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2008 Outback Limited, EJ253 with ACT-4, 112K miles
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Discussion Starter #1
So I recently bought my second Subaru - first was a Brat many years ago - I knew that it was leaking oil and confirmed that it is the head gaskets. How hard is this to DYI? I have read some of the threads and understand some of the special tools involved. I am very comfortable working on cars and have all of the tools. Should the heads be sent out to be redone or just change the gaskets and put it back together? LarryK
 

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2006 OutBean, 2005 LGTW
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1,560 Posts
So I recently bought my second Subaru - first was a Brat many years ago - I knew that it was leaking oil and confirmed that it is the head gaskets. How hard is this to DYI? I have read some of the threads and understand some of the special tools involved. I am very comfortable working on cars and have all of the tools. Should the heads be sent out to be redone or just change the gaskets and put it back together? LarryK
Have them resurfaced and you won't have to question it. It's not that expensive, at least in my neck of the woods.
 

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06 Outback 2.5i
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405 Posts
+1 on resurfacing the heads.

One wrinkle is your car will have AVLS rockers. Look through my head gasket build thread to see how to disassemble and re-assemble the rockers.

Pull the engine - your life will be easier.

The recommendation is to use MLS replacement gaskets. Of the available options (Six star, OEM turbo, Fel-Pro), I went with the OEM turbo ones.

Timing belt should be done if not done recently.

It took me about a month, because I spent 2 weeks sourcing a replacement cylinder head (mine had cracked). If I skipped sanding the block, I could have probably done everything in a week.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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12,390 Posts
Plenty of people do it so it's definitely DIY, but it is a large project

Resurface the heads
MLS SUbaru gaskets
new Aisin timing kit
 

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15 Outback 3.6R
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64 Posts
I've done 3 of these this past year. It's not that hard, just use patience. There is information on You Tube, some great, some good and some not so much.
A reputable machine shop will check the condition of your heads and for a few additional dollars they will handle the AVLS rocker arms for you.
I have used the MLS OEM gaskets and parts on all my builds. I just got back from a 3,000 mile trip in my 2008 Outback that I had just completed the update. It did beautiful!
No question about pulling the engine. If yours has been a northern car and the engine has not been out before, it may take some effort to get it separated from the trans. This is one of the areas that patience pays off.
If is wasn't for the headwork the timeframe can range from 1-2 days.
 

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06 Outback 2.5i
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405 Posts
I was worried about the AVLS rocker arms, but they turned out to be pretty easy. Maybe 5 minutes each time.

A 1/4" nut driver works well to release the tension on the spring before disassembly. On reassembly, the same nut driver worked well to tension the springs. Just make sure to not lose any parts and you are good.

https://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/5239497-post12.html

And the head gasket part number I used is 11044AA642. You'll need two of them.
 

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2009 Outback Limited 2.5i 4eat; 150k miles and counting!
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7 Posts
I just purchased a super-clean 2009 Outback 2.5i with 140k on the odo. Was leaking oil from somewhere behind the timing cover (could have been a number of sources), which turned out to be the oil pump cover/o-ring, and the spark plug tubes were full of oil. I pulled the engine out and replaced everything I could think of that these Subarus have issues with. I ordered all the parts ahead of time, and the job took about 20 hours, which included cleaning and removing corrosion from brackets and fasteners, repainting, etc. Cost just over $750 in OEM parts, but I don't plan on doing anything but routine maintenance for 100k miles.



Definitely pull the engine out and hook it up to a stand. Makes life easy and stress free. Besides the timing belt/ pullys/ tensioner /water pump, and head gaskets, do the oil pump o-ring, front main seal, reseal the oil pump cover, replace the valve guide seals, spark plug tube seals, valve cover gaskets, camshaft seals, and laser iridium spark plugs. A quick valve adjustment and you'll be good for another 100k miles. I did need to use a cam sprocket holder to remove and reinstall the sprockets. I didn't want to beat on the valve train too hard with an impact wrench.


Best of luck! Be sure to utilize the factory service manual (on this home page). There's lots of good resources out there, especially this forum!
 
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