$$$ to repair 2010 head gasket
I bought a 2010 Subaru Forester with
180,000 mi on it. Found out today I need to
fix the axle and head gasket. It's leaking a
small amount of oil, and I've pretty much
decided to suck it up and fix it rather than
take on a car payment. My real delimma is
that the dealership says if I don't use
factory head gaskets and axle that I may
end up with the car shaking/vibrating when
driving. I have a repair shop that I trust but
should I discuss these concerns with them
prior to the repairs and how do I insure
they don't put the same older type of head
gasket into the car, rather than the steel
one? Should I go to the dealer for repair
and pay waaay more money or should I go
with my trusty repair shop or worst case
scenario buy another vehicle???
Don't take their fear-mongering too seriously. Almoist everyone resealing Subaru heads now knows to use the newer three-ply HGs. (It's not about original vs steel...they're BOTH steel.) Half-shafts (cv axles) are available online for a song. Only a smallish (but significant) percentage of them are sufficiently unsmooth enough to shake or rattle at speed. Worst case you eat the second one-hour labor charge, so don't sweat it. However, I WOULD use a shop experienced with Subie HG jobs, AND will send your heads out for measuring and pressure-testing at a reputable machine shop. You do NOT want to reinstall a warped nor cracked head and have to repeat a 10 hr job. This is a perfect time to replace the removed t-belt and inspect its pulleys too; however the water pumps are golden, so don't go overboard. Ask your wrench if he has experience carefully torquing the heads, as that's important too. This is about a $1300 wholesale job in New England, growing to $1500-1700 retail. Add the axle in for only $200 total. Given that you like your Forester (not my taste), a 2010 isn't so old as to not spend up to $2k on it, unless perhaps you need all brakes, tires, and maybe a cat conv at the same time, as $3.5 to $4k total would give me pause. OTOH if the oil leak is minor, and only on the left (passenger side), you MAY be able to stave off HG replacement quite awhile by increasing oil viscosity to 10w30-40...or preferably even 15w40.... You may see the leak diminish sufficiently to not coat and odoriferously cook off the cat-pipe beneath it. That said, keep an eye on coolant level, as you may also be leaking coolant from the DRIVER's side rear (#4) cylinder corner. Once both sides are leaking you should bite the bullet. (This dual- leak both-sides scenario is sufficient reason to NEVER just replace one side head gasket for a discount (usually 2/3 the labor cost), as the opposite side is needed eventually...and indeed soon after!
Edit: close parenthesis
Use a top quality multi layer head gasket such as 5 star. The factory head gaskets are a major reason why they fail. If the oil leak is small I would live with it.
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