Help, please. $2700.00 for new head gasket '09 Subaru?

Asked by Mar 05, 2017 at 02:39 PM about the 2009 Subaru Forester 2.5 X Premium

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I am a single female (formerly a Subaru lover) this is my 3rd used Forester.  I
live in the country and work in the city and care for my mom with Alzheimer's.
I have to have a reliable vehicle and I don't have any extra money. Is it smart to
spend 2700.00 on a new head gasket for a 2009 Subaru Forester with 122,000
miles? I have no guidance in this situation.
Thank you for your help. mm

28 Answers


OMG, Half of $2700 is more than enough.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

The dealer gave me that estimate and a reputable mechanic said 2300.00 but that he would not recommend it. I really don't know what to do and feeling pretty despondent. Not many people even fix head gaskets around here. especially in Subarus.


At those prices I would look at a crate engine, or a good used engine and then get rid of it. I never did work on Subaru's they just seemed too fragile too me to make any kind of lasting repairs.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

I second the crate engine if you really like the car. Plus taking apart could reveal other issues along with head gasket issues seem to always come back again and again, after you paid big money to fix.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

Forgive my stupidity. What is a crate engine? How do I find someone who fixes these things? And should I try and find a "rebuilt" engine myself online or count on the mechanic to find it? Do they mark up what they find? I am close to having a panic attack.

Oh _ I am guessing now that it means NEW in the crate.


Yes either from the dealership or factory parts dealer/stores or from a company that sells engines built by them, Look online for those or buy a magazine with Subaru's highlighted on cover. Crate motors come in many forms long or short blocks or turn key, Short means block complete only, long means heads & block too & turn key has accessories and are tested and some have had the break in procedure. From the Dealership means new, Factory parts sellers may have new but also refurbished (stock), which means if a part was good then its not replaced (new rings, seals , & gaskets). Crated motors from Other companies selling are rebuilt or built, Rebuilt may be built stock but bore had to be increased or not 100% stock & Built means it has high performance parts are used or built for performance not stock


Those prices are crazy. Where do you live? I estimate it should cost $1300-$1800.

I live in White Bluff TN - rural area near Nashville. I had to go to the Subaru dealership in Franklin TN - an hour away because the one in Nashville is SO BAD they got 2 stars. Franklin is a pricey area. But the recommended mechanic est. came in at only 400.00 less and he is in Nashville in a normal area. Everyone else I asked said they don't do Head Gaskets.

Enginecreator -Wow! that hurts my brain to try and understand. How would I ever know what to trust? or who?


Sometimes it hurts to say too.


Easiest to do is trade it in on another car.


Without seeing the estimate it is not entirely fair to call this a rip off as they may have included other things you engine needs but with the information given the price is highway robbery.

They didn't give me an estimate on paper. They told me over the phone I needed a new head gasket and it would be 2700.00. I asked if there was anything I could do to save - like used parts or something and he said specifically the parts were only about 25.00 new but the labor was 139.00 per hr and it took 16 hrs. Then I read online if I am going to do this I should use better head gaskets that actually cost a lot more. Since I don't have much money- I'm afraid I may have to switch to something that won't feel solid to me after 3 Subarus & a Grand Cherokee) Like a Hyundai Sante Fe? or one of those Kia small SUV...What are your thoughts on these other brands considering the years of HG and oil consumption problems with Subaru?


If you going to buy a used car stay away from Kia,Hyundai,Mitsubishi as they are on the do not buy used list as well as anything European, Honda, Toyota, and certain Mazdas are ok, but as with any used car have it gone over before buying it.

That is what I was afraid of. Thank you.


Going rate for this common repair in the Northeast by reputable indies is 8-10 hrs +$150-200 outside head machine shop service and $200parts. $1300 is low/wholesale, $1600 decent retail. See other threads for more details, as I'm a bit tired of repeating this info every week....

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

2010 Forester 95,000 miles with leaking head gasket. Subaru dealer gave repair estimate of $4400. Forget THAT! $600 to get idiot lights turned off. Got $5000 trade in for 2017 Honda Accord.

Now I puke at Subaru ads. Will NEVER buy another Subaru.


SOA has always used terrible ad agencies.

A nice mechanic put some fluid in my radiator with the hope of giving me another year or so... I have been driving the Forester ever since. I put a little coolant in every week and it smells a little funny, otherwise the car is running okay. But I am of course holding my breath. As soon as I can, I too am getting a HONDA!


Often you CAN limp along with a bleeding left side head gasket coolant leak by keeping the system topped up. But eventually either the leak will puddle the ground OR you'll develop an OIL leak on the right side...the stench of which will prompt a full hg service as the dripped oil smoking off the hot catalytic converter will become intolerable. Then you spend your $1500.

That is when I go buy another car! It has body damage from a deer and a cracked windshield too. Fortunately, I have never had anything leaking on the ground. Is there any other warning sign before the complete destruction? Just to maybe help me avoid being stranded out on a cold night. I am alone in this world (my brother is bed-ridden / my mother has Alzheimers) I don't have anyone to call to pick me up if I break down on the country roads to my house after work at 10:00 PM most evenings. Thank you for your honest opinion.


Be vigilant re watching BOTH oil and coolant levels, adding either as needed...even twice per week if coolant is bleeding a lot. Carry a gallon of 50/50 coolant as well a qt of oil. You can mitigate any oil leak somewhat by using 10w40 oil instead of the 5w probably in yours now. In a pinch you can use water as "coolant" to top up the radiator, but of course watch temps as winter approaches. You may be ok for quite's VERY difficult to predict.

Best Answer Mark helpful

thank you so much. I have been carrying the coolant and oil. Until yesterday I didn't know I should also make sure there is coolant in the main opening- forgive me but I guess it is the actual radiator. I have only been putting in the plastic reservoir.


IT IS CRUCIAL that you keep the radiator (and its top hose) filled with coolant while topping off the expansion reservoir. Usually the radiator is self-filling with temperature cycles as it pushes and sucks back coolant through the small hose connecting the two. But if the radiator has too much air in it the cooling coolant will NOT drain the reservoir correctly, so that you might think all is ok. So every few days I'd check the CCOL radiator to assure it's filled...then add to the expansion reservoir as necessary. You may be able to tolerate this plateau of low-level dysfunction for months on end. Good luck.

Thank you so much. I wish someone had told me that before! I hope I caught it in enough time. Fortunately, I did usually fill the reservoir all the way. I had used up all the coolant I had so this week I didn't have that much. So two days ago the temp light came on for the first time since the initial "special fluid" was put in. I immediately went and had both filled by the nice older mechanic who had not previously mentioned I should check both all along. I guess he either thought I already knew, or wouldn't understand. Anyway - at least he is helping me (and at no charge.) And so are you. I appreciate it. mm


"temp light"??

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