Simple problem or a huge problem?

Ok, well, I know nothing about cars. Nothing at all. Here is my story. My husband and son recently bought a '98 Subaru Outback Legacy with 110,000 miles. It was running great for one week. The car started to overheat. My mechanic neighbor suspected a leak, my armchair mechanic husband suspected the thermostat. We took it in and the mechanic changed out a gasket and the thermostat. My son drove it for about 2 hours and then steam started pouring out of the hood. It’s back in now. My husband now thinks it is a “head gasket.” What is a head gasket and how serious could this be? Thanks!

Yes, a blown head gasket is a serious problem. In most cases repairs can be made, although it will be costly because of the long hours involved. Once repairs are made, the car will last many years.

There is no reason at this time for any one of us to assume your car has a blown head gasket. Your problem could be simpler, maybe just a burst hose or a bad radiator. Or your problem could be much worse: your son may have ignored all signs of engine overheating, continuing to drive until the engine got cooked and is completely ruined. So you have to await your mechanic’s verdict. Be prepared for anything. Good luck.

This year Subaru is known for having headgasket problems. And it is VERY serious. A engine consists of two major parts. The Block and the Head. The headgasket is a gasket used to seal the mating of the head to the block. It will be fairly expensive to fix…well over $1000. If you don’t get it fixed it can/will cause more serious problems…like completely destroying your engine.

What is a head gasket?-

Here is some more info on the parts-
and some problems (see lack of compression for general description)

So it would be worth it to fix it? I know my son pulled over right when it happened. I’m waiting anxiously to hear what the real problem is! I’ll let you know. Thank you!

So it would be worth it to fix it? I know my son pulled over right when it happened. I’m waiting anxiously to hear what the real problem is! I’ll let you know. Thank you!

Run a Compression Test yourself- will prove head gasket im minutes. Since ya made ya boy drive this kind o car- might as well make him change the gasket. $110 parts, motor not worth a trip to machine shop for head. Remember “boys will be Boys” let em out of the Dog House as possible.

A head gasket is the number one part that you do not want to fail. It can be bad for an engine which is generally the most expensive thing in a car. The transmission runs a close second. Before anybody buys a Subaru or any other car, that person should read Car Questions for six weeks. Then they would be aware of Subaru and Saturn head gasket problems. Reading Consumer Reports is good for reliability questions. Combined with this Car Questions, you and everybody else wouldn’t be blindsided by things that many people already know about. Why not buy a Volvo? You’ll know in six weeks. Six months is better.

You had this problem a week after purchase? Where did you get it? Maybe they will take it back, or at lease share costs.

The dealer sometimes has a 30 day warranty on drive train and engine. If you bought it from a private party, you don’t have anything to fall back on. If you got the car for less than $2000 (you didn’t) then you could junk it and you wouldn’t be out much. If you paid over $4000, (you did) You can’t afford to junk it.

Well, it wasn’t the head gasket - which is good news. They pressurized the system and there were no leaks and no problems. They told me the radiator cap failed - it was broken. I hate car problems…I’d give my firstborn for a good mechanic! Thank you for all the replies! Kim in Alaska

It wasn’t my choice to by this car! I left that up to the “boys.”

Are you saying Volvo is good or bad? I have two and I love them.

They’re out of the doghouse already! It’s not my car!!! :0)

You’ve just had a “good mechanic” work on your car! Does s/he know you have pledged your first born?! S/he may settle for a batch of home-baked cookies, or a presentation of nice flowers, instead.

That is very very good news. Much cheaper then a headgasket.

Until you find that the cap failed because of the blown head gasket. I hope not, and I am making this up.


Always so reassuring, aren’t you PDV…

I enjoy it though, when newcomers take your posts as serious…especially that tin foil/GPS locater post.

I figured when he said he was making it up that he was messin’ with me. ;0)