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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks - I am brand new here. Trying to help a widow friend with her 2007 Outback wagon with 2.5L engine and around 60k miles. While changing the oil last week, I saw a small oil leak around the filter which was dripping down on the exhaust manifold. Was hoping it was the old filter but the new Subaru filter I installed did not solve the problem. I can't locate the source but it seems pretty low, ie it does not look like a VC gasket. Doing a little research it looks like a classic Subaru oil separator flex plate leak or perhaps rear main seal.

Friend took it to Subaru and they said she needed both HG's replaced which would cost $2800 but maybe they could get it down to $2500.

Looking at this sub-forum tells me this Subaru engine is notorious for HG failures. However, how can we know for sure she needs new HG's? Will I see bubbles or oil in the coolant or do we have to do a leak down test? Also, if she does need new HG's, what is a reasonable cost? Should she let the dealer do it or go to an independent shop?

Thank- you very much.
 

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07 original owner? Records? Drop Subaru a note via their owners contact page on their website. Subaru might help sort out the issue and help cover some costs. 07 with proper care and history shouldn't have these issues

Not the first owner and no maint history - your pretty much left with the bill and fix. good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
07 original owner? Records? Drop Subaru a note via their owners contact page on their website. Subaru might help sort out the issue and help cover some costs. 07 with proper care and history shouldn't have these issues

Not the first owner and no maint history - your pretty much left with the bill and fix. good luck
Yes, original owner with all the maintenance records with most maintenance done by Subaru.

How can we know for sure if HG's are bad? Leak down test? Thanks.
 

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External weeping leaks are very tough to sort out with pressure checks. Visual inspection is really the only good way. Before you do anything more go to the subaru.com site and file a owners ticket with all the details. Subaru will contact you within a day or so and start working out a plan on whats going on and they will probably support some level of cost relief for you. They are well known for doing this
 

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Let's get things lined up properly first - does this car have an oil cooler? If so then the oil cooler gasket needs to be replaced first, particularly since you said it's by the oil filter.

Contacting Subaru is worth a try but often unhelpful. Hopefully you're the anecdotal success story but what typically happens is that Subaru will offer you a 'sweetener' as they call it in the biz language - it's going to seem good. They'll offer you $1,000 to $500 credit to replace the headgaskets.

The problem lies with the fact that their original quote is heinous thievery. That's normally about a $1,200 job. An independent shop, preferrably a Subaru independent will do it for $1,000 - $1,500 and will install the gasket you want (more on that later).

*** Headgaskets cost $100 from the dealer - so they're charging you over $2,000 labor for a job they can do in one day. They are making serious bank.

Can I fly to your house and do a better job than Subaru - i'll charge $1,000 labor???

The other problem is that Subaru will be installing the same problematic headgasket that's leaking on EJ25's up until 2010 models. And all the dealers I work with do not resurface the heads, though I'm sure they can if you ask. No point in doing that, if I'm doing the job I want a better product in there and done right. I would install the EJ25 Turbo headgaskets which do not have headgasket issues and are visually appealing in terms of sealing technology. Major subaru rebuilders and others doing a lot of this work are doing exactly that. you can ask the dealer to do that if you want, they may or may not oblige.

Folks will come in after me and say that there's an "updated" headgasket but there's no need to discuss that here - you can easily see that Subaru EJ25's have headgasket issues right up until 2010 via a google search or simply search this forum, so they're updated gaskets are not that great of a solution. The gasket they install may very well not be a near %100 solution if current failure trends are any indicator. I suggest taking notes from folks that have done a lot of EJ25 headgasket work themselves.

External weeping leaks are very tough to sort out with pressure checks.
actually it's not tough with pressure checks, it's impossible. they don't fail that way.

the headgaskets leak externally - that's their failure mode. compression tests, leak down tests, and coolant tests are all pointless.

look visually. ileaking at the headgasket mating surface is **THE ONLY*** symptom, looking elsewhere is a waste of time. first step is to rule out the oil cooler (if your car has one, some EJ25's do, some don't), front crank seal and oil pump. the oil cooler is right next to the head mating surface so it can be easily confused.

if it's leaking at the headgasket then it'll eventually need replaced. the good news is that you can essentially keep adding oil and not worry about it. since they only weep externally it's not a big deal. you could put 50,000 or 100,000 miles on the car without it really leaking significantly.

the fact that you just noticed this and there was no complaint about oil loss, marking up driveways, or smoking while driving suggests the leak is really minute and in no need of dire attention. it's likely capable of 50,000 miles easily with no issues...although 2005+ models typically get worse quicker than earlier 00-04 models - those things you could almost never repair if you could deal with the side effects of the oil leaks - staining the driveway, etc, and keep the coolant/oil full.
 

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I agree with grossgary's points. If you doubt the dealership, the only way to verify it is crawl under the front of the car with a very strong light, and look at the bottom of the head gasket. The leak point is normally on the driver's side at the rear of the motor. It's difficult to see but possible. It should not be wet with oil.

Alternately, you could go to another dealership. They probably would inspect for free. This time, however, ask to be allowed to look at the hg leak so you can be sure of it.

Unfortunately, $2500 is a common number for a dealership. One even wanted $3500 because they would have to also repair the muffler. I went to an Indi shop and it cost $1600 including the muffler.
 

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I agree with grossgary's points. If you doubt the dealership, the only way to verify it is crawl under the front of the car with a very strong light, and look at the bottom of the head gasket. The leak point is normally on the driver's side at the rear of the motor. It's difficult to see but possible. It should not be wet with oil.

Alternately, you could go to another dealership. They probably would inspect for free. This time, however, ask to be allowed to look at the hg leak so you can be sure of it.

Unfortunately, $2500 is a common number for a dealership. One even wanted $3500 because they would have to also repair the muffler. I went to an Indi shop and it cost $1600 including the muffler.
Dealer cost for a head pull - and gasket job even with room for profit is like $1500 so its pretty normal to see prices around $1800 - $2000. Getting on Mother subaru's radar especially since your the original owner with lots of service history you might be very surprised by what Subaru responds with. Seriously I'm not kidding they handled mine at 65K and at 180,000 miles it was fine zero issues. So they might do some type of shared cost with you reducing your cost by a large margin
 

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Grossgary, can I determine if the car has an oil cooler by the VIN? Thanks.
I'm not sure.

Pictures of the cooler (and how to replace the gasket) are found here:
http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums...eplace-oil-cooler-gasket-oil-filter-leak.html

It's really easy to see - look under the front bumper and the oil filter is right under there - unless there's an underplate - should be an access flap to pull down to get to the oil filter. Probably don't even need access though, just look through a hole or crack. The oil filter screws onto the oil cooler. If it's screwed directly into the engine then it doesn't have one. If there's a big cylindrical part that the oil filter screws onto - then that is an oil cooler which has a gasket that's prone to leak between it and the engine.

I tried looking it up on subarus opposed forces site and cars101 but got nothing definitive for your vehicle.
 

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The oil cooler is not included on the normally-aspirated 2007 2.5.
Okay, then go reread the rest of my last post, I've fairly well covered this common issue.

Next step is to monitor oil level. It wouldn't surprise me if you go 3,000 miles to the next oil change and have a nearly unnoticeable loss of oil. So far it's never come up in 60,000 miles and dozens of oil changes like "Hey you had very little oil left", etc. And the driver hasn't noticed any dripping, burning, smoking, smells as it hits hot engine parts. So one can guess it's not leaking very much at all.

Eventually she'll want a very good diagnosis and verify it is indeed the headgasket and not a valve cover gasket or front seal...those generally aren't confused though unless it's a really bad leak (unlikely) and the bottom of the engine is plain nasty.

If they get it repaired you can get a much better price an independent Subaru shop and they're more likely to install the EJ25 Turbo gasket for you and resurface the heads than Subaru - though they may if you ask them. For the amount their charging they should do whatever you want.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
No oil cooler. I talked with Subaru USA and sent them the info they asked for. Fortunately, the same dealer who sold them the car also did all of the service. The power train warranty just expired in June. I bet you a million bucks it was leaking while still under warranty but no way to prove it. Will keep you posted. Thanks for your help - I really appreciate it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Update: Subaru USA is kicking in and dealer will replace head gaskets for $400 total compared to his original estimate of $25-2800. Considering the car is out of power train warranty by less than 4 months (only 52k miles) and oil leak almost certainly started before warranty expired, I thought Subaru might take of the whole thing especially since friend is original owner with all recommended service performed by the selling dealer.

Several things do concern me:

1. Engine will not be pulled and I read that it is difficult to properly torque head bolts with engine in car.

2. Dealer reuses old head bolts without measuring to see if they are stretched.

3. Dealer uses whizz wheel instead f block sanding.

I would appreciate any comments about these concerns. my impression is that the dealer is going to do a slam-bam thank-you ma'am job which may not last much beyond the 12 month warranty.
 

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Our '05 2.5 (in a forester) had oil leaks in the head gaskets- was covered under warranty.
 

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Update: Subaru USA is kicking in and dealer will replace head gaskets for $400 total compared to his original estimate of $25-2800. Considering the car is out of power train warranty by less than 4 months (only 52k miles) and oil leak almost certainly started before warranty expired, I thought Subaru might take of the whole thing especially since friend is original owner with all recommended service performed by the selling dealer.

Several things do concern me:

1. Engine will not be pulled and I read that it is difficult to properly torque head bolts with engine in car.

2. Dealer reuses old head bolts without measuring to see if they are stretched.

3. Dealer uses whizz wheel instead f block sanding.

I would appreciate any comments about these concerns. my impression is that the dealer is going to do a slam-bam thank-you ma'am job which may not last much beyond the 12 month warranty.
This is standard head gasket replacement approach for the 2.5. The bolts are not replacement on the subaru engine they do reuse them! The only thing that really needs to be done well - is cleaning and prep of the surface so the new gaskets seat well. Subaru shops that do the HG job all the time will tell you for sure unless the engine was cooked they rarely ever find heads needing to be machined. The reason for this is that the heads are very compact and extremely durable compared to all the standard inline 4 and V6 and V8 engines where the heads are quite long and can be a bit fragile regarding warping and getting uneven etc.

I think you did OK and all I would suggest is that you keep up on your oil changes do not run the car over due on cruddy oil as this has a big impact on the life of the seals - and various engine components regardless of the HG job. Never run the car hot if something breaks or you damage the cooling system Pull OVER! - The engines in cars today with the alloy blocks etc absolutely HATE being over heated! By avoiding overheat and fixing the issue you end up with a happy car for a long time.

Good luck! And nice work getting subaru to step up!
 
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