H6 EZ30 Head Gasket Repair - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 11:24 AM Thread Starter
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H6 EZ30 Head Gasket Repair

Gearing up for a EZ30/H6 head gasket job and have a few questions. Will be using this thread to document the process.

Vehicle:
05 LL Bean with 196K miles. I bought it last year @ 186K with no signs of HG issues. Previous owner claimed it has a lot of highway miles. Who knows if that's true...

Symptoms:
- Almost overheated once on the highway a few months ago when outside temps were 10-20F; coolant got too low (first indication of HG issue)
- Issues with producing heat during winter (another red flag for low coolant)
- Using coolant (~1/3 gal per 1000 miles, I've been tracking it)
- Bubbling noise in heater core & bubbles appearing in radiator
- After sitting (not running) for a short time on restart cloud of white smoke appears from exhaust (smells sweet like coolant) and engine runs rough for a few seconds. I suspect coolant is seeping into a cylinder and takes a while to be purged. Runs fine afterwards with no visible smoke. No CEL.

Other planned service when the engine is out:
- Water pump & thermostat replacement
- Oil cooler gasket replacement (slow leak)
- Check/adjust valve clearances
- May swap hex key cap screws for hex bolts on timing chain cover

Questions:
- Is there a brand of head gasket that is preferable? Looking at the Mahle HS54655 set from RockAuto but not sure if a cheaper set (Fel-Pro HS26534PT) will work just as well.
- Are the chain tensioners reusable?
- Do timing chains and guides typically need replacement at this mileage? From what I've read, they are pretty bulletproof if oil level is maintained.
- Anything else recommended while engine is out? Areas of engine to check, parts to replace, etc.?

Not planning on resurfacing heads unless absolutely necessary. If necessary, I might just go for a low miles engine swap or try to do it myself using the sandpaper/surface plate method.

I've read people mention dropping in a JDM engine vs repairing. How's the quality of these? Would be cool to swap a EZ30R but not sure if I want to spend an extra $1k at the moment.

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 01:41 PM
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JDM swap it. They're fine. They're not bullet proof but it's a huge job.

I'd use Subaru gaskets on that engine.

There's just not enough experience to give anything more than anecdotal experiences, and anecdotal experience is not statistically relevant or meaningful. Many shops see way more volume than individuals, see a few repeat failures, get a feel for best practices, and are sticking with Subaru gaskets. I lean on what they're doing but can't say anything specifically about those brands except I'm not immediately scared of them and Fel Pro is a good 4 cylidner option for the same time period engines.

Definitely resurface the heads. The H6's I've done all show considerable high and low spots, more than the H4's. You can do it yourself though, since you're planning ahead get the stuff and do it. It's easy and cheap.

I wouldn't replace tensioners, guides, and chains if it's not currently making chain noise. If i got in there and it was caked up black nastiness I might change the tensioners. Chains...just depends on who I'm doing it for and condition, etc, but usually not if there's no current issues.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 02:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aero901 View Post
Gearing up for a EZ30/H6 head gasket job and have a few questions. Will be using this thread to document the process.

Vehicle:
05 LL Bean with 196K miles. I bought it last year @ 186K with no signs of HG issues. Previous owner claimed it has a lot of highway miles. Who knows if that's true...

Symptoms:
- Almost overheated once on the highway a few months ago when outside temps were 10-20F; coolant got too low (first indication of HG issue)
- Issues with producing heat during winter (another red flag for low coolant)
- Using coolant (~1/3 gal per 1000 miles, I've been tracking it)
- Bubbling noise in heater core & bubbles appearing in radiator
- After sitting (not running) for a short time on restart cloud of white smoke appears from exhaust (smells sweet like coolant) and engine runs rough for a few seconds. I suspect coolant is seeping into a cylinder and takes a while to be purged. Runs fine afterwards with no visible smoke. No CEL.

Other planned service when the engine is out:
- Water pump & thermostat replacement
- Oil cooler gasket replacement (slow leak)
- Check/adjust valve clearances
- May swap hex key cap screws for hex bolts on timing chain cover

Questions:
- Is there a brand of head gasket that is preferable? Looking at the Mahle HS54655 set from RockAuto but not sure if a cheaper set (Fel-Pro HS26534PT) will work just as well.
- Are the chain tensioners reusable?
- Do timing chains and guides typically need replacement at this mileage? From what I've read, they are pretty bulletproof if oil level is maintained.
- Anything else recommended while engine is out? Areas of engine to check, parts to replace, etc.?

Not planning on resurfacing heads unless absolutely necessary. If necessary, I might just go for a low miles engine swap or try to do it myself using the sandpaper/surface plate method.

I've read people mention dropping in a JDM engine vs repairing. How's the quality of these? Would be cool to swap a EZ30R but not sure if I want to spend an extra $1k at the moment.
Do you have an estimate of what it will cost you to do a rebuild?

Have you rebuilt engines before and if so, did they last?

I swapped my engine for a JDM and I couldn't be happier! I had about 2 full days in the removal and replacement. I did have a nice hoist, which is a must! I've put about 8000 miles on it now and still doing great! JDM engine looked new inside when I inspected it before install.
I paid $1350 delivered to my door. It came with alternator, PS pump, AC comp. & harness all still on it.

I would do that again in a heartbeat compared to tearing the old engine down checking to make certain everything was good to go back together, hope I didn't forget to torque something down, hope no leaks, and the list goes on! My situation was, I needed to get the car back to drivable status ASAP.

That's the best advice I can offer, your situation may differ and that could make your decisions easier?

Good Luck either way and if you need some help, I'll be glad to offer any technical expertise I have!
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 02:22 PM
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whom did you order from?
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 02:39 PM
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whom did you order from?
I bought my engine through JDM distributor in Richardson TX. David was the owner or at least the guy I did all business with. Delivered in 2 days!
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice!

I'm figuring less than $400 in parts at the moment. I don't think the chains sound noisy. If chains & tensioners are not reusable, the rebuild price bumps up to around $900 and I'd definitely lean more towards the swap option in that case. Are there any good JDM engine sellers in the midwest?

I've never rebuilt an engine but am mechanically inclined, been studying the factory service manual for this job, have an ASE mechanic friend willing to help, a hoist and engine stand & good collection of tools, and access to a second vehicle if this one is down and out for a week or so.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 03:14 PM Thread Starter
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Please delete.

Last edited by aero901; 05-15-2019 at 03:17 PM. Reason: double post
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aero901 View Post
Thanks for the advice!

I'm figuring less than $400 in parts at the moment. I don't think the chains sound noisy. If chains & tensioners are not reusable, the rebuild price bumps up to around $900 and I'd definitely lean more towards the swap option in that case. Are there any good JDM engine sellers in the midwest?

I've never rebuilt an engine but am mechanically inclined, been studying the factory service manual for this job, have an ASE mechanic friend willing to help, a hoist and engine stand & good collection of tools, and access to a second vehicle if this one is down and out for a week or so.
I wouldn't worry about the tensioners then. If the headgasket wasn't failing or you were currently shopping for the same vehicle, you wouldn't even think about them. Carry on, they aren't replacement items.

Source doesn't matter. They all ship and the whole system is probably a logistics supply chain, with the same sources and no qualitative feedback. If one of them had an edge or magic supply of "better used parts" from Japan they'd say it and charge for it. As it is, they don't even try to record year/mileage/VIN....

There isn't enough volume of subaru feedback that show any trends in service, shipping, warranty so not much can be said there either except anecdotal commentary. I could tell you my experiences but they're just a few and anecdotal, not worth it. You could google online reviews but they were limited in scope for a variety of reasons years ago when I looked. i've probably ordered from most of the JDM suppliers, most recent was from Texas.

most common issue is sensors are banged up during shipping and a connector might be broken. just swap the stuff over from your original engine as needed. i'm not gonna call about that when it's easily resolved.

"rebuild" entails lower end block work, you're not doing that. carry on, you got this!
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