Ate Another Head gasket
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This is a discussion on Ate Another Head gasket within the General Maintenance, Troubleshooting & Accidents. forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; My 2003 WRX has had problems since I got it. Since day one I've smelt an odd odor whenever I ...

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    Registered User UncleMidriff's Avatar
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    Ate Another Head gasket

    My 2003 WRX has had problems since I got it. Since day one I've smelt an odd odor whenever I park it. I kinda assumed it was just me being a novice with the clutch.

    Anyway, the CEL came on, and eventually the problem was found to be a cracked piston. That was replaced, and the head gasket was replaced in the process. The smell never really went away though.

    Nearing the end of the warranty they gave me, I decided to bring it in to the shop one last time to see if they could find the cause of the smell. They called back today to say that they found coolant and oil leaking from the head gasket. So it's off to the Subaru dealer (the people who replaced the piston) to get that looked at/replaced.

    My question is, what could cause my WRX to eat head gaskets like Doritos? I'm thrilled that they'll be replacing the head gasket under warranty, but I am more concerned with the fact that this one is blown after being in there for only a month or so (of easy, break-in period type driving). I'd rather they get to the bottom of the issue rather than just replacing the head gasket every two months.

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    Registered User EvoEatr's Avatar
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    So wait..Exactly what did they do? Did they only replace 1 piston? Did they only remove 1 head? Is it the same side head gasket leaking as the one they removed if they only removed one? How many miles are on the car? I will say this is a rarity among the turbo EJ's fore they where never prone to HG problems like the SOHC 2.5's in the early 2000's. If they are going to cover it than I honestly wouldn't be concerned about it...Was the car overheating at all?

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    Registered User UncleMidriff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvoEatr View Post
    So wait..Exactly what did they do? Did they only replace 1 piston? Did they only remove 1 head? Is it the same side head gasket leaking as the one they removed if they only removed one? How many miles are on the car? I will say this is a rarity among the turbo EJ's fore they where never prone to HG problems like the SOHC 2.5's in the early 2000's. If they are going to cover it than I honestly wouldn't be concerned about it...Was the car overheating at all?
    Geez... I'm sorry for leaving this thread unanswered for so long. It's just that I was getting a different story from the mechanic every time I called, so I wanted to wait until I knew what was going on before I wasted everyone's time here.

    A litany of ineptitudes:

    I brought it to Carmax and asked them to figure out why it smelt funny.

    They looked at it and saw something that convinced them that the head gasket was blown.

    They had it towed to the Subaru dealer, since the Subaru dealer is the shop that fixed the cracked piston.

    The Subaru dealer said the head gasket was fine, and that stuff was probably leaking from the water pump.

    The Subaru dealer had it towed back to Carmax.

    Carmax looked it all over, cleaned everything up real nice, and put some dye in the... somewhere... the cooling system, I assume. They then drove it around, let it run for awhile, etc.

    Upon a second examination, they didn't find any leaks or dye anywhere, so they put everything back together, and handed it back over to me with a shrug and a "call us back if it still smells funny."

    They told me to give it some time so that any errant coolant or anything that may have gotten someplace that gets hot will have a chance to burn off. They said to give that a month (!). If it still smells in a week, I'm calling them.

    On the 45-minute drive home, I drove it like I wanted to, i.e., I wasn't shy about getting it over 4K RPM on occasion. When I pulled it into my garage, guess what?! It still stunk. It may have been less stinky than before, but the smell was definitely still there. I guess I'll give it a bit and see if it goes away.

    According to the receipt I have from the cracked piston ordeal, they replaced the #2 and #4 pistons, and "1 [longasspart#] GASKET CYLINDER HEAD," among other things.

    The car has roughly 47,000 miles on it, and yes, it was overheating before the cracked piston was replaced... or at least, the temperature gauge indicated that it was overheating. The temp gauge was kinda going all over the place with no rhyme or reason during that one drive, so I'm not sure if I really believe it. Regardless, it's been keeping itself plenty cool since they fixed the cracked piston.

    So, it was in the shop for a week and now I'm pretty much back where I started. Me = Displeased.

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