for metal particulates. If there is metal in the pan it may be best to go with a new short block.

    As far as the mis-install from GM, make sure the Subaru dealer documents what they found very specifically.

    Also, with the Subaru dealer not providing a report to you, that sounds like there’s some poor management decisions being done. You should be in on all the details if the Subaru dealer wants to make you happy. You can always call 1-800-SUBARU3 and discuss it with corporate customer service if you feel they’re giving you the run around.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert
    Seattle, WA

  46. Pat

    Hi Mike,

    Thinking about buying my first Subaru based on some friends past experiences with them. The idea is a budget move – that I am going to sell my 2001 Toyota Tundra which has been great & my 2003 Lincoln Town Car & purchase a 2003 Subaru Baja. Found one here locally South Western PA – 2nd owner, but they had the car since 16,000 miles – it currently has 135,000, body, interior, & underneath look great. All maintenance records – (Timing Belt, Water pump, Spark Plugs, Thermostat, Antifreeze, Head Gaskets, 4 new rotors all new at approximately 100,000 miles)…about $8,000.00 for the Baja….not having a Subaru before the 125,000 miles is a bit scary…I will be using it for my family (4 doors = replaced Linc. & some trips to Home Depot / Lowes for some household projects replaces Tundra)…trying to save on insurance / mileage, but not looking to come up with a pig….any recommendation…also any thoughts about an after market warranty….loved reading over your other comments…nice site….Pat

  47. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Pat,

    The first thing I’d like to make sure of is that the rust isn’t too big of an issue. We’ve seen a lot of East coast cars with exhausts rotting and brakes pitting and calipers sticking due to rust.

    Other than that, since all of the work has been done already I would think it could be a pretty good car for another 100k. I don’t think it will be a pig but Subarus only get fair mpg. If that one is a non turbo I’d expect 19-24 hwy/city for the most part.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    http://www.smart-service.com
    Independent Subaru Expert.

  48. Matt

    Hi Mike, I have a 2009 Outback 2.5i SE with 91,000 miles and I have a head gasket leak. Is this a common issue with 2009 outbacks.

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