Is this head gasket leak?

Just trying to get a feel for what I should do here:
Wife's 2002 Forester has been leaking oil for some time. Curiously enough, it started leaking immediately after dealer's 60,000 miles
maintanence (but I was sick and out of town so it was then too to bring it back and claim that the two are related; and maybe they are not).
The leak is not bad and there is no blue smoke in the exhaust. Coolant level does not seem to be low and the car is not overheating.
There is now 75,400 miles on a car and dealer today says it is head gasket that is leaking and that there is oil in the coolant. Naturally, they want $2000 for a fix.
Question: - Do the above symptoms look like a head gasket? - Is it safe to drive the car if it is indeed head gasket leaking? I can add oil once in a while, it's not a big deal. I haven't seen any signs of coolant in the oil.
Assuming it is head gasket, would you rather fix and sell the car? (I don't want to lie, so if I sell, I'll be saying about the leak, which unquestionably will bring the price down).
Any thoughts? Thanks!
Dima
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On Jan 25, 9:43 am, snipped-for-privacy@noemail.thankstospam.net (DK) wrote:

'leaking' implies dripping onto the ground or perhaps being blown around in the engine compartment/blown backwards under the car when driving.
If you mean 'high oil consumption'/'low oil on dipstick', it must be going somewhere.
From your post as it stands, I would recommend a different mechanic. Certainly I would want a second opinion under odd circumstances before spending $2000.
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On Tue, 25 Jan 2011 08:52:03 -0800 (PST), 1 Lucky Texan

It is very possible she has both an external and internal oil "leak" IF there is oil in the coolant she does not need to see another mechanic for a "second opinion" - she has already gotten mine. As for the $2000, there may well be a mechanic around who will do it (properly) for less. Depends where she is, and how many independents in her area are well aquainted with Soobs. Like the GM adds say, "it's not your daddy's oldsmobile"
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On Jan 25, 11:01 am, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

I'm not saying it isn't a bad headgasket. Just that the wording of the post makes the diagnosis questionable. Has Dima seen the oil in the coolant or coolant/'chocolate mousse' in the oil? Also, did the dealership use the coolant conditioner if they flushed the coolant at the 60K service? (I would definitely hold them accountable if it isn't shown on the receipt.)
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It is definitely leaking on the floor - that I can see. Eventually it gets low on a dipstick - that I can see as well. The dealer says they found oil on the coolant. I dond't yet know about it myself. The coolant level so far was stable and when I am checking oil, I see no foaming indicative of coolant in oil.

I'll do that.
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On Jan 25, 11:56 am, snipped-for-privacy@noemail.thankstospam.net (DK) wrote:

Perhaps they meant you need new valve cover gaskets? Still, that seems like a lot of money.
There is a 'sniffer' test - similar I guess to the tailpipe emissions tester - that can be used to detect exhaust gasses in the coolant.
Also, do locate your 60K service receipt - or get a copy from your dealer's service desk, and see if the 'coolant conditioner' was used in your car if the 60K service included a radiator flush/refill. IF they didn't use it and IF you actually have ANY headgasket issues, you MIGHT be able to hold them accountable. In reality, the conditioner is only to prevent external (leaking coolant onto the ground) leaks. But, putting up a fuss about it may get you somewhere.
good luck and please let us know what you find.
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If I remember correctly, if the dealer added the coolant conditioner back when the TSB was issued, it extended the warranty to 8 yrs or 100,000 miles. With an '02 you are just outside of that warranty, but considering your mileage maybe you can work something out with them?
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Alas, this particular car was NOT under this recall. Somehow, some 2002 cars were and some weren't. I just looked at the 60K job slip and it is listed there: "coolant sys SOA635071" $1.75
What I have hard time believing is that it was pure co-incidence that the car started to leak the day I took it from the dealer's 60K maintenance. On the other hand, I can't even start guessing what it was they could do wrong to make it leak... I know, my own fault and it's way too late now (I was sick and my wife dis not feel like going back to the dealership).
Headgasket at 60K is completely ridiculous. My old Impreza is at 120K now without any hints of the problem. I am going to see an independent mechanic tomorrow.
Forgot to ask in the dealership for how long they guarantee a new gasket they'd put in. Anyone knows?
- Dima
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On Tue, 25 Jan 2011 15:43:53 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@noemail.thankstospam.net (DK) wrote:

Sounds like a possible head gasket, for sure. If it is in good shape otherwize I'd fix it and drive it.
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On 1/25/2011 10:43 AM, DK wrote:

My '03's went last month at only 40k mi, starting as a burnt antifreeze smell and then leak. Repair was nearly $1,400 which hurts but is much less than book value of the Forester. Dealer said they had only seen a couple of head gasket problems with '03's but they were over 100k mi.
Last year, same odor and then leak, was said to be bad water pump. I had heard about this special coolant thing after I had changed antifreeze at non-Subaru shop but Subaru had done the water pump replacement and also threw in a timing belt change at cost of belt since it was off.
Candidly, I've been a big Forester fan and my wife has an '08 but if I see this problem again on either Forester, I may be looking at other brand AWD's next time I need a new one.
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My wife insists on three things for her car: - AWD - SUV - manual
I also insist that it has to be reliable and inexpensive. Other than Forester/Subaru, what cars might fit the bill?
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On 1/25/2011 7:02 PM, DK wrote:

Toyota RAV 4 and Honda CRV come to mind. They may not be base AWD and probably cost a bit more. I have not driven either and guy I know got a Forester over the RAV 4 as he said RAV 4 drove like a truck.
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On Wed, 26 Jan 2011 00:02:33 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@no.email.thankstospam.net (DK) wrote:

Perhaps the Toyota RAV or Highlander? Or the Honda CRV? The Hyundai and Kia offerings are getting pretty darn good reviews too, at a lower cost.
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DK wrote:

For what it's worth, Consumer Reports small SUVs:
Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, Honda CRV, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Rogue, Hyundai Tuscon in that order.
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It seems that for all of them, the combination of AWD/MT is not available in the USA. Weird. Staying with this Forester has just become more appealing...
DK
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On 1/25/2011 10:01 PM, DK wrote:

I had not considered manual transmission and don't know why anyone would want one except maybe to save a few dollars. Mileage on automatic is nearly as good.
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On Wed, 26 Jan 2011 08:04:35 -0500, Frank

Save a few dollars? In some cases a manual actually costs MORE today.
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Still need to find a manual transmission that failed in the middle of the road for causes other than abuse or lack of oil. The clutch will last depending on the way the car is driven.
As for auto transmissions, I have seen them fail frequently, in many cars, like camry, fords taurus, nissan maxima, subaru legacy sw, infinity, etc. Subaru had problems with automatic transmissions to the point the local dealer with stack them in the transport crates by the shop.
An auto transmission will withstand better to aggressive driving. On the other hand, towing capacity seems to be better for AT cars.
Just my opinion.
snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

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From MANY years experience, the VAST majority of automatic transmisssion failures are due to NEGLECT. The fluid NEEDS to be changed regualarly, and the proper fluid used.
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Correction: A manual transmission will withstand better to aggressive driving...
From many years of experience, and having repaired quite a few, automatic transmissions fail because they are more prone to fail. Many cases of one the many seals in the hydraulic system in the transmission failing because of wear and seal degradation, this is normal for dynamic seals; they also fail because of sensors, solenoids, brake band wear, control valve wear, mechanical failures, etc. Just look at the TSBs from the manufacturers and see how many deal with auto trannys and how many with manuals. If you have access to a product such as AllData you can see by yourself.
My 1995 Legacy SW failed because the oil pump cover in the AT had worn out to the point where the reverse hub seals would not seal on it. When I got the spare from Subaru, I realized that it had sharp edges left from the manufacturing process. These were consistent with the galling present in the part I was replacing. In this particular case, there was no problem with the oil. :( At the same time, when cleaning the control valve body, I realized that the plate in this valve, against which the ball bearings seated, was paper thin and in need of being replaced. The part was not sold by itself and the whole valve was around $900 bucks at the time.
Yes you are right, the fluid needs to be changed and the right fluid has to be used. The silly part is that most industrial hydraulic systems have replaceable filters, not just suction strainers; automatic transmissions for the most part, do not.
snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

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