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Coolant all over and now a cracked gasket?

I took my Subaru Forester to a local mechanic because the heating systems was taking half an hour to warm-up. The mechanic said an old hose needed to be replaced, so he did (and charged A LOT for it). Two days later my car died when I stopped at a toll booth. I popped the hood to discover coolant everywhere and the engine extremely hot. I had it towed to the same mechanic where he said a gasket is cracked and that was something that he couldn’t see originally because it was “internal”. I don’t know much about cars and feel like this is shady… any advice?

sounds like a cracked head gasket and he probably just saw a bad hose and made a quick assumption without going into it further…do you have confidence in him and have you used before…up to you…

Need more info. Year and mileage on the Forester? Turbo engine or not? What happened between the first visit to the mechanic and the tool booth? Did the heater work correctly? Was the new hose the only thing the mechanic replaced?

There are two possibilities:

  1. The gasket was bad prior to the first visit to the mechanic and he didn’t know it.
  1. The gasket went bad after the first visit to the mechanic.

1998 with 109,000 miles. I’m not sure if it has a turbo engine but I can check when I get home today.

After he replaced the hose the heater worked a little better, but not entirely normal. Yesterday (when it broke down) was the first time I had driven the car since he had fixed it. A few weeks ago I took it to the same place and he changed the oil and flushed the power steering fluid.

Have you been watching you temperature gauge? What has it been doing lately?

How are you gauging that the engine was extremely hot? I don’t doubt it but I wanted to know how you are determining it.

You probably need to resolve the trust issue before making a decision on what to do next. I also believe that your Forester engine is past due for a timing belt change at 105K miles, so you may need to make a economic decision about the work that must be done, after considering this latest adventure.

To be honest the only reason I knew it was hot because the gauge read it as so and that is very unusual for the car.

If you had been driving it hot (in the red) then you very well could have caused damage to the vehicle. The car shouldn’t have just over heated in the time you were at the toll booth. Am I right in thinking that it was running hot before then as well?

If the car is running hot you should pull over and turn it off.

You are right in your assumption that the car was running hot for a while. I am trying to determine if it was hot because of the repair work the mechanic did before hand. It was running fine before he changed the hose.

If all he did was change a hose, I don’t see how that would have caused any problems.

Can you look at the bill that the mechanic gave you and tell us what is on it? That and how much he charged? A lot can mean many things.

No, it wasn’t “running fine.” The heater was taking a LONG time to warm up, indicating possible low coolant or a bad thermostat, or both.

The trouble with the gasket issue (and I’m assuming you mean the head gasket) is that a bad head gasket can cause overheating and overheating can damage the head gasket.

We can’t tell, based on the information in your posts, which came first, the bad head gasket or the overheating.

My thoughts:

~Bad head gasket pushing air into the cooling system
~Air now in the heater core causing heat problems
~Hose really did need replacing due to age
~Driving the vehicle while hot did further damage to the head gasket