Recently we ran into a customer that had failed head gaskets in his 2001 Subaru Forester. This would seem somewhat normal except the customer had them replaced 2 years ago at a local Subaru independent in Seattle.June of 2013 the car came into Smart Service with overheating problems. Our diagnostics confirmed that the head gaskets were failing and pushing exhaust gasses into the cooling system.
Upon giving the customer our diagnosis, the customer mentioned that he had them done 2 years ago at a local Seattle Subaru independent. Since the repairing shop warranty was limited 12 month, 12000 mile warranty, the customer was technically out of warranty so he opted not to return to them, and had us do the repair.
The disappointing part for the customer is the fact he spent over $2100 for the head gaskets to be done, along with some additional misc. work, and they had already failed. His first set from the factory lasted over 100,000 miles and he was hoping for at least this or better out of the Six Stars. ( a reasonable expectation in my opinion) Now there are rare cases in which a part has a manufacture flaw or defect that doesn’t arise until well after a warranty has expired so we went into the job with an open mind that it may have just been a fluke.
We carefully disassembled the engine, paying close attention to anything that may have caused these gaskets to fail so soon. The coolant and oil was full and clean, all the heads appeared properly torqued down but, when we removed the heads we found what we believe contributed to their failure. The head gaskets were coated with some sort of “copper coat” gasket compound.
In the picture below you can see the faint outline of the “Six Star” symbol with copper coat spray on it. Also below that you can see a screen shot of the instructions that come with Six Star head gaskets stating NOT to coat them with anything.