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Review of Subaru Head Gasket Problems



  • rangnerrangner Posts: 336
    It's been years since I've posted on this forum but I thought I would share my HG replacement experience on my 00 OBW.

    Mileage: 115k...symptoms: gradual loss of coolant, coolant turning darker with black particles floating in coolant (not oily) eventually overheated mildly at the nashville airport (not in the red). Dealer told me I was out of luck since the recall only covered an external HG leak not an internal one (what I had)

    The black particles in the coolant were hard to tell if that was the coolant conditioner or something else. (which is btw totally useless) the only thing the subaru stop leak will do is clog up your cooling system. Gas was bubbling through the overflow jug.

    I bought a coolant hydrocarbon test kit from snap-on and the test told me unequivocally that hydrocarbons from the cylinder were being forced into the water jacket around the cylinder. i.e. the head gasket had failed.

    I wanted the repair to last and didn't trust the skill of the local dealer to do the job. So I pulled my engine and freighted it to All Wheel Drive Auto in Kirkland WA for a HG replacement, heads milling, and top end rebuild. My father and I re-installed the rehabbed engine in the car and it's been running great with 5k miles since the repair. Will let you know farther down the road.

    Justin Stobb at AWD Auto is an expert in dealing with these issues and the only way he does these repairs is to pull the engine because he says you can't get all of the old HG material off the heads and block with the engine in the car. This is why the gasket replacement typically doesn't last when done at the dealers. Whew...
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,512
    Thanks for the update! What was the cost of the work done at AWDA?

    I replaced the gaskets on my '96 Outback at 192,000 miles. My gaskets' failure was identical in symptom to yours. I also pulled the engine but did the work myself - the total cost was about $550 in parts (including replacement timing belt, pulleys, and tensioner). I had the car to 220,000 miles and had no further problems with it.
  • rangnerrangner Posts: 336
    ~$2400 total...including insured freight shipping between nashville and washington state. I had new idlers as well, heads shaved (they were warped), new valve stem seals and guides I had like 20% leakage on one cylinder so I opted to do them all. Resealed the oil pump & oil pan. New HG's, valve cover g's etc. I have pictures of the offending cylinder--the piston looks like it had been steam cleaned by the boiling coolant.

    Not cheap, but I couldn't find another car that had been taken care of for $2400...

    Hopefully I will get to 250-300k with this repair..
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,512
    No, that's not cheap, but you all but received a new engine out of it! Compared do the dealership cost of a full head gasket replacement, which is probably somewhere on the order of $1600, you paid a reasonable price.
  • rangnerrangner Posts: 336
    Yeah that's pretty much what it would've cost without milling the heads had I gone to the dealer. In my mind, if I was going to be shelling out that kind of money for a $4-5k car, I wanted it to last. So I took the harder road, but hopefully it will last for a long time.

    Btw, it's running pretty sweet now with a wrapped borla header and new brakes with rebuilt calipers and ss lines. ( I actually wasn't going to rebuild the calipers but one of the rear calipers seized with rust last winter, so I replaced that one and rebuilt the other 3 for good measure)

    All part of being a subaru owner right? ;)
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,512
    Haha, that's right! Enjoy it, brother! :D
This discussion has been closed.