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Discussion Starter #1
I've done head gasket repairs on 4 different Subaru's that I've owned. The last one was on my son's 2000 Outback about 50,000 miles ago. Even though I had the heads milled and made sure to use new head bolts, and didn't buy the cheap ebay parts, it's showing the classic signs of another head gasket failure. Did Subaru correct the problem after a certain model year? I love Subaru's and even though milage doesn't scare me I'd rather buy one that I know isn't going to have the same problem. The only symptom now is that the overflow bottle retains more fluid and the radiator level goes down. Thanks, Keith
 

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The only symptom now is that the overflow bottle retains more fluid and the radiator level goes down.
Are you sure it's not a defective rad cap (not "venting" coolant back when the engine cools), a cracked or loosely fitting overflow hose (allows air into the system when the engine cools), or blocked overflow hose (prevents coolant from returning back to the engine)? These could cause the same symptom.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I really haven't had time to check it out. My son lives 3 hours away and I only get to check it every other month. He's a musician and all he doe's is put gas in and drive the heck out of it. Thank God I use synthetic oil in it. On the last oil change which was 4000 miles over due, I only drained about 1 1/2 quarts out. His last Subaru had 250,000 miles on it and he treated it the same way. I love him dearly but he's brutal on cars. I think my next step when he comes home in 2 weeks will be to check the coolant for exhaust gases. If there is gas present I'm thinking about trying the new Subaru coolant and sealer. I really don't feel like pulling the heads again and the car is never here long enough to do it. That brings me back to my original question. Are latter years more dependable? Keith
 

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did you use the subaru ''coolant conditioner'' as required?
 

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2005 Legacy 2.5i Wagon 4EAT; 2005 Forester XS 4EAT
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Did you use the MLS (Multi-Layer Steel) head gaskets used in the 2.5 Turbo? They're an exact fit, and well worth the extra investment.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I used Felpro HS26167PT2 kit which I thought would be good quality. I didn't use the Subaru coolant conditioner because I had read that it was for later models and not necessary for my year. Keith
 

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That brings me back to my original question. Are latter years more dependable? Keith
It's hard to provide an accurate answer. At least, that's my take on it.

Prior to 2000, the majority of instances of failed head gaskets in the 2.5 liter engine that I've read about here were internal; that is, leaks between a cylinder and the cooling jacket. This allows high pressure exhaust gases to get into the cooling system, and is often manifested by the temperature gauge spiking up suddenly, loss of heat from the cabin heater, bubbling (and sometimes overflowing) in the external coolant reservoir, and the detection of exhaust gases in the coolant/radiator.

After 2000, the number of internal failures seems to drop away significantly (although not completely), but there are more reports of external leakage, either of oil, coolant, or both. To deal with the external coolant leakage, Subaru recommends use of its Coolant Conditioner in the 2.5, including MY2000, but this is only to prevent loss of coolant to the outside. It cannot deal with internal head gasket failures between a cylinder and the cooling system (which a gas analysis of the coolant might reveal), or with oil leakage.

I understand there were further changes in the design of the head gasket somewhere around 2004-5. Nevertheless, there are still reports here of head gaskets being replaced due to external fluid leakage in the 3rd Gen (2005-9). While these are again fewer in number, this might be because many have not reached the higher mileage that is typical of a failure.

To get an idea of the model years and numbers see: http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/88-head-gasket-issues/18583-hg-failure-log-no-discussion-log-only.html. Other Subaru forums, such as subaruforester.org, have similar threads with much the same statistics, when all the reports are tallied. (Note: The information in these threads, and forums, is strictly "anecdotal". They are not reliable indicators from a statistical standpoint because there isn't parallel information about the number of cars sold or on the road, and how many of them have had, or have not had, head gasket problems.)

Also, with the external leakage, depending on the rate of loss, the car can often still be driven as long as the fluid levels are rigorously maintained.

On the more "positive" side, Subaru doesn't consider external "seepage" (that is, apparent staining around the head gasket) as necessitating replacement; it's only when actual leakage is confirmed. However, some shops might be recommending replacement nevertheless, and this could be leading to reports of "failure" that might not be accurate.

For the post-2009 years, it's probably too early to see any trends. The new FB engine, which is in the 2013 (and earlier in the Forester) is a significant re-design, and might incorporate further changes that include addressing the head gasket issue.

As others have noted, use of the turbo's gasket, or newer "MLS" replacement gaskets, in the normally aspirated 2.5 seems to provide more reliability (again, this is anecdotal), especially in the shorter term, but the long-term result would again have to be examined after those cars have been driven for at least as many miles as the original. I suspect that in some, if not many, cases, and for various reasons (car is sold, owner no longer participates in this forum etc) subsequent reporting of success, or repeated failure, is questionable. But it's worth noting that, as some have mentioned, the determining factor might be as much the quality of the work itself as it is the type of gasket that's used, that determines the longevity of the repair.

Incidentally, reports of head gasket failures in the 3.0 liter, 6 cylinder engine are relatively rare, but there are some listed in the reporting thread. This, in part, could be because there were far fewer 3.0 Outbacks sold. Along the same lines, while the 2.5 turbo engine has seemed to be less prone to head gasket failures, there are some, although again, the anecdotal reports are not necessarily representative statistically.

But getting back to your original problem, do check to see if there could be a simpler cause of the "shifting coolant".
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks to all who replied. I'm going to start by checking for exhaust gas in the overflow bottle but I won't have the car for another week. When I figure out the problem I'll post the results. Thanks, Keith
 

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2001 Legacy Outback LTD, 2.5 automatic 4cyl
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I've done head gasket repairs on 4 different Subaru's that I've owned. The last one was on my son's 2000 Outback about 50,000 miles ago. Even though I had the heads milled and made sure to use new head bolts, and didn't buy the cheap ebay parts, it's showing the classic signs of another head gasket failure. Did Subaru correct the problem after a certain model year? I love Subaru's and even though milage doesn't scare me I'd rather buy one that I know isn't going to have the same problem. The only symptom now is that the overflow bottle retains more fluid and the radiator level goes down. Thanks, Keith
I had my head gasket replaced at 114,000 and a year later it's begun occasionally overheating, much to my chagrin. When I try to add coolant, it doesn't take any and the radiator is not hot to the touch. I'm wondering if I have a water pump problem?
 

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Make sure you don't have any sludge in the coolant bottle. Pull up on the hose a little that goes into the bottle to see if it makes any difference.
 

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What all is recommended to do at the time of a HG replacement? I was quoted $2,500 for a HG job, but they said they do a complete top end rebuild and the engine should get another 100k after that point.
 

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Head Gasket Replacement

I paid $2,500 to get my head gasket done. Completely machined and essentially a rebuilt engine. There was lots of damage because of all the overheating.
Now, I'm having the periodic overheating again, but the radiator isn't hot and it won't take coolant. I'm thinking it's a water pump or circulation issue but I am not a mechanic, what so ever.
 

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I paid $2,500 to get my head gasket done. Completely machined and essentially a rebuilt engine. There was lots of damage because of all the overheating.
Now, I'm having the periodic overheating again, but the radiator isn't hot and it won't take coolant. I'm thinking it's a water pump or circulation issue but I am not a mechanic, what so ever.
A top end rebuild.... I'm thinking they probably didn't do anything with pistons, rods, or crank.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Head gasket

As a follow up to my original post, what I have found is that there are no exhaust gases in the coolant. The car doesn't overheat and there is no oil in the coolant or any detectable leaks. The problem is that the level in the overflow bottle goes up and is not being sucked back into the radiator. If I suck the extra fluid out of the overflow bottle and put it back into the radiator, there is no coolant loss. I've replaced the radiator cap and checked all the hoses for leaks thinking there might be air being drawn in but can't find anything. Car runs fine. Thanks for any help, Keith
 

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overheating

Make sure you don't have any sludge in the coolant bottle. Pull up on the hose a little that goes into the bottle to see if it makes any difference.
As a wise man taught me, "Most of the problems are little things. The raising of the tube in your coolant overflow is a classic example. It eliminates that from being ghe problem ( unless the tube itself is stopped up) Try other small things on it. May seem insignificant, bit you never know...
 

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Dito. Clogged hose, end of the hose sitting in the gunk at the bottom, non-Subaru radiator cap could all be issues.

Does the upper hose get sucked together?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for the replies. There is no gunk in the overflow bottle because i flushed it out but it may be possible that the hose collapses when it tries to pull a vacuum. I'll check it the next time the car is home but that may be in another month. It's hard to maintain a car when it isn't here. Keith
 

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I experienced all the classic symptoms of blown head gasket, ( sudden temp rise, rad cap cool to touch, etc.), all was fixed by a new rad cap, 30k miles ago and still rolling at 145k on a 99 OB. Sure is the cheapest place to start and you'll want a new cap if that gasket is bad anyhow.
 
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