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Q: Head gaskets failed how likely is it to happen again?

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I have a 2006 Subaru Forester that has pretty low miles (64,000) for how old it is. I just had a head gasket failure that came out to be a pretty pricey repair. What can I do to prevent this from happening again? I am very gentle with this car, it’s my ‘reliable’ daily driver. Did the head gasket just get old?

A: Hello! Thank you for writing in with this q...

Hello! Thank you for writing in with this question. The design of the “boxer” engine makes for a high probability of head gasket problems. Coolant and oil drainage isn’t like typical “V” or inline style engines, so coolant and oil can pool in the cylinder heads. Over time, old coolant can cause corrosion in the cooling passages due to a process called “electrolysis,” which can lead to overheating. Overheating is the number one cause checked at every oil change with a refractometer, and changed every 5 years or 45,000 miles. A professional mechanic at YourMechanic can perform a coolant test at regular intervals. New style head gaskets are generally made of a strong multi-layer-steel (MLS). Unlike old style single layer steel gaskets, these MLS gaskets withstand temperature and pressure fluctuations better. The gaskets in your vehicle didn’t “get old;” more than likely the cause of the gaskets was something related to engine design or coolant quality.

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