Can't go faster than 15KM

Hey guys,

So recently i knowingly purchased a car with a blown head gasket. Got it fixed at the mechanics and also changed the timing belt / serviced the car. The car also had intermittent check engine light however the mechanic said it was just the O2 sensor or something and it wasn’t worth fixing ($300 to replace it).

Now the car (automatic subaru liberty) drove fine for the last two weeks but my brother took it out to go to the snow and on the return trip the car starting to emit loud clunking sounds from the engine, the brake system warning light also came on and power was reduced and my brother pulled over, and checked it out. The car starts, but its only limited to around 15km even when flooring the car. The car free revs in neutral but emits a cracking sound.

Do you think the transmission shit itself? On cold mornings the car would take about 1-2 seconds to change engage drive / reverse.


Based on the information, it sounds like the engine may have a serious mechanical problem

Possibly, because of the blown head gasket, coolant wreaked havoc with the engine’s bearings

Important question . . .

Was the engine oil level severely low when this occurred?

According to my brother, the dipstick was about three fingers high from the bottom

Offhand, sounds like the transmission is gone and the engine may be on the shaky side also. Replacing head gaskets on an engine with an unknown history is a huge gamble if the head gaskets were losing coolant into the engine oil and if overheating was involved.

You stated it ran fine for several weeks until your brother took an AWD vehicle out in the snow…

When i bought the car, i drove it for a couple of days… wasn’t overheating but it was definitely leaking coolant externally - probably internally as well hey?. As i was taking the car to the mechanic it started to overheat a bit before i got there.

The car wasn’t driven on snow haha, it was just to go to a snow resort.

A subie having been allowed to overheat can have serious issues. Hate to say this but, given that it very likely also has some serious transmission problems and other issues, it may not be worth fixing unless you can do the swaps yourself.

Thanks for the reply guys.

What symptoms would differentiate between a transmission failure and engine bearing failure?

It seems the car is in “limp” mode. Meaning the computer has detected a serious problem and will only allow the motor to run at slow speeds until the problem is diagnosed and corrected. You need to hook it up to a scan tool see what error codes are stored in the computer.

Most cars go into limp mode due to things like overheated coolant or oil, transmission failure to shift correctly, etc.

hmm… also i’ve been told the engine would only hold idle in neutral whilst it will struggle in drive mode