Outback head gasket & rocker replacement cost - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-28-2019, 04:20 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Outback head gasket & rocker replacement cost

I'm a newbie poster, but a long-time reader - so I should start by saying I appreciate all the sharing of knowledge on these forums.

My '08 Outback 2.5 went in for it's 150kms service yesterday, and came out a few hours later with a report stating that the service could not be competed because the head gasket and rocker covers are leaking oil badly. I saw photos of the oil leaks in multiple places, including onto what I believe was the power steering unit. No signs of coolant leaks at the service or overheating within the time I've owned the car.

I've been quoted $4.9k for a head gasket replacement and $460 for the rocker covers, 7-10 days needed in the shop. Assuming all else is well with the car, I'm happy to carry out the repair to keep this car running happily.

I should note that this service and quote for the new work was done at the local Subi Dealer and I've only owned the car for about a year, so this is the first full service done under my watch. An earlier RACV check 12 months ago noted minor engine wetness, but nothing as bad as a leaking gasket. I'm located in Melbourne, Aus.

The questions on my mind are:
1) Am I crazy for considering paying $5k for this work, assuming it requires the engine to come out and it's being done at a Subi dealer? (which would be my preferred option)

2) Is there any foreseen risk of me holding off on this work to monitor it, given there hasn't been any signs of coolant leaks or overheating?

3) Is there anything else that would be smart to do while the engine is out, such as the water pump? Given timing belts were done recently at 125k and nothing else was noted in the visual check done on this attempted service.

Appreciate any advice in advance!

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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-28-2019, 04:51 AM
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I would look for and get some price quotes from independent, Subaru experienced repair shops. Seems like a lot of money to put into a 2008. The dealership is always going to charge top dollar. I would bet you could get that number down significantly. Any local Subaru clubs, FB pages, Reddit, Instagram or Subaru offroad clubs? Those guys will know the best Subaru mechanics and can make recommendations. I would bet there would be no shortage in Melbourne. Contact these guys for independent mechanics and shops: Subaru 4WD Club - Welcome , and join and ask for shop recommendations here: Suby Club - Portal Good luck.

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-28-2019, 05:46 AM
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Hi, I’m from Sydney Australia and the first thing you need to know is to NOT get an Australian Subaru dealer to do this work as they will charge you way too much money.

Second thing to know (as reported elsewhere on this forum) is that you probably do not need to do anything about the head gaskets (at least not now) as they are probably only weeping a very small amount of oil and the likely hood of you having a head gasket failure that causes the car to malfunction is very small.

Typically you can go tens of thousands of kilometres with Subaru’s that have a slight oil weep from the head gaskets.

Third thing to know is that you should get the rocker cover gaskets and spark plug well seals replaced as soon as possible and then have the engine degreased. You will then be able to accurately determine where the oil leak is coming from and how bad it actually is. You can easily do this work yourself, if you are handy with the tools. I have done it on several Subaru’s and it comfortably takes around 2 hours. The parts should cost you around $100 or so.

Finally, you need to find a Subaru friendly mechanic in your local area to look after your vehicle in the future. The “stealership” is only interested in taking your money now that your vehicle is out of warranty and they are happy to do work like this as it supplements the low cost services they have to do for vehicles under warranty. Unfortunately they regularly get the unsupervised apprentices to do the work which does not always result in quality work.

Wish I was closer so I could help you out personally.

Seagrass

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 02:38 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad99 View Post
I would look for and get some price quotes from independent, Subaru experienced repair shops. Seems like a lot of money to put into a 2008. The dealership is always going to charge top dollar. I would bet you could get that number down significantly. Any local Subaru clubs, FB pages, Reddit, Instagram or Subaru offroad clubs? Those guys will know the best Subaru mechanics and can make recommendations. I would bet there would be no shortage in Melbourne. Contact these guys for independent mechanics and shops: Subaru 4WD Club - Welcome , and join and ask for shop recommendations here: Suby Club - Portal Good luck.
Cheers, thanks for the links will consider them both.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seagrass View Post
Hi, I’m from Sydney Australia and the first thing you need to know is to NOT get an Australian Subaru dealer to do this work as they will charge you way too much money.

Second thing to know (as reported elsewhere on this forum) is that you probably do not need to do anything about the head gaskets (at least not now) as they are probably only weeping a very small amount of oil and the likely hood of you having a head gasket failure that causes the car to malfunction is very small.

Typically you can go tens of thousands of kilometres with Subaru’s that have a slight oil weep from the head gaskets.

Third thing to know is that you should get the rocker cover gaskets and spark plug well seals replaced as soon as possible and then have the engine degreased. You will then be able to accurately determine where the oil leak is coming from and how bad it actually is. You can easily do this work yourself, if you are handy with the tools. I have done it on several Subaru’s and it comfortably takes around 2 hours. The parts should cost you around $100 or so.

Finally, you need to find a Subaru friendly mechanic in your local area to look after your vehicle in the future. The “stealership” is only interested in taking your money now that your vehicle is out of warranty and they are happy to do work like this as it supplements the low cost services they have to do for vehicles under warranty. Unfortunately they regularly get the unsupervised apprentices to do the work which does not always result in quality work.

Wish I was closer so I could help you out personally.

Seagrass
Seagrass, thanks for the detailed reply.

Am learning more and more about price discrepancies through this experience. Have spoken to two mechanics that have both quoted <$2.5k for the same work, using reportedly “better” parts (K.P gasket covers). Will certainly be looking to get another diagnosis before going ahead with the work, no matter how well priced I can get it. Have only had the car for about 12 months so haven’t found my “regular” mechanic yet, but I am suspecting this whole issue will land me with one.

I am hesitant to push the car too hard before getting this better diagnosed. Are spark plugs something worth doing while this service is done?

Appreciate the personal help offer mate!
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 03:03 AM
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Do the spark plugs when you do the valve cover and spark plug tube seals done.

As others have mentioned you can stall the head gasket replacement until it's more convenient. Keep an eye on the oil level between oil changes to make sure you don't run out of oil and kill your engine.
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