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Head gaskets blown?

sub4wdsub4wd Posts: 2
edited June 2014 in Subaru

I drive a '99 Outback with 124k and had last week after the temp gauge went up the radiator and the thermostat replaced. Didn't solve the problem unfortunately. Gauge goes still steadily up, but sometimes also comes down. I searched this forum and I was gathering info to find out if the head gaskets are possibly blown, which is a common problem for the engine. I came upon to check if the water pump is still working correctly, are there air pockets in the radiator (had the coolant replaced), is the thermosat placed right and if there is oil in the coolant?

At the moment when I am driving the temp gauge goes up, never to the max though, but still high. When I drive a bit with higher revs the gauge comes down, sometimes even to normal level, but it is still not OK of course. There is a (coolant) smell coming from the engine when I stop driving.

I am going to the garage to have it checked out tomorrow (he wants to do an emission test), but these are my questions:
- any thoughts on what I described above, is there more to look for?
- if the head gaskets are blown, I am looking at a repair of around $1500-2500. Of course I don't like throwing money into it if it is not worth it. What are the common results of those who had it repaired, did the car last?
- my garage already told me that if the gaskets are blown he is not doing the repair. I am in the direct Philly area, aside from dealers, does anyone know a reliable independant garage?

It is probably still cheaper to repair the car than buying a new one, but on the other hand how much is enough?

thanks for your advise


  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,861
    I would definitely look at the water pump first, then move to head gaskets. At that mileage and age, it could be either! If it is head gaskets and you elect to repair, replace the water pump at the same time and, if not done already, the timing belt. Both of those require no extra labor to replace when doing the head gaskets.

    As for whether the replacement gaskets will last, the answer is yes, they should last at least as long as the originals assuming the work was done correctly. It is always critical that the shop performing the work ensure that both the head and block mating surfaces are true before installing the new head gasket.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Thanks xwesx. It were indeed the head gaskets and the independant shop did a very torough job: they reconditioned the cylinder heads, put new gaskets in and replaced the timing belt (even though I had done it about 15k ago), the belt tensioner, pulleys, spark plugs, water pump, thermostat and new oil and antifreeze.

    They do a couple Subaru's a month and I got a 6 months or 6k warranty on it so I should be good to good for the next couple years. Even though it was an expensive repair ($2650), it is still cheaper than buying a new car. :D
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,861
    Absolutely! Your mileage really isn't all that high even though the car is 10 or 11 years old now. If the car is in otherwise good condition, you have many miles left on it.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
This discussion has been closed.