My 2008 Subaru Impreza just got to 18,600 miles, and the dealership shop advised that the head gaskets are starting to go. The cost would be about $3,000. Do I repair or replace?

Asked by Nov 02, 2015 at 01:03 PM about the 2008 Subaru Impreza 2.5i Premium Package Hatchback

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

26 Answers

57,155

That is a bad one. Way too soon. Did you overheat the car by any chance? I would shop around for anther quote from a reputable independent shop as dealer rates are really high and not necessarily any better. A car with that few miles is worth fixing. Is it leaking oil or coolant? If it is a minor oil leak you might be able to live with it for a long time. Be sure and run Subaru anti-leak in your radiator!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I haven't overheated the car, no leaks that I could tell. I didn't know there was anything wrong until the diagnosis. I'm taking the car in again this month for snow tires, and another check up. Just want to be prepared, and wondered if the cash outlay might be better spent on a down payment.

57,155

If there are no leaks then why do they claim it needs head gaskets? I would get a second opinion!

8,640

Ah ... How do "Head gaskets start to go?" First I would go to another dealer ... Then get another opinion (don't say anything about the head gaskets ... just have a compression and general engine check done) If it were me I would have the engine good and warm ... the tighten the head bolts .... I have never heard (Your Head gasket is starting to go) Your looking at an almost $1500 repair based on someones intuition

18,095

Ellisa, wow, I'm sorry to hear that you're having so many problems with a car that has less than 20,000 miles! Obviously, you don't drive very much, you must use public transit or something? Unfortunately, it's not just a mileage thing, but also a time issue and cars can slowly deteriorate over time from lack of use. By the way, speaking of time, you need to also check your timing belt and water pump. The water pump may be OK, but, the timing belt is rubber and can become brittle and crack. If it breaks, you're risking major engine failure. Also, in 2005-2008 years, there were problems with Subaru head gaskets and in 2010 they redesigned the head and gaskets. There's a replacement for this using a multi layered head gasket and if you truly need to do this make sure you get the newer version. Go online for more information and make sure

18,095

Ellisa, sorry, my answer got cut off, here's the rest ---- so make sure that your mechanic knows about the newer designed gaskets. Also, remember, it's less expensive to fix your current car than get a new replacement vehicle. I'm sure that your car is paid for now and with only 18,000 miles, it's probably like a new car in most respects. Good luck.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
18,095

Ellisa, one final thought, most new cars these days will wind up costing $3,000 in sales tax.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Thanks so much for all your advice, this site is great. I had tried to do research on the web, but didn't realize the new gaskets were that different. I feel much better about the car now, will probably get it fixed. Still comparing it to my old Subaru Legacy wagon that served me for 16 years with no major problems. (Course, then it died).

8,640

I think your making a Big mistake ... But ... It's your money

18,095

Ellisa, call around and talk with some people about the new head gasket design, here's a web page link for you. http://www.amazon.com/Fel-Pro-Hs26170Pt1-Head-Gasket- Set/product-reviews/B000C2AISU http://www.felpro-only.com/blog/sealing-subaru-2-5l-engines/ Remember, it's less expensive to repair your existing car, don't let people tell you just to get rid of it. Take it from me, my old Honda Accord EX served me for 19 years and I saved a ton of money not just replacing it prematurely. Your car only has 20,000 miles on it, and assuming it looks great, no exterior body or interior wear, you should be able to repair it and get years of service.

18,095

My old Honda Accord EX went 150,000 miles and was still working fine when I sold it for $ 3,000. The only reason I sold the car was it was not working for me with my trailer, too low to the ground. After your car is paid for, it's less expensive to keep it going.

8,640

Where did someone tell her to "get rid of it?" All I see is a car with 18K on it and everyone's telling this lady to dump $3 grand into a mechanic's intuition. I want to know ... what was his diagnosis based on ... what did he find? And now I'm hearing all about these "Star-Wars" Gaskets that you want to put in a car that probably has nothing wrong with it .... BTW ... don't neglect to tell this lady that once the Half/assed mechanics are through with her car that she will have to have it towed to the dealership to be able to buy a new one.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
233,115

Tom's right, I think a second opinion would be the right move at this point. Find a local auto mechanic to ask him his opinion and diagnosis.

8,640

I know I came off a little heavy .. but most of us know elderly who are scared to death that their car will leave them stranded. Unfortunately there are some people who make a good living off of that fear. Most mechanic's are good, hard working people and the better they are .. the more difficult they become to look at your car ... that in itself makes a statement. Those who have seen a few of my posts know that I get furious when someone gets inferior or incompetent service. We all want to make a good wage and most are talented enough that they will. I personally can't understand when someone says ....a head gasket is starting to fail ... Hey ... I'm starting to die since I was born ..but at 72 I ain't dead yet

18,095

Tom, sorry, but didn't you make this statement above, " I think your making a Big mistake ... But ... It's your money" Well, well, we'll, if that doesn't sound like you're telling her to get rid of the car, I don't know how you could misinterpret that. I know that you're saying she should not just blindly spend the money, but, you really don't know, you haven't actually seen her car. OK, get a second opinion, but, if she really needs this kind of repair, its either fix the car or sell it. After all, it's a Subaru dealership telling her this and there were documented problems with the 2008s. What's her alternatives? See this, http://m.carcomplaints.com/Subaru/Impreza/2008/engine/head_g asket_leak.shtml The severity problem on the 2008s are pretty known.

18,095

Hey Tom, I'm going to be 64 in January. 72 is not that old, and I appreciate what you're saying earlier, but, I actually believe in older cars when properly maintained can be quite reliable. But, like you, I don't like getting stranded. So, I always advise people to fix EVERYTHING on their car and carry the AAA card with them plus a cell phone. I've even considered On star and you can now get that in any car.

8,640

AAA is the way to go if you want piece of mind.~~And I didn't tell her to get rid of the car ..simply because I'm not convinced that there's anything wrong with it... based on all the info,, she was told "the head gaskets are starting to go. The cost would be about $3,000" ..however she did not say anything about how the car is running now ,,, I think we can all agree that is the determining factor,, I mean how many of us would spend $3,000 on a car repair on a good running car ? If it's confirmed that theres more than say 20lbs difference in compression from each cylinder or some other confirmed diagnosis I think it would be wise to have it repaired I guess what it boils down too is I got a bad feeling on the original diagnosis

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
8,640

BTW ..We All have the same goal and the satisfaction we get helping someone in need..plus,theres genuine knowledge here for even some of the old dogs //arf arf

18,095

Agreed, Elissa, Tom makes a great point here. How your car running and if it's causing problems for you, get a second opinion.

4,040

Sigh...so much verbiage. My guess is that the #4 cyl area is staining from minor HG leakage there. If SOA won't step up and comp half the HG replacement cost because of ultra-low use, ignore it and just note how much coolant you use monthly to keep the outer expansion tank 3/4 full (ensure radiator is full first). You may be able to nurse along for years. IF, however, the perhaps specious comment was consequential to oil leakage (probably from the RIGHT (passenger) side), then the resultant stink because of burning off the hot cat conv can get pretty noxious, prompting the HG job. Alsoo first check any oil leak isn't just from your top-head- mounted VVT oil pressure switches, as verry high pressures there can overwhelm the cheap "normal duty" switches. Ignore the comment re t-belt replacement, as they ALWAYS last at least 10-12 years unless contaminated. Cracking/stretching/fatigue are non-issues with the SOHC 2.5i belt as it's well sealed, its tensioner works superbly, and Subie's water pump is legendarily durable. Only reason to get into the "front package" is if an HG job is happening...and I'd STILL leave the WP alone!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
18,095

TheSubaruGuruBoston- Wow, interesting theory? So, you're saying that just because she didn't USE HER CAR VERY MUCH, Subaru of America should step up and comp half of the HG replacement. FYI- the car is 7 plus years old!! Tell me how this is Subaru's problem? I would likely agree with you on the water pump, but, you really think that the timing belt is that encapsulated that it can withstand 10 to 12 years. I thought that those items were subject to the environment like other belts, they're rubber you know. Please explain, if that's really true, I'll wait until 105,000 miles on my car. I have a 2010 with around 73,000 miles and was thinking I would have to replace it in year 7 to 8.

18,095

Elissa, over the time you've owned your car, have you ever taken the car on any long trips or is this just a city/commuter car?

8,640

We may all have a new respect for volume sized posts ... I have learned a lot from this ladies "simple problem". Information that we shared not only from a mechanics viewpoint .. but what could benefit customers ... this is probably one of the best posts I have seen (so far) ...anyhow ,, it beats one of the funniest .."MY OIL LIGHT CAME ON AND THE CAR STOPPED ... DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE THE RESET BUTTON IS?"

To answer Markw, the car used more in the first few years, lately is only a city car, little highway. My friend likes to drive when we go out of town, and I happily let her. I am grateful to everyone's imput, as now I feel I know the right questions to ask. Getting a second opinion is a good idea, and Mark's comparison to the sales tax makes a lot of sense to me. I will hang onto the car, and spring for needed repairs, as it is driving well still. Thanks guys :). I will try to post a pic of my sublie, forgive me if it goes upside down. (The pic, not the car)

18,095

Elissa, nice looking car, I like the color! Glad you liked by analysis of the sales tax, sometimes it just makes more financial sense to resist the temptation to just get a new one. I know you're making a great decision doing that. Your car once fixed should give you years of service with no car payments and that's worth a lot. I'm sure that the interior is beautiful as well.

4,040

Re: SOA "participation" for HG repair is very squishy, based on age and mileage AND whether serviced at a dealership. Given only 18k I wouldn't be surprised if they don't step up to the plate, as it were.... It's not about "fault", but goodwill. But it's true that they're historically very stingy. Re: T-belt. Subie learned after a disastrous 85-89 first OHC effort with two skinny (normal for others' 4 cyl motors) belts that failures were common...and rapid! (The record I know is for a 20 minute old belt to snap!) So in 1990 they designed a HUGE, unitized singular belt that runs on a nifty hydraulic (it's oil filled, not gas) tensioner. But I'm repeating a previous post.... The combo of the plastic covers sealing the front environment and the better oil seals introduced in '00 are doing a great job of extending t-belt life exponentially. Again, if you're concerned with dryness, just visually inspect every year or so after a decade's use. (An analogous situation exists with the OUTER drive belts: '00-09 PS belts last 4 yrs on average...weirdly the smaller AC sister doubles that. Yet Subie finally got modern with the singular large unitized belt in '10 (or '12 Imps)). I

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