Help, please. $2700.00 for new head gasket '09 Subaru?

60

Asked by Mar 05, 2017 at 02:39 PM about the 2009 Subaru Forester 2.5 X Premium

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I am a single female (formerly a Subaru lover) this is my 3rd used Forester.  I
live in the country and work in the city and care for my mom with Alzheimer's.
I have to have a reliable vehicle and I don't have any extra money. Is it smart to
spend 2700.00 on a new head gasket for a 2009 Subaru Forester with 122,000
miles? I have no guidance in this situation.
Thank you for your help. mm

42 Answers

24,135

OMG, Half of $2700 is more than enough.

1 people found this helpful.
60

The dealer gave me that estimate and a reputable mechanic said 2300.00 but that he would not recommend it. I really don't know what to do and feeling pretty despondent. Not many people even fix head gaskets around here. especially in Subarus.

118,205

At those prices I would look at a crate engine, or a good used engine and then get rid of it. I never did work on Subaru's they just seemed too fragile too me to make any kind of lasting repairs.

1 people found this helpful.
24,135

I second the crate engine if you really like the car. Plus taking apart could reveal other issues along with head gasket issues seem to always come back again and again, after you paid big money to fix.

2 people found this helpful.
60

Forgive my stupidity. What is a crate engine? How do I find someone who fixes these things? And should I try and find a "rebuilt" engine myself online or count on the mechanic to find it? Do they mark up what they find? I am close to having a panic attack.

60

Oh _ I am guessing now that it means NEW in the crate.

24,135

Yes either from the dealership or factory parts dealer/stores or from a company that sells engines built by them, Look online for those or buy a magazine with Subaru's highlighted on cover. Crate motors come in many forms long or short blocks or turn key, Short means block complete only, long means heads & block too & turn key has accessories and are tested and some have had the break in procedure. From the Dealership means new, Factory parts sellers may have new but also refurbished (stock), which means if a part was good then its not replaced (new rings, seals , & gaskets). Crated motors from Other companies selling are rebuilt or built, Rebuilt may be built stock but bore had to be increased or not 100% stock & Built means it has high performance parts are used or built for performance not stock

298,915

Those prices are crazy. Where do you live? I estimate it should cost $1300-$1800.

60

I live in White Bluff TN - rural area near Nashville. I had to go to the Subaru dealership in Franklin TN - an hour away because the one in Nashville is SO BAD they got 2 stars. Franklin is a pricey area. But the recommended mechanic est. came in at only 400.00 less and he is in Nashville in a normal area. Everyone else I asked said they don't do Head Gaskets.

60

Enginecreator -Wow! that hurts my brain to try and understand. How would I ever know what to trust? or who?

24,135

Sometimes it hurts to say too.

24,135

Easiest to do is trade it in on another car.

115,025

Without seeing the estimate it is not entirely fair to call this a rip off as they may have included other things you engine needs but with the information given the price is highway robbery.

60

They didn't give me an estimate on paper. They told me over the phone I needed a new head gasket and it would be 2700.00. I asked if there was anything I could do to save - like used parts or something and he said specifically the parts were only about 25.00 new but the labor was 139.00 per hr and it took 16 hrs. Then I read online if I am going to do this I should use better head gaskets that actually cost a lot more. Since I don't have much money- I'm afraid I may have to switch to something that won't feel solid to me after 3 Subarus & a Grand Cherokee) Like a Hyundai Sante Fe? or one of those Kia small SUV...What are your thoughts on these other brands considering the years of HG and oil consumption problems with Subaru?

118,205

If you going to buy a used car stay away from Kia,Hyundai,Mitsubishi as they are on the do not buy used list as well as anything European, Honda, Toyota, and certain Mazdas are ok, but as with any used car have it gone over before buying it.

60

That is what I was afraid of. Thank you.

8,550

Going rate for this common repair in the Northeast by reputable indies is 8-10 hrs +$150-200 outside head machine shop service and $200parts. $1300 is low/wholesale, $1600 decent retail. See other threads for more details, as I'm a bit tired of repeating this info every week....

1 people found this helpful.

2010 Forester 95,000 miles with leaking head gasket. Subaru dealer gave repair estimate of $4400. Forget THAT! $600 to get idiot lights turned off. Got $5000 trade in for 2017 Honda Accord.

Now I puke at Subaru ads. Will NEVER buy another Subaru.

8,550

SOA has always used terrible ad agencies.

60

A nice mechanic put some fluid in my radiator with the hope of giving me another year or so... I have been driving the Forester ever since. I put a little coolant in every week and it smells a little funny, otherwise the car is running okay. But I am of course holding my breath. As soon as I can, I too am getting a HONDA!

8,550

Often you CAN limp along with a bleeding left side head gasket coolant leak by keeping the system topped up. But eventually either the leak will puddle the ground OR you'll develop an OIL leak on the right side...the stench of which will prompt a full hg service as the dripped oil smoking off the hot catalytic converter will become intolerable. Then you spend your $1500.

60

That is when I go buy another car! It has body damage from a deer and a cracked windshield too. Fortunately, I have never had anything leaking on the ground. Is there any other warning sign before the complete destruction? Just to maybe help me avoid being stranded out on a cold night. I am alone in this world (my brother is bed-ridden / my mother has Alzheimers) I don't have anyone to call to pick me up if I break down on the country roads to my house after work at 10:00 PM most evenings. Thank you for your honest opinion.

8,550

Be vigilant re watching BOTH oil and coolant levels, adding either as needed...even twice per week if coolant is bleeding a lot. Carry a gallon of 50/50 coolant as well a qt of oil. You can mitigate any oil leak somewhat by using 10w40 oil instead of the 5w probably in yours now. In a pinch you can use water as "coolant" to top up the radiator, but of course watch temps as winter approaches. You may be ok for quite awhile...it's VERY difficult to predict.

Best Answer Mark helpful
60

thank you so much. I have been carrying the coolant and oil. Until yesterday I didn't know I should also make sure there is coolant in the main opening- forgive me but I guess it is the actual radiator. I have only been putting in the plastic reservoir.

8,550

IT IS CRUCIAL that you keep the radiator (and its top hose) filled with coolant while topping off the expansion reservoir. Usually the radiator is self-filling with temperature cycles as it pushes and sucks back coolant through the small hose connecting the two. But if the radiator has too much air in it the cooling coolant will NOT drain the reservoir correctly, so that you might think all is ok. So every few days I'd check the CCOL radiator to assure it's filled...then add to the expansion reservoir as necessary. You may be able to tolerate this plateau of low-level dysfunction for months on end. Good luck.

60

Thank you so much. I wish someone had told me that before! I hope I caught it in enough time. Fortunately, I did usually fill the reservoir all the way. I had used up all the coolant I had so this week I didn't have that much. So two days ago the temp light came on for the first time since the initial "special fluid" was put in. I immediately went and had both filled by the nice older mechanic who had not previously mentioned I should check both all along. I guess he either thought I already knew, or wouldn't understand. Anyway - at least he is helping me (and at no charge.) And so are you. I appreciate it. mm

8,550

"temp light"??

I’m concerned because she said she fill it up all the way. You don’t fill up the reservoir all the way to the top like you do the washer fluid.

I’d like to know what is going on with her now. I’ve had this issue with my 07 Legacy. Cost me 1800 to fix. You’d be better off buying a used Honda CRV if this car gets any worse

24,135

Maybe a Honda civic if its got to be a Honda. The CRV's engines do not last as long, neither do the transmissions for that mater. Their base model is their best model.

She lives way out in the country and needs an awd or 4wd vehicle. My Mom has had 2 CRV’s with little issue I agree the Civic is bullet proof , but it’s not the car you want way out in the country on a bad winter day. Trust me, I know that for a reason

24,135

I've had 3 Crx's and all three did great in snow, ice & dirt roads one I put big tires on and took mud and trail riding and except for a four foot deep rut once that ground the under body/frame never needed pulled out of any other spots so with the correct tires I think they do pretty good with front wheel drive, The all wheel drive does not apply full power to all wheels. If you need 4wd get a 4wd and stay away from AWD.

1 people found this helpful.
24,135

I mean off-roading I use to take My Civic CRX up power line trails that motorcycles climbed and it climb hills straight up almost, 200 + feet tall hills in the rain so I now any road with mud, snow and ice will not stop it if you drive it. When it ices up here it will take you any where, they have very good traction even turning sharp and slamming on the brakes at high speed on all conditions.

24,135

Once we had 1 inch of ice on the black top before I could get home from work in my rear wheel drive 1981 Olds cutlass, I could not climb a steep hill too icy so I walked home got my CRX and my brother went back tied a rope to the front of the 4600 pound car and pulled it up the hill and all the way home and into my yard here, yea front tires were spinning the whole way up the hill but kept moving forward that is how good of traction it does have to pull a 4600 pound car twice its own weight up a ice covered hill that everybody else was leaving their cars/trucks there until it thawed out, I got mine home.

115,025

I am sure there are good CRV's but I live in snow country and you rarely see anything but Subaru's in this class vehicle. CRV's, RAV4's and Escapes are rare which I attribute to the part time AWD.

24,135

Snow/winter tires and if you need them chains/cables would help.

I own a Legacy and also own a 91 CRX with 189,000 miles on it with nothing but an ignition wire replaced the whole time of ownership. Never driven in winter because of the salt would eat it up. The car has absolutely zero rust anywhere. People constantly asking me to sell it. I’ve had it since new, you could eat off the engine it’s that clean. Too much snow anyway for such a low car in the country. My Moms CRV has had zero problems climbing anywhere. I will say though, nothing is as good as a Subie in bad weather.

Btw, snow tires can do wonders on a front wheel drive. I’ve had Hankook Ipikes and they are the best

24,135

That subie is low to ground too.

24,135

Ist gen CRX does way better in snow/ice/mud any road conditions it shines bright. 2nd gen needs decent road plus the 1st gen hangs curves sure footed all the time but 2nd gen will swing out on ya unexpectedly, just so you know, even with strut tower bars added it slides on ya when pushed, has no forgiving traits like the 1st gen unless your going straight all time.

60

Good to know the difference in 4 wheel drive and AWD. My Forester is plenty far off the ground to drive through standing water and take big bumps without scraping.

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