High mileage, small head gasket leak - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-15-2019, 11:44 AM Thread Starter
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High mileage, small head gasket leak

I've had a 2001 Subaru Outback for about six months now, it has a lot of miles, 240xxx. I've been chasing a misfire problem ever since I got it. The guy I bought it from said the engine was replaced and had under 50,000 miles on it, but I'm starting to doubt him.



I replaced the valve cover gaskets, spark plug tube seals, spark plugs, and wires. It recently started to overheat on me, and it is using up coolant. I just parked it, as I'm fairly certain it has the notorious head gasket leak. It sounds like it needs CV shafts and possibly a U-joint. I've been considering doing the head gasket job myself (I have a friend with a motor lift), and CV shafts. With this many miles, I've also considered just putting some Bar sealant in and running it til it dies. Just thought I would post my situation here to get some feedback before I go tearing it apart and spending money.



I also have a 2001 Legacy GT with about 200,000 miles that I can use for a parts car. A dear ran into it, but I was able to replace the radiator and headlights and get her back on the road, until the camshaft sprocket came loose and reamed out the end of the camshaft where the lock key is supposed secure it. Since it's totaled by the insurance company, I figured I could use what parts I need from this car and sell it as a salvage afterwards.



Thanks to anyone who reads this and/or would like to impart some advice!

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-15-2019, 06:30 PM
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Personally I would not put anything into the cooling system because that can introduce more problems like clogging up the heater core or radiator. The HG problem is what it is so fix it for very little money by doing it yourself or pay a moderate amount of money and get what may be a good car for another 100k miles. If you're doing it yourself, while you're at it, a new timing belt with tensioners and pulleys would be a good idea because it would reset the clock on those parts. New axles will take about an hour to do or an afternoon if you want to reboot the OEM axles (green can).

If you are going to put stop leak in the cooling system, drive it until it stops running and have a spare car ready to go. With summer coming up a clogged heater won't be a problem but a clogged radiator will be a headache.

When it overheats, have you been keeping a constant eye on the coolant level? Is the overheating due to letting the coolant get too low or is it something else? You could get a chemical block leak tester or cooling system pressure tester for free at most autoparts stores and check for leaks that way too.

Good luck

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-15-2019, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the reply. The overheating has is a relatively new issue. I'm not sure if it's related to warming weather, as I live in a cold winter environment. It seems to be using about a quarter gallon every two weeks or so. It's overheated twice, and i just pull over immediately to let it cool, then add about a quarter gallon of coolant. The same cylinder (#3) comes up as a misfire in about 2-3 weeks after I replace the spark plug. Spark plugs keep getting fouled up. The shop I went to said the compression seemed fine, but that doesn't always tell you if there is a leak i the HG or not. They told me if it overheats and the same cylinder misfires again, it's likely a small HG leak.



I just spoke to the previous owner, and they confirmed that a newer engine was in fact put in, <50,000 miles on it. So there's a good chance this car could be reliable for a good amount of time if I do the work. Might want to pick up some of that chemical to check for leaks in the block.



Thanks again!
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-15-2019, 07:01 PM
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so you got 2 parts cars.

looking for something that needs parts. or one with a matching EJ251 / EJ252 engine.

I would not bother doing head gasket work on a EJ25 n/a that consumes coolant at 240,000 miles. the thing may not turn out, and then your labor is wasted.

plenty of better engines to be saved from the crusher. (some with head gaskets already done with low miles,...like in rust buckets/ wrecks that you can buy for a song).

walk around a pick and pull looking for the tabs sticking out of the head gaskets, and intakes.
skipping any weirdo EJ259 clean air states 2004 (with their small airbox and many a strange part in them)

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-15-2019, 07:10 PM Thread Starter
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The previous owner says that an engine with <50,000 was put in about a year ago. I'm trying to get a hold of the shop that did it to confirm that. She says it was a motor from Japan that got salvaged due to the laws on engine mileage there.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-15-2019, 07:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weslee View Post
The previous owner says that an engine with <50,000 was put in about a year ago. I'm trying to get a hold of the shop that did it to confirm that. She says it was a motor from Japan that got salvaged due to the laws on engine mileage there.

JDM ones can be dirty beaters. like driven 50,000 miles in awful crawling Tokyo traffic,

here is a thread about making good use of one as a first time subaru diy project in subaru poor southern california.

https://www.subaruoutback.org/forums...d-gaskets.html

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-15-2019, 08:46 PM
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If it has a JDM engine the first thing is to find out where the coolant is leaking. With the SOHC engines some have said that use of the Subaru Coolant conditioner (no more than two bottles) added to the radiator has helped small external leaks. It could also be an loose hose clamp (ask me how I know).



SOA part number 635071

Overheating could be a non Subaru thermostat (Subies are very picky about thermostats), bad radiator or simply loosing coolant.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-16-2019, 09:08 AM
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Swapping JDM engines is common - I've done a bunch and so have others.

1. Do not use that Subaru conditioner just mentioned. It's a great fit in the right situations. It is extremely effective but not for internal coolant losses. Additives are generally to be avoided except in those known situations where they're a good fit. This particular Subaru conditioner is a good fit in certain situations. But additives are also at their worst when applied to the wrong situations - like adding coolant/overheating/block fixes to an overheating engine where it won't be effective. Then you've got not just an additive floating around in there - but an additive hitting temperatures, extremes, and pressures which causes it to activate and respond in areas and situations where it's not ideal for the long term. It's likely not a big deal but given the known efficacy of it (poor to nothing) in situations like this - it usually doesn't make sense to delay the inevitable proper repair. Do everything you can to just do it right now and put that $50 in conditioner and extra coolant loss into the right repair and reduce damage/risk/stranding/time/etc.

2. Burp it and if you're loosing coolant track down where that coolant is being lost.

3. If you think the JDM engine is true and you dont' think the engine has been previously worked on or abused - resurface the heads and install new Subaru headgaskets. If you're unsure of the engine - do that to your parts car engine and just swap the head with the one from the overheating vehicle. The benefit to using the parts car engine is you can continue to drive/limp this one around while you do all the head work. But ideall you start with the engine that has been overheated the least and maintained the best.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-16-2019, 10:38 AM Thread Starter
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So here's my plan.



Car 1: 2001 Outback with 240,000 miles; needs cv shafts, possibly U-joint, and likely a small external HG leak.



The car makes a clicking/thumping noise when accelerating, not when turning. Les Schwab looked at it and said the CVs are bad, and the U-Joint. I'm hearing more noise toward the front which makes me think more the CV shafts. I plan on doing the CV shaft since it's not too bad of a job and will at least stop any noise.



I found a motor with 80,000 on it locally, they want about $1500.



Car 2: 2000 Legacy GT with 200,000 miles; Totaled by insurance company, needs new camshaft. Camshafts are hard to find new, but I found a 2002 Legacy at a pick a part that has an engine in it with 225,000 miles on it.



Option 1: Fix Car 2. Since this car is totaled by the insurance company and I can't sell it for anything more than a salvage vehicle. I could pull the motor (it's half way apart already), grab a head from the pick a part, do the head gaskets and seals, and have my old car with less miles on it for likely longer than the other one with 240xxx.



I can then fix the CV's on car 1 and sell it for what it's worth to recoup some money.



Option 2: Pull the motor on car 1, do the headgaskets, fix the CV's, use the drive axel from car 2, and have a car with 240,000 miles on it, but has had quite a bit of work done to it.





I'm seeing option 1 as less work and in the long run, less money because I can probably sell car one for a decent amount of money around here even with the problems it has. It runs and looks pretty clean.



Sorry if this is confusing, but just writing it down is helping me weigh out my options. Either way, an engine is getting pulled and a HG job will be done.
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