2005 Legacy GT: Head Gasket

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Did they use a Subaru OEM thermostat? Subies appear to be pickier than most on thermostats; my 01 Forester is at 221k and never had a HG issue, and my newest 03 Legacy had HG done literally days before I bought it at 136k, and had a shop receipt for $1600 complete (timing belt, tensioners, and pulleys were done at 110k so they were left alone). Thermostats on Subies are literally the easiest ever, plus it lets you drain ALL the coolant and use a coolant funnel to make sure there are no trapped bubbles. Turn the heat on high and let the engine idle for a while to burp itself. Be sure to add a bottle of Subaru Coolant Conditioner!
 

dishdude

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Originally Posted By: Pelican
I don't think that a head gasket would be intermittent, more likely a sticky thermostat, about $40 installed, if it is the gasket it should not be above $1,000 taxes included
A HG that's on the way out can sometimes only leak compression gases into cooling system occasionally. It doesn't take a lot to heat it up.
 
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Find a Subura specialist and get a 2nd opinions. Some other items that can cause this: Thermostat Clogged down pipe Water pump Failing radiator Head gaskets just are not a common thing on this turbo Subaru motor unlike its non turbo version that is infamous for it.
 

funkymonkey1111

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Originally Posted By: dishdude
Originally Posted By: Pelican
I don't think that a head gasket would be intermittent, more likely a sticky thermostat, about $40 installed, if it is the gasket it should not be above $1,000 taxes included
A HG that's on the way out can sometimes only leak compression gases into cooling system occasionally. It doesn't take a lot to heat it up.
when it heats up, it heats up fast--like within a mile and a half. of course, i can drive it 100 miles (or more) between the overheating episodes
 

dishdude

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Originally Posted By: funkymonkey1111
Originally Posted By: dishdude
Originally Posted By: Pelican
I don't think that a head gasket would be intermittent, more likely a sticky thermostat, about $40 installed, if it is the gasket it should not be above $1,000 taxes included
A HG that's on the way out can sometimes only leak compression gases into cooling system occasionally. It doesn't take a lot to heat it up.
when it heats up, it heats up fast--like within a mile and a half. of course, i can drive it 100 miles (or more) between the overheating episodes
That's a HG.
 
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That car is extremely solid chassis. We've had a couple in my family. We still have an 05 in the family that's been rolled over yet drives straight as nails with about 256,000 on the clock. The torque from that motor and excellent manual trans still make it a well-connected and rewarding driver. I have never driven the turbo but I'm guessing it would be a hoot. The quote seems a little high though. If the rest of the car is solid I would certainly consider the repair. Even $3k is less than 6 months of a car payment. -m
 

funkymonkey1111

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I've been limping this car along on pretty short trips and it hasn't overheated. I drive it about 10.5 miles per day (two trips to the park to walk my dogs). Here's perhaps a silly question: On the oil change prior to the overheating, I had changed from 5w30 to the Rotella 5w40. Is there any chance that switching to the heavier weight oil could have contributed to the head gasket failure? When the car was in being diagnosed, the shop noticed the oil was low (the car does consume oil). They put 5w30 in, and there's not been a problem. Now, I haven't driven the car at highway speeds very much, but it had heated up several times within 2 miles of a cold start without going over 40mph.
 
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Originally Posted By: funkymonkey1111
Here's perhaps a silly question: On the oil change prior to the overheating, I had changed from 5w30 to the Rotella 5w40. Is there any chance that switching to the heavier weight oil could have contributed to the head gasket failure?
No. No possible way. BC.
 
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Originally Posted By: funkymonkey1111
Here's perhaps a silly question: On the oil change prior to the overheating, I had changed from 5w30 to the Rotella 5w40. Is there any chance that switching to the heavier weight oil could have contributed to the head gasket failure?
Nope. The head gaskets on those mid-2000s Subarus are just weak. If it was me, I'd install the new Fel-Pro MLS gaskets and call it a day.
 
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Originally Posted By: funkymonkey1111
I really like the car. It's reasonably quick, pulls up the mountains without any hiccups, and had excellent snow performance when equipped with snow tires. Plus, it doesn't have any of the nanny safety [censored] that's on new cars. Fix or no fix? One hears things--e.g., "once you have a HG fixed, the car is never the same...", etc. Obviously this repair approaches, if not exceeds the value of the car. But, if I can spend $3K and get another 80-100K miles out of it, I'd be happy.
My 2003 Forester had its head gasket fail at roughly 162K miles, in 2012. Most of its regular maintenance service, outside of oil changes, were done by the dealership, as was the head gasket. Like you, I also really liked the car and wanted to keep it going for years and 100K miles more, if possible. At the time the head gasket was done, they did a number of other things that weren't scheduled to be done yet, but since the engine was taken out, I was told that those other services would be less costly due to labor charge reduction. I remember the water pump, and timing belt were among those additional items, which I was told I could skip if I preferred, but I chose to do them as well. There was no other engine damage that required special machining or repair. I may be wrong, but I think I paid around $2100, but that was a Forester, and was in 2012. The repair was done very well and I was very satisfied that it drove just the way it did before the head gasket leak. Six years later, the car is now my son's with over 265K miles. It isn't being driven much nowadays as he lives in a city. Looking back, as luck would have it, it was a good decision for me, and I was happy to hand my son a car that wouldn't need any major fixes early on for him. His biggest expense on it so far has been an entire new exhaust system, the original finally broke down about two years ago. Good luck with your decision, and as they say, YMMV
 
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