9th Feb 2010, 20:41

Here's one more story of a blown head gasket. I have a 2000 Outback Limited which has been a great car up until now. Same story as others... I was on a short drive when I turned on the heat and smelled coolant. The heat wasn't working either. I looked at the heat gauge and it was pegged. I have 115K miles on the car and I'm not sure what to do. I would be okay with spending $2000 if I were confident that the car would run well for another couple of years, but I'm reading a lot of comments about the head gaskets blowing multiple times, and other comments about cracked engine blocks. Has anyone had the gaskets replaced and put another 50K miles on the car without further failures?

25th Mar 2010, 17:17

1997 Subaru Outback Wagon... my tranny needed to be replaced after 160k, and since I can't afford another car (no one will loan me the money for even a $7k car), I opted to pay the $3k for the used tranny to be installed.

5 months later... check engine light and 6 miles to the gallon. Yup... EGR system shot, $1k more.

Now, I'm having this dreaded overheating problem. First I replace the thermostat... then the fan relay, then the radiator, then I'm told I have a leaky head gasket. They run a sealant through the system, pressure tested and good to go, right?! Nope... 2 weeks later of in town light driving and it randomly begins to overheat after I pull into a parking lot on an average day. I just happen to be looking at the dash while chatting on the phone in my parking space, and noticed the gauge climbing. It finally cooled down after I let it sit. Still getting only 15 mpg by the way.

I've done way more to this car than any other car I have ever owned. Cat converter, EGR system, radiator, tranny, water pump. I've owned it for 8 yrs and 100k miles. I'm not sure I'll buy another Subbie... sad state of affairs.

23rd Apr 2010, 08:15

1998 Subaru Legacy Outback SUS 4 door:

I got 170k miles on it, and when it started overheating, all I did was remove the thermostat and replaced the antifreeze. That is a quick fix, and the temperature does not go over 1/2 way up.

I do a lot of driving, and get up 24-25 MPG in mixed driving.

The car only overheated since cylinder 1 has the bad head gasket, and the antifreeze level was low. One way to check, is when the car is running, remove the radiator cap, and if you see bubbles even when the car is warm or cold, that is the head gasket that would need to be replaced.

I still use my car the way it is, just check the antifreeze, it still has lots of power with 170 miles, and I would not fix it or replace the engine until it dies.

If you need to get a JDM Subaru engine with S+H for around $800 with 40k miles, check http://www.tigerjapanese.com/

I got a Nissan engine from there no problems.


20th Jul 2010, 11:32

From what I'm reading, most of you don't know a thing about taking care of a Subaru 2.5 what so ever, nor do you look into the history into a Subaru with the 2.5 twin cam motor. They do have problems, but so does every car company at some point in time.

I have had my 1998 Subaru Legacy GT for 3 years now. I got it was 168K on it from the original owners. They took great care of it. They did have the head gaskets replaced at one time. I blew a head gasket at 196K, but that was with very aggressive driving on an 80F degree day. I replaced both gaskets to be safe. I lost a water pump at 198K, that I should have replaced at the time of the gaskets, but didn't. I then spun a rod bearing at 212K due to me running the motor 2 quarts low on oil, my bad, not Subaru. My check engine light (EGR code) has been on most of my 2 years of having it, but I'm also lazy to replace my EGR valve and clean the pipes.

The car now has a 1998 Forester Motor that had a burned valve when obtained, with 242K. I used my old head and it has run great ever since.

The car now has 225K and still keeps going if I maintain it! For anyone looking into a 2.5 dual over head cam Subaru, you will need to have work done to the motor at some point in time. The best option for you is to convert it to the 2.2 single over head cam motor found in Imprezas and Legacy Ls from the early to late 90's. They do last forever, just have a little less power and the price is much cheaper.

Subarus are great cars, but the 2.5s do take some TLC. Any Subaru with the 4 cam N/A 2.5 will most likely need head gaskets at one point in time, mine has had two sets in 200K. I for some reason love my 2.5, even thought it's a pain sometimes. As for the rest of the car, it's been great with no other problems. My Subaru has been good to me for the crap I dish out...

12th Nov 2010, 11:29

Pile another Subaru in the garbage heap... Blown head gasket at 180K. I'm shocked at how common this problem is. What was I thinking not buying a Toyota??!?!

13th Dec 2010, 14:16

1998 Outback Wagon. Blown head gasket at 100k miles.

Not worth fixing.

12th Feb 2011, 00:16

I have had 2 1998 Legacy 2.5s. The head gaskets went at 120K and 115K... The 1995 2.2 engine is supposed to be a easy swap; that's my next step.

3rd May 2011, 22:40

Change the head gaskets.

19th Jul 2011, 07:15

We were just told by our mechanic to that we need to rebuild our Subaru Outback 2.5 engine. How did the replacement 2.2 engine work out for you?


4th Nov 2011, 22:22

Note to Subaru owners; great car in general, but many years have head gasket issues. Blame the EPA. It has changed emissions requirements constantly over the last 15 years. This makes the exhaust hotter and puts more strain on motor. Never buy the new production year on model change.

Now when you notice slight unexplained overheating, up and down, minor with tiny a reduction in radiator fluid, chances are it's the head gasket. Fix it right away. Only use a non dealer Subaru specialist Don't cry to Subaru, it's a waste of time.

Pull the entire motor, and get both heads done with the top line $125 metal gaskets. Change the water pump, timing belt, all belts and gaskets as well as rear main seal. About $1500 at a good, reasonable garage. They will like the fact you are not wasting time, and pulling the motor and doing everything, is so much easier for the mechanic.

If you replace the gasket with the motor in the car, it will fail every time. There's not enough room to do proper job, only like 2 inches of clearance because of the boxer engine (an honest mechanic will refuse to do this). A truly good Subaru mechanic will refuse even if you beg him to do it, because he knows it's coming back ASAP. If you get 25k miles, you're lucky. He will also refuse to do one side only. The guy that tells you to f#$K off unless you let him pull motor and do everything is the guy you want; maybe 1 out of 50 is that guy.

I bought 2 Outbacks, 100k miles, perfect condition with bad head gaskets, $4000 and $4400 each, 5 years ago. One has 180k, and the other has 197k. Expect the gasket to go. Buy them discounted with bad gaskets. Fix and drive for 100k miles!! Use the right antifreeze!!! Yes, this is extremely important!!! Important like no other car!!!

With the high performance, newer metal gaskets done right, the 1997 2.5 is best motor ever. In fact so good, I just did the touch up body work and paint, high performance brakes, partial exhaust on my 97 and 98, and will drive another 100k.

Compression is 5 pounds from spec., and MPG is still 25-27.

Power is amazing for almost 200k, and no vibration till above 5500 rpm. The boxer motor is a somewhat delicate high performance motor, and having to add new emission crap every year or so kept messing up what was engineered the prior year, ie they upgrade the heads and gaskets, EPA adds more crap, motor runs too hot, repeat the process 5 times over the last 15 years, and 75% of this problem is the EPA's fault.

Use the 1997 2.5 with the 2011 heavy duty metal head gaskets, and you have a winner.

FYI the older 22r 4 cylinder Toyota is another winner. I have had 5 Toyota pick ups, 1997-2004. Don't know about other years, assume good? Only the fuel injected 5 speed manual, never automatic, and never ever ever the before 97 with a carburetor. Two I drove, and the other three were for off road and project/beater/off road. Used one to pull logs, LOL, pulled 22,000 board foot lumber with a mini skidder before she blew apart. That's about 4-5 semi trailers of logs for the non lumber members.

16th Feb 2013, 11:59

The head's warped; you have to true it up (machine it flat) so the new gasket doesn't leak.

16th Feb 2013, 12:02

Great explanation, good summary. Subaru's are a great car, it's just that all cars eventually have problems...