Are Subaru Foresters prone to leaking oil from Head Gasgets?

Asked by Dec 27, 2013 at 04:26 PM about the 2010 Subaru Forester 2.5 X Limited

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

This is my 2nd Forester.  My first was a 98 (1st year they came out) and at 150K I was told by Subie Dealer my H Gaskets were leaking badly and I would need serious repairs like a new engine!!  I was amazed since I thought Subies lasted forever!  
I got rid of the car.  Now I own a 2010 Forester with only 70K and the dealer says the H Gaskets are leaking!  They intend to contact Subaru to see if Subaru will help pay for the repairs.   But after reading what others have gone through, it looks like I may not get any help!   I am fed up with Subaru.  I need a 4 wheel drive vehicle but I also need it to last!   Any Suggestions??

Angry in New Jersey!

27 Answers


Foresters specifically are not prone to head gaskets, the 2.5L engines from about 98-05 or 06 were prone to head gasket issues, the one you have now is newer than the time frame when they were having that big problem. I say have the head gaskets done but when they are replaced make sure the shop replaces them with a multi layer steel (MLS) head gasket, they are reuseable so wont have to be replaced if the heads ever need to come off and you really wouldn't have to worry about them ever again. The only reason manufactures don't us them is instead of being say $200 for a pair of the composite gaskets the company uses they are $3-400 for a pair but again rarely ever need replaced, unfortunately the mind set of any car company is that once it's past the warranty which your car made it past, it's no longer their problem and if you go back to them for repairs it's just more money for them. Find a privately owned shop that you trust and the repair wont cost as much as at a dealer either.

11 of 11 people found this helpful.

Chevy Trackers are good little 4 wheel drive vehicles. Dependable and long lasting. BTW my supervisor has an '03 Subaru Forester. Same deal. He had to have his head gasket done about 2 years ago. HTH. -Jim

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

Head gaskets are a maintenance item on all vehicles and they are recomended to be done at the same time as your timing chain or belt. on a subaru that should be every 120K miles reguardless, these gaskets failed early and sometimes that just happens. My 98 Forester has 170K with orrigional headgaskets, my 02 forester has 140k with orrigional head gaskets, my 93 Legacy has 190K with orrigional head gaskets.

9 of 9 people found this helpful.

What Nick said about head gaskets. My research indicates the 5 Star brand head gaskets are the best. To do the job right the engine really needs to be pulled and the head and block surfaces carefully prepared. I would consider installing new head bolts while you are at it and make sure they are torqued according to the proper procedure. That said your car should have gone a LOT longer than 70,000 miles. My 2002 Forester has 197,000 on the original gaskets and still runs good. There are steps you can take to extend the life of your head gaskets - use a good grade gas and if you car pings use a better grade gas. Maintain your battery connections, radiator coolant and use the Subaru anti-leak in the radiator. Alumaseal also works well.

4 of 4 people found this helpful.

Hi, It happened to my Subaru Forrester 2010 on my way back from North Carolina to Montreal. Leaking head gasket and side gasket. It cost me a new timing belt set and time....1377$. That's not supposed to happen for quality cars. JP from Montreal.

7 of 7 people found this helpful.

A big part of the problem with Subaru's is the open block design on the engine. If Subaru would go with a closed block system the head gasket problem would be a thing of the past. I have to disagree with Nick a bit and say that head gaskets while sometimes needing replacement are not a maintenance item replaced on a schedule like timing belts at least not for any car I have ever heard of.

12 of 12 people found this helpful.

I have a 2009 with a leaking head gasket, I am surprised I did expect expect. My son has a 2014 Impressa with the oil consumption problem 1 quart every 1000 miles. My new car is a 2016 Honda CRV, no more Subaru's.

6 of 6 people found this helpful.

my 2010 outback was just diagnosed with a HG failure at 93K miles Subaru should stop spending their money advertising how reliable their vehicles are and start actually improving known issues. Bye Bye 4 cylinder subie

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

Was looking at getting a 05 Subaru outback for cheap but I came across this forum luckily. No way. Anyway, driving a 99 Mazda Protege with the 1.6 and have 351kms and running smooth. Ac stopped working but great car.


I have just found out my 2010 forester is leaking oil as well. What is the result after you contacting the Subaru or the dealership? Please let everybody know. Is there an existing lawsuit on issue?

9 of 9 people found this helpful.

I had a head gasket leak on my 2010 Forester at only 120k miles. I was furious, the dealer wanted $2000 to repair. I called Subaru Of America and they gave me $500 towards the repair. I am thankful and its better than nothing but it shouldn't have happened in the first place.

5 of 5 people found this helpful.

yup 01 forester same issue and with other leaks. Big mistake to purchase any model with this engine. The money they put into a quality sound system should have been used instead for more reliable engine/////////parts design. But then again they did have a nuclear power plant blow up as well that all humanity will suffer from the radiation. So not just the few of us idiots who chose a subaru.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

I have a 2010 Subaru Forester with 140,000 miles and was just told my head gaskets are shot. Subaru will contribute $500 toward the replacement.

3 of 3 people found this helpful.

I purchased a used 2010 Forester with 20K in 2014 but the dealer was nice enough to supply and extended warranty as part of the sale. Lucky me because at 50K Leaking head gaskets! Repair covered by Subaru and they even supplied a loaner car! I also opted to have Timing belt, tensioner, Water pump and some other minor maintenance items addressed which ended up costing me about $800+ I still plan on keeping this car for my college student son. Really satisfied after all was done. I figured I saved a bunch on labor for the timing belt replacement albeit a bit early.


This is my third (used) Subaru Forester. I felt the first two saved my life, so I was a huge fan. But this may make me switch to Honda or Toyota. At 120K, my 2009 Forester had to have new spark plugs, wires and covers (1200.00) NOW at 122K, problems with coolant and oil issues... Dealer diagnosed bad Head gasket - quoted 2700.00 to repair!!!! Other mechanics say it isn't worth doing on a car this old. I am a single woman caring for my mom with Alzheimers, and need a safe dependable vehicle. How does one apply for the 500.00 from Subaru toward a new one? 500.00 will not help much, but might make the difference in me selling. Also I see many Subarus around this age with windshield cracked in the same place as mine - Which happened while I was in a meeting and car was sitting in the sun. Is this common? All advice appreciated. Marci


My 2010 Forester is my second Forester and 4th Subaru. I also was told I had a leaky head gasket at my 70,000 oil change. Being a woman, I got a pat on the head from the Ramsey/Subaru guys in Des Moines and told it wasn't anything to worry about. They would change it when I needed the big 100,000 mile servicing. I called Subaru Corporate and got the "huh really?" reaction. How stupid do these guys think I am? This is probably my last Subaru unless someone pays to fix it.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

such a shame... I emailed corporate and they offered to give me a certificate for 500.00 off a NEW Subaru. Way out of my price range. I'm sad. I loved my first 2 Subarus, so I searched for this one for a long time. now I will switch to Honda or Toyota...It's really hard to find a used Subaru around here anyway. thanks for weighing in on this!

I have a 2009 Forester that has an oil leak. I creplaced the head gasket at 80,000 miles now I am at 149,000 and they are not able to find the leak at Diablo Subsru. This is my second Subaru and I Love them but this is ridiculous! My E-Mail is if anyone has any suggestions.


I took my 2010 Forester, with 72K miles, in for an oil change this week, dealer found leaks in both HG and both front axle seals. I knew the HG were a common issue when I bought it and wasn't surprised, and love my Forester- it really can't be beat in the winter! The dealer, Subaru of Spokane, repaired/replaced gaskets, timing belt, seals- the whole shebang, and charged me a $500 copay, as they were going to squeak the repairs in under some expired warranty (can't be the warranty I bought with the car, as that expired in November 2015). They saved me around $3K, and I didn't even ask if there were options available to help with the cost- they offered it when they called to tell me about the HG!

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

Just got the bad news from our dealer's service dept. Out 2010 Forrester has leaking HG (3,300 to repair) and leaking transmission coolant hoses (600 to repair). Found this forum and am really bummed. So much for all the things they advertise. Further searching shows 2010 and earlier boxers are most prone. Edmunds says it's worth 4,200 max. So much for great resale value. Followed the maintenance schedule to a T. 6 year extended warranty expired 2 years ago, but just turned 99,000 miles, so under the 100,00 mile warranty. Shame on Subaru for not doing anything for us. Not sure what we're going to do, but won't put 4 grand into a car that's only worth 4 grand.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

I am right there with you! They told me 4700.00 to fix it at the dealer. Another Reputable mechanic said he would not do it if he were me - but if I loved the car I could put a whole new (refurbished) engine in for 6300.00!!! Mine has body damage from a deer hitting me and a crack in the windshield. It won't be worth anything. I may as well keep mine in the driveway to ward off burglars while I'm at work. For now, because I have no time to look for a new used car until school is out, I have continued to drive mine 50 miles a day, putting in coolant every 2 days ( It's not leaking on the ground ) watching the oil and so far so good. I am really sad too. Even though it is an old 2009 and had a lot of miles on it - I love it. But not enough to buy another Subaru after all this. If they had met me half way I would have. Question: Since yours is under 100,000 miles why is it not covered?


They got me with the x miles or x years "whichever comes first " Just talked to corporate and 1500 towards the repairs is their offer. 2500 for me on a car worth only 4200 doesn't make sense. Anyone think a class action lawsuit might help?


A class action law suit probably won't ever get off the ground for 8 year old cars.


Sad, since their commercials show Bobby as a kid sitting in the backseat and then Dad giving him the keys as a young adult. I guess Dad must have been able to pay for unusual repairs like this. My Honda CRV before the Forrester got 225000 miles. One timing belt replaced at 100k. Never a repair over 500 besides that. Honda here I come.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

Just went through the same thing with my 2010 Forester. HG leaking at 89,000. Dealer charged $2500 but at the suggestion of an independent mechanic, I worked with Subaru of America and they paid $2000. Grateful for that but this is a repair that should never have had to be made at that mileage. First and last Subaru for me.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

Subaru only offered me 500.00 off a NEW Subaru... But, At the time I guess I had 125,000 miles on it. And the dealer in the the most expensive county in TN wanted 3700.00. I kept adding coolant every few days for months and then finally the water pump blew. An independent mechanic installed a new water pump (and serpentine belt) and thinks possibly it had a very small slow leak trickling back on to the head gasket and that maybe the HG wasn't leaking after all. So far - so good - but the car always smells like something is wrong. Not unbearable but noticeable. Does yours smell like something is burning?

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

If the unusual smell is kind of sweet, it might be coolant. That's how mine smells now with a blown head gasket. Do lots of research before buying a Subaru. Don't listen to the Subaru fanboys. I had a '98 Outback. Head gasket failure at 120k miles cost me $2400. I figured in 11 years they'd figure it out, right? Wrong. My 2009 Legacy just blew the head gasket at 107k miles. That's inexcusably poor engineering. A modern engine should not fail at 100k miles. Ridiculous. Too bad because my mother wants me to pick out a new, small SUV for her. I was talking up the Crosstrek until the dealer told me my Legacy gaskets were toast. No thanks. Hello Hyundai Tucson. They'll at least guarantee the engine for 100k miles.

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