2006 Subaru Forester - what’s the damage?

My daughters 2006 Subaru Forester “quit” running she said. I discovered it had dumped all it’s coolant through a ruptured by pass hose on the water pump. I replaced the hose refilled with water to check for other leaks and found water being PUMPED out of the exhaust system. Pulled a plug and found water on the plug. I’m in fear of what all it probably is but wanted to hear it from someone else.

Me thinks she ignored the temperature gauge and now the engine is toast. However, if you are lucky, might be a blown head gasket. The heads would need to be examined for damage from overheating.


Agreed; that is likely a wiped out head gasket. The big problem is that is not likely to involve only the head gasket.

Continuing to operate a vehicle with severe overheating can not only blow head gaskets but also score cylinders/pistons, seize piston rings, and so on along with ruining crankshaft bearings and valve train parts. As mentioned; toast.

Best thing is to run a dry and wet compression test. That will tell you something on the top end condition but not the bottom end. Top end damage means bottom also but the missing info is just how far she drove it overheating.

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I’d say the engine is now a boat anchor and needs to be replaced. Big $$$$

You need to tell your daughter that red lights on the dashboard mean “STOP driving NOW”


Yes to all the above. You might be VERY lucky and it’s just the head gasket, which let go, which overpressured the cooling system, which burst the hose. I’d have it towed to a Subaru specialist and get their hands-on diagnosis. Minimum repair cost will be about $1,000+, maybe +++.

Many Subaru engines use an open-deck design, where the cylinder walls are not connected to anything at the top. As a result, warpage of the engine block itself is possible from overheating, as is distortion of the cylinder bores. If the engine in question uses an open-deck design, and has been overheated to the point that coolant (or hopefully faucet water in this case) is seen coming out the exhaust, I would say it costs more to repair this engine than to get another one.

Since you would have to pull the motor and have the engine block checked for cylinder bore distortion and resurfaced, the labor to do this repair will far exceed the labor to swap in a good motor. Add in the cost of machine shop labor and materials, and the difference increases even further. Even if you were going to DIY, the time and effort and machine shop labor to repair an existing engine only makes sense if it’s just the head(s) coming off. Once a full rebuild is needed, it is often far cheaper–both in money and in effort–to buy a working used motor instead.

Edit to add: I would check to see if your engine uses a cast iron block, or if it’s aluminum. If it’s aluminum, I would waste no time and effort trying to repair it, and go straight to looking for a replacement–or replacing the car.

Runs fine. Trans slips only $895
Good for parts.

Thanks for writing and thanks to all of you that have written.
You’ve summed up much of what I’ve been thinking.
Honestly, it was pushing water through the exhaust better than the "Worm Drive System " in the Soviet sub in ``Hunt for Red October.

I agree that any consideration at attempting a rebuild will be cost prohibitive and time consuming. I’m leaning toward either a remanned motor or a used one and doing the head gaskets (whether before done or not) as preemptive repair.

Anyone have recommendations on a remanned or used motor source?
I’m in Apex, North Carolina
Minneapolis is a little further than I want to go.

Thanks all,

I like to work on cars. I have never considered getting a Subaru. Today included.

I’ve never wanted a Subaru either!
But my daughter lives in the mountains of NC and sure seems like it’s the car of choice up there! They are everywhere!

Then you should have no trouble finding lots of Subaru shops with reviews on the web near you.

Get a Jasper motor.

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look for any local place bringing JDM engines from Japan to US

the place next to me (around DC metro area) was selling them for years, in ballpark of a grand a piece

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I noticed that when we took a vacation in Ashland.

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