I took my old reliable 1999 Subaru Legacy Outback Wagon for an oil change at a local fast lube place. After changing the oil they talked me into an air filter replacement which I said yes to. Then they talked me into a radiator flush. I declined first but then after they offered it for $ 79.99 instead of their usual $ 99.99, against my usual good judgment, I said yes.
After they were done I drove the car to work. In about ten miles the engine-hot needle raced to the top, the heater stopped working. I called the shop, the mechanic said may be there were some air bubbles left. Bring the car back. They struggled with it for a few hours to no avail. Couldn’t figure out what was happening. So I asked the lube shop to call the local Subaru dealer, whose advisor said that the head-gasket is blown and the safety mechanism, whatever that is, turns the heater off as a safety precaution. You should not flush the radiator but drain the fluid and refill it.
Before I took the car to the lube shop there was no evidence of leaky or blown head-gasket. The car oil did not have white residue due to radiator fluid leaking into the engine oil. The car heater was working fine. The radiator fluid in the radiator was green. Not black or dirty.
The head-gasket repair is estimated at approximately $ 1800 – $ 2500.
The lube shop says that the damage is not their responsibility because the car is old and has 148,000 miles on it. This thing is common on Subarus etc.
What do you think the reason for the blown head-gasket? “Flushing” the radiator which is usually uses a pump? Or trapped air after the radiator was flushed and refilled? Or both?
Is it worth to get the car repaired or just get another car? Or should I try to pour some radiator leak seal compound in it?