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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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What Would You Do?

Just got the bad news the head gasket is leaking, again, on my 1997 OB with the EJ25. It has 202k miles, and this is, to my knowledge at least, the 3rd time they have leaked. I bought the car with the 110k miles 15 years ago, and have done them twice already, once when I got it at 110k miles, and again about 5 years ago at 160k miles, different shops each time, and both times I had the heads machined.


The engine still runs like an absolute gem, and I would hate to lose power swapping to an EJ22 unless I knew for sure it would blow again. The EJ25 has all good accessories, I even just last week replaced the EGR to turn off the CEL.


So, what would you all do? Rebuild again? EJ22 swap? Some other swap? The shop it's at now is a Subaru specialist, so presumably they'll do a slightly better than job the previous places. Machine the heads a 3rd time and get better gaskets? Thanks


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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 05:54 PM
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EJ22 swap.

What brand gaskets were used the last two times?

If it's the same gaskets and they were resurfaced, there's not much they can do differently except just attention to detail/care/clean surfaces and lubricating the bolt threads to get proper torque.

How many miles did each set of gaskets last?
You have 3 failures - it's anecdotal but did each failure come on sooner than the last?

Was it ever overheated during those 3 head failures (or any other times)?


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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 06:06 PM Thread Starter
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The first failure (that I'm aware of) happened at 110k, and the car did get up into the red once.

The second failure happened about 160k, but it never actually overheated, I caught it as soon as the needle started moving.

The 3rd failure at 200k, again no overheating. noticed it as soon as the needle moved.

I am not sure of the brand of gaskets used the previous two times, I put too much faith in my shops I guess. The last time they were done, it was not at a Subaru specialist. AFAIK there's never been any detectable coolant in the oil, or anything to make me too concerned about the bottom end, aside from the one overheat in 2006.

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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 08:02 PM
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I would have sent it up the road after the second failure. A third failure would never have been an option.

A third failure sounds to me like the block needs to be decked.

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 08:13 PM
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if you are paying shops on the work, that is a LOT of $$$$$ spents already. The car is not worth it.
you dont spend 7k on a engine in a car that has kbb of 2k. that is not smart at all.
use only OEM headgaskets, and these rearely ever need a head resurface......bet the shops have used inferior parts, and non oem thermostats, etc.....

too bad, but this car nees to go away on craigslist, sell it dirt cheap, and look for another without the older EJ25.

(saying it again, coolant doesnt get in the oil on these, coolant gts pushed out the overflow via exhauast gases pushing into the coolant chamber, pressururing it back to the radiator and overflow)
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 08:32 PM Thread Starter
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I'm leaning towards having them open it and see how the block surface looks, before deciding to replace with an EJ22 or redo head gaskets.

The car doesn't have any other issues, everything works, AC, windows, cruise, it has a new suspension, etc; so I will not be dumping it. I've had it for going on 15 years, and you're not too far off on the approximately $7k spent on it already, but I don't think that's bad at all in terms of dollars/year. To me, it's the devil you know. I have no interest at all in selling it to buy another OB I like less, that might just need head gaskets done too, along with the AC compressor, etc... I have 4 cars, and this one just fills a niche for me better than any newer car I've come across.

Alright, back to the EJ22 vs EJ25 debate, and less finances...

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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 08:34 PM
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I think when mine goes a second time I'll look for another car.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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I edited the original post to make it clearer I've owned the car 15 years. The first repair was done 15 years & 100k miles ago, and the second about 5 years and 50k miles ago.

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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-16-2019, 09:10 AM
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1. It needs a full timing kit - belt, pulley, tensioners, as well.

Those kits are $200-$300 in parts plus labor, roughly $500 total.

Don't want to throw $2,000 at headgaskets only to have the belt fail and bend valves...then the 4th head job will also need new valve$$$$$.

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Originally Posted by 97riored View Post
I edited the original post to make it clearer I've owned the car 15 years. The first repair was done 15 years & 100k miles ago, and the second about 5 years and 50k miles ago.
What brand head gaskets?

how badly was it overheated previously?

What would make a 3rd time a charm would be if but if it wasn't ever run significantly hot and aftermarket gaskets were used the first 2 times. i'd still be unlikely to choose this, but it would actually give some data, mechanical, statistically relevant sense to the issue.

1. Use Subaru gaskets
2. resurface the heads
3. clean the block face
4. lubricate the bolt threads to ensure proper torque values - this is an easily skipped step. the bolts creak and make noise when tigthening if you don't do this, that's not good.

EJ22 = $350 + $500 install and you're on the road for $850 with a more reliable, lower cost, easier to maintain engine.

You could do that twice and still be ahead of an EJ25 headgasket replacement cost of $2,000.

Toss in a set of deltacams (~$200) if performance has you worried. Not much of an improvement but they'll feel a little better.

These guys have a few 95's in Charlotte for $350: 1-800-289-5474
Conyers, GA 1-800-682-9257 $500 with only 141,000 miles.

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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-16-2019, 09:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idosubaru View Post
1. It needs a full timing kit - belt, pulley, tensioners, as well.

Those kits are $200-$300 in parts plus labor, roughly $500 total.

Don't want to throw $2,000 at headgaskets only to have the belt fail and bend valves...then the 4th head job will also need new valve$$$$$.

What brand head gaskets?

how badly was it overheated previously?

What would make a 3rd time a charm would be if but if it wasn't ever run significantly hot and aftermarket gaskets were used the first 2 times. i'd still be unlikely to choose this, but it would actually give some data, mechanical, statistically relevant sense to the issue.

1. Use Subaru gaskets
2. resurface the heads
3. clean the block face
4. lubricate the bolt threads to ensure proper torque values - this is an easily skipped step. the bolts creak and make noise when tigthening if you don't do this, that's not good.

EJ22 = $350 + $500 install and you're on the road for $850 with a more reliable, lower cost, easier to maintain engine.

You could do that twice and still be ahead of an EJ25 headgasket replacement cost of $2,000.

Toss in a set of deltacams (~$200) if performance has you worried. Not much of an improvement but they'll feel a little better.

These guys have a few 95's in Charlotte for $350: 1-800-289-5474
Conyers, GA 1-800-682-9257 $500 with only 141,000 miles.
Since you seem to work on them quite a bit, do techs always use new head bolts when replacing the gaskets?

I could see reusing them maybe once, but the third time I would think new bolts would be mandatory.


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"Happiness Is A Warm Gun", Beatles 1968
"The Rubber Banned Man",Spinners 1976
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