2006 Forester that needs new head gaskets, etc. again for the 2nd time.

60

Asked by Oct 15, 2015 at 05:39 PM about the 2006 Subaru Forester

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

The first time I needed new head gaskets was at 100,000 miles. Now at 152,000 I need it done again! All parts were changed like timing belt, water pump, etc. etc. My new mechanic will replace all of those again if I go through with the repair job. My question is should I buy a new car or have the $1,900 repair done? I always heard that Subaru's go well into the 200,000 mileage category but I am very discouraged at this point. I am the original owner and everything else I love about the car. It's the LL Bean edition. Oh and my AC doesn't work anymore either and my mechanic couldn't figure that out!  HELP

34 Answers

9,780

A head gasket usually needs replacing when the engine becomes overheated ... was the engine overheated? ... if so was the head checked for warp? If the head was warped but not so bad that the mechanic had it machined then that may be why it only lasted 50,000 miles. If the car is well maintained I would have it fixed. You failed to say anymore then the AC is broke ,,, does the AC clutch engage ?

4 of 4 people found this helpful.
68,495

Personally I wouldn't bother with it unless you can get more than the $1900 for it on a trade in. It's 10 years old and has 152,000 miles on it. There's probably something else going on, such as warpage or a crack, that was missed the first time to cause it to fail again so soon. I'd say you've been down this road before and it's time to move on to something newer with less mileage. Just my opinion. HTH. -Jim

1 of 1 people found this helpful.
60

The first time gaskets needed replacing was discovered in a complimentary 12 point check where they told me oil or something was leaking hence replacing the head gaskets, etc. About 9 months ago my car was overheating and my mechanic replaced the thermostat - end of problem. The engine has not overheated since but the reason I took to mechanic is because the car starts "rough" and smooths out in a few seconds. This is intermittent. CEL came on. Mechanic ran code and replaced Ignition Coil. A few weeks later, car still starting rough, CEL on again. This time he replaced the spark plug wires which were only 18 months old. Again, starting rough (misfiring I believe he called it) CEL back on and off as of now (on it's own). As for the AC I have no idea about the clutch. Mechanic put in new freon, replaced the AC filter and AC still runs cold for a while and then runs warm. Fan blows fine. Mechanic did not know what else to do. So now I am very confused because on these forums Subarus do not seem to be as reliable as they used to and I fear putting $1,900 into it for something else to go wrong! But of course a new car is close to $30,000. Not sure if any of that helped..LOL

9,780

True and there's always the unknown regarding the transmission .. but weighing the Pro's/con/s you know the car better then anyone so ask yourself .. Is $2000 a lot to pay for 50 to 75 thousand miles Of course your insurance premium will get much higher with a new car but don't forget that even if the engine/transmission blows sky high you will still get at leat $500 to $1000 for the body if it's in excellant shape

2 of 2 people found this helpful.
9,780

Your mechanic may have put too much freon in ... Newer cars have both a high and low safety switch and if it works than stops it could be that the high cutoff if causing it to go off ... try ,, after it goes off wait about 10 minutes and turn it on ,,, if it cools then gets warm that may be the problem

1 of 1 people found this helpful.
60

Tom that is exactly what happens with the AC! I turn it off when it starts blowing warm and wait a few minutes and turn it back on. Then, depending, I can get a few more minutes of cold! UGH! I am so confused as to what to do! Mostly I agree with you because the car has never been hit, etc. etc. but the mechanic did say that once he gets in there he may find a cracked head which will then be even more costly to repair! In the meantime I think I will start doing to test drives. Maybe the Crosstrek! :)

22,695

such slavish devotion to the Subarus- and this is what happens- maybe it wasn't the Subaru's fault- maybe it was that first mechanic who just took you for a ride- and then did not retorque the heads and it led to the latest failure- maybe- who knows now? that flat engine has always been suspect in my book- but the new ones CERTAINLY are- get OUT of the world of Subarus- and never go back again- and if you want to know other cars to avoid just ask us-

1 of 1 people found this helpful.
60

Jamnblues, I was thinking of researching Toyota and Hondas...thoughts? I want a small SUV.

22,695

Those sound like good choices- and "researching" is a good idea- many things online for your education- new or used? sorry, I mean "pre-owned"- if you are going the pre-owned route, get a low mileage, car faxed, clean and shiny car- and don't pay a lot because there are thousands and thousands of these around- make your purchase in a "buyers market" which it currently is- and if you are at a dealer, buying on credit, do NOT let them tack on a lot of extra charges like extended warranties- with a Toyota or Honda chances are you won't be needin' them- a nice one should run forever with no problems- good luck-

1 of 1 people found this helpful.
Best Answer
9,780

I suspect that once you get :"That new car feeling" The Subaru is history Good Luck

3 of 3 people found this helpful.
60

LOL....you could be right Tom! Thanks everyone for your input! I am going to sit down and make a list of pros and cons of keeping versus buying new! Yup, wish me luck! Buying a car is the worst thing to do!!!

2 of 2 people found this helpful.
9,780

Don't forget what I said about the AC ... Have your mechanic bleed some freon and it probably won't stop working due to being "overcharged"

2 of 2 people found this helpful.
6,565

My 04 recently started having issues with the AC and I'm 99% positive it's the clutch spacing spec. I need to check it but there's a youtube video of a guy spacing his clutch puck with thin wire and dabbing JBWeld to hold the wire at the correct spacing. It's kind of long but Tom has many good points above! Here's the video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQ_OQO2Dovs And it's hard to say yay/nay on fixing verses buying different. I would like to know more, personally, about your engine weeping/leaking/compression/misfiring issues before I give an opinion. If you do end up selling it, you might get more for it by selling privately. I'm a fan of the 03-08 but as a DIYer 03-04 because of the headgaskets upgrade and that 05 they deleted the ABS diagnostic pin under the dash. Keep us posted, Kudos on being detailed/prepared with pros/cons/ideas/options on keeping/selling. Cheers

1 of 1 people found this helpful.
69,585

The new Subaru's use oil and have serious quality control issues as I have found out with my 2015 Forester . Fixing the old one might be your better choice! I suspect the job was not done right the first time. The heads may have been warped and need to be checked. Use a 5-Star brand head gasket set and replace the head bolts as they are torque to yield and may not be good. It is difficult to do a proper head gasket job with the engine in the car as proper preparation of the block surface is difficult. If you can find a top flight Subaru shop to do the repairs I would say go for it. There are things you should have been doing to increase the engine life such as using the Subaru leak preventative in the radiator, keeping your battery terminals clean and using a higher grade of gas if you hear pinging. The AC fix should be straight forward, just take it to a good AC repair shop.

69,585

Has your mechanic put in a leak detection dye into the system? You don't say if it was low on Freon or not. My 2003 Forester has 200,000 on the original head gaskets BTW!

60

I am very jealous of your 2003 Forester Full_of_Regrets! I thought I would easily get 200,000 out of my 2006....also the self leveling back shocks went on this car at about 125,000 and each shock cost $800 each! I put regular shocks on it instead and it's fine! I have the LL Bean Edition. Early on The tensioner had to be replaced (under warranty), head gaskets replaced (not on warranty...ouch), now a 2nd time with head gaskets, AC doesn't work but other than that the car runs terrific! I always used semi-synethic oil, kept it clean under the hood, did all recommended routine stuff. No one mentioned leak preventative in the radiator and I never had any pinging. So when I think about it, I think it's time for something new!

6,565

My 03 is at 175k and 04 185k. I'd assume the 04 is on the original HG's but the 03 might not be.. it's too clean. Bought them both used and pretty happy overall. April, FoR is asking about leak detection in the AC system (it shows up with a black light as a neon color?) to detect leaks.

60

Hey Walth......I am not sure if my mechanic did any dye test for the AC. He just replaced the very expensive AC filter and replaced the freon. When I called him back after picking up the car saying the AC was exactly the same as when I brought it to him he said he had no idea what it could be...said it could be many things so I felt I had already spent money for nothing and since winter is coming I would forgo the AC.

6,565

AC filter.. ? Cabin Air filter? Or other? How much (if you don't mind my asking)? If you haven't already, check out that link I posted of the youtube guy with the DIY fix. I still need to spec mine with a feeler gauge.. maybe your mechanic will check the spec for you (free of charge that is).. I think it's supposed to be .011in-.013in

60

Walth, all I can tell you is that he had to go through the glove compartment to get to this filter! It was the original one and was packed with pollen, etc. (I had no idea you were supposed to change this thing!) I think the filter itself was $70. He said it was expensive bc it was a Subaru.

6,565

Sad to hear you paid 70 for it!! You can buy four different brands from Rockauto for 8-10 bucks and then plenty of more brands. Check it out. I bought four of the TYC's for 10.55 2 years ago (that way I'd have 2 to replace and 2 for later).

60

Walth, all good info but I am not a mechanic and unfortunately I have to trust whatever mechanic I take it to! I usually avoid taking to Subaru bc of the high diagnostic fee ($125/hour for CEL and $135/hour for AC diagnostic!) Current mechanic charges $80/hour.....the mechanic who DX the HG problem charges $95/hour...I wish I lived near you! HA!

60

Tom, I am sorry I did not respond to you. I was not ignoring you. Just reading and trying to reply to all posts with what little information I have. Step away from the Zoloft......lol

6,565

Tom, I saw your post, too. I thought of responding on April's behalf but thought from her posts already she would respond well (And you have!). Tom, I just gave you 50 points above as I appreciate your good replies. I really only came back just now to say that I checked my AC clutch (take off the right cover 2x10mm's) and the .035in fit snug to easily which is almost 3x the spec. April, you can buy a cheap set of feeler gauge's from HarborFreight for 4.49. Or just ask the shop to spec it for you. I figure my AC clutch spec is between .035-.038 and like I posted earlier, it's supposed to be .011-.013. As you find things out April, keep us posted if you'd like additional opinions/feedback/help :)

1 of 1 people found this helpful.
60

Thanks everyone for all the wonderful input!! However, I am leaving the conversation because yesterday I purchased a 2016 Subaru Forester - going to give it another go! I figured the car was 10 years old, had 152,000 K on it and I was worth an upgrade! thanks again...and Thank You especially Walth! ;)

2 of 2 people found this helpful.
68,495

You're welcome. Glad to help. Congratulations on your new ride!! Hope you have many miles of smiles!! -Jim

1 of 1 people found this helpful.
69,585

Keep an eye on your oil level and document any oil you have to add!

2 of 2 people found this helpful.
60

Thanks Js08016!!! I don't have it yet, it's still on the boat making it's way to NJ! Thanks for the tips about the oil usage FoR....yes, I did read something about that! I will be sure to keep a close eye on that! Oh interesting fact, the dealer wants to give me $2000 for my old Subaru! How insulting! I am going to try for more or give to daughter - with full disclosure to both - and maybe see what happens! Thanks again!!! :)

2 of 2 people found this helpful.
69,585

In my area a car like yours in good shape would be worth 4 to 6k.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.
60

FoR, I am going to put it out there for $4000. Is $4k-$6k reasonable even if this is the 2nd time for head gaskets? I mean seriously, the car is loaded and clean!

69,585

April I said in good shape. If the head gaskets are gone then less. Fixing it and then selling might be a better bet especially if the mechanic will transfer their warranty to the new owner. Selling a car with a problem is hard and people don't want to pay anything since they don't know all that is wrong with it. You also have the AC problem. I personally would not buy it without working AC as the fix could be really expensive. Your choice is to dump it cheap or fix it and get a better price. This is a personal choice but good luck and I hope the new Subaru is a good one!

1 of 1 people found this helpful.
60

FoR, thanks for the clarification, yeah I am leaning towards giving it to the Dealer for $2000 - even though I am insulted and they don't even know if anything is wrong with it! AC must be a big deal because they asked if it worked. As always, I appreciate your input! :)

6,565

The compressor is not sold with replaceable parts (according to the guy in the YT video I posted) and so instead of spacing the clutch for cheap they just replace the entire thing (for 600-1000). You'd be better off checking with Carmax? or finding a mechanic/sales lot that fixes and flips cars and see how much they would give for it verses the dealer. I still think 4k is fair as is (and believe your AC issue is as I've discovered on mine) and if you fix it you should be able to get at least 6-7. Some of the price depends on location and being no other issues but that's just my 2cents. Especially now right before winter!

60

Hmmmm more good points Walth. Hmmm...what to do what to do? LOL

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