All Wheel Drive Auto: Independent Seattle Subaru Service


Have Your Car Inspected Before The Warranty Expires.

Having your car inspected prior to the warranty expiring is a very important and often overlooked step on the way to obtaining real value for your car purchasing dollar.
Lets face it cars are pretty expensive these days and are often financed for 5 years or longer. The last thing you want to have to deal with when your warranty expires is an expensive repair. A thorough inspection can go a long way to ensuring you will get what you paid for when the warranty expires and can help give you piece of mind that you have a good car. The dealership really isn’t the best choice when having this inspection done, you need a great independent repair shop like All Wheel Drive Auto on your side providing you with an unbiased expert opinion about the overall health of your car and documentation of any needed warranty repairs, so if in the event you do have to return to the Dealer for warranty repair, you do so as an informed customer. Don’t let your warranty expire hoping all is well. You spent a lot of money on your car and you deserve to get as much value out of it as possible.


12 Responses

  1. Justin,

    My wife has a 2005 Subaru Forester. She bought it new and has had all the servicing done at the Subaru Dealer. Including the coolant replaced at the 30,000 mi servicing. They never mentioned anything about the Head Gaskets nor the coolant additive at that time. We never have been informed of the coolant/head gasket preventative treatment nor the recall. The car drives fine and does not leak, smell, smoke, etc.

    She just took it into Subaru to have the oil changed. The car only has 52,000 miles on it.
    The mechanic told her that the car needs:

    1)Head Gaskets, leaking and needs replacing($3,200)
    2)Thermostat is leaking and needs to be replaced ($200)
    3)Steering Rack is leaking and needs to be replaced ($1,500).
    4)Front rotors need resurfacing and new brake pads on front($550).

    We took the car to our long time mechanic and he just called and said that:

    1)Head Gasket has only a very slight weepage at one spot and he doesn’t believe that it needs replacement. Recommends adding a seal conditioner as preventative.

    2) The boot on the Steering Rack only has a slight film on the external boot. He said that they have breather holes and a very slight amount may have wept out and glossed the boot cover.

    3)The thermostat has a very slight spot that has “moisture” (Gloss)on one spot.

    4) Front Brakes need replacement and Rotors resurfaced

    He does Not recommend anything at this time and to bring it back in a few months to check again.

    He said he certainly does not recommend putting $5,000, or more,into this car as it’s book value is approx. the same if we sold privately…not trade-in.

    So, he is going to replace the front brake pads and resurface the front Rotors as they shudder when braking. I drove the car and it does vibrate when braking at approx. 40 mi/hr.

    He is not a Subaru or 4 wheel drive specialist but he has always been up front with us for the last 15 years and we have never had any problems with his repairs or suggestions.

    I tried to find someone here in Las Vegas, NV that specialize in AWD and/or Subarus in this area and cannot find any one.

    I think a third opinion is needed. We can’t afford the $5-6000 nor a new car payment at this time in our lives.

    Any thoughts, recommendations?

    Can you recommend anyone in the Las Vegas area?

    I would love to bring it to you but the distance negates that option.

    Thanks in advance for your input!

    1. Hi Tony,

      Based on the prices alone the Dealer is not coming at you from a position of integrity. The Thermostat is less than $30, done with the Hg repair.

      But having said that, the other shop is off as well, there is no additive a professional shop should ever use in your car to try and stop an engine oil leak, it’s like going to the Dr and the doctor pulling out a carpet bag and selling you a bottle of snake oil rather than refer you to a specialist for a procedure.

      “He said he certainly does not recommend putting $5,000, or more,into this car as it’s book value is approx. the same if we sold privately…not trade-in.”

      I don’t generally ever suggest you get rid of a car with 52,000 miles on it because of perceived value, as the Blue Book value is meaningless when using it to try and decide if you should repair it. If you are in the business of flipping cars, yes it matters, but if you are trying to balance a new car loan or a chunk taken out of savings Vs 5k in repairs, the later will cost less and is worth more to you in the long run.

      1.What will it cost to replace the car?
      2.Does the current car still suit your needs?
      3.Do you like spending big money every so many years on a new car or taking vacations and saving for retirement?

      I unfortunately have no where to send you but yes a third opinion is needed, I am not sure you have had one solid one yet and that’s tough to make a decision around. Every week we have to help someone with this type of a scenario, We are not here to spend anyone’s money one way or another, but we do often get to point out the logic of keeping a barely used car around for much longer rather than trade it in and let someone else drive it. The HG thing is common, the brakes are a wear issue, the rack probably a misjudgment as it’s most likely oil from the leaking head gaskets and all of the prices seem inflated based on what I think is the market in NV.


  2. Justin, why would subaru still use these crappy head gaskets after all of these years knowing that there is a problem with them? i know that every manufacturer has there problems, but to keep manufacturing these vehicles with bad parts is stupid. To my knowledge, subaru head gaskets replaced with aftermarket brand gaskets never have the leak problems again. I also think that every person that has replaced head gaskets should be compensated for their time and money because most of them have had their cars serviced by a subaru dealer. Can you fault the owner for bad service? I have a 99 forester that has had the gaskets replaced by a subaru service department but with non oem gaskets and havent had any problems with leaking or overheating yet. My wife is considering buying a new one, but i now have concerns after reading these posts on here. I thought that subaru would have started to use better gaskets by now.

    1. Hi Matt,

      Are you aware that the engines have all been redesigned? Late 2011 in the Forester, 2013 in the Legacy & Outback, 2012 in the Impreza and cross Trek.

      I don’t see the FB series engines having the Hg issues older models did.

      So to answer your Question, they don’t use the same crappy gaskets anymore.


  3. My last 3 servicing on 2006 Legacy were expensive ($1,000, $1,500 and $2,700), the first 2 being many different issues, the 3rd one being mostly the HG. I have 115,000 miles on it. Now that the car is starting to cost me money, I am looking to buy a new car. I apologize, I could not read all of the posts here but I did seed you discuss various generations but I didn’t see you talk about anything after 2009. Any thoughts on the newer ones? I do like the 2014 Outback.

    My coworker’s spouse works in Subaru servicing and he said that the newer foresters have a real problem with HG. Starting to get scared to buy a Subaru.

    1. Hi Connie,

      The 2010 Outback and legacy have a different HG than the 2010 Forester, the 2011 Forester has a different engine than the 2011 Outback.

      I could see the 2009, 2010 Forester still having an oil leak from the HG as its the same gasket used from 2003.

      I would encourage you to read the latest news reports in terms to the quality of the newer cars suffering currently, this is not a Subaru thing but an every car company thing.

      What I am saying is before you jump ship better know where you will be landing puts you in better place than you are now.


  4. Not sure if you received my incomplete email so I will resubmit.

    My elderly friend has a 97 Legacy Wagon 2.5 auto with 115K. Because of poor health it has been sitting in her yard for 20 months.Before I purchase it I want to fire it up and try to anticipate potential repairs. Although I have never driven the car, I don’t recall observing smoke or strange noises. History: She says it seems to run well but light comes on sometimes then goes off. Has a engine oil leak but hasn’t been a big problem after switching to 20/50W oil. She doesn’t recall coolant going down, likely rarely changed, doesn’t know if HGs have ever been changed. Interstate Battery was dead (no corrosion on top)so terminal was pulled off. I plan to give the battery a good charge and then test it.

    When last driven, after failing emission test a local repair shop verified the OBDII failure ($165) and found codes P0302 (she said light would come on sometimes for a while and then go off)& P0325(knock sensor was not replaced). Other findings: Good KV readings, plugs good, Knock sensor bad (2.5 volts plugged in, 5 volts unplugged, vacuum fluctuated between 17″ HG & 21″ HG. Tech suggested “Valve train problems, loose valve guides are very common on these vehicles. Customer declined replacing knock sensor & repair cylinder heads.” She did get tabs, never attached them, once she presented the bill.

    QUESTION: Should I get oil and coolant sample tested before I try to start it? Once I feel comfortable that it is safe to drive (before I buy it) I would probably bring it in for an inspection. From my comments does it point to HG problems? Is it likely that that there is an issue with valve guides? Your thoughts are welcome. Thanks, John

    1. Hello John,

      The misfire could be many things including sticky valves, or loose guides. Oil and coolant analysis wont really help with that diagnoses.

      I would change the fluids based on the sitting for 20 months but if the HG have not been replaced they could be just about ready to go at 115k on a 97.

      Its difficult to give you piece of mind its okay to drive or buy. There is some gamble going on there for sure but if its inexpensive its not a huge gamble by any means.


      1. Thanks for the thoughts, I did find out that HGs have not been replaced. After I charged the dead battery and hooked up the cables, I was unable to disarm the antitheft system. Any suggestions? John

        1. Hello John,

          Yes, here are two options.

          One locate the valet switch under the dash drivers side look for the module zip tied to the wiring, find the two brown wires that go to the valet switch which may or may not be mounted and could or could not just be taped to the harness.

          Second option is put gloves and safety glasses on, turn all accessories off, now disconnect the negative side of the battery, turn the ignition on, now connect the battery back up and all should be well. You can get a new key fob and program it in but only if you locate the valet switch.

          Hope that helps


  5. My wife and I are looking at a 2003 Forester with just 45K miles on it, garage kept, looks like showroom, private individual, asking $9000. After checking out reviews on Subarus I found this website, and I’m glad I did…
    I am 58 and have been an auto mechanic since my 20’s, but have never worked on a Subaru. I did not look under the ’03 to check for leaks, but it sounds like there’s a good possibility of a HG problem (I will certainly look closely at it before shelling out 9 grand). How difficult is the HG replacement? I might go ahead with buying it if there’s no apparent leak, but if it happens later I will be the one doing the repair…


    1. Hello James,

      The HG repair is time consuming but not to terribly difficult, there are a few different tools you will need, and you are better off taking the engine out to make the repairs, if the time comes we offer a HG kit with a guide.


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