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Hello Car Talk Gang:)

I have a quandry I am hoping one of you can help me out with. Thanks for reading and sharing your expertise!

So, at 121,000 miles I too had the delight of finding that my 2002 Outback Legacy was having issues with the head gaskets. June of 2009, Subaru agreed to replace the head gasket on the left side only. It seemed odd since the engine is all apart and they are aware of the failure that they took this route, but now, a little over a year later, I have a blown head gasket.

Cylinder 3 is misfiring and they want to do a full head gasket job saying that since its an internal leak they are not sure which one is failing.

Is cylinder 3 on the left or right side of the engine?

And, I am calling Subaru Corporate on Monday morning, any thoughts on what I should say and can expect 20,000 miles later. Seems that if its the left failing it should be covered, if they both need to be replaced they should cover at least the left one being that it is only a year old.

Any thoughts would be appreciated, especially knowing which cylinder is number 3.

Thanks to all the Guru’s out there with any info to offer!



My Haynes manual has a lovely diagram showing the cylinder layout:

3 4
1 2

but it doesn’t tell me which is the front of the vehicle.

I’m assuming cylinder #1 is at the front, and if that’s true #1 an #3 are on the right side of the vehicle. Passenger side.

Not what you wanted to hear, I suppose.

The cylinder 3 misfire might not have anything to do with a leaking head gasket. Let’s not jump to conclusions. Are there other symptoms of a leaking head gasket? Are there any symptoms other than the misfire?

The last time I had a misfire it turned out to be caused by a bad spark plug.

You say “they” want to do a full head gasket job. Who is “they?”

Instead of starting a thread with “AHH UGH and EEEK”, which really confuses the “search” feature of this board, In the future, please include the word “Subaru” in the title line so the other forum members know what to expect when they open the thread and the search feature can file you away with the other 6200 Subaru laments…

Hey McP,

Thanks for the response. Sadly I saw the white smoke and smelled the maple syrup when starting the car today. I knew right away I was burning Coolant. The emissions test showed levels through the roof as well.

The dealer is they and honestly they have been a stand up group so far. They went to bat for me the first time to get the first head gasket job covered even past the extended warranty date. I am thinking of just replacing the right if I have to pay for it out of pocket. the other gasket has only 21,000 miles on it and I imagine that it is under warranty. So if it goes back together and still has a problem they will be on the hook for the cost of taking the engine back out! I think that that is fair.