How bad is a head gasket "leak"?

My Subaru dealer just told me that my 2004 outback with 88k miles has developed a head gasket leak. I haven’t noticed any symptoms, and the leak started sometime between now and my last major service 10k miles ago. How serious is this? Should I spend the $2000 they want to charge me for it? If so, when? Is disaster imminent?

Its bad. There’s actually no telling how long you could go without symptoms since you say you have none now. But basically a bad head gasket means engine death in two senses. One is that with a bad enough breach the engine will run very poorly or not at all because there is no compression. The second is that you’ll end up with oil & coolant mixing in with each other, coolant loss and overheating, and those kinds of things will basically destroy the engine. If you fix it now its still fixable. Wait too long and its scrap metal.

Unfortunately Subarus are known for this in the mechanic world…I am CERTAIN they leave this out at the showrooms during car purchases… Did they say how it was leaking? Bec it can leak in MANY variations… It would be good to know what they said. At any rate while I cant argue with Cigroller… There is hope. FIxing the prob is obviously the best way to go, bec of what awaits you…overheating for seemingly no reason, coolant leaking out of rad bec of too much pressure or worse…coolant in your oil or visa versa…none of this is fun and ALL of them will interrupt your day. WHile it isnt bad you could use Blue Devil…its 60 bucks and I mention it so often I should get paid by them…but if you have seen what I have seen using this product, you would recomnd it too…Its AMAZING stuff and it will NOT harm your engine nor clog your radiator. It looks like windshield washer fluid in every respect and it finds hot spots I believe and then sort of calcifies…like a hard water build up and seals the leak…truly amazing stuff I swear it…Just follow the instructions and you will not have any head gasket issues… it works…period. I have even seen it fix cracked heads and we did an experiment of putting a cylinder head on a water cooled motorcycle with NO HEAD GASKET…and Blu Dev sealed it…

I mention this due to how tough times are…certainly for me…I can imagine others are experiencing tough times too…and a 60 fix beats a 2000+ one if you can avoid it. At the VERY LEAST it will buy you A LOT of time… Time to save for the proper mechanical fix perhaps or time to see how long it stays fixed…Kinda like Kramer on Sienfeld seeing how far he can go on Empty…LOL.

Then again…being a mechanic…you know that I’d fix it…esp bec its a pretty easy job on a Subie…the engines in Subies…are EZ to take out…but I also know not everyone can do the things I take on. SO…up to you…THe right way no one can argue with…The Blue dev way is basically halfway in between I guess…but it WILL work that I know. Check it out on the net…I am sure they have a website…and they should PAY ME…LOL

In most cases these leaks are weepage and not that serious. Find an independent shop and have them retorque the cylinder head bolts.
There’s a very good chance this simple procedure will solve the problem without replacing anything.

And the dealer will not know about this because it’s not a recommended procedure and they’re probaby clueless anyway.

A retork on the heads will not work on the Subies…been there done that FAR too many X. This is a known issue to Subaru…they already released a new redesigned Cyl head gasket…but I dont know when they implemented it…I DO KNOW they did release a new one though.

Retorking is an old school trick…or rather normal procedure…at least it used to be…I have done it on many cars with good results…but Subies will NOT respond to it. ALso one of the heads is right up against the frame…the drivers side I believe… YOu need to damn near remove the engine to do it… I think I did it once by taking out the engine mount bolts and jacking the engine up and letting it sag to ge to all the head bolts… ANYWAY…a Subaru will shrug off the retork…its good advice…but doesnt work here.

If you have frequented the dealer, call Subaru of America(SOA) and ask for coverage on this defect. SOA has leeway in helping or covering the repair of their defective design.

Subaru has helped or covered many others out there.

I disagree with you for several reasons.

What do you disagree with OK45? The retork or the Blue Devil…or both…LOL

I tried a good number of times to save the Subies with a retork and I havent had any luck.

A good point was made by going to Subaru and telling them that you have heard of the defect…maybe you can get by that way…you certainly have low/lower miles on it. That may be a great idea