I need some advice regarding my 2000 Subaru Outback. The head gaskets have begun to leak slightly (oil and coolant), even though I brought it in for the recall at 80K and the dealer put in the additive. I recently (111,000 miles) put in another bottle of the additive coolant conditioner and the leak seems to have at least slowed to a trickle. Is it really essential to have the head gaskets replaced? Or could I just keep an eye on the oil and coolant levels and put a bit of kitty litter in my garage? Some of the information I googled indicates that the recall of this car is for an OUT leak and not an INNER leak–which would be worse. Is it true that an OUT leak is not as worrisome?
Thanks for your help. Joe (Papamoose)
Both are bad, but yes inner leak is worse. Try to have someone retorque your head bolts. Maybe you get lucky and it stops leaking. Otherwise you can not ignore this, it can get much worse very quickly and major damage to your cars motor.
+1 on GSR’s comment.
Don’t ignore it. It will get worse and may overheat, doing a lot of damage.
Should retorquing the heads not work for you, you may want to consider getting the head gaskets replaced now, if you want to hold on to the car.
+1 to both of the above comments.
While it is true that outward seepage of the coolant is less dangerous than an internal leak of the coolant into the motor oil, you have to bear in mind that the problem could quickly morph from outward seepage to inner leakage.
And, even if your oil does not become contaminated, just the possibility of overheating as a result of the current problem should be enough to concern you. Start by retorqueing the head bolts, and if that doesn’t work, then you will have to decide whether to replace both head gaskets or to get rid of the car.
I’m in agreement with VDCdriver about retorquing the head bolts. In theory this is not supposed to needed but in practice it may help.
All metal expands and contracts during the repeated heating and cooling cycles of the engine and combined with what is called gasket crush it’s quite possible for head gaskets to weep.
Another issue with long term coolant weepage is that it is corrosive to aluminum and can erode the metal. When the point is reached where the head gasket must be replaced it may be found that there is a tiny channel etched into the cylinder head and replacing the head is more cost effective than performing a repair on the existing head.
Thank you all for your thoughtful comments and information. I will proceed with the logical steps suggested. I hope to have this car for at least 200,000! Have a great day! Joe