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
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.
- 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!
On Jan 25, 9:43 am, firstname.lastname@example.org (DK) wrote:
'leaking' implies dripping onto the ground or perhaps being blown
around in the engine compartment/blown backwards under the car when
If you mean 'high oil consumption'/'low oil on dipstick', it must be
From your post as it stands, I would recommend a different mechanic.
Certainly I would want a second opinion under odd circumstances before
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"
On Jan 25, 11:01 am, email@example.com 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.)
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.
On Jan 25, 11:56 am, firstname.lastname@example.org (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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
Correction: A manual transmission will withstand better to aggressive
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.
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