This is my first post on this forum and unfortunately it is because of a lovely little head gasket issue. First the specs, then the story.
'05 Outback, Normally aspirated EJ253 engine, ~115k miles, AT, California car. This car would mostly fit under the grocery getter role and thus has a lot of heat cycles on the engine.
The story goes something like this. About 6 weeks ago the car was taken for timing belt service. While undergoing this service, the mechanic noticed a valve cover gasket leak, on the drivers side, and replaced it. The mechanic also replaced the timing belt (of course) and the water pump at this time. The morning following the completion of the service, I noticed a drop of oil on the garage floor after my wife took the car on a errand. We phoned the service station and the mechanic agreed to check out the problem. He did so by inserting a dye into the engine oil and had us return the car several days later to see where the dye was emanating from. Upon inspection, he claimed that the drivers side head gasket had an external leak and that we should have it replaced when the leak got "really bad."
I went under the car to inspect it myself and there is definately an oil leak coming from the driver's side of the car. It looks like there is oil dripping onto the exhaust, just rear of the engine mount. In addition, the engine mount is soaked w/Oil. However, I am not able to actually see the junction between the block and the head as the engine mount is in the way when I look at it from the front and the frame cross member is in the way when I look at it from the back. On the passenger side, it appears that there is some evaporated coolant residue on the underside of the head @ the junction w/the block, but the car isn't using coolant at a noticeable rate at this time.
I know that I could probably just leave it and wait until it really starts to use oil (it's used ~1/2 a qt in the last 6 wks), but I also noticed that the MPG has dropped from 24.6 to ~16 mpg, so I'm concerned that there may be more going on that what is apparent from the outside. Plus, I am not one to wait around for more damage to accrue, so I hit the web and found this nice community with a lot of resources that I'm using to help me tackle the job of replacing the HGs. Through my research it became clear to me that I should use an MLS HG and not the OEM HG. I decided to go with the OEM "turbo" HGs, rather than the FelPro or the Six Star gaskets for the following reasons. There are mixed opinions out there on the FelPro gaskets, although, as best as I can tell the gasket thickness is about the same as stock (0.63mm). The SixStar gasket thickenss is 1.0mm, which is ~59% thicker than the OEM gasket. That may not matter much, but I don't want to mess with having the heads machined down by that much, unless I have to. The turbo gaskets are the right thickness and as far as I can tell, they seem to work just fine. My only problem with the "turbo" gasket is which part number to order. There seems to be a lot of conflicting information out on the web and although it is only a $50 part, I want to make sure that I don't make that $50 mistake. The two HGs that I am considering using in my engine are the 11044AA642 and the 11044AA770. I would appreciate it if someone could advise me on which gasket to use and why I shouldn't use the other gasket. My best understanding is that the engines that use the 770 gasket have slightly different coolant ports than the engines that use the 642 gasket, what I don't know is which style of coolant ports does my EJ253 engine have.
In addition, any information regarding additional service I should perform while I have the engine out of the car would be appreciated. Here is the service that I am planning on doing:
HG and all associated gaskets.
Timing belt idler pulleys and tensioner (mechanic didn't replace these, sigh)
Valve clearance inspection and adjustment
Valve and valve seat inspection
Reseal Oil pan (appear to have a small leak)
Reseal L rist pin cover
Reseal separator plate
Replace engine mounts (especially since the driver's side mount is soaked in oil)
(Spark plugs and plug wires were replaced w/the timing belt)
Also, although I intend on checking my heads for warpage and clearance and then prepping them myself as per the techniques showed by All Pro Auto on youtube, does anyone out there have a machine shop that they trust in the SF bay area to inspect and prep the heads?
Thanks in advanced and I am happy to have found such a great community, even if it is under these lousy circumstances.