Subaru Head Gasket

I’ve got a 2001 Legacy Wagon. Just found out the head gaskets need to be replaced. The dealer and Sub. of America said that they would not cover the repair under the extended 8 yr./ 100,000 mile warranty because the leak was oil, not coolant. Does this sound right/reasonable?

Does this sound right/reasonable?

Whether you or anyone in this forum believes it’s reasonable or not is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is the fine print in your extended warranty contract. Those contracts are frequently carefully worded to allow the warranty company to not cover many expensive repairs.

If I understand correctly, this is not a purchased extended warranty, but the warranty that Subaru extended under a recall involving head gasket and coolant. The material used for the head gasket was of a type that required Subaru to issue a recall and recommend using their own special coolant with a conditioner added to prevent premature wear of the head gasket.

I would push the issue if you are comfortable doing that. If the head gasket failed, who cares whether oil or conditioner is leaking. It may be that the conditioner doesn’t work as it should or that other gaskets have issues as well.

How far up the chain of command did you press the issue so far?

Correct - Subaru extended warranty. I had the conditioner added when the recall was issued. The dealer directed me to SoA when the problem arose. I faxed service records to SoA and am currently awaiting Sub. of America’s reply (not very far up the chain yet), but I’ll definitely continue if necessary. I’m also taking the car to my mechanic for a 2nd opinion. Thanks for the reply.

The fine print indicates that the gasket repairs are covered for coolant issues. My question is whether the coolant issue caused the gaskets to leak oil, further resulting in the need to replace the gaskets. In addition, is there a larger problem with the gaskets on these vehicles in general?!

There is a serious problem with 1996-2003 Head gaskets for most 2.5L engines. Unfortunately this is the most common engine over that span. The rest of Subaru engines including turbo 2.0L(WRX), 3L H6, turbo 2.5L, 2.2L Natural Aspirated are very reliable but are the minority of Subaru’s sold in that period.

I feel quite lucky to own a turbo model.

The one thing that floors me is my in laws take minimal care of their 2001 Forester(never seen a dealer and only a shop for repair not maintenance besides oil changes). They have 180k+ and little serious problems with the vehicle. The poor people who post here take care of their Subaru’s and get socked with this head gasket nightmare. Subaru should step more up to the plate but somehow has gotten away with it.

I love my Subaru’s (WRX and turbo Legacy) but they are the reliable ones.

To be honest, and knowing SOA the way I do, I’m surprised they ever did anything for anybody. Subarus have had head gasket issues for decades and somewhere in my boxes of forgotten junk I have a decades old copy of a service bulletin they issued way back when in which they stated (paraphrased)“we’re aware of some head gasket issues but feel it’s not due to our design. However, if a customer squawks loud enough (my words) we may perform a gasket repair under warranty”.
However, since that bulletin was issued they’ve tightened the thumbscrews a lot more and squawking loud may not do it.

JMHO here, but I’m of the belief that a lot of the gasket problems are due to the all aluminum construction and not performing a head bolt retorque after a 1000 miles on a new car.

Back in the 80s Subarus developed a propensity for oil leaking from the head gaskets on their 1.8 engines. Up until a certain time the 1.8 engines did not leak oil. What changed here? Subaru discontinued the practice of head bolt retorques since Subaru was paying for it. The bean counters stepped in and the oil leaks started. Same engine from year to year; the only difference was that the retorqued engines did not leak.

As a further example of “skewed” how about this. They recommended the manual transmission cars be retorqued and the automatic transmissions car are “fine”.
Same engine, same gaskets, same head bolts, etc. So the manual trans cars were fine and the automatics leaked. Goofy beyond words.

I also saw this when I worked for Nissan. At one time they were covering head bolt retorques and discontinued this practice. Soon after Nissan truck head gaskets started leaking oil; in droves. At the time I was personally averaging about 3 head gasket jobs a week due to this.

In theory, TTY (torque to yield) head bolts should not need to be retorqued. In practice, it’s possible. The reason I say this is because I’ve gone in on some engines and atually checked head bolt torque on TTY head bolts. In some cases I’ve moved them 15-20 Ft. Lbs.; and that’s a bunch.

My head gasket just went today in my 2003 Legacy Outback. Does anyone know where I can find official details on the recall (and if my car is covered), the fine print around the extended warranty, and what I might need to do to get SoA to cover it?

It’s severely leaking both coolant and oil.