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Hi, I searched and haven't found an answer..... I just got an '00 OB Ltd 2.5 AT and its at 125k miles. I got it at an auction and I have no service records. It was kept very clean, but I dont know if the timing belt or head gasket were done. I Carfaxed it and it didnt show anything. I called all the dealerships that I could tell serviced it and got nothing. Is there any easy way to tell if the head gasket has been fixed without pulling the head?? I have a little burning oil smell I need to address and I'm hoping its not a symptom of the HG issue.

Thanks!!

Also, if you take the time to respond, I'd love to know what your favorite mod is and why?

Thanks!
Brett
 

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2004 Outback Wagon, Mystic Blue Pearl
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Well, if the you are looking at 2000, the HG leak would mostly likely have been an external coolant leak.

The first thing you need to do is crawl under the car and see if it is leaking. It is common to have burning oil smells with these cars because if it leaks any oil, from pretty much any where on the engine, it will eventually drip on to, or be blown back onto the exhaust y pipe. If you think you have a leak, try to track it back to the source, many times oil will accumulate near the HG on the bottom of the engine, but is often from a front cam seal, front main seal, or valve cover gaskets. If you can sort it out give the bottom of the engine a good wipe down, drive for a day or two, and see where the new oil appears.

As for IDing the whether the HGs been replaced, thats pretty tough. If you crawl under the car and see evidence that there is coolant along the seam between the head and the block, but it doesn't seem to be actively leaking, then it might have been replaced and this is left over staining from the leak. Also, I know on motorcycles, replacement gaskets are often not the exact right size, so you can often tell a replaced gasket because it will have excess that sticks out past the mating surfaces, I sort of doubt this is the case with something like a HG on a car though.

As for recommended mods. Use the search function, that issue has been hashed and re-hashed a million times here.
 

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I own 4 Subarus. A 95,97,02 and a 14. The first two are 2.2 and the last two 2.5.
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Actually, you are one of the few subaru owners that can tell if the HG has been replaced. On my '02, which should be the same engine assuming that you don't have a turbo, you can see a piece of the HG exposed by about 3/8" x 2" on the driver side directly in line with the front spark plugs. Your original gasket should be a composite or fiber like with no metal sheet. On mine, subaru had already changed the gasket and I can clearly see a metal sheet with a thin black rubber coating. The dealership replacement gasket for your car would also have been a metal sheet with a black rubber coating.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Do you still find yourself smelling coolant in the a/c lines and oil burning smells after a long drive?? Is that normal? I am going to add Subaru water conditioner but should I do anything else? I still haven't found any visible leaks since the previous owner, a dealer, power-washed the engine.

Thanks!
 

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Actually, you are one of the few subaru owners that can tell if the HG has been replaced. On my '02, which should be the same engine assuming that you don't have a turbo, you can see a piece of the HG exposed by about 3/8" x 2" on the driver side directly in line with the front spark plugs. Your original gasket should be a composite or fiber like with no metal sheet. On mine, subaru had already changed the gasket and I can clearly see a metal sheet with a thin black rubber coating. The dealership replacement gasket for your car would also have been a metal sheet with a black rubber coating.
I know I am resurrecting a near decade old thread, and this may not see the light of day, but I wanted to share a pic of what you are describing (hopefully). I just bought a near exact replica of the car OP describes in this thread (2000 Outback/123K Miles) here at the very end of 2019 and was researching how to tell if I needed replacement HGs and found this post. I hope that someone sees this response, and can confirm that the sliver of a replacement gasket you have described (black coated metal) is the same as the one I will link below. Sorry, this is my first comment on this forum, so I have to link separately. If so I have made a great investment and will hopefully get another 100K+ miles before having to think about that repair. Loving the car regardless but I'd love it even more if I dodged a bullet on the head gasket.
 

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2006 OutBean, 2005 LGTW
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Impossible to tell from that angle. Most of the time MLS gaskets are used, even by shops, and that definitely isn't an MLS gasket. A Subaru engine will typically blow a head gasket one of two ways.. either combustion gases enter the cooling system and you overheat or you'll leak oil from under the engine. If you're not overheating or losing massive amounts of oil, I wouldn't worry about it.

I'd be more worried about your timing belt and if it has been changed out... it's due!
 

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85BRAT97SVX03Baja5mtHonda's
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Another fairly good way to tell if the headgaskets have been replaced: take a look at the "shiny/cleanliness" pf the machine surface of the head, what you can see. If it is clean and shiny and free of any oil grime, but the block is greay grimy next to it, then that had has been regasketed likely. Because they will unbolt the head, clean it up with a parts washer, before they put it back in, but lots of times they will leave the engine block alone and that part will be the dirty part.....this is a likely scenario one can look for without having any records.

-or, if they took the entire engine out and cleaned that part, but the trans casing is all dirty....


when i bought my 03 Baja at auction, I zoomed info this auction pic, and saw the shinyness only on the left head (zoom into the area below oil filler neck/dipstick and you can see how clean that head is), it was just too clean to match the mileage on the car, and too shiny compared to all others. So I took a chance it had been done, based on the pics alone with a car site unseen. well, once the car arrived to me, I took a poke around and everything on all parts of the heads, and block were nice and clean. The trans was nasty looking. then I saw the Subaru rebuilt blcok yellow tag, meaning is was a whole complete longblock I got...lucky right.
476273
 

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I also wondered if there was any obvious indication of a head gasket replacement. Often there will be ads that claim they've been replaced. I suppose asking to see the shop's bill/receipt is one way, but it would be good if a visual indication could verify the work done. I read a post where a metal sheet with a thin black rubber coating could be seen on one that was replaced. Would that be an MLS gasket? Do shops also use standard, or non-MLS gaskets as replacements?
 

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I also wondered if there was any obvious indication of a head gasket replacement. Often there will be ads that claim they've been replaced. I suppose asking to see the shop's bill/receipt is one way, but it would be good if a visual indication could verify the work done. I read a post where a metal sheet with a thin black rubber coating could be seen on one that was replaced. Would that be an MLS gasket? Do shops also use standard, or non-MLS gaskets as replacements?
This may be that exact post. I posted above what appeared to me to be what the previous poster was describing, but I am not 100% sure. As far as the cleanliness of the heads/engine goes, its genuinely pretty spotless. I did notice that there was a little grime on the bottom of the transmission, but that was the only place I saw any slight buildup of grease. The car itself looks in spotless condition - under the hood and outside. No oil leaks whatsoever yet, and after 20 years, I'd think you would see some if they were the same gaskets, but thats what I am trying to figure out. I love how it drives and would love to put another 120k on it.
 

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It may be likely you can get another 100k+ on the car with miles that low on it, especially for a 2000. I had a 2002 (same style) that I really liked - miss the heated cloth seats. If everything looks good I'd just continue to keep an eye on it.
 
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