Subaru head gasket seepage



Subaru Forester, 2001, 150,000 miles. My mechanic tells me that he’s seeing some coolant and oil seeping out of the head gasket area. Bad head gaskets are a known problem for this engine, but Subaru’s service campaign only extended the warranty to 100k miles.

I’m inclined to adopt a policy of “watchful waiting”: keep a very close eye on fluid levels, and be sensitive to that sweet smell of coolant (since it seems to be an external leak).

Any thoughts? Am I courting a catastrophic failure, or is watchful waiting a reasonable course of action?


I know this sounds old fashioned, but have you considered re-torquing the heads?? I have owned 3 or 4 Subaru’s and as long as their heads were kept torqued down, even after a moderate overheat, the head gaskets remained intact…

Speaking of Subaru’s, they make up less than 3% of the cars on the road but they account for a surprisingly large percentage of the posts on this board…


Tom & Ray’s fault. They recommended these cars back in the 1990’s - early 2000’s.


I have a similar problem with my 2001 Outback w/110,000 miles. I have a slow exterior oil leak from the head gasket. My local shop said if it doesn’t get worse, don’t worry about it, but to keep an eye on the oil level. Ideally, I’d like to have it repaired, but probably won’t unless I have to because of the expense. I have had regular 60k, 90k maintenece from the dealership. I would be interested in any other opinions on the subject.


Having the head bolts retorqued is an option in spite of the Torque to Yield bolts. All metal moves with heat and cold.
It’s worth a shot anyway.

And speaking from a mechanic point of view, Subarus have always been my favorite car to service. Consider the reason as what could be called High Intensity Flat Rate, a.k.a. $$$.


If these are torque to yield bolts, what torque value would you recommend to re-torque them. If it was my car I would try re-torquing them before the leak got worse. There is no point in taking the heads off unless you have to.


I would say torque them to what the original specification is because it could very well be that the original specification disappeared long ago after a number of heating and cooling cycles.

There’s a good chance the head bolts will be loose to some degree.