2000 Subaru Outback Head Gasket Leak. Help!


Hello all,

I am just out of college and I have been planning a massive road trip starting in the Northeast, going down to the Southwest, up along the pacific, and back across Canada.

I have been told that my vessel, a 2000 Subaru Outback, is leaking oil from the Head Gasket, both externally and into the radiator. I have never overheated, never seen oil under the car, only rarely had to replace oil (once every 2000 miles I add a quart), never had to replace coolant, and the stuff in the Coolant looks more like the “Gunk” I put in it two years ago to stop leaks than it does like oil. The car has 144,000 miles on it and I cannot afford the repairs. I would need to get a new used car if this Gasket issue is a serious problem. If the car is driving fine, should I just head off across the country? Or would I be risking my safety etc.? Are any gasket leaks harmless (dealt w/ by keeping an eye on levels… or repair) or do they all warrant replacement.

I have also been told I need a new clutch for the car, although like the Gasket, evidence for this statement seems sparse. The clutch rarely slips, and only when I push it in 4th or 5th gear, but the slippage has not gotten worse over the last 1.5 years, and the car is perfectly drivable.

I had been hoping to leave next Monday on my trip, although this departure date now seems unlikely. I am really stressed about this development and I fear it will ruin my summer plans. I would greatly appreciate any help you all could offer!



Personally, I would not risk driving long distance with that bad head gasket as you could wind up getting stranded in a very inconvenient location.

If I were you, I would check with both the dealer and with Subaru corporate in Cherry Hill, NJ to see if they will cover this (at least “halfsies”) as a good will gesture. If the vehicle has been maintained properly, and especially if it has been maintained by the dealership, Subaru has frequently covered at least half of the expense for this repair. Just be sure to be polite, but forceful, in requesting this “good will” coverage.


I hate to tell you this, but there could be a lot of expensive damage being done via this leak. That stuff you added clearly did not “fix” the problem. It may had hidden it for a while, but not fix it. You need to have it fixed properly. As it is you are likely doing damage and sooner or later, I would think not too much later, you are going to have a car that no longer runs and is going to cost a bundle to get running again. Fixing it now may be less expensive.


The clutch might not be that big a deal. It’s not a safety issue, and you may well have it read correctly. If it isn’t slipping and you baby the car, it may well survive a long – mostly highway – trip. BTW, if you have a muscular friend, you may well be able to replace the clutch yourself. The job is mostly labor, but it does require getty a heavy manual transmission out of the car then back in.

Head gasket. Hmmmmmm. Well, it’s not a safety issue. But it’s probably going to get worse. A lot worse. And odds are that it will get worse before your lengthy road trip is completed. It may well leave you stranded in some difficult place. Do you have a plan to cope with that? Like the transmission, replacing a head gasket is mostly labor, but it requires more labor, more tools, more skill.

If you have a friend who is a motor-head, you might discuss how you can get your car fixed up without too much money.

Other than that, you might check www.greyhound.com. It looks to me like, if you are willing to travel a lot lighter than you expected, you can probably get yourself around the country for about what you would have to spend on gas if you took the Subaru. You should be able to get a student discount.


you should get this fixed right away, and i hope you didnt mean that you dont change your oil. Also if its money your trying to save, then there is a foamy sealant that can replace gaskets


Hi. My 2000 Subaru Legacy had a leaking head gasket (only 74,000 miles). The first clue I had was the temp guage shot up into the ‘hot’ zone and then came back down. If I hadn’t been watching the guage just then, I wouldn’t have caught the problem early. Turns out Subaru covered this $1,200 repair even though the car is out of warranty. Good luck!!


This is covered by Subaru…there was recall…call your Subaru dealer…


Subaru will only cover this issue for 8 years or 80,000 miles.


I had mine repaired based on the fact that there was a recall…it was a bit of a head ache to have them replace it for free…but they ended up doing it anyway…good luck.