head gasket replacement - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-11-2019, 09:36 PM Thread Starter
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head gasket replacement

If I am replacing my head gaskets do I have to take apart the valve assembly if they were just adjusted a year ago ? And do I have to remove the crank shaft pulley, timing belt cover, and timing belt as it was just replaced along with the idlers and tensioner just 2 years ago? Or are they just in the way of removing the heads ?

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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-11-2019, 11:03 PM
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All of those parts must come off to replace the head gaskets. Crankshaft pulley has to come off to remove the timing belt cover to take the timing belt off to remove the heads.

Since you don't say what year/model/engine you have I can't confirm if the valve assembly you are talking about has to come off.

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-12-2019, 06:47 AM Thread Starter
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2002 outback 2,5l. head gaskets were replaced just last year. Were damaged when wife was driving and hairline crack formed on top. Not large enough for immediate fluid loss but fast enough for quick loss of coolant and then gasket failed. Don't know if head warped or block damaged. Only driven a few miles after about half gallon coolant lost. How do I know if head warped ? Where would I take to determine if head damaged ? Would like to keep a couple more years. Has about 240K miles but was running good before radiator fail. Also has had a lot of other parts replaced including rear sub frame.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-12-2019, 07:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c3xpef5 View Post
2002 outback 2,5l. head gaskets were replaced just last year. Were damaged when wife was driving and hairline crack formed on top. Not large enough for immediate fluid loss but fast enough for quick loss of coolant and then gasket failed. Don't know if head warped or block damaged. Only driven a few miles after about half gallon coolant lost. How do I know if head warped ? Where would I take to determine if head damaged ? Would like to keep a couple more years. Has about 240K miles but was running good before radiator fail. Also has had a lot of other parts replaced including rear sub frame.
Once you have the heads off any competent machine shop can advise if the head is warped and machine it flat for a small fee (should be less than $100)

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-12-2019, 07:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c3xpef5 View Post
2002 outback 2,5l. head gaskets were replaced just last year. Were damaged when wife was driving and hairline crack formed on top. Not large enough for immediate fluid loss but fast enough for quick loss of coolant and then gasket failed. Don't know if head warped or block damaged. Only driven a few miles after about half gallon coolant lost. How do I know if head warped ? Where would I take to determine if head damaged ? Would like to keep a couple more years. Has about 240K miles but was running good before radiator fail. Also has had a lot of other parts replaced including rear sub frame.
I would just junk the engine.



these heads don't typically crack,....unless toqured poorly. 240 is a whole lot for what maybe a ruined engine,
and any work or money/ time spent on the engine now maybe just plain lost if the project does not turn out.


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what I would do: get a lower miles/ good running, similar 2000-2002 outback or legacy, and use this one as a parts car for it, or get the engine out of it. (junking anything you don't want in the end)

(2003-2004 have EGR, so a engine from one of those would need the hole covered,

being careful to avoid any weirdo 2004 EJ259, (smaller intake airbox in the clean air states,...and lots of unique parts)

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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-12-2019, 08:20 AM
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I like eagleeye's post. It's given me a chuckle.

Whether you repair the one in the car or replace it, you'll be pulling the engine out.

It doesn't take long, like 15-20 minutes to tear an EJ253 apart. Of course, that's with power tools and the engine on a stand. But even without power tools, it won't take long.

I am curious as to how you believe there's a "crack". I've seen plenty of EJs that run hot, blow out a portion of the gasket and a little mill work and new gaskets gets it up and purring. I've even had a couple that had the OE gaskets and the gasket leaked without damaging the block or heads. I will also assume that there's a possibility that when the HGs were replaced last that non MLS gaskets were used, since the MLS tend to hold up to extreme heat and pressure better than the graphite set. Just my experience.

If you take the engine apart you'll be able to determine whether it's usable or not. If the cylinder experienced a detonation strong enough, the cylinder sleeve and block will be blown out, making the engine trash. This would also make it misfire and burn coolant at a great rate if it's running now.

If the engine is losing it at a slow rate, then you most likely will be able to repair it as long as you aren't driving it which would exacerbate the issue. Compression heat and pressure will burn a curf in the aluminum if you run it with a damaged HG long.

As for the valve adjustments, you can get by without it if they were adjusted proper. It's always a good idea to check them though while the covers are off. You will be able to reuse the timing components. I hope you have all new pulleys and tensioner.

You can get reman heads for about $500-600. You can get a whole engine for $1-2k shipped, but then you may have to change the HGs due to oil leak, put on timing components, seals, thermostat, etc. Things you would normally do with a HG job anyway, except you have fairly new parts. (Was the thermostat replaced when the timing kit was done?) You can get a low mileage 2.0L, then you have to swap the intake/harness, cam and crank gear; but these yield less HP than the 2.5.

Until you take it apart, you don't know what you are dealing with. A good sign of a severe blow out is water sitting in the exhaust though, so if you pull the headers and water runs out, it's done.


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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-12-2019, 09:08 AM
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where was this crack? the head or the radiator tank?

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-12-2019, 09:09 AM
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Quote:
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I am curious as to how you believe there's a "crack".
I was confused too, I think they didn't describe it very well and the *radiator* had a crack, not the head? But we'll have to wait to find out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by c3xpef5 View Post
2002 outback 2,5l. head gaskets were replaced just last year. Were damaged when wife was driving and hairline crack formed on top. Not large enough for immediate fluid loss but fast enough for quick loss of coolant and then gasket failed. Don't know if head warped or block damaged. Only driven a few miles after about half gallon coolant lost. How do I know if head warped ? Where would I take to determine if head damaged ? Would like to keep a couple more years. Has about 240K miles but was running good before radiator fail. Also has had a lot of other parts replaced including rear sub frame.
yes timing all comes off, it's very easy relative to head gasket replacement. don't touch the valves, the machine shop resurfacing the heads will take care of that, but no they don't have to come off.

But more importantly - you need to stop and determine some things first - make sure:

A. A *bad engine* isn't causing cooling system failures - like multiple head gasket failures and the radiator failure.
Or
B. That the current diasnosis isn't correct and the headgaskets are fine.

1. First headgasket repair one year ago - What happened during that failure/repair?
2. Was it just leaking externally or did it overheat?

3. Second headgasket failure - how long was the car driven hot, low on coolant, or leaking?

4. Additionally - how was this second headgasket failure confirmed? Maybe the headgaskets aren't bad, maybe the coolant just has air pockets in it and is overheating? Did someone do some rigorous and specific testing or just shrug shoulders and say "bad headgasket"?

The headgaskets should not have failed that quickly with just a radiator leak and one overheat.

If there's a chance this vehicle was overheated significantly one or two times - then cut open the oil filter and look for debris and swirls.

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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-12-2019, 09:15 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by eagleeye View Post
I would just junk the engine.



these heads don't typically crack,....unless toqured poorly. 240 is a whole lot for what maybe a ruined engine,
and any work or money/ time spent on the engine now maybe just plain lost if the project does not turn out.


______

what I would do: get a lower miles/ good running, similar 2000-2002 outback or legacy, and use this one as a parts car for it, or get the engine out of it. (junking anything you don't want in the end)

(2003-2004 have EGR, so a engine from one of those would need the hole covered,

being careful to avoid any weirdo 2004 EJ259, (smaller intake airbox in the clean air states,...and lots of unique parts)
Thanks for the advice. Engine was running decent before the radiator leak. Replaced the radiator after the leak. Your suggestion to find a low miles/good condition same model year range makes sense. thought I would try the head gaskets first DIY and if engine is not running good or block damaged will try to find the low miles/ good condition outback and use parts from the outback I have now. The shop ( individual ) 20 years experience on subarus used 6 star gaskets MLS, new thermostat. The heads were not damaged at that time block was not damaged according to this individual, has pretty good track record. Right now I am getting bubbles in the coolant overflow tank. This indicates a blown gasket ? Drove back from shop after radiator replaced 10 miles and did not overheat. But combustion gasses definitely getting into the overflow tank. Have not driven again since back from shop.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-12-2019, 09:42 AM
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not knowing how acute the over-heat event was, if you decide to run the original short block, maybe oil analysis from Blackstone or similar lab could tell you if a rod bearing is shedding metal.


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