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!

9 Answers

Nick Eidemiller

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.

6 out of 6 people think this is 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 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Nick Eidemiller

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.

5 out of 5 people think this is 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.

3 out of 3 people think this is 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.

3 out of 3 people think this is 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.

6 out of 6 people think this is helpful.
Vince Terenzio

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.

5 out of 5 people think this is 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


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.

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