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Old 11-07-2001, 02:48 PM   #1
lark6
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Angry Leaky Head Gasket & Water Pump Gasket - MY00 Forester

I had the coolant flushed at the 30K service last month and I've been getting whiffs of coolant smell in the cabin intermittently since. I can't find any leaks in the hoses or on the ground beneath the car; in fact the coolant reservoir looks a little overfull, if anything. I know there's been lots of talk here about air bubbles/pockets in the cooling system and head gaskets going bad (at least w/Phase I EJ25s), so I took it to the dealer this morning for diagnostics.

They found that the left head gasket and the water pump gasket are leaking. They told me it was safe to drive the car but ordered the gaskets AND a new water pump, under the rationale that "the water pump gasket is impregnated in the pump itself." They hope to have the parts in and get the car in on Monday.

Needless to say I am PO'd right now. I don't think that a two-year-old car of any make, with 31,500 miles, which has not been raced, should experience this kind of failure. I took the advice of many who told me to buy a Subaru for its long-term drivetrain reliability. I really want to like this car - it's fun to drive and does everything I want or need it to do - and I can't think of any other make that would quite meet my needs and be within my price range. In fact, you all know that I have been developing a case of WRX envy. I am having a really hard time convincing myself at the moment that I want to keep the Forester, much less be a repeat owner.

At least it is under warranty.

I guess I'm just looking to vent, since this is the dealer's solution. I'm just not sure if I should be sticking with the Subie.

Ed
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Old 11-07-2001, 04:01 PM   #2
Julian
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Hey, it's a coolant leak, it's not like your tranny fragged going to the supermarket.

If you feel that strongly, do what you think is best. I'd check out as much independent reliability information as you can get. Subaru will be ahead of some major brands, including VW. But even Lexus has things go wrong occasionally.
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Old 11-07-2001, 04:20 PM   #3
Jewbaru
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umm... factories screw up, things break. You're not paying, and it was a GASKET! It was probably faulty gaskets, that's all. If anything you should be happy the dealer is replacing the Water pump!

I understand your pain tho, ease up, like Julian said, it's not like your tranny died.
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Old 11-07-2001, 05:07 PM   #4
lark6
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Have a Nice Day?

Alright, alright. I overreact. Just makes me uneasy when they have to go taking off a head; there's opportunity for making things worse than before.
Tranny's supposed to be good on these anyway, right? (it's an AT - I sit in Philly traffic a lot). I had a VW Jetta (A2) and it gave me all kinds of headaches.


Sheepishly,
Ed
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Old 11-08-2001, 02:21 AM   #5
HndaTch627
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In defense of all technicians i hate when people think they way you do. We are paid to do our job right and do it right the first time. THe reason i went to work for an import company is because of their FIX IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME policies. WE are highly trained to do the job. The last thing we need is someone thinking we can't accomplish the task. Besides your car is under warranty so i wouldn't complain. How would you feel if it was someone who has NEVER touched one of these cars before in their life doing your water pump....head gasket....etc....

/end rant

jeremy
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Old 11-08-2001, 03:04 AM   #6
SoobATV
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Post Don't worry so much about this, trust me...

HndaTch627:
as an ex-tire technician, I'd agree with you there. I used to hate the snobby stares I'd get(usually from men with mullets, some women with them too) when I'd get out of work, in a dirty uniform. I'd be thinking: "I'm not some scrappy dink that dresses like this for the hell of it; I have a trade, I do what love, I get paid." Let's see many other people say that.

To the Forester owner:
In many cases, some mechanics can be drunken high school dropouts; any fool with a 20 dollar Craftsman ratchet set and a floor jack can call himself a "mechanic."

But this a Subaru dealership you're getting the work done at. They don't hire schmucks with no training, hence the "technician" title. Don't worry about having a head off to fix the head gasket, it's not nearly as serious as it sounds. They aren't dropping the tranny, they aren't trying to find a shorted wire that drains your battery inconsistently, they're just loosening a few bolts to replace a piece of rubber. And this is a fairly new, low milege engine; there shouldn't be any problems attributed with older engine(stripped head stud threads, etc.)

I'll be happy for both you and the techs that get to work on your nice car. You're not paying to have this done, and they're getting paid to work on a Subie: wish I could say the same, eh? And be happy that they caught this now, instead of when your radiatior became clogged from all the gunk and overheated the engine, cracking the heads, or when the oil became so full of antifreeze that it made that nappy brown milkshake-looking paste that loves to destroy main bearings.

Wow, that was long! I'm earning this Scooby Specialist title Only 23 posts left after this one...

Last edited by SoobATV; 11-08-2001 at 03:09 AM.
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Old 11-08-2001, 06:26 AM   #7
lark6
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HndaTch627: Holy crap! I've pissed off the cult of Subaru! I guess I can't be critical of initial build quality when I shell out $23K of my own money, can I? Fixing it right doesn't count at the factory? When you haven't been able to afford buying a new car since '86 maybe you get unrealistic expectations.

No, I don't wear a mullet; yes, I have done my own engine work; no, I am by no means an auto technician; yes, I have worked on jobs where I got dirty (a/o/t now, where I just clean up other people's messes); yes, I am glad the people who work on Subies are. As I learn more about the peculiarities of the EJ series drivetrains, maybe I'll be more proficient too.

SoobATV: I appreciate the reassurances. I trust all will be done right.

Okay, my /end rant. I didn't come out here to piss people off, just to look for some kind of reassurance from veteran Subie owners that this wasn't a rare or serious occurrence. I guess I got it the hard way.

Ed
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Old 11-08-2001, 09:42 AM   #8
bluesubie
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Exclamation A little dose of reality

I don't think Ed was really directing his comments at the techs.
If you guys think all Subaru techs are top-notch though, you're mistaken.

About a year ago, I met a District Service Manager because of Service Manager and tech problems that I was having. I was having a clutch squeak and they did everything except take the tranny apart. For 26,000 miles I had the clutch cable replaced twice, the pedal spring lubed countless times and after my warranty expired they finally opened the tranny. Told me it was a bad TO bearing and I would have to pay $1200 for a new tranny and $800 for a new flywheel if it wasn't resurfaced very soon (later found out the flywheel is under powertrain warranty).

In the middle of all of this, I took my wife's OB to another dealer for service. I was talking to the shop foreman about my squeaky clutch. Right away he said it was the throwout bearing, and he had never even seen my car!!

I also told the District Svc Manger this story about my old dealer.
On a service visit, I mentioned I had a rattle coming from the cargo cover. They told me it was a strut and ordered a strut. I went back and had that installed then they told me it was a spring. Went back and that installed, but I still had the rattle. Squirted some WD40 on the cargo cover and no more rattle.

Good luck Ed,

Dennis
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Old 11-08-2001, 10:31 AM   #9
HndaTch627
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Lark- I am not am mad i am just trying to say that poop happens....when you build engines things do go wrong. Honda even has their fair share of problems but i can bet you most of the customers are satisfied when get them fixed. I thought you were being cautious about the whole removing the cylinder head. It's not as big of a deal as people seem to think. It's actually rather simple. Now wiring problems are the fun ones. Ever want to see your car torn apart totally...get a short in the wiring .

Bluesubie- I know there are some bad techs out there, i never ever had it go thru my mind that all of them are good, i work with my fair share of guys i wouldn't let within 20 feet of my car. I am just trying to say don't let their horrid quality work affect the way you feel about me fixing your car. I can't tell you how many times i have had a customer tell me i was DOING something wrong. I'm sorry but i know what i am doing. And if i don't i'll ask the guys i work with or get the book. Had a customer watching me while i was tracking down a fault in an sliding door. The customer came out into the shop and asked me why i taking his whole car apart. I told him he needed to speak to an advisor, so he did. The next day he called the service manager and wanted to know why it was necessary for me to go that deeply into the problem. When it was explained that i was tracing a fault in the harness the customer immediately demanded we replace all the harnesses in the car.....so i guess i am just trying to say to take it easy on the techs, i know some of them are horrid, but they make the people like me that care about their job look bad.

Jeremy
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Old 11-08-2001, 12:12 PM   #10
SoobATV
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Post

lark6:
Quote:
Fixing it right doesn't count at the factory?
Well, that's the thing... mistakes do happen... but like I said in an earlier post, be ecstatic that this is being paid for under warrenty, and that you're not getting screwed the way you way have been at another dealership/car company.

Sorry if I've offended you from any of my earlier posts, I mean only to inform you that this "operation" is commonplace.

PS, I'm pleased to hear you don't have a mullet
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Old 11-08-2001, 02:40 PM   #11
lark6
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Cool

Cool with both of you, Jeremy and SoobATV. bluesubie, thanks for taking my back . bluesubie can attest that I'm nearly bald on top, which would prevent me from growng a mullet even if I wanted one.

Oh yeah, did I have bad VeeDub experiences. The only two engine blocks I've had experience cracking open are their 1.8L 8V from my Jetta and the 170ci OHV inline six in my '63 Studebaker. The OHV 170 was based on the venerable Studebaker Champion flathead six that was built from 1939-60; many dirt track racers used that engine (with Offy heads and some wild multi-carb setups) and it was also used in a WWII amphibious vehicle called a Weasel. When they converted it to OHV on a shoestring R&D budget in 1961, the design was such that it is prone to cracking valve seats. Doing a good valve job on these can be difficult, as can be a hot running adjustment. I had to replace a head on mine when I bought it, and I have a spare serving as a neat doorstop in my garage that is waiting to be magnafluxed.

If you think finding good Subaru mechanics is tough, try finding a good Studebaker mechanic - or any Studebaker mechanic - given that they haven't built any for 35 years.

Thanks guys, I'll keep the faith.

Ed
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Old 11-08-2001, 04:41 PM   #12
Czubaka
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Acutally, I had a head gasket go bad on my 99 RS. Suprisingly, it took a long time for it to go bad. I started smelling coolant around 30K miles, and finally was loosing it, and smoking, around 50K miles. The dealer replaced it no problem, and took care of the other head gasket too, just in case. Granted, I'm not really ecstatic about the Suby dealer up here, the owner is a major prick, but I must commend them on making sure the problem wouldn't come back. 17K miles later and it's still holding together well. Wish I could say the same for the clutch...

Question: what does oil look like with coolant in it? A brown milkshake? Light or dark brown? Is it foamy, and stays that way after you drain it? Is it easily distinguishable from how oil normally should be after 3K miles, or is it a little tough to discern? Just want to know what I should look for just in case it happens again.

Gregg
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Old 11-08-2001, 05:17 PM   #13
SoobATV
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oil with coolant in it looks like a chocolate milkshake you'd get at CrackDonald's, just a little darker. See what I mean here: http://www.subaru4wd.net/my83gl/verybad.jpg That's the "milkshake" in the carb of an '83 Subaru GL wagon. It's been my experience that it isn't foamy. Yes, it's very easily distinguishable from regular used oil. Normal waste oil still appears translucent when being drained from the car(unless it's been 3K miles of auto-x or 12K of commuting), wheras this stuff is like looking at a wall. Another easy tell-tale sign of headgasket failure(usually) is a thick, off-white paste-like substance on the inside of the radiator cap(I've rarely seen it elsewhere in the cooling system).

Hope that helps you, or anyone else who was curious.

-SoobATV-
not looking forward to seeing any of these signs anytime soon
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Old 11-08-2001, 08:34 PM   #14
crankshaft1
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Default That's nothing

compared to this. My 99 Forester went in for an oil change at 33,000 miles and came out 2 weeks later with a new engine. The engine had a bad bearing and a damaged piston. Sure, I was bent about it but Subaru took care of it with a new engine, not a rebuilt, they gave me a loaner car and they threw in an extended warranty. Not what one would expect at that mileage but it was handled well and they kept a customer.
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Old 11-09-2001, 02:10 AM   #15
HndaTch627
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wow crankshaft, sounds like you ended up with a spun bearing and some wicked piston slap there.

Now that's what i call and Oil change

Jeremy
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Old 11-09-2001, 11:12 AM   #16
ColinL
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wow, did they fire it up without refilling the oil or what? geez.
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Old 11-09-2001, 03:32 PM   #17
HndaTch627
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colin that's what i was thinking.....i know of a tech who thought he was hot **** for how fast he could change oil...turns out he would do it with the car running.

Oooh baby....new MOTOR!!!!

Jeremy
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Old 11-10-2001, 09:20 AM   #18
crankshaft1
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Default Nope

The dealer I go to is one of the best Subaru dealers in this area. The engine has always gotten bad gas mileage and had a knocking noise at cold start ups. The knocking wouldn't go away after warm up. It just got worse after a while.
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Old 11-10-2001, 10:31 AM   #19
nomorefocus
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Just be happy it's under warranty. I had the same thing happen to my S10 pickup right out of warranty and had to fight Chevy. They ended up paying half the cost. It was still expensive. The truck had 50,000 miles on it. I don't want to start a fight, but I don't believe that this kind of thing should happen at 50k miles let alone 30k miles. I have a lot of respect for the technicians. They did an excellent job on my S10. I never had another problem with it. I just don't like to not have my vehicle and have nothing to drive while it's being worked in. My biggest complaint of having things go wrong with cars is how long I don't have my car each time. I had 6 recalls, bad wiper motor, bad door handles, and dealer dented my hood changing the oil on the Ford Focus I had. It was a lot of time that I had to borrow my dad's car, or my friends car or get a ride. I don't want to be paying for a car when I can't drive it!
That's why I'm hoping that Subaru will me different! So far so good! Sorry so long, I'm just venting a little too.
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Old 11-10-2001, 03:08 PM   #20
subysouth
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Default A quick question

What are the warranty lengths on 2000 Subies??? mileage and time please. Thanks
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Old 11-10-2001, 10:22 PM   #21
Czubaka
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Default Coolant in the oil...

SoobATV - Holy flurking schnit! I'll never drink a chocolate milkshake again! I used to be concerned that I was getting some coolant in the oil, but not anymore.

Thanks!
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