Our 2003 Forester has been maintained by our dealer since purchased new in late 2002.
From day 1 it has had a coolant leak, a fact that has been pointed out to the dealer at every scheduled service.
The dealer, of course, could not find the source of the coolant lead until after the warranty expired, whereupon we were told that the head gaskets were leaking and the car had developed piston slap to the point where driving the car was ill-advised.
The master tech told me that Subaru has told dealers to ignore the problem until the warranty expires.
Last Subaru I will ever purchase; this was our 7th.
My head gasket did not fail until the car was eleven years old and had around 105K on it.
I found a shop that did all the work plus the water pump, spark plugs, radiator flush, valves and heads ground, fuel filter and oil change for under $1,800.
I did have piston slap during the first year and the dealer ignored it the first time I went in.
I came back shortly and the dealer replaced the short block under warranty.
I wonder why it seems that the Forester is the only model that has the head gasket problem.
My thought, is that, the Forester has always been made in Japan while the other models are made in America.
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