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Subaru 06 head gasket/brakes/oil/timing belt questions

I’m in need of a bit of advice. My wonderful Subaru Forester X (2006, 2.5L, 93,000 miles) is having a few problems.

1. Head gaskets are leaking oil (my guess is about 1L per 2000 miles? Honestly though, I have no idea)
2. I was told my timing belt will need to be replaced soon
3. Pretty sure my brake pads need to be replaced (have only noticed a little grinding/squealing in the past 2 weeks or so – planning on getting it checked out soon)

All in all, I’ve been told the above repairs will range from $2,100 - $3,000. As a recent college grad living at home with my parents, I’m not exactly flush with cash (as in I do not have $2000+ dollars, but I could potentially borrow from a family member with a low interest rate) but I don’t want to delay fixing problems and risk causing irreparable/superduper $$$ damage.

How long can I wait to replace the head gaskets if I keep monitoring my oil level?

Should I be getting regular oil & filter changes still, even though the oil is kind of “changing itself”?

What price range should I be expecting? The 2 places I’ve done to so far (dealership & local mechanic) have quoted me $2100 and $2600 for head gaskets & timing belt (respectively). Is this basically on point?

Also, I added 10W-30 oil to my 5W-30 engine last night. From what I’ve read, this should be OK until it gets cold out. Next time I need to add oil, should I switch back to 5W-30?

Sorry for the long post. Any advice on any of the above would be super appreciated.


  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,162
    edited November 2013
    The prices listed are pretty much on par with what you'll have to pay a shop to replace these things. The good news is that the timing belt is a zero labor cost addition, because it has to be disassembled to do the head gaskets anyway. So, all you should need to pay on that is the cost of the belt or the cost of the belt and pulley kit if you opt to go that route. I replaced the belt on my EJ25 three times, and put the pulley kit in it the third time (at 192,000 miles) as the pulley bearings were getting worn. For me, the pulley kit was around $400, while the belt alone tends to run ~$90. In addition, I recommend that you replace the water pump while they have it torn apart, as that is another wear item that is zero additional labor.

    As far as the leaking from the head gaskets, that's just a known issue with these engines. The good news is that an external oil leak isn't really cause to replace the head gaskets on an emergency basis, as that leak doesn't tend to cause any catastrophic issues (like overheating or coolant in the oil) associated with failures of the gaskets' coolant passages.

    A quart every couple thousand miles isn't terribly bad, to be honest. I mean, it's noticeable, but not horrible. Plan for it and save the funds over the next year or so (I'd plan on $3K).

    In the meantime, the cold-flow rating of your 30-weight oil is more a function of the climate in which you live than anything else. 10w30 isn't going to hurt the engine, but I'd recommend using 5w-30 if you see temps lower than about 10F on a regular basis. If you see lower than -20F, I'd go with 0W-30. If you're changing from 5w-30 to 10w-30 in order to reduce the leak, though, I strongly suspect you are wasting your energy on that. :)

    Save up your money and monitor the leak and your oil level until you're ready to repair it or it worsens to the point that you don't want to live with it any more.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
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