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1999 subie outback 2.5L
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Discussion Starter #1
I have searched a bit and can't find a solid source of someone doing this. I am pretty mechanical, the only limitations is tools.

The hydro-carbon came out negative, but there are serious bubbles coming up in the reservoir. Anywho, any links would be great.
Also, I am in a position that a car is not needed, so I'm trying to fix it to sell it.
I don't want it to be a crappy job, but what things may anyone suggest to not do?
 

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head gasket flounderings

Yeah, that's my blog :). If you have any questions or run into any problems during your HG repair, don't hesitate to post a comment on my blog or send me a message via the contact info there. Check out the more detailed pictures via the link near the end of my blog post once you get into the job. Also, (especially if you are anywhere near Vancouver, Canada) if you happen to need any of the minor fasteners or other Subie parts during this job due to broken bolts or other mishaps, I have a big box of them now after my repair that were duplicates after what I got in a parts kit; you are welcome to have any of those.

Good luck with your HG repair! I'm actually writing a more general book about repair right now.

Dave
 

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My concern is the negative reading on the HC's. It doesn't sound like a HG leak. Air can get into your cooling system from other sources such as a bad radiator cap, a split or disconnected overflow container tube, and even a slight leak on the suction side of your cooling system. Make sure your have eliminated all possible sources before tearing into the engine.
 

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HG diagnostics

I think jbwood5's concern re lack of HC's detected is a very valid one. I'd even suggest maybe getting that test redone to be extra sure. In my case, my coolant was actually visibly oily both in the reservoir and sampled from the rad, and discolored quickly after a coolant refresh; that plus the sporadic overheating and the bubbling coolant was the set of evidence that convinced me of the need for the HG repair.

Another indicator in my case was that the amount of bubbling changed directly with engine speed, but that again may just go with water pump action so again it alone seems also not a definitive indicator. Most of the common cooling system problems such as with caps and hoses tend to produce visible external coolant leaks, though, so if you aren't seeing those, it seems one more indicator towards the HG failure conclusion.
 

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1999 subie outback 2.5L
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Discussion Starter #7
I had a leak down test done and it all tested good. Everything was pressure tested and prove good (WP, thermostat subie OEM, all new).

It only overheats after a load (i.e. going up a hill) and the bubbles only appear after it's been hot.
The shop said it was a blanket on my radiator, which I cleaned, but it didn't help, still overheated.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Oh and they did the test again, but it got blow back and contaminated the test. THats when they did the leak down test.
 

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It only overheats after a load (i.e. going up a hill) and the bubbles only appear after it's been hot.
radiator is probably clogged.

when it's overheating - you can probably get hot air through the vents, right? a blown headgasket Ej25 will usually not give hot air when it's overheating. if it overheats again (not that i'm encouraging making it do that), have the heat turned all the way hot and on full blast - see if heat output decreases or not.

radiatorbarn.com - i got a 2000 radiator a year ago for $89 shipped to my door, that one was clogged too - obviously flowed less than it should with a hose attached to it off the vehicle.

this engine usually fails the HC tests, that's a red flag. don't waste time on compression and leak down tests, they usually pass those even when the headgasket is failed.

only overheating uphill is not a standard symptom of EJ25 headgasket failure - they are usually random and not predictable at all nor can you mitigate them once they start overheating.

of course anything is possible but i'd rule out the radiator before ordering headgasket parts.
 

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1999 subie outback 2.5L
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Discussion Starter #10
radiator is probably clogged.

when it's overheating - you can probably get hot air through the vents, right? a blown headgasket Ej25 will usually not give hot air when it's overheating. if it overheats again (not that i'm encouraging making it do that), have the heat turned all the way hot and on full blast - see if heat output decreases or not.

radiatorbarn.com - i got a 2000 radiator a year ago for $89 shipped to my door, that one was clogged too - obviously flowed less than it should with a hose attached to it off the vehicle.

this engine usually fails the HC tests, that's a red flag. don't waste time on compression and leak down tests, they usually pass those even when the headgasket is failed.

only overheating uphill is not a standard symptom of EJ25 headgasket failure - they are usually random and not predictable at all nor can you mitigate them once they start overheating.

of course anything is possible but i'd rule out the radiator before ordering headgasket parts.

Thanks for the advice.

I took it to another shop and they got it to test positive for hydrocarbons. I kind of felt iffy about the first shop and I think they might have been doing "lets try the cheap fixes first". They got blow back in the hydrocarbon test and swore that the leak down test would tell if the head gasket was gone. I feel like this site has a bunch of wisdom, and tend to trust the opinion that leak down test is not a valid option.
Anyway, I feel like the engine has been running crappy lately on top of it. I just hope the heads aren't cracked.
 

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more HG thoughts for kev7in

Kev7in, here are a few things I can recall from my HG failure: As someone else noted, one of the key symptoms is sudden spikes in temperature. I suppose that is due to hot gas bubbles coming through the cooling system and getting to the temp sensor briefly. Once that happened, I did see more stable high temperature shortly afterward (in the same driving session). In my case, cranking the interior heat and interior fan did bring down the temperature, but I suppose only because that is effectively introducing an auxiliary "rad" and blower across the coolant.

The bubbling in the coolant reservoir was also very easily seen. In my case, once the engine was warm but not overheated, that reservoir resembled a boiling kettle; it was that turbulent, and big bubbles were visible.

The good news for the HG repair (if that is the problem) and you do decide to do it DIY is that the only uncommon tool is the 12 point socket for the head bolts. A few of the common socket sets e.g. Stanley Mechanic's do have them though. See what you can borrow if not in yours. Lots of labor involved and a lot of parts that have to come off to get at the heads, but pretty straightforward stuff. No need to pull the engine, either.
 

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1999 subie outback 2.5L
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Discussion Starter #12
Kev7in, here are a few things I can recall from my HG failure: As someone else noted, one of the key symptoms is sudden spikes in temperature. I suppose that is due to hot gas bubbles coming through the cooling system and getting to the temp sensor briefly. Once that happened, I did see more stable high temperature shortly afterward (in the same driving session). In my case, cranking the interior heat and interior fan did bring down the temperature, but I suppose only because that is effectively introducing an auxiliary "rad" and blower across the coolant.

The bubbling in the coolant reservoir was also very easily seen. In my case, once the engine was warm but not overheated, that reservoir resembled a boiling kettle; it was that turbulent, and big bubbles were visible.

The good news for the HG repair (if that is the problem) and you do decide to do it DIY is that the only uncommon tool is the 12 point socket for the head bolts. A few of the common socket sets e.g. Stanley Mechanic's do have them though. See what you can borrow if not in yours. Lots of labor involved and a lot of parts that have to come off to get at the heads, but pretty straightforward stuff. No need to pull the engine, either.

Got the heads off and they are at the shop getting surfaced. It was a PIA but not bad. The worst part was getting the cam sprockets off. I just bought a 25 mm open end wrench to slide onto the cam shaft and it seemed to work well. I just recommend not unbolting the engine before you try doing this as the engine wanted to move and the wrench would slide out.

Should have it back together next week pretty quick. I just hope my timing job is okay...
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Everything is back together, took it for a spin and it drives great. A lot more power too.
The timing belt isn't that hard, just gotta make sure not to over think it, just rely on the tooth count.

Very interesting. I spent a bit on tools, but now I have a bunch of stuff I didn't. In all I think I am at about $400 with fluids and all. Just hope she holds!

Thanks to everyone that help! Don't think I would have been able to do it without this site.
 

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Sounds like another successful HG repair

Kev7in, good work. Sounds good. Hope you don't have any further problems.

After I did my HG repair, I did another oil change and a coolant change (with the Subaru additive in the new coolant) just a few thousand km later. My thinking about that was that it might serve to finally clear away any bits and gunk that had gotten in there during the repair.

I've just been out replacing the O2 sensors in my wife's Civic. A much more minor, easier job.

:)

Dave

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Everything is back together, took it for a spin and it drives great. A lot more power too.
The timing belt isn't that hard, just gotta make sure not to over think it, just rely on the tooth count.

Very interesting. I spent a bit on tools, but now I have a bunch of stuff I didn't. In all I think I am at about $400 with fluids and all. Just hope she holds!

Thanks to everyone that help! Don't think I would have been able to do it without this site.
 
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